Passenger Transport - September 5, 2014
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BREAKING NEWS

PB Acquired by WSP Global

WSP Global Inc., headquartered in Montréal, entered into an agreement to purchase Parsons Brinckerhoff Group Inc. (PB) from Balfour Beatty plc for an enterprise value of $1.2 billion plus an additional consideration for cash retained by PB of up to $110 million. The agreement was announced on Sept. 3.

The boards of both WSP and Balfour Beatty plc have approved the terms of the acquisition, which remains subject to certain conditions. The acquisition process should be completed later this year, at which time George J. Pierson, PB president and chief executive officer, will become an executive member of the WSP Global Board of Directors.

PB, headquartered in New York City, is a global firm that provides services in transportation, community development, and other infrastructure systems. It has a network of approximately 170 offices and nearly 13,500 employees on five continents. Balfour Beatty acquired PB in 2009.

NEWS HEADLINES

Standing-Room-Only Crowd Greets Rapid's Silver Line

The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, launched the Silver Line, Michigan’s first BRT service, Aug. 25 before a standing-room-only crowd of supporters. FTA Acting Administrator Therese ­McMillan, Michigan DOT Director Kirk Steudle, and local officials joined Peter Varga, The Rapid’s chief executive officer, and Barb Holt, its board chair, at the opening-day event.

The 9.6-mile Silver Line connects the communities of Kentwood and Wyoming, along with the southern portion of Grand Rapids, with the city’s core downtown. It serves residential areas along the corridor as well as such major employers and downtown destinations as the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids Community College, DeVos Place Convention Center, and an entertainment district anchored by VanAndel Arena. The Silver Line can operate more rapidly than non-BRT service because it eliminates transfers between stops and uses dedicated bus lanes for much of the route.

“You can’t do anything great without your staff,” said Varga, who asked staff members to wave and be recognized. “We have worked very hard to bring this service to our community and are happy to be able to share this day with so many friends.”

McMillan said, “The Silver Line is an excellent example of bus rapid transit that’s done right—offering a convenient and reliable travel option for thousands of residents in the Grand Rapids area. This new service will cut commuting times nearly in half for many workers, students, and seniors.”

In his remarks, Dave McLaughlin, vice president and general sales manager for American Seating Company, which is headquartered in Grand Rapids, made the connection between public transportation investment and the local manu­facturing economy.

FTA committed approximately $32 million toward the $40 million total project cost, including $19 million through its Capital Investment Grant Program and $13 million through its Bus and Bus Facilities Grant Program. State funding covered the remaining capital cost. Operating funds come in part from a successful property tax referendum passed in 2011.

On board the first Silver Line vehicle in Grand Rapids, from left: The Rapid Chief Executive Officer Peter Varga, board Chair Barb Holt, and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and media representatives join the inaugural ride on the Silver Line.

Photo by Peter Varga, CEO, The Rapid

Austin Launches Second BRT Line

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX, rolled out its second MetroRapid BRT line, Route 803, onto some of the area’s busiest streets on Aug. 24. The first MetroRapid line, Route 801, launched earlier this year.

Route 803 offers frequent service, new vehicles with spacious interiors and free Wi-Fi, and upgraded stations with real-time arrival information. The new 15-mile route features 46 stations, including 12 in downtown it shares with the other line, and serves several college campuses, the city’s museum district, popular shopping destinations, downtown Austin, and the Texas State Capitol.

“Just like the 801, which took to the streets in late January, the 803 lets you explore all of the best things we have in Austin,” said Capital Metro President/Chief Executive Officer Linda S. Watson. “After just seven months, we’re about to provide our one millionth trip on MetroRapid, which indicates people are really enjoying the new ride.”

The day after the beginning of service, FTA Region 6 Administrator Robert Patrick, state and local dignitaries, and officers of the Capital Metro Board of Directors joined more than 125 Capital Metro employees and public transit supporters at a celebration that included vehicle tours at a park in downtown Austin.

