Passenger Transport - September 19, 2014
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BREAKING NEWS

Congress Passes CR, Extends Federal Funding to December 2014

On Sept. 18, the House voted 319-108 to approve H.J. Res. 124, a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to extend the funding of federal operations until Dec. 11, 2014. The Senate voted later in the day to approve the CR by a 78-22 margin. President Obama is expected to sign the measure.

All public transportation formula programs are funded at Fiscal Year 2014 levels as are other public transportation related programs, i.e., New Starts, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, transit research/training, etc.

More information about the CR is available here.

NEWS HEADLINES

New TIGER Grants Help Build Neighborhoods Throughout U.S.

Each of the 72 transportation projects that received federal funds in the most recent round of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants will have an immediate impact on the neighborhood and the city where it is located. Here are a few examples.

Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) received a $20 million TIGER grant to modernize the Ruggles Station. Improvements will include a new third high-level platform that will increase the number of trains that can serve the station. This, in turn, will improve access to education and jobs in the Longwood Medical Area and surrounding neighborhoods.

“Ruggles Station’s capacity is so squeezed—and so few trains can enter—that some commuters have to overshoot the station and double back to find a train that gets them home or to work or to school, and TIGER is going to fix that problem,” Foxx said at ceremonies in Boston announcing the grant. The multimodal station is served by 14 MBTA bus routes, seven private bus shuttles, and Orange Line and commuter rail trains.

RTC, Reno, NV
In Reno, NV, a $16 million TIGER grant to the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) will support transportation and public transit enhancements for the 4th Street/Prater Way RAPID Transit Project in Reno and Sparks. This new service is expected to improve connections between the two downtowns and revitalize the corridor between the RTC 4th Street Station and RTC Centennial Plaza public transit terminals. The grant also will cover the cost of four new all-electric buses that will operate on the route.

“This funding is critical in moving this project forward,” said RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson. “When it begins, the new transit service will link people to nearly 39,000 employment opportunities in the area already served by RTC RAPID transit and improve mobility access in the corridor for everyone.”

RTD, Denver
A BRT and managed lane project between Denver and Boulder, CO, received the first successful TIGER TIFIA Challenge Grant, for $10 million. The project will add one managed lane in each direction along the first 10 miles of a highway heading northwest from ­Denver, as well as “Flatiron Flyer” regional BRT operated by the Regional Transportation District that will use the managed lanes. The grant allows Colorado to work with DOT to complete an investment grade traffic and revenue study and to pay the costs of a $54 million TIFIA loan that anchors other elements of a $307 million financing package.

St. Louis Metro
St. Louis Metro received a $10.3 million TIGER grant to support construction of a new light rail station in midtown, filling a 1.6-mile gap between stations, and creation of a bike trail connecting the new station with a regional greenway.

DOT Undersecretary for Policy Peter Rogoff, who attended the announcement in St. Louis, said: “These TIGER funds will go a long way to help St. Louis achieve its goal of developing a job-creating technology hub that is fully accessible by public transportation.”

Los Angeles Metro
Los Angeles Metro received two TIGER grants totaling $22 million: $10.25 million to support modernization of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks light rail station on the Metro Blue Line and $11.8 million toward the $17 million Eastside Access Improvement project to aid ­bicycle and pedestrian access in the Little Tokyo neighborhood.

The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is the fourth busiest in the city, serving more than 22,000 passengers each day. The overhaul, estimated at $53 million, will include relocating the bus terminal to be closer to the Blue Line, extending the station platform, constructing new pedestrian pathways, and building a new community plaza. The Eastside Access project will bring new crosswalks, bicycle lanes, and streetscaping to improve access to Union Station and existing Metro bus and rail connections while making the area safer for walking and biking.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan said, “These projects will support LA’s ongoing efforts to improve access to efficient, reliable public transportation throughout the region and ensure that hard-working families can reach jobs, school, health care, and take advantage of all the region has to offer.”

M-1 Rail, Detroit
The M-1 Rail modern streetcar project in Detroit, which recently began construction, received a $12.2 million TIGER grant. M-1 Rail is a nonprofit organization partnering with private businesses, philanthropic organizations, and local, state, and federal governments to create the new line.

“We are on time, on target, and on board to get this done in 2016,” said Roger Penske, M-1 Rail board chairman and project donor. “We are going to have a Super Bowl every day when the streetcar runs between New Center and downtown.”

M-1 Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew P. Cullen added: “It’s unprecedented that the private and philanthropic leadership of a community commit more than $100 million to design, build, and operate a public streetcar line and, through its TIGER grant, USDOT has reaffirmed its commitment to Detroit and M-1 Rail." He added: "The M-1 donors have expressed unyielding support since the beginning. Their significant contributions of time, talent, and resources have helped to keep this vision on track and for that we are forever grateful.”

The announcement of the TIGER grant occurred at an event when project representatives and government officials autographed two five-foot pieces of steel streetcar track that will be installed in the Penske Corporation Tech Center, to be located near the northern end of the line.

Atlanta Streetcar
The Atlanta Streetcar project—a joint project of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the city, and its business community—received a $47.6 million TIGER grant to construct a new east-west streetcar line.

The 2.7-mile line with 12 stations will link to the existing MARTA system at Peachtree Center.

DOT and HUD
Two TIGER grants will benefit projects through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, comprising DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. DOT and HUD will jointly fund a redevelopment of a former industrial site in Jersey City, NJ, for transit-oriented development, providing $1.9 million of the $2.8 million total cost.

In Oakland, CA, DOT will invest $2 million for a massive redevelopment of 1,800 acres at the former Oakland Army Base, including TOD around the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s busiest station, West Oakland.

DOT received 797 eligible applications from 49 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, an increase from the 585 applications it received in 2013, and overall applicants requested 15 times the $600 million available for the program.

More information on all TIGER grant recipients is available here.

 

From left, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announces a $20 million TIGER grant for MBTA in Boston, joined by MBTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Beverly Scott, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and Richard Davey, Massachusetts secretary of transportation and chief executive officer of Massachusetts DOT.

DOT Rulemaking in High Gear

FTA and other DOT modal administrations are working hard to implement MAP-21 and other legislative mandates. APTA and its members continue to track and respond to this ever-growing number of regulatory actions. You can find them all, review APTA draft comments, and provide your company or agency’s comments directly to DOT, all by starting at the APTA website.

