Passenger Transport - December 5, 2014
|Passengers board AMT's Mascouche Line on opening day, Dec. 1.|
To prepare for increased traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) launched service Nov. 21 between the Coliseum in Oakland, CA, and the new Oakland International Airport (OAK) Station.
Almost 700 people rode free on opening day, which also featured music, giveaways, and a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Ridership during the first week of the new service was 15 percent to 38 percent higher than bus ridership to the airport on the same days last year. Wait times are shorter and riders can make direct connections without having to leave the station.
“The Bay Area is making history by becoming only the second major metro area in the nation [the other is Chicago] where two or more of its airports are served by a direct train-to-plane connection,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said at the ceremony.
Cutting the ribbon at BART’s new Oakland International Airport Station, from left: Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Oakland Mayor-Elect Libby Schaaf, California Transportation Commissioner and Executive Officer of Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Bob Alvarado, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman, Port of Oakland Aviation Director Deborah Ale Flint, President of the Board of Port of Oakland Commissioners Alan Yee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, BART Board President Joel Keller, Airport Area Business Association President Randall Whitney, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), BART General Manager Grace Crunican; California State Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, and former BART Board member Carole Ward Allen.
As APTA's Bus and Rail Safety & Security Awards program marked its 100th anniversary this year, the association is honoring the industry's commitment to safety with a special publication (accessible here) that tracks 100 of public transit's most notable milestones, including the Birney Safety Car, rolled out in 1916 in major cities across the country. This lightweight streetcar is considered to be the first mass-produced standard streetcar in North America. It introduced many safety features, variations of which are standard today.
APTA invited business members to visit Capitol Hill Dec. 3 to tell their members of Congress about the importance of public transportation.
Photos by Steve Barrett
Meeting with Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID), left, are AECOM representative Cynthia Stinger and William Slater, Wabtec Corp.
APTA business members and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy visit with Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), fifth from left.
Four members of Congress—Reps. Reid J. Ribble (R-WI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ)—circulated a Dear Colleague letter on Dec. 3 to their colleagues calling for passage of a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill. APTA is among the numerous organizations that support the text of the letter.
“We support transportation and infrastructure investment because our economy needs a national system to safely move people and deliver goods from place to place,” the congressmen wrote. The letter was addressed to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but circulated to all members of the House of Representatives.
“The current extension of the Highway Trust Fund is slated to expire on May 31, 2015. This is not a long way off. We are united in our conviction that now is the time to end the cycle of short-term extensions that kick the can down the road by doing the work needed to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill,” the letter states.
Other issues addressed in the letter include the need for stable financial support to build and maintain the U.S. transportation infrastructure, the uncertainty and inability to plan that result from short-term funding fixes, and the importance of finding a reliable funding source for the Highway Trust Fund.
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy presents the APTA National Distinguished Service Award to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Dec. 3 at her Capitol Hill office.
Retiring Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), center, accepts his APTA National Distinguished Service Award Dec. 4 from APTA Chair Phil Washington, left, and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.
Michael W. Roschlau, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) for the past 16 years, has announced his plans to retire in June. He joined CUTA in 1986.
Zanghi comes to Masabi after serving as CEO of Awareness Inc, a provider of social marketing software. He also was CEO of Kadient and held ‘C’-level positions at software companies including SPSS, NetGenesis, and eRoom.
Malnati, BRTA, Pittsfield, MA
Malnati has worked for the BRTA for 12 years, most recently as assistant administrator.
William (Will) P. Sears, 48, former FTA chief counsel and founder of the transportation consulting company the Peterson Group, died Nov. 28.
Each January, the APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) convenes to identify private sector priorities and set an agenda to address industry matters impacting their businesses.
The 2015 meeting, open to all business members, will take place Jan. 26-28 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
Market conditions make the 2015 meeting an important and timely one. The platform for discussion, as outlined by newly elected BMBG Chair Pat Scully, will include:
A national day to support transportation: APTA Chair Phil Washington, general manager and CEO, Denver RTD, will introduce his signature initiative and develop a plan with business members to convey the industry’s message to Congress.
Legislative program: Meeting attendees will review the midterm election results to create a plan for supporting APTA’s efforts toward congressional passage of a surface transportation authorization bill.
Procurement and jobs: Job creation in large rolling stock procurements and Buy America continues to be an important topic for the private sector.
Innovative financing: Business members will discuss next steps in the industry-wide discussion on ways to develop a more comprehensive approach to financing public transportation in the U.S.
BMBG work plan: Representatives of the BMBG committees will report on their progress and together the business members will agree to a business member work plan for 2015.
APTA is seeking a diverse group of 50 rising high school juniors and seniors from across the U.S. to participate in its 2015 Youth Summit, “GenTech on Board,” June 28-July 2 in Washington, D.C.
Public transportation plays a significant role in finding solutions to the numerous challenges facing America today, including job creation, a cleaner environment, energy independence, and improved quality of life.