The two MetroRapid routes, which roughly form an X across the heart of Austin, operate in approximately 25 percent of Capital Metro’s service area on some of its most heavily trafficked routes.

Capital Metro reported that both MetroRapid lines launched on time and under budget. A $38 million federal grant covered roughly 80 percent of the $47.6 million total project cost.

At the opening of Capital Metro’s second MetroRapid line, from left, Capital Metro Board Vice Chair and Austin City Council Member Chris Riley, Texas state Rep. Celia Israel, Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson, FTA Region 6 Administrator Robert Patrick, Capital Metro Board Chair and Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez, Capital Metro Board Member Beverly Silas, and former board member Norm Chafetz.

Photo by Brio Yiapan


 

Northern Virginia Corridor Welcomes WMATA's Metroway

Officials representing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Northern Virginia communities of Alexandria and Arlington County gathered Aug. 24 to introduce Metroway, a premium bus service that offers a faster trip between the Crystal City and Braddock Road Metrorail stations in the busy Crystal City-Potomac Yard (CCPY) Corridor. The two municipalities are jointly constructing the transitway, which will offer BRT features on the region’s first dedicated right-of-way.

The event at the Swann Avenue Metroway Station began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a preview of the first segment of the five-mile transitway route. Joining WMATA Assistant General Manager of Bus Services Jack Requa were local officials and FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes.

Phase I of Metroway service opened to the public on Aug. 25. Work has already begun on the second phase of the project, which will extend the dedicated transitway lanes farther into Arlington.

Jack Requa, second from right, WMATA assistant general manager of bus services, helps to cut the ribbon at Metroway dedication ceremonies.

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

 

Cleveland RTA Opens New Rapid Transit Station

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) celebrated the opening of its new Cedar-University Rapid Transit Station with an Aug. 28 ribbon-cutting event hosted by RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese and attended by FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, among other guests.

The new station, located near Case Western Reserve University, replaces an aging rail station and bus terminal with a modern facility that provides significantly improved access for pedestrians and people with disabilities. The $18.5 million construction project included complete reconstruction of the rail station and relocation of the bus terminal to enhance pedestrian connections between the bus terminal and rail station.

“Cleveland deserves a safe, efficient, and reliable transit system that meets the needs of its riders and provides easy and affordable access to jobs and other opportunities throughout Cuyahoga County,” McMillan said. “This project helps to ensure that University Circle remains a vibrant, attractive neighborhood offering good transportation choices to hard-working families, students, and other residents.”

DOT contributed more than $16 million toward the project, including $10.5 million through its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and $5.5 million in other FTA grant funds. The remaining cost was covered by local sources, including the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and a group of businesses.

Cutting the ribbon to dedicate RTA’s new Cedar-University Rapid Transit Station are, from left, Robert Eckardt, executive vice president, Cleveland Foundation; Chris Ronayne, president, Cleveland Foundation; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan; Ward 6 Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell; RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese; and John Wheeler, senior vice president for administration, Case Western Reserve University.

Photo by Jerry Masek


 

MBTA Opens First Subway Station in 27 Years

Massachusetts Gov. Deval ­Patrick joined Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials and state leaders on Sept. 2 to open the first new MBTA station in 27 years. The new Assembly Orange Line station, known as Assembly, is located in the Boston suburb of Somerville.

Assembly provides a link from Somerville’s Assembly Row to Boston and is key to creating transit-oriented development in the area, MBTA officials said.

Those plans call for more than 2.8 million square feet of office space; 635,000 square feet of retail shops, ­restaurants, and other entertainment outlets; and 1,813 homes at the site.

“The first new MBTA station in 27 years is a testament to the key role that access to transportation plays in the growth and redevelopment of our cities and towns,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. “Assembly is a modern, fully accessible, environmentally-friendly Orange Line station that will serve this blossoming new neighborhood and the city of Somerville well for years to come.”

The $56 million station was funded with federal, state, and private dollars.