FTA has proposed changes to National Transit Database (NTD) reporting requirements in two separate rulemakings. Docket FTA-2014-0006 proposes changes in a number of areas, most notably paratransit trips, high-occupancy vehicle/high-occupancy toll lanes, and transit asset management reporting. These changes would affect almost all APTA public members and, with the comment period set to end Sept. 18, time is of the essence.

APTA has asked for an extension of the comment period to allow its members to fully evaluate these proposed changes at committee meetings held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting & EXPO but even if that request is denied, late arriving comments will be evaluated by FTA.

The other NTD changes are proposed under Docket FTA-2014-0009 and relate to safety data reports. APTA staff and members are working through the proposals to create APTA’s draft comments, with final comments due Oct. 20.

FTA’s draft Circular 5100 is the subject of Docket FTA-2014-001. Of particular interest to APTA members is FTA’s proposal to bar use of bus program funds (49 USC 5339) for midlife bus overhauls. While not explicit in the FTA notice, the proposed circular deviates from the statutory authority to use Section 5339 for bus rehabilitation, substituting the much narrower term “rebuild,” then defining rebuild as an end of useful life activity that extends that useful life. APTA’s draft opposes this limitation in strong terms and APTA urges its members to comment as well. Comments are due Sept. 29.

FTA and FHWA issued a joint NPRM on integrating safety into the planning process under Docket FHWA 2013-0037. This wide-ranging proposal touches on transit representation on Metropolitan Planning Organizations, performance management, performance measures, and target setting. The comment period has been extended to Oct. 2.

Other noteworthy rulemaking activities include FRA’s proposal to add certain maintenance-of-way workers to railroad drug and alcohol programs (FRA 2009-0039, due Sept. 26), FTA’s proposed Circular 6100 on research, technical assistance, and training (FTA 2014-0017, comments due Oct. 14), and FHWA’s proposed changes to Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) weighting factors (FHWA 2013-0018, comments due Oct. 3).

Szabo, Denham Meet with APTA Leaders


FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo, center, and other FRA officials discussed safety, technology, risk management, funding, high-speed and high-performance rail, and other issues during a recent meeting at APTA offices with members of the APTA Commuter Rail CEOs Committee. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) also attended the meeting at APTA’s offices and discussed the new Amtrak reauthorization bill, MAP-21, and proposed modifications to the RRIF program.

Photo by Mitchell Wood

Most in Nation Support Increase in Federal Funds; Survey Shows Upward Trend

Almost 68 percent of ­Americans now support increasing federal public transportation investment levels, an increase of almost 2 percent from last year, according to a recent survey conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) for APTA.

“Americans understand the importance of investing in public transportation because it is a catalyst to transforming their community,” said APTA President & CEO Michael ­Melaniphy following the release of the survey. “Research data show support for increased revenues for public transportation. This support continues to increase because Americans realize that everyone benefits from public transit investments through the economic growth in their community, even if they do not ride it,” he added.

The study, MTI Report 12-36, is titled “What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options to Support Public Transit, Highways, and Local Streets and Roads? Results from Year Five of a National Survey.” The research was conducted and analyzed during the summer, and the report was released in mid-September.

In addition, almost 74 percent of Americans support the use of tax dollars for creating, expanding, and improving public transportation options in their communities, and 76 percent of those surveyed agreed  that public transportation investment can help create jobs and pave the way to a stronger economy, and almost 88 percent of respondents agreed that public transit expands opportunities and provides access to medical care, schools, and colleges.

MTI cited the contrast between needed funding increases to upgrade and renovate public transit infrastructure and the decline in transportation revenues from state and federal gas taxes over the past several decades. “This dilemma of growing needs and shrinking revenues can be resolved in only two ways: Either the nation must dramatically lower its goals for system preservation and enhancement, or new revenues must be raised. If the latter is to happen, legislators must be convinced that increasing taxes or fees is politically feasible,” the report states.

The survey is the fifth in a series of annual MTI telephone surveys. This year, the institute conducted 1,503 telephone interviews with individuals across the U.S.; the margin of error is minus 2.53 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.

The survey is available here.

House T&I Committee Approves Amtrak Bill

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee has approved a four-year Amtrak reauthorization and extension of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) without any amendments on Wednesday, Sept. 17, with a unanimous voice vote. The bill was introduced by the bipartisan leadership of the committee.

The bill roughly maintains current funding levels through fiscal 2018 and—with a particular emphasis on Northeast Corridor-related issues—authorizes state and other grants for that region. It also includes changes to FRA’s Railroad ­Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, including provisions to expedite project delivery. The T&I bill does not fund a significant expansion of intercity and high-speed rail.

For additional background, go to the APTA website and search on Legislative Updates and Alerts.

VRT Launches Saturday Shuttle Service; First Step in Complete Bus Plan

Valley Regional Transit (VRT), Meridian, ID, launched a free shuttle, the “Meridian Saturday Fun Bus,” on Sept. 6 to provide service to various employment, shopping, recreation, and entertainment destinations within the city limits, including the downtown area.

“This service was able to become a reality because of a partnership between the city of Meridian, ID, and Valley Regional Transit,” Kelli Fairless, VRT executive director, said. “VRT hopes this is the beginning of other transit and mobility options to be offered to the citizens of Meridian.”

The service is designed to be the first part of a complete bus-service plan for the community, said Meridian City Councilman David Zaremba, a member of the Meridian Services Planning Team, which developed the route. “This new Saturday service is a great step forward in our effort to solve transportation issues and to provide more access to recreation, shopping, and employment within Meridian,” he said, adding that the route’s success will guide the team in determining additional service.

“In our Citizens Survey conducted this past spring, residents identified ­public transportation as a key priority,” said city Mayor Tammy de Weerd. “We’re listening to our constituents and we’re delighted to make this one of our latest offerings.” The city is providing $60,000 to fund the service, which operates every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new service complements existing weekday ValleyRide commuter bus service. VRT is working with MV Transportation to operate the new service in addition to other fixed route service.

Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, right; Councilman David Zaremba, in baseball cap at left;  passengers; and members of the news media take the inaugural ride for VRT’s new Saturday shuttle.