The Youth Summit provides participants with unique opportunities to learn about the public transit industry, to become familiar with a broad range of career choices, and to meet with industry leaders and learn how their current and future courses of study apply directly to the industry.
The Missoula (MT) Urban Transportation District, operator of Mountain Line bus service, recently unveiled new buses with an exterior redesign inspired by the region’s natural surroundings. The exterior of each bus displays a different graphic showing people participating in leisure activities familiar to the community.
“We at Mountain Line are thrilled to be unveiling a new look for our agency,” said spokesperson Topher Williams. “Providing high-quality, high-frequency transit that Missoula can be proud of is something that benefits us all.” The new buses will enter service Jan. 5.
“Missoula is an amazing place to live, work, and play,” said Tia Metzger, account executive at Montana Marketing Group, which designed the new look. “We wanted to make sure that Mountain Line reflects the adventure in our lifestyle.”
In 2013, voters approved a property tax mill levy—or $19.11 on a home valued at $100,000—that has allowed Mountain Line to expand its service, which includes adding vehicles to the fleet. The new buses will serve two high-frequency BOLT! routes, which will connect all parts of the city with 15-minute headways. The millage also supports extending service until 10 p.m. on four popular routes and upgrading paratransit operations.
Also on Jan. 5, Mountain Line will launch a three-year zero-fare demonstration project throughout the fixed route system, sponsored by a coalition of local businesses and government agencies.
“The new buses we have acquired are needed to meet the increased ridership demand that we are anticipating,” Williams said. He noted that the buses are equipped with red interior lighting, which he said would enhance passenger safety because the light reduces glare on the windshield while allowing passenger visibility.
“With expanded services from the levy combined with zero-fare transit, we are projecting about a 45 percent increase in our ridership over the next few years. We are excited to grow Mountain Line and be a national example of what a small urban transit system can accomplish,” he added.
Kayaking is among the outdoor activities showcased on Mountain Line’s new buses.
The Northern California Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) recently recognized AC Transit, Oakland, CA, as its Transit Agency of the Year.
The chapter explained that AC Transit received the honor because it has championed COMTO’s ideals: to provide equal access to transportation careers and advance the transportation interests of communities of color.
The agency recently replaced one-third of its fleet with more than 200 new buses, added 120 employees, introduced an internship program, and increased its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation to 22 percent.
“It is particularly gratifying to be honored for the work we are doing to improve transportation options and business opportunities for the people in the neighborhoods we service,” said Joe Wallace, AC Transit board vice president and Operations Committee chair. “We are proudly improving operations at all levels, as borne out by our recent 8 percent increase in ridership. We’re moving in the right direction.”
As the third largest transit agency in California, AC Transit has a $320 million annual budget, serves nearly 200,000 daily riders, and employs 1,750.
Valley Metro recently began installing solar panels on the roof of its light rail operations and maintenance facility in Phoenix. When the plant goes online in the spring, it will be capable of generating 780 kilowatts of energy annually while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.It is estimated to save the agency approximately 16 percent ($100,000 average per year) of the energy consumption at the facility.
Valley Metro’s solar panels on the roof of its light rail operations and maintenance facility in Phoenix.
The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency (RTA) recently held ribbon-cutting ceremonies to celebrate the opening of six new bus stops and shelters at the Galleria at Tyler, a shopping mall in Riverside. Three of the new stops are located on the mall access road and the others are just outside the mall, allowing for improved pedestrian flow. Other upgrades include solar lighting for enhanced customer safety and digital signs that display real-time bus arrival times. In the near future, RapidLink express bus service will also connect with this site.
Nova Bus has entered into an $80 million (Cdn,) contract with Metrolinx, which coordinates transit vehicle purchasing initiatives for 13 municipalities in Ontario. Through this agreement, the manufacturer will deliver up to 188 40-foot buses and 15 articulated buses to cities in Metrolinx member cities between 2015 and 2017.
Since vehicle specifications vary greatly from one city to another, the Metrolinx-Nova Bus agreement comprises various types of propulsion technologies such as clean diesel, diesel-electric hybrid, and compressed natural gas. The vehicles will be entirely assembled in Canada and will include a high level of Canadian content.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) recently launched an outreach campaign with Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) and local advocates for the homeless community to talk about dangers the homeless can face around rail tracks. DART used funds from an OLI grant to support this effort; the other 10 grant recipients are preparing public awareness and safety education projects with different emphases.
“Operation Lifesaver tells us, about every three hours a person or a vehicle is hit by a freight or passenger train in the U.S. That’s too many,” said DART President and Executive Director Gary Thomas.
OLI emphasizes the importance of rail safety with its “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign. DART is using that message to engage persons who are homeless about the risks of walking on tracks and setting up campgrounds near rail right-of-way.
Introducing DART’s rail safety outreach to the homeless community during ceremonies at Dallas Union Station, from left: DART President and Executive Director Gary Thomas, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance President and CEO Mike Faenza, and DART customer and advocate for the homeless Ricky Redd.