“We invest in infrastructure to increase private development, revitalize urban neighborhoods, and bolster growth and opportunity across the commonwealth,” said Patrick. “The new Assembly Orange Line station is a concrete reminder of what can be achieved through public-private partnership and investment in our communities.”

Assembly comprises two glass two-story buildings connected by a glazed bridge. It includes many sustainable elements, ncluding extensive daylighting, storm water retention, and energy-conserving electrical power controls and lighting fixtures.

Photo courtesy of MBTA

Beverly Scott, general manager, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), provides remarks at the opening ceremony for the MBTA Assembly Station on the Orange Line. Joining her and other dignitaries is Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, third from right.

Photo courtesy of MBTA

 

KCATA Opens CNG Bus Fueling Station

The Kansas City Area Trans­portation Authority (KCATA) marked the opening of its Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station—the largest fast-fill station in Missouri and the bi-state Kansas City region—on Aug. 27.

KCATA currently operates 17 CNG buses, with another eight arriving this month. The station allows buses to be fueled in less than seven minutes and ultimately will allow KCATA to fill more than 200 buses nightly. Clean Energy will monitor and maintain the fueling station through a partnership with the agency.

“The move from diesel fuel to CNG will result in cleaner air and significant cost savings,” said Dick Jarrold, KCATA vice president of regional planning and development. The agency estimates that the move from diesel to CNG fuel will save up to $500,000 in fuel in 2015 and up to $4 million per year once the fleet is fully converted over the next dozen years. The agency is phasing in CNG vehicles as current buses are retired.

The fueling station cost $3.2 ­million, of which 80 percent came from a federal Urbanized Area Formula Grant.

KCATA officials, from left, Dick Jarrold, vice president of regional planning and development, board Chairman Robbie Makinen, and Interim General Manager Sam Desue highlight the savings the agency will see with the transition to CNG-fueled buses.

 

New CEOs Named

Garrison, Memphis
The Memphis Area Transit Authority has selected Ron Garrison as general manager. He succeeds William Hudson, who retired earlier this year after 49 years with the system.

Garrison, a 25-year public transportation professional, ­previously was director of customer service for Proterra Inc. He served as executive director of StarMetro in ­Tallahassee, FL, from 2005-2013.

Wallut, Alstom Transportation Inc.
Alstom Transportation Inc. has named Jerome ­Wallut its president, as well as senior vice president of the company’s North American rail transportation business. He was managing director of Alstom Transport France since 2010. Wallut has held management positions in the transportation industry throughout his 26-year career. He began his career at Airbus and joined Alstom Transport in 2000.
In his new role, he will lead strategy, business development, customer relations, sales, and project execution in the region.

Blahovec, WCTA
The Westmoreland County Transit Authority (WCTA), Greensburg, PA, has selected Alan Blahovec, interim executive director, to keep the post on a permanent basis. Blahovec had served as WCTA’s chief financial officer and, more recently, as deputy director. He succeeds Larry Morris, executive director since 1993, who stepped down to take a job in the private sector.

Kreger, Yuma County, AZ
The Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA), Yuma, AZ, has named Shelly Kreger, financial service operations manager, as its interim transit director. She succeeds John Andoh, transit director for the past three years, who has joined the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency in Hilo as a county transportation specialist.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

FTA Circular Would Change Fund Availability for Midlife Buses

FTA has released a ­proposed circular that changes the definition of which projects and activities may be funded under the federal Bus and Bus Facilities program (49 U.S.C. 5339), established by MAP-21. A notice regarding the ­circular appeared in the July 30 ­Federal Register.

The document states that eligible capital projects include those to replace, ­rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment, and those to construct bus-related facilities. This includes bus rebuilds, defined by FTA as “a reconditioning at the end of a vehicle’s useful life that creates additional useful life,” but it excludes overhauls, defined as “a form of preventive main­tenance involving ‘systematic replacement or upgrade of systems whose useful life is less than the useful life of the entire vehicle in a programmed manner.’ In contrast to a rolling stock rebuild, an overhaul does not extend the useful life of the vehicle itself.”