Photo courtesy of Valley Regional Transit

VIA Breaks Ground on Multimodal Transit Plaza

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio broke ground Sept. 5 on the second phase of its Westside Multimodal Transit Center, a state-of-the-art public transit hub designed to improve accessibility to the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Downtown Campus and the University Health System’s Robert B. Green Campus and better serve the fast-growing population in the city and county.

The transit center is part of VIA’s SmartMove initiative and is included in VIA’s 2035 Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
VIA President and CEO Jeff Arndt recognized the center’s role in future public transportation developments. “Once we are finished with Phase II in 2015, we will have even more transportation services running through here with six additional bus routes and connections to taxi service, intercity bus service, and the anticipated Lone Star Rail service between San Antonio and Austin,” Arndt said. “This plaza will create a presence in the community, and it will stimulate development and instill a sense of place and pride. This is a significant investment.”

His comments were echoed by agency Chairman Alex Briseño, who said the project will encourage new foot traffic and transit-oriented development in the area. He also asked guests at the ground breaking ceremony to imagine the plaza as a congregating place for the community at the “gateway to the West Side, el corazon de San Antonio (the heart of San Antonio).”

VIA also announced the relocation of its executive offices to the historic depot building adjacent to the site.

VIA Metropolitan Transit board members and local officials, including board Chairman Alexander Briseño, fifth from left, and President/CEO Jeff Arndt, third from right, break ground at the site of the Westside Multimodal Transit Center.

Photo courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit

DOT: Transit Important Part of Bike, Pedestrian Safety Plan

DOT has announced safety plans for public transit agencies and ­riders as part of its new initiative to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities.

The report, Safer People, Safer Streets: Summary of U.S. Department of Transportation Action Plan to Increase Walking and Biking and Reduce Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities, was recently released by DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh.

The report includes two sections specific to public transit. Under the Road Safety for Transit Patrons initiative, the report states, “Safer bike and pedestrian infrastructure depends on effective relationships and communication between road agencies and transit agencies. Transit agencies and their customers can often identify gaps in the transportation network, but they do not typically have the authority to fill those gaps.”

Consequently, FTA, FHWA, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration staff will provide technical assistance to employees of public transit agencies and other transportation officials.

The Transit Agency Safety Plan, under development by FTA as part of MAP-21, will help guide public transit agencies to establish policies to encourage safe access to public transit, consider safety risks, and partner with the communities they serve to manage these safety risks.

Find the report here.

New CEOs Named

Griffith, Washington State Ferries
Lynne Griffith, who recently retired as chief executive officer of Pierce Transit in Lakewood, WA, has been named Washington State Ferries assistant secretary effective Sept. 23. She is the first woman to head the ferry system in its 53-year history.

Griffith has more than 35 years experience in the transportation industry in public transit, rail, and airlines. Before joining Pierce Transit, she led C-TRAN in Vancouver, WA, and managed bus and specialized transportation for persons with ­disabilities at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.


Lodde, MV Transportation
MV Transportation, based in Dallas, named Alex Lodde, a founder and chairman of the board, as interim chief executive officer after current CEO R. Carter Pate announced his plans to retire. Pate will continue to work with MV as a strategic advisor to the board of directors with a primary focus on international business expansion.

During Pate’s tenure, MV grew from $725 million in revenue in 2010 to more than $1 billion in 2013, and expanded its operational footprint in the Middle East, as well as in the areas of school bus operations, international transportation logistics, and on-demand black car service.


Walton, Pierce Transit
The Pierce Transit Board of Directors, Lakewood, WA, has named former Tacoma City Manager Jim Walton as its interim chief executive officer. He succeeds Lynne Griffith, who retired from the post and subsequently became director of Washington State Ferries.
Walton was Tacoma city manager, originally on an interim basis, from 2003-2005 before retiring. Earlier he had served as assistant city manager and deputy city manager.



APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Hector Garcia!

Hector Garcia
Government Relations Specialist
MTA Long Island Rail Road
Jamaica, NY
Member, Leadership APTA Class of 2013, Diversity Council, Legislative Committee, Early Career Program Mentor 2014, 2015

Please describe the LIRR’s scope.
In 2013, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) carried an average of 287,000 ­customers each weekday on 741 daily trains. The LIRR system is comprised of more than 670 miles of track on 11 different branches with 124 stations stretching from ­Montauk—on the eastern tip of Long Island—to Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, approximately 120 miles away.

The LIRR owns and operates all of its rolling stock and infrastructure, with the exception of the East River Tunnels and Penn Station, which are owned by Amtrak. Penn Station is the busiest train terminal in North America and is served by three railroads: LIRR, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit.

With 6,727 employees, the LIRR operates around the clock, 365 days a year. Schedule revenue service includes two peak periods, one on weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. and the other on weekday evenings from 4-8 p.m.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I’ve been in the industry for 23 years

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
When I started working for the LIRR in August 1991 as a station appearance maintainer, I did not think the LIRR would become my career. I had been recently released from active duty in the Marine Reserves. My plan was to attend school full time in the day and work at the LIRR full time at night until I completed my studies.

During my LIRR career, I continued to discover new challenges and progressive levels of responsibility and opportunity. I have earned a degree from Columbia University and have been able to take on positions with increasing responsibility. I have worked in the railroad’s marketing and promotions department. My current position in public affairs allows me to regularly interact with the president’s office and help manage some of the most sensitive community and political issues facing the LIRR.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been active since August 2012 when I was selected as a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2013.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.
During this past year, I was appointed to serve as Leadership APTA’s representative on the Diversity Council. I am also an active member of the Human Resources, ­Legislative, and Policy and Planning committees and am a national mentor in APTA’s new Early Career Program.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped.
The Leadership APTA and the Early Career Programs are excellent programs that provide participants a wider view of our business while providing extensive networking opportunities to advance their careers.

The most valuable APTA benefit is the ability to work closely with leaders from other public transit organizations. I am especially impressed by how engaged and accessible APTA’s leadership, executive committee, and board members are at conferences.

What do you like most about your job?
I can truly say that every day brings interesting and exciting challenges for me and the company where I’ve been employed for 23 years. As an LIRR government relations specialist, I deal daily with key issues facing the busiest and the oldest commuter railroad in North America.