The circular also states that planning activities, preventive maintenance, and mobility management are not eligible expenses under the new definition, and “public art” is no longer an eligible associated transit improvement, but that incorporation of design and artistic ­considerations into public ­transportation projects may still be an allowable cost as long as it is an integral part of the activity.

FTA is accepting comments on the circular through Sept. 29. Comments, identified by the docket number FTA–2014–0018, can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Panel. APTA encourages its members to submit comments.

For more information, contact Jim LaRusch.

FTA Publishes Joint Development Guidance
FTA also recently published a circular that provides guidance to recipients of FTA financial assistance on how to use FTA funds or FTA-funded real property for joint development, effective Oct. 1.

Circular 7050.1 incorporates provisions of MAP-21 and advances the goals of 49 U.S.C. 5315 by informing FTA recipients of opportunities for private sector participation in public transportation projects.

The circular is available here. Technical assistance is available from regional FTA offices.

TTC Welcomes New Low Floor Streetcars on Spadina Line

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) celebrated the inaugural run of its new low floor streetcar on the 510 Spadina Line on Aug. 31.

The new streetcars from Bombardier—the first new streetcar vehicles to enter service at the agency in 30 years—are the fourth generation in TTC history. Longtime operator Eddie Braga, who has now driven all four generations, drove the inaugural vehicle into Spadina Station.

“The TTC is proud to bring to fruition years of hard work that has brought the newest generation of streetcar to the people of Toronto,” said Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford. “It’s accessible, it’s modern, it’s air-conditioned, and it’s the streetcar of the future for our ever-increasing ridership.”

Ultimately, the agency will operate 204 of the new streetcars on all 11 routes. The vehicles are fully accessible, have increased capacity compared with earlier generations, and provide easy-to-reach stop request buttons throughout. Warning lights and chimes let passengers know when the doors are opening and closing.

Funding for the new streetcars came from the city of Toronto and governments of Ontario and Canada.

The first of TTC’s new streetcars—driven by longtime operator Eddie Braga—breaks through a barrier at the Spadina Station.

DOT Schedules Webinars on Transportation Future

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx invites public transportation professionals to participate in a webinar series on the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. transportation system.

The series features "Moving America Forward," a webinar specifically related to public transit issues, conducted on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2-3:30 p.m., and repeated on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).

The webinars are free, but participants must register in advance. To register, click here.

Embossed Columns Commemorate Hawaiian Heritage


The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation recently completed its first embossed column as part of an art project connected with its rail station development program. Columns to support the guideway at each of the line’s 21 stations will have patterns unique to the area’s ahupua`a (historic region), telling historic and cultural stories of the communities where the stations are located. The first of eight columns for the Ho`opili Station in East Kapolei depicts the flow of wind, coral representing the foundation and the area’s beginnings, sea salt beds, and the symbolic first planting of the `ulu tree that grew plentiful in this area.

Improving Access to Fare Machines in Phoenix


Valley Metro Rail is improving the accessibility of its fare vending machines by lowering the pedestal heights of 62 machines—one at each station entryway—over the next three years. Phoenix Councilmember Kate Gallego, right, proposed the change after a local veteran in a mobility device asked her for assistance in purchasing a transit pass. Joining Gallego at the announcement are, from left, Ted Vogt, director, Arizona Director of Veterans Affairs; Arizona State Veterans Home resident, Sgt. Master John Bradley; and Valley Metro Rail Vice Chair Thelda Williams, also a Phoenix councilmember.

11 AC Transit Operators Honored: A Total of 335 Years of Safe Driving

AC Transit, Oakland, CA, recently honored 11 of its bus operators with gifts and a standing ovation for driving their vehicles a combined 335 years without causing any accidents. Each of the drivers has been behind the wheel for at least 30 years.

The honorees are Joseph Allen, with a 35-year safe driving record and, with 30-year safe driving records, Marcus Brox, Harry Coffee, Jesse DeLa Cruz, Brian Gilmer, Norman Grant, Isaac ­Garner, Robert Pacca, Earl Taylor, ­Claudel Woods Jr., and Timothy Yuen.

“It is not a simple matter to drive a 60-foot, 24-ton vehicle packed with ­passengers—on streets congested with cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and detours—day after day for 30 years without committing an accident,” said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. “These operators have shown exceptional skills and tremendous dedication to keeping their passengers and public roadways safe. They deserve both applause and respect.”

In addition to these 11 drivers, AC Transit has 82 operators with at least 10-year safe driving records, ­including 17 with at least 25 years of driving ­without an accident and 10 with 20-year safety records.

Industry Briefs

A roundup of news from public transportation’s transit agencies and private sector companies.

Five Years of Sustainability ­Partnership — In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency released a report on changes in its policies during that time. The report is titled Partnership for Sustainable Communities: Five Years of ­Learning from Communities and Coordinating Federal Investments. Through the partnership’s efforts, 1,000 communities in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico have received more than $4 billion in grants and technical assistance. The report is available here.

Iowa’s DART’s Fair Ridership at All-Time High — The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) provided an all-time high 221,188 rides on its park-and-ride service to the 2014 Iowa State Fair, although fair attendance declined compared with past years. “We like to think the state fair service serves as a yearly reminder of DART’s everyday value to Greater Des Moines,” said DART General Manager Elizabeth Presutti. “It offers a great alternative to driving and relieves congestion.”

OCTA Provides Record Fair Ridership — The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in California, reported the second consecutive year of record ridership to the Orange County Fair via the OC Fair Express. The service provided more than 76,000 rides during the five-week fair season, 31 percent more than in 2013. OCTA’s Fair Express mobile app, downloaded by more than 4,700 fairgoers, listed routes, boarding locations, and schedules and allowed users to purchase bus passes with their smartphones.

CH2M HILL Receives Award — The Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs recognized CH2M HILL with its Corporate Award of the Year. This honor goes to a major corporation that has provided distinguished support to minority- and women-owned small businesses and exemplifies the association’s mission of promoting entrepreneurship and economic development for minorities.

Las Vegas Installs Kiosk — The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas recently installed its first public kiosk in the lobby of the Bonneville Transit Center for participants in its Club Ride Commuter Services program, which incentivizes using alternative modes of transportation. Numerous other kiosks are available at employer partner locations throughout the service area. The free Club Ride Commuter Services program encourages members to use public transit, carpools, bicycles, or other transportation options to help the environment and earn financial incentives.

New York MTA Adds Staten Island Railway to App — New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has updated its MTA Subway Time™ smartphone and web app to include real-time arrival information for all MTA Staten Island Railway stations. The app originally provided data for seven MTA New York City Transit subway lines and the 42nd Street Shuttle. Customers can select any station on a line to view arrival data for trains in each direction.

CASE STUDY

FIT FOR DUTY: Agencies Improve Workforce Health

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority is just one of several public transit agencies that have incorporated member health and wellness activities into its daily culture. Learn more here.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Connie Crawford!

Connie Crawford
Senior Vice President, Global Practice Leader for Rail and Transit
Louis Berger, Morristown, NJ
Chair, APTA Capital Projects Subcommittee; member, Rail Conference Planning and Annual Meeting Planning subcommittees

Please describe your organization’s scope.
Louis Berger is a $1 billion global professional services firm involved in transportation, water, energy, facilities, operations and maintenance, and economic and institutional development. We have 6,000 employees deployed in more than 50 countries. We are an Engineering News-Record top-20 ranked firm, and are consistently rated in the top 10 ENR list for transportation.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I began my career as a long-span bridge engineer. In the mid-1990s, I was responsible for adding railroad to the Tagus River suspension bridge in Lisbon, Portugal, and for replacing the subway line across the Williamsburg suspension bridge in New York. Those two projects gave me an appreciation for the challenges and rewards of working in public transportation. Following my experience on the Williamsburg Bridge, I joined MTA New York City Transit in 2001 and served as senior vice president and chief engineer through 2009.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I attended my first Annual Meeting in 1999.