Among my responsibilities is to advocate for the LIRR while working with our important constituency of elected and community representatives. I have to anticipate possible community issues that may arise in our large and diverse service area. I also regularly advise LIRR’s senior management on key issues, including local input on LIRR capital improvement projects.

What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
The Long Island Rail Road is both the largest U.S. commuter railroad and the ­oldest railroad in the country operating under its original name. Chartered in 1834, it extends from three major New York City terminals—Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, and Hunterspoint Avenue—through a major transfer hub at Jamaica to the easternmost tip of Long Island.

The LIRR pioneered many railroad industry firsts, such as all-steel passenger cars, electric train service, and train whistles.

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Brandon Whitaker!

Brandon Whitaker
Staff Accountant-Accounts Payable
Finance Department

What are the top job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?

I focus on many details, such as maintaining internal controls and communicating financial information with my team in the Finance Department. As part of my daily responsibilities, I process payment requests, expenses, and vendor invoices. It’s also my responsibility to track expenses and reconcile general ledger items. I report company sales and use tax on a quarterly basis, as well as federal 1099 forms annually.

One of the most important elements of my job—and our department’s—is attention to detail. It’s essential, and it allows us to provide accurate reporting to APTA committees and to our auditors. It also helps us to stay compliant with federal regulations.
Half of the checks I send out go to vendors who provide all types of services for APTA, such as the company that bills us for printing Passenger Transport! The other half of the checks go to reimbursing members for some of their APTA-related travel expenses. A large part of my job requires me to work with APTA staff in all departments. That’s what makes my job so interesting.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.

In my day-to-day duties I do not have direct contact with APTA members, although I have volunteered at APTA events. Last spring I manned the registration desk at the Legislative Conference. I also volunteered at the annual December Capitol Hill reception that members of Congress and APTA members attend.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

Recently, I collaborated in getting APTA employees set up through our new Electronic Fund Transaction/Automated Clearing House system, which is a benefit to them in that it helps expedite their reimbursements. I have also assisted other Finance Department staff with tracking expenses, preparing for our annual audit, and working on projects related to our annual budget.
Our department’s busiest time is in the late summer when the auditors arrive. So while most staff members are preparing for the Annual Meeting & EXPO this year in Houston, the Finance Department is busy pulling invoices and copies of monthly reconciliations and providing backup materials as needed.

How did you land at APTA? How long have you worked here?

I worked in Washington, DC, in the summer during my college years and made plans to move back there after attending school and working several years in Greensboro, NC. I worked as an accountant for a mattress company and for a publisher of magazines before APTA.

I heard about the position of staff accountant at APTA from a job posting. I interviewed and I really liked the ambience of APTA. I have been working here for almost two years. And I took public transportation often before working for APTA, and I take it all the time now.

What professional affiliations do you have?

I am a member of the National Association of Black Accountants and the Professional Accounting Society of America. I’m also studying for the CPA exam, which I plan to take next fall.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

AI have published two ­fiction books under my pen name, Brandon Sinclair. The first, Gone to Europe Leave a ­Message, is about a young man’s ­travels throughout Europe. My third book is set for release in ­November 2014. In my spare time, I like to paint using oils or acrylics.

I also won APTA’s first chili cook-off last winter with my special recipe from a friend in Jamaica.

APTA NEWS

U.K. and U.S. Public Transit Experts Trade Best Practices

Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for transport in the United Kingdom and a member of Parliament, along with several other guests from the U.K. Department of Transport and the British Embassy, made a special visit to APTA’s offices in early September to discuss opportunities and challenges ­facing public transportation in the United States, with a focus on funding structures.

Joining the meeting was Nick ­Donohue, deputy secretary of transportation for Virginia, who discussed his office’s responsibility to provide long-term, multimodal planning to guide investment options and solutions. Also at the meeting was Jeffrey Wharton, president, IMPulse NC LLC, and chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors Business Development Committee, who discussed the private-sector role in public transportation.

APTA provided a presentation on funding strategies for public transit in the United States and meeting participants shared best practices related to policy and planning and related issues.

McLoughlin, who has overall responsibility for transportation strategy (including economic growth and climate change), security, and high-speed rail, among other policies, also visited with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and other U.S. transportation leaders.

U.K. Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, right center; Nick Donohue, Virginia deputy secretary of transportation, and IMPulse President Jeffrey Wharton, left center; and other guests trade international best practices in an informal conversation at the APTA offices.

Photo by Mitchell Wood

Putting It Together: Annual Meeting & EXPO Highlights

As the date nears for the 2014 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 12-15 in Houston, final details of the event are falling into place. Register and learn more by clicking here.

Before the Meeting Begins
There’s plenty to do at the Annual Meeting & EXPO even before the events officially begin. Meeting participants who arrive early can participate in two special activities on Friday, Oct. 10.

APTA is organizing a volunteer effort at the Houston Food Bank, one of the nation’s largest, on Friday morning. Activities will range from creating food boxes for older citizens to building bags for the food bank’s Backpack Buddy program, which provides weekend meals for children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. Space is limited, so sign up now by clicking here.

In the afternoon, the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) is hosting a golf tournament to benefit the APTF scholarship fund. The event is open to Annual Meeting & EXPO attendees and their guests, and it includes lunch, a dinner buffet, and prizes for the participants. More information is available here.

Transportation for both events will be provided by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), host system for the meeting and EXPO.

Also, APTA will conduct the election of officers and members for the association’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors at noon Saturday, Oct. 11, just prior to the beginning of the board meeting. APTA members are encouraged to participate in the election. Members can designate a voting representative or assign a proxy to vote in their stead by submitting a form available at the website.

General Session: Meet with Mayors
Mayors from cities throughout the U.S. will participate in a roundtable session, “Preparing for a Future of Transit-Oriented Communities,” the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 14. Incoming APTA Chair Phillip Washington will preside at the session, which will address topics including mobility trends, economic opportunity questions, and quality of life issues that will shape American society and individuals’ lifestyles in the years ahead. The mayors will describe their experiences with infrastructure renewal, urban growth and development, regentrification, complete streets, sustainability, transportation rebalancing, and the interrelationship among the federal, regional, and local governments.

Public Safety Awards Centennial
What innovation introduced in the past 100 years has had the most profound impact on public transit safety? Come to the APTA Center on the EXPO floor and vote for your choice!