Describe your involvement with APTA.
I am currently serving in my second term as chair of the Capital Projects Subcommittee. I have helped with conference planning and participated as a speaker or moderator at a number of rail conferences and Annual Meetings. I have more recently gotten involved with the Business Member Board of Governors and look forward to continuing with that.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
APTA is a great way to get to know people in all aspects of public transportation. The conferences draw people throughout the industry—governance, planning, finance, design, construction, and operations—and function as thought centers. I find I leave conferences with leads and connections that fuel my activities for the months to follow.

APTA staff are welcoming to new people and new ideas, and they are open and flexible in shaping the content of conferences to suit the interests of the membership and the needs of the industry.

What do you like most about your job?
I recently shifted to the new role of global practice leader for rail and transit. The position involves traveling to projects and prospective opportunities all over the world. It is fascinating to see both similarities and differences in how projects are implemented in different countries and environments.

We are involved in mega projects in the Middle East where the scope and scale are extraordinary, such as Doha Metro, Riyadh Metro, and Saudi North-South Rail. New transit systems costing $10 billion to $30 billion are being designed and constructed in less than 10 years. These amazing projects draw exceptional talent from around the world, and I very much enjoy meeting and mixing with them.

Innovative P3 metro projects, such as in Hyderabad and Mumbai, offer investors long concession agreements and developable property adjacent to the alignment to finance the works. Large developed cities are finding ways to shoehorn in new metro and BRT systems, and they are coming up with creative ways to ensure that people use them, even in hot climates that in the past have not been pedestrian-friendly.

In the U.S. we are involved in several privately funded rail initiatives; executed properly, and following successful models from abroad, they could be the way of the future here.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Unlike most U.S. consulting firms, Louis Berger has always been predominantly an overseas firm. When Dr. Louis Berger, a geotechnical engineer and professor, founded the company 60 years ago, he immediately went abroad, with the famed Road to Mandalay being one of his first projects.

Today, international work fluctuates between 40 percent to 60 percent of Louis Berger revenues, although we are seeing an increased swing back toward international due to the extensive amount of new design and construction in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our international base continues to permeate the culture of the firm: We work and excel in places that many firms fear to tread, we adapt to client needs, and we celebrate entrepreneurial spirit.

People may also be surprised to learn that affiliate firms under the Louis Berger umbrella include Ammann & Whitney, BergerABAM, Klohn Crippen Berger, and Chelbi, which was founded more than 30 years ago in China.

APTA NEWS

Something for Everyone at APTA's Annual Meeting & EXPO

The 2014 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 12-15 in Houston, is only five weeks away! Don’t miss your chance to be part of one of the ­largest events for the community of public transportation agency and business ­leaders.

The events feature hundreds of educational programs, General Sessions, tours, networking opportunities, and other activities. Check out these new programs, and sign up today.

Visit the TECHbar on the EXPO Floor
APTA’s TECHbar is the place for EXPO participants to find complimentary sessions on making the most of information technologies. Tech professionals will also answer questions and share information about such technologies as Google Glass and smart watches.

Session topics will include tips and tricks for using tablets, alternatives to Power Point presentations, apps to keep professionals in touch while on the road, an introduction to Instagram, and a Twitter tutorial.

Houston METRO Adds Bike Tour To Schedule
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), the host system, has scheduled a bike tour Sunday afternoon, Oct. 12, in partnership with the city of Houston to showcase the city’s expanding bicycle infrastructure.

METRO sees bikes as a critical connection to public transit. Every bus and train can transport bikes, and the system records 22,000 bike boardings per month.

For information, contact Joe Garcia.

TTI Hot Topics Workshop
Prior to the opening of the Annual Meeting & EXPO, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is hosting a free “Hot Topics in Transit” workshop Saturday, Oct. 11, 2-5 p.m. at the Hilton Americas Downtown.

TTI personnel will share their applied research on topics in transportation research and development, technology and performance, safety, sustainability, and passenger mobility. RSVP to Lauren Cochran.

15 Groups Receive APTA Grants

APTA has announced the most recent recipients of its Local Coalition Grant Program, an initiative that supports and energizes grassroots public transportation coalitions through education and advocacy efforts.

APTA administers the program in conjunction with the National Alliance for Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA), an APTA-affiliated national organization representing grassroots public transit coalitions. APTA received more than 40 applications, and granted $80,000--funded through the Research, Communications, and Advocacy (RCA) program--to the following 15 transit-oriented grassroots organizations:

Alaska Mobility Coalition, Anchorage; Bay Area Council, San Francisco; Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Baltimore; Citizens for Modern Transit, St. Louis; ­Connect4Prosperity, Detroit; Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance, Norfolk, VA; Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit, ­Indianapolis; Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance, Kansas City, MO; Modern Transit Partnership, Harrisburg, PA; Monterey County Mobility Coalition, Marina, CA; Movability Austin, Austin, TX; Partnership for Southern Equity, Atlanta; Reconnect Rochester, Inc., Rochester, NY; South Central Regional Transit District, Las Cruces, NM; and Transportation for Massachusetts, Boston.

“I was extremely impressed by the caliber of the applications that APTA received this year,” said NAPTA Chair Marnie ­Primmer. “Our grant recipients will be making a huge impact in their communities thanks to APTA’s generosity.”

APTA has supported grassroots advocacy through the Local Coalition Grant Program since 2003.

To learn more about the grant program and NAPTA, attend the NAPTA meeting at Rail~Volution, Sept. 21-24, Minneapolis-St. Paul.

COMMENTARY

Streetcars vs. Buses? Solution Is Not Either/Or

BY MICHAEL ALLEGRA and RALPH BECKER

Streetcars or buses? Yes!

There is an understandable question among Salt Lake City residents about whether streetcars or buses should be used downtown or in our neighborhoods. Considering the merits of these different mobility modes suggests different, complementary approaches.

To build a “Great American City,” Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority (and our partners) are investing in a high-quality public transit network. Over the past several years, the city and UTA have made progress on two streetcar lines: one that has opened in Sugar House and one that is in the planning stages for downtown. Modern streetcar is a new mode of transportation for our region, and just like the early days of TRAX, some question its merits. Many are asking about whether streetcars are a good investment and why we can’t just do the same thing with buses.

In places like Sugar House and downtown, fixed-route transit like streetcars attracts nearby development and riders in ways that buses cannot. Riders appreciate the fixed nature of the route and its predictability, and investors and residents are more willing to invest in a location that benefits from a permanent public commitment. The S-Line in Sugar House has helped create more than 1,000 residential units and nearly 2 million square feet of redevelopment, representing more than $400 million in private investment.

Regular bus routes are as important as streetcars, providing flexible service in our neighborhoods. However, pitting one transit mode against another overlooks the different but important and complementary roles these modes play and what markets they are best designed to serve. Our community needs to build a robust network of transit options that enables our residents and visitors to make more of their trips without a car. Just as our current road network provides choices of routes, an effective transit network will provide riders with numerous options.

Existing service tells us that these modes work well together. In both Sugar House and downtown, bus service runs parallel to TRAX and streetcar corridors. On 400 South in Salt Lake City, the same corridor hosts TRAX and three bus routes. On that same corridor, numerous developments are underway, and a recent University of Utah study concluded that the TRAX line has reduced auto trips and promoted attractive development. The Sugar House Streetcar corridor and 2100 South buses each serve passengers. We can have success with both bus and streetcars.

Residents and visitors should have several convenient and reliable transit options. The choice to ride transit also means fewer vehicles and traffic con­gestion, improved air quality, and more walkable development.