APTA continues to celebrate the centennial year of its public transit safety awards program with an interactive timeline display based on an online timeline to which many APTA members have contributed during the year. So far, APTA members have submitted approximately 150 nominations for safety innovations to appear on the timeline.

The interactive timeline at the APTA Center will present 100 safety innovations selected from among the nominees. Visitors can scroll to see the innovations according to the year they were implemented or they can zoom in and explore individual items via a large touchscreen display. They can then vote on which of those safety innovations included on the timeline has made the most profound impact on public transit safety.

APTA is continuing to gather and post safety innovations to the online timeline to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the public transit safety awards program, currently known as the Bus and Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards. To submit an entry, click here.

The Annual Meeting schedule also includes two sessions devoted to safety issues: A roundtable session Tuesday morning, Oct. 14, features representatives of FTA’s new Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, in partnership with the APTA Safety Coordinating, Bus Safety, and Rail Safety committees, and a concurrent session, “Top Actions To Mitigate Distracted Driving,” Wednesday morning, Oct. 15.

APTA-COMTO DBE Assembly
APTA is joining with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) to present an Oct. 14 session titled “APTA-COMTO DBE Assembly: Good News About Good Faith Efforts!” This is the third year the two organizations have hosted an Annual Meeting joint session devoted to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs).

The session brings together representatives of public transit agencies and businesses to discuss innovative approaches to support the inclusion of DBE firms in public transit projects as both primes and subcontractors, ensuring fairness and opportunity, and building sustainable small minority- and women-owned businesses.

Shuttles to Convention Center
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), host system for the Annual Meeting & EXPO will provide shuttle service to the George R. Brown Convention Center, from downtown hotels as well as those in the Galleria area, from Saturday, Oct. 11, through Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The downtown shuttles, Greenlink and METROLink, will serve all APTA-designated hotels in the area. The Greenlink Shuttle is an existing weekday service provided by the Houston Downtown District and METRO, with extended weekday hours and the addition of weekend service during the meeting. METROLink is a modified version of the Greenlink Convention route, which ordinarily operates only on weekends during major events. An additional shuttle specifically for EXPO exhibitors will operate between the Doubletree Suites and the convention center on Thursday, Oct. 9; Friday, Oct. 10; and Thursday, Oct. 16.

Route schedules will be accessible through an app METRO is creating. Details will be available on site. Hard copies of the route information will be available at hotels, the Host Booth in the convention center, and on board the buses.

Safety Management Session
Following the conclusion of the Annual Meeting & EXPO, APTA will host a session on safety management Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 15. This workshop, led by representatives of the Transportation Safety Institute, has no additional registration fee and it does not require attendees to preregister.

The session, “Safety Management Systems (SMS) & MAP-21,” will review MAP-21 legislative changes, new policies, and safety performance standards and focus on SMS’s four key pillars: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion.

APTA Goes Green
Annual Meeting & EXPO attendees can now find all the information they need about the events at their fingertips—­literally—by downloading the app APTA created for both meetings.

The app features program information, comprehensive agendas and schedules, floor maps, exhibitor profiles, links to social media, and more, all organized by day, with an option enabling users to bookmark sessions and create customized schedules. Before the Annual Meeting & EXPO begins, all registrants will receive an email inviting them to download the app.

Attendees who wish to use a printed program instead must go to the EXPO website and download and print a pdf. The program will not be available on-site as a pre-printed document.

Finally, if attendees plan to purchase extra tickets for the Welcome Reception on Sunday, Oct. 12, they must do so here by Saturday, Oct. 11. Tickets will not be available at the reception.

TransITech: Also in Houston for Transit Professionals

Hands-on technical personnel at public transit systems and businesses have an additional reason to attend the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston. TransITech 2014—a comprehensive technology workshop covering bus, rail, information technology, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and electronic payment systems—meets Oct. 13-15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in conjunction with the Annual Meeting & EXPO.

TransITech will feature multiple sessions covering all aspects of public transit technology, working in conjunction with the exhibits at EXPO to provide a comprehensive overview of transit technology for today and tomorrow. Registrants will have full access to the EXPO floor during the entire conference, as well as educational sessions and the Oct. 12 Welcoming Reception.

Session topics on the TransITech include asset management, a session for Transit CEOs, “Using Technology to Attract Ridership”; rail and bus technology; security technology and applications; meeting customer expectations using social networks; and an information technology roundtable.

To register or learn more, click here.

APTA Awards Recognize Industry's Best

Learn more about the recipients of the 2014 APTA Awards: North America's exemplary public transit agencies, individuals, federal legislators, and--for the first time this year--educators.

BMBG Announces Slate

The APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) Nominations Committee has announced the proposed slate of nominees for officers and board members. All APTA business members are invited to attend the Oct. 12 BMBG meeting and election ­during the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston. Nominees for two-year terms as officers follow:

Chair: Patrick Scully, vice president public sector sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries Inc.;

First Vice Chair: Jeffrey Wharton, president, IMPulse NC LLC; and

Second Vice Chair: Huelon Harrison, principal, Legacy Resource Group.

Nominees for two-year terms as members follow:

John Barberis, vice president, Transit Marketing Group;

John Bartosiewicz, executive vice president, McDonald Transit Associates;

Frank DiGiacomo, vice president, Bobit Business Media;

Freddie Fuller, senior account executive, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc.;

Jack Martinson, vice president, ­Faiveley Transport North America;

Nick Promponas, senior vice president, First Transit Inc.;

Janet Rogers, vice president, Stacy and Witbeck Inc.;

Rick Simonetta, business development rail/transit, The Burns Group;

Paul Skoutelas, senior vice president and market leader transit/rail, Parsons Brinckerhoff;

Paul Smith, executive vice president, New Flyer;

Jim Srygley, chief executive officer, S&A Systems Inc., and

Kevin Sudano, vice president, RSM Services.


Members of the BMBG Nominations Committee

Members of the BMBG Nominations Committee are Chuck Wochele, chair, managing partner/owner, Transit­Consult LLC; Helen Callier, president, Bradlink LLC; Buddy Coleman, executive vice president, Clever Devices Ltd.; Joe ­Policarpio, vice president, sales and marketing, Gillig LLC; and Eve Williams, president/chief executive officer, Dikita Engineering.

APTA's John Neff: Four Decades of Service to Public Transportation

APTA staff recently cele­brated a milestone in the career of co-worker John Neff, who marked his 40th year of employment with the association in September.

Neff, a senior policy researcher in APTA’s Policy Department, researches, analyzes, and reports research about public transportation and related issues for APTA members and staff and others who look to APTA for data and analysis.

“John Neff’s work provides an invaluable bedrock for APTA’s policy development and for our committees, agency and business members, members of Congress and congressional staff, and the news media,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “John’s distinguished and long-lived career has contributed to countless innovative initiatives.”

Among Neff’s projects is the annual Public Transportation Fact Book and its many appendices, which he expanded from an annual summary of data to a set of reports that tabulates nearly every piece of information published since the fact book’s inception in 1944.

In addition to many collaborative research projects in which he participates, Neff oversees the Public Transportation Investment Background Data report, which assembles the data investment firms typically ask for before they invest in a public transit agency or manufacturer, and various primers on federal funding programs, including descriptions, legislative histories, and details for each federal funding program over time.

Neff joined the American Transit Association (APTA’s predecessor) after he completed graduate school at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and following his service in the U.S. Coast Guard.

To access Neff’s work, visit the APTA website and search in Government Affairs & Policy and the Resource Library.

The APTA team celebrates John Neff’s 40-year career with cake and warm wishes.

Photo by Mitchell Wood

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Proterra Honored as Global Technology Pioneer

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently recognized Proterra, a manufacturer of battery-electric public transit vehicles, as one of 24 Technology Pioneers for 2015. Proterra is the only public transportation-related company honored on this worldwide list.

The WEF’s Technology Pioneers program recognizes companies from around the world involved in the design, development, and deployment of new technologies it considers will have a significant impact on business and society. Most significantly, Technology Pioneers must demonstrate vision and the promise of long-term industry leadership, and their technology must be proven.

Ryan Popple, Proterra’s president and chief executive officer, said, “We recognize the long-term importance of [our] efforts in achieving energy independence and protecting the environment for future generations, and we are committed to continuing to lead the way.”

MTA's Fix & Fortify Effort Restoring Tunnels

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently reopened the Greenpoint tunnel between Brooklyn and Queens and the Montague tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan (both heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy) after extensive reconstruction and restoration efforts to return the structures to pre-hurricane conditions. The projects are part of the MTA’s Fix & Fortify initiative to “flood-proof” the subway system. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at left in top photo, and MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, right, joined other guests at the Whitehall Street Station to mark the restoration of the Montague tunnel. The Greenpoint tube, bottom photo, was flooded with 3 million gallons of salt water, totally submerging tracks and equipment. Of the MTA’s 14 underwater tunnels, 9 were severely damaged. FTA has allocated nearly $3.8 billion to the MTA for repair, resiliency, and disaster relief work.

Top photo courtesy of MTA Patrick Cashin
Bottom photo courtesy of MTA Marc A. Hermann

 

SEPTA Campaign Promotes Passenger Etiquette

Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) launched its new “Dude It’s Rude” passenger etiquette campaign to encourage riders to think about their personal travel habits.

This effort follows SEPTA’s previous etiquette campaigns, which either addressed general behaviors or specific areas of concern using a lighter approach with cartoon-like characters. The new program attempts to reform customer travel habits that have continuously been reported as major problems. Campaign materials encourage passengers to take their trash when they leave the vehicle, watch their language, and not block the front aisle. SEPTA uses strong visuals and minimal words, and the agency intentionally does not include its name or logo on decals and posters so customers focus more on messages instead of who is delivering them.

“Initial comments from our customer service channels have been positive,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey. “Customers appreciate our efforts to tackle the issues that bug them such as seat hogging. We will continue to monitor customer and employee comments for feedback.”

Live Music on Tampa's Streetcar


The TECO Line Streetcar System, operated by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, has partnered with the Gasparilla Music Festival to present live concerts on board the streetcar the first Saturday of each month. Shown is the local band Have Gun, Will Travel, which performed at the first Streetcar Live event.

KL Executive Search Merges with DVR Associates

Transportation-focused executive search firm KL Executive Search LLC, based in Kensington, MD, has merged with executive interviewing and research practitioners DVR Associates, Asheville, NC. The new entity, KL2 Connects LLC, will serve clients from those two locations.

Tony Kouneski, a founding KL principal, will remain a principal at the new firm, joined by Al Schlimm, principal at DVR Associates.

“This merger has been in the works for two years,” Kouneski said. “As a result of the rapidly growing demand for our services, in 2012 KL Executive Search LLC began to look for the right partner to help us take our business to the next level. We became aware of DVR’s work and recognized that their experience, skill set, and client-focused approach meshed very well with our own. We are happy to announce that we have formalized our relationship, and we are excited to see where we might jointly take our business from here.”

Introducing Young Pros to Cincinnati Metro


Cincinnati Metro recently introduced more than 300 young professionals to public transportation on a special “entertainment bus” that visited venues throughout the city. Metro’s campaign to encourage bus ridership, in partnership with two local organizations, culminates with a 30-day car-free challenge in October. “We want to show how easy it can be to integrate Metro into people’s lives,” said Kim Lahman, Metro’s ridership development manager. “I give credit to the young professionals who are working hard to encourage their peers to try public transportation.”

 

'Super Stop' Pulls Out All the Stops


Passengers on Port Authority of Allegheny County bus routes that serve the Robinson Township area, 10 miles west of downtown Pittsburgh, may do a double take when their buses pull in at the “Super Stop,” which stands on land donated by IKEA. The shelter, spearheaded by the Airport Corridor Transportation Authority, features tables, benches, chairs, potted plants, and a bike workstation—a self-contained, free-standing facility with an air pump and other tools cyclists can use to make simple repairs. IKEA, a partner in the stop’s development, provided throw pillows and area rugs just for the ribbon-cutting, and it wrapped portions of the shelters with scenes of its furnishings to give bus passengers the sensation of sitting in a room.

Museum Exhibit Showcases Railroad Landscapes


The New York Transit Museum’s latest exhibit, “Railroad Landscapes: Photographs by John Sanderson,” traces the tracks of MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad through the natural and built environments of New York State. Shown above is Sanderson’s “Railroad Power Station, Glenwood, NY.” The large format contemporary images highlight the ever-changing physical surroundings of rail lines, using the tracks as a means to explore American landscapes. The exhibit continues through Feb. 1, 2015, at the museum in Brooklyn. More information is available here.