If we made transit decisions solely on the basis of capital costs and simply moving people from point A to point B, we would choose buses to meet all our needs. If, on the other hand, we made our transit decisions based on serving a variety of different transportation needs, walkable development and return on investment, we would only choose rail. We hope, instead, to provide the right solution for all our transportation needs, and a diversity of transit modes helps us do that, complementing each and ­making the most of what each has to offer in the appropriate circumstance.

Michael Allegra is president and chief executive officer of Utah Transit Authority. Ralph Becker is mayor of Salt Lake City.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Aug. 21 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. ©2014 Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved.

This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Michael J. Scanlon
SAN CARLOS, CA—Michael J. Scanlon, APTA chair in 2010-2011, has announced his retirement after 15 years as general manager/chief executive officer of the San Mateo County Transit District, executive director of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority, and executive director of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

Scanlon has had a 47-year career in public transportation. He has worked with APTA since its founding in 1974, and earlier with its parent organizations. He is an honorary member of the APTA Board of Directors and a member of the American Public Transportation Foundation, High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail, Legislative, and Mid-Size Operations committees, among many others.

Chris McDivit, Stephanie Haddock
RENO, NV—Chris McDivit has joined the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) as facilities maintenance supervisor. McDivit has 14 years of experience in facilities management, working most recently as operations manager for the University of Washington.

RTC also announced the promotion of Stephanie Haddock to chief financial officer/director of the finance department. She is an 18-year RTC employee, working as a financial analyst, senior financial analyst and, for the past seven years, financial administrator. Haddock succeeds Tom Taelour, who served at RTC for more than three decades and retired in May.

Lauren Isaac, Zafar Alikhan, Keith Sherman, Jennifer Pyrz
NEW YORK—Parsons ­Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the following appointments:

Lauren Isaac has been named manager of sustainable transportation in PB’s San Francisco office. She was PB’s manager of transit effectiveness and management from 2006-2013 and most recently was director of business relations at Alta Bicycle Share in San Francisco.

Zafar Alikhan has been named a senior transit and rail manager in the firm’s Los Angeles office. He has more than 20 years of experience managing transit planning, design, and construction projects, most recently as a vice president and head of the Los ­Angeles office of an Oregon-based engineering firm.

Keith Sherman has been named a senior supervising planner in PB’s Chicago office following 38 years with Illinois DOT, where he served most recently as chief of urban program planning. Earlier, he was chief of planning and systems in the Ill. DOT Bureau of Statewide Program Planning.

Jennifer Pyrz has been named a supervising planner in the ­Indianapolis office. She has 19 years of experience in the transportation consulting industry, previously leading PB’s traffic engineering practice from 2006-2013. More recently she was implementation engineer for ­Purdue University’s Joint Transportation Research Program.

 

 

Lauren Isaac

Zafar Alikhan

 

 

Keith Sherman 

Jennifer Pyrz 

 

Neal Forshner
NEW YORK—TranSystems announced the appointment of Neal Forshner as regional vice president, based in its New York office.

Forshner has more than 40 years of design and construction industry experience. He most recently was senior vice president of a global architecture, engineering, design, and construction firm.





Frank Jezycki

NEW YORK—Frank Jezycki, a 29-year employee of MTA New York City ­Transit, has been named vice president and chief officer for Staten Island Railway. He began his career with the agency in 1985 as a maintainer’s helper in the Ventilation and Drainage Department and most recently was chief infrastructure officer in the Department of Subways.





Kreg Keesee

CINCINNATI—Kreg Keesee, vice president of graphic services for Sun Chemical Corporation, has joined the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees. He has more than 20 years experience in the graphic arts and consumer products industries.







James C. LaBelle, Sheena F. Frève

CHICAGO—James C. LaBelle, a senior transportation and governmental affairs expert, and Sheena F. Frève, an experienced research and policy analyst, are joining the Urban Transportation Center (UTC), a research unit within the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both LaBelle and Frève previously worked for Metropolis Strategies.