Industry Briefs

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

King County Metro to Offer Reduced-Fare Passes — King County Metro Transit in Seattle will partner with the county public health department to offer a reduced-fare program for lower-income bus riders starting next March. The reduced fare of $1.50 will be available to riders earning no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level—currently $23,340 annually for an individual. Eligibility must be verified every other year.

New Haven Campaign ‘Makes Cents’ for Paratransit — The Greater New Haven Transit District (GNHTD) (CT)—through its GNHTD Foundation to support the needs of the transit district and its riders—is administering an “It Makes Cents” campaign that accepts individual and business donations to cover a 40-cent increase in paratransit fares that otherwise might prevent some older Americans and persons with disabilities from using the service. GNHTD plans to return the fares to their previous level after achieving a predetermined funding goal.

Centro Sets Records for State Fair Bus Services — Centro in Syracuse, NY, provided 212,122 rides between park-and-ride locations in three counties and the main gate of the 2014 New York State Fair, 10.5 percent more than the previous year. The agency also provided 319,097 shuttle rides between the parking lots and the main gate, 1 percent more than in 2013. Executive Director Frank Kobliski said, “Of the approximately 950,000 people who went through the turnstiles at the fair, one out of every three to four arrived at the main gate on a Centro bus.”

Las Vegas Receives Retrofitted Paratransit Vehicles — The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has taken delivery of 80 new 27-foot paratransit buses from a local firm, RO Bus Sales, which modified the vehicles to meet RTC and federal safety standards. The $7.67 million contract includes four options for an additional 320 vehicles through 2017.

WMATA Prepares for Smartphone Fare Pilot — The Washington Metro­politan Area Transit Authority is planning a pilot program to test new fare technology and gates that would allow riders to pay for their trip using next-generation smartphones, near field communications-enabled watches, contactless credit and debit cards, and federal ID cards. The testing will begin at 10 Metrorail stations and on six Metrobus routes.

Cubic Launches U.S. Intelligent Transport Management Systems Business — Cubic Transportation Systems has expanded its intelligent transport management business, Cubic (ITMS), to the U.S. market. Cubic (ITMS) is based in the United Kingdom and has major contracts in Scotland, Australia, and Hong Kong.

LIRR’s One-Ticket Ride to Meadow­lands — During the pro football season, MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is providing a special one-ticket ride from Long Island to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home field for both the New York Jets and New York Giants, and for select other events at the stadium. The round-trip “Train to the Game” ticket includes LIRR service to Manhattan’s Penn Station, a New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) train ride to Secaucus Junction Station, and an NJ Transit shuttle train to the stadium.

SPECIAL FEATURE

Jimmy Carter: A MARTA Supporter from the Start

Special from MARTA

How many public transit agencies have a close connection with a U.S. President?

Jimmy Carter voted to create the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) while he was a Georgia state senator, believing that the agency would “transform” the Atlanta region, and he continued to encourage it through its early years during his term as governor, 1971-75. During Carter’s tenure as president, he supported funding for public transportation.

As part of MARTA’s 35th-anniversary celebration, MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker sat down with Carter for a one-on-one interview at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

“Sitting down with President Carter as part of MARTA’s 35th Anniversary and listening to him speak so passionately and vividly about the importance of mass transit to the growth and quality of life in the Atlanta region was a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” said Parker. “We had a great conversation and our interview was one of the highlights of my time here at MARTA.” 

Here are excerpts from that interview:

In the Beginning
The original “dream,” [Carter] said, was for MARTA to be a comprehensive metropolitan transportation system serving the city of Atlanta and the five counties that then made up the metropolitan area: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett. That was the system he voted for when the Georgia General Assembly first approved it in 1965. That same year, however, Cobb County voters passed a referendum in which they declined to participate in the system. MARTA’s prospects were dealt a second blow in 1968 when a referendum to fund the system based on property tax financing also failed.

“When I became governor in 1971, I was quite interested in saving what I could of the original MARTA dream,” said Carter, recalling the eroding suburban support for the system and the delicate negotiations that were taking place to finance it. “Sam Massell was mayor (of Atlanta), and Sam came to me and asked if I would support a 1 percent sales tax (to fund MARTA). At that time, a separate sales tax for local governments had never been heard of in Georgia. It was the first time. But, I agreed with him, because it was almost impossible to get the rural members of the state Legislature to approve an overall tax to pay for a transportation system just in (several) counties.” …

Carter’s fears were realized in November of 1971 when Clayton and Gwinnett overwhelmingly voted against a 1 percent local sales tax to join MARTA. The city of Atlanta and DeKalb and Fulton counties voted for the tax, which enabled the agency for the first time to begin purchasing trains and the buses, Carter said.

In February of 1972, with only two of the original five counties and the city as members of the system, MARTA completed its purchase of the existing, bus-only Atlanta Transit Company. The bus fare, as longtime commuters will remember, was just 15 cents. It would be another seven years before the rail component of the original rapid transit system was initiated.

You Can’t Stop a Train
Since then, MARTA has become a catalyst for Atlanta’s staggering population and business growth. The transit system has also helped the Atlanta region become a top relocation destination for Fortune 500 companies, was instrumental in the city’s selection as the host for the 1996 Olympics, and cemented its status as an international city. Recently, there has been burgeoning interest in Clayton County in putting MARTA back on the ballot.

None of this surprises Carter. “It’s obvious to me that any major location for many employees can be greatly enhanced in its attractiveness if you have a rapid transit system providing service so people can go to work without having to drive a car,” he said. “It’s just as a matter of principle all over the United States.” …

Carter said metro Atlanta has an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the world and other parts of the nation that are investing in high-speed rail and rapid transit. Given the growing concerns about global warming, rising gasoline prices, and mounting frustrations with traffic congestion, Carter predicts the state and region will inevitably embrace rail transportation to move large numbers of people quickly and efficiently.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that to bring the metropolitan area of Atlanta, which encompasses almost two-thirds of the people in our state, into a cohesive group, not just for a job enhancement but for community spirit, cooperation, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, and attractiveness of ­Georgia to foreign and domestic investors, that a rapid transit system is one of the best things to have,” he said.

Another long-standing challenge that Carter believes is fading away is the federal government’s heavy emphasis on funding road transportation while starving mass transit, which he considers counter-productive.

“Even if you put 10 or 11 lanes in the heart of Atlanta, within a few years it’s going to be jammed up again every time you have a bunch of workers going to or from their jobs,” he said. “So I think there is a general trend and a general realization in America that rail transportation is by far the most efficient and the best way to attract industry to invest in a community and get people to and from work.”

Millennials, MARTA, and A New Day
The millennials—the generation born between 1980 to 2000—will drive these changes, Carter believes. … Millennials are growing up in an America with a very different view of energy and transportation than their parents had when MARTA was first launched as a combined bus and rail system in 1979. …

Those attitudes have shifted dramatically as younger people are more inclined to using mass transit or other modes and are forgoing automobile ownership. … “I think it’s becoming more apparent to the people in Atlanta, as it already has to people who live in downtown New York, that we don’t need to own an automobile.”…

“I think it’s a propitious time, a good time,” he continued, “for another effort to be made to expand the system. I don’t have any doubt, with those five counties working together and with the city of Atlanta, of course, that the original dream of MARTA can be implemented in the future.”

This article is excerpted with permission from a special publication issued by MARTA to commemorate its 35th anniversary.

Former President Jimmy Carter and MARTA GM Keith Parker discuss MARTA's past, present, and future in a rare face-to-face conversation that marks the agency's 35th anniversary.

Photo courtesy of MARTA

COMMENTARY

Infrastructure Investment Summit: Charting a Course Toward Mobilizing Private Capital

BY ANTHONY FOXX, DOT Secretary

We all know the “road to prosperity” is a metaphor, but what if it were an actual road?

The fact is, investing in transportation creates value, and that means it’s a worthwhile investment—for public funds, yes, but also for the private sector. So, with public investments in our nation’s important transportation assets steadily declining, we need to find better ways to partner with private investors to help rebuild America.

And rebuild America we must. The American Society of Civil Engineers predicts that we’ll face a $1 trillion funding gap for transportation by the end of the decade. More than two-thirds of American roads are in less than good condition, and if you lined up all of the structurally deficient bridges in the country, they would stretch from Boston to Miami.

It might save money up front for legislators to ignore our infrastructure deficit, but you are paying the price for this head-in-the-sand approach to transportation every day. You pay it in longer commute times—5.5 billion hours annually—higher vehicle repair costs, and increased spending on wasted fuel. It’s not small change; the extra fuel and lost hours cost Americans about $120 billion a year. And the businesses of our nation pay as well, in additional freight costs to the tune of $27 billion a year.

Since his first day in office, President Obama has understood the importance of rolling back this infrastructure deficit, and investing in transportation has been a cornerstone of his economic policies.

That’s why earlier this week, along with our partners at the Treasury Department, we held an infrastructure investment summit in Washington, D.C., to mobilize private sector investment capital, uncover new financing approaches, and accelerate project development. The meeting brought together leading institutional investors, international asset managers, and project developers. Collectively, those gathered represent more than $50 billion in projected capital investment in the U.S. infrastructure market over the next five years.

And I’m pleased to say, we’re off to a good start.

We had productive discussions on a wide range of topics from “Generating a Pipeline: Convincing Investors that the Public-Private Partnership Market Is Robust” to “Increasing Efficiency and Certainty Around Permitting; Improving Outcomes for Communities and the Environment” to “Augmenting the Role of Pension Funds in U.S. Infrastructure” and “Maximizing Use of Federal Credit and Technical Assistance Programs.” [Editor’s note: See the sessions here.] The sessions sparked a number of important conversations, and I am confident these will lead to lasting and thought-provoking collaborations.

A number of participants identified next steps, and we’ll be excited to keep the lines of discussion open and to hear about their progress. For example, the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation announced that they are coming together to fund joint investment of over $1 million to support innovations in U.S. infrastructure. The new partnership will expand the infrastructure pipeline by incubating innovative public private collaborations, including a predevelopment fund for innovative projects and public private partnerships. By demonstrating the benefits of predevelopment funding, the partnership will help build the case for increased predevelopment funding from states and from the federal government.
In an exciting step towards developing technology solutions that support intelligent, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure,

Carnegie Mellon University announced that it will be creating Metro 21, a consortium of research universities focused on technology ­solutions for their region’s infrastructure and urban systems.

We are also moving forward on several steps to identify a pipeline of promising infrastructure projects. Treasury announced that they will be commissioning an independent, third-party research report highlighting the country’s top 25 or 50 most economically significant proposed transportation and/or water infrastructure projects, highlighting the importance of a strong national infrastructure for competitiveness and economic growth. Many of these may emerge as good candidates for PPPs.

And, this week, I sent a letter to governors, as well as many mayors and heads of metropolitan planning organizations to let them know about the Build America Investment Initiative and to ask them for their help and partnership in identifying specific transportation infrastructure projects that could be good candidates for innovative financing. [Editor’s note: Read the letter here.]

Of course, the Obama administration will continue acting where possible to address our infrastructure deficit. And the president will continue to call on Congress to bring a renewed measure of strength and stability to the Highway Trust Fund by acting on his four-year, fully-funded, transportation proposal that will allow states, counties, and communities to plan the projects we need to begin tackling this critical challenge.

But only together can we lay the foundation for a brighter, more prosperous future.

This column was originally posted on DOT’s blog, "Fast Lane."

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

Reginald A. Mason
ATLANTA—Reginald A. Mason, a member-at-large of the APTA Executive Committee, has joined the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority as assistant general manager of safety and quality assurance. He formerly worked for CH2M HILL.

Mason also is a member of the APTA Board of Directors, Business Member Board of Governors, Authorization Task Force, and the Bus Safety, Public-Private Partnerships, Rail Transit, and Safety Coordinating committees.

Donna Aggazio
WASHINGTON—FTA announced the appointment of Donna Aggazio as public engagement and stakeholder outreach manager in the Office of Safety and Oversight.

Aggazio has more than 20 years experience in communications and the public transportation industry, including five years as APTA’s senior communications specialist.

She previously was chief speechwriter for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and worked in media relations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County.