Fare Update Program Branded as ‘SEPTA Key’—The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia has selected “SEPTA Key” as the official name for its fare modernization program. Through this initiative, SEPTA will replace current fare instruments such as tokens, paper tickets, and magnetic stripe passes with contactless payment devices. The agency is currently testing the new technology and related equipment, including card readers, new fare gates, and fare kiosks.
‘Van GO’ Program Provides Retired Transit Vans to Nonprofits—Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, recently donated retired vanpool vans to 11 nonprofit organizations in the county through its Van GO program. Recipients of the vans include organizations serving older residents, children, and residents with health issues. Community Transit has provided 116 vehicles through this program since 2000.
Hill International Acquires Cadogans—Hill International, based in Marlton, NJ, has acquired the engineering firm Cadogans, the trading name of Angus Octan Scotland Ltd. and its subsidiary companies Cadogan Consultants Ltd., Cadogan Consult Ltd., and Cadogan International Ltd. Cadogans’ senior management team will continue with the company, which will operate as part of Hill's Construction Claims Group.
Audit Gives High Marks to The T—The Fort Worth (TX) Transportation Authority (The T) recently received high marks on an independent performance audit of its operations related to plans for the future TEX Rail commuter rail line. The auditor, TransTech Management Inc., called The T “one of the best [public transit agencies] we have examined,” scoring “well above average in most functions and activities.”
UTA Introduces Apple Pay for Fare Payment—Utah Transit Authority (UTA) customers with the iPhone 6 can use Apple Pay to pay their fares throughout the system. UTA buses and rail stations are equipped with near field communications (NFC) readers and accept payment from contactless electronic cards and NFC smartphone payment apps.
BY CARL SEDORYK
In 1998, Congress amended the tax code to allow employees to take advantage of the benefit using pre-tax dollars, and in later years similar benefits were provided to both active-duty and civilian personnel with the Department of Defense. By 2009, the monthly tax-free cap commuters could spend on the public transit benefit was raised to $230, making the benefit equal to the automobile parking portion. In addition, bicycle commuting was incentivized through the addition of a $20 per month benefit.
High Value of Full Benefit
Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) provides just one example of how the increased public transit benefit positively impacted a community. When the commuter benefit program received a funding boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to increase from $110 to $230 monthly, MST was able to create a sustainable model to fund partnerships with local military bases and create express routes that serve the Presidio of Monterey, Naval Postgraduate School, and Fort Hunter Liggett.
The Frontier Group, a nonprofit organization that provides policy guidance on a range of issues, including transportation, offers three recommendations:
This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.
King to Retire from Triangle Transit
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC—David King, general manager of Triangle Transit, has announced his plans to retire next year following eight years in the post.
Before joining Triangle Transit in 2006, King worked 33 years at North Carolina DOT, most recently as deputy secretary, responsible for the department’s five multimodal divisions including Public Transportation and Rail.
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
JACKSONVILLE, FL—Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, has been elected treasurer of the Transportation and Expressway Authority Membership of Florida. The organization was formed in 1997 to facilitate the exchange of information among toll agencies and the transportation industry.
Ford has more than 30 years of transportation industry experience, including chief executive positions with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. He is a member-at-large of the APTA Executive Committee.
HOUSTON—Vera Bumpers, an employee of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) for more than 30 years, has been named the agency’s first female police chief. She succeeds Tim Kelly.Bumpers joined the security department of METRO in 1981, before the system established its own police force. She is the agency’s first woman to serve at every level of command: officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and assistant police chief.
Robinson, a third-generation railroader, worked 23 years for a metropolitan New York commuter rail system and currently serves New Hampshire DOT as a rail safety inspector/investigator. Perrine is railroad program manager with Delaware DOT.
John H. Robinson, Robert Perrine
WASHINGTON, DC—Operation Lifesaver has named John H. Robinson the new state coordinator in New Hampshire and Robert Perrine to head operations in Delaware. Robinson succeeds Lyman Cousens and Perrine takes over from Bob King.
INDIANAPOLIS—Crosspoint Kinetics announces the appointment of Amy Dobrikova as director of strategy and business development. She joins the firm from Echo Automotive, where she was vice president of sales and business development.
COLUMBUS, OH—The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announces the appointment of Amy Hockman as director of mobility management. She has more than 22 years of management experience, working most recently as general manager for MV Transportation’s IndyGo paratransit contract in Indianapolis and general manager for MV Transportation’s contract with the city of Lancaster, OH, Public Transit System.
Lynch, a vice president of the firm’s Transit & Rail Systems Division, was formerly based in Jacksonville, FL, with more than 35 years of experience. He will serve as project manager for the firm’s work to support Caltrain’s extensive modernization program.
Charles R. Lynch, Jeffery A. Hurley
SAN FRANCISCO—Charles R. Lynch and Jeffery A. Hurley have joined Gannett Fleming’s team in San Bruno, CA.
ANCHORAGE, AK—Jack Burton recently marked his 50th anniversary as an employee of the Alaska Railroad. He joined the railroad as a track laborer in April 1964 and, during the past five decades, has worked in numerous capacities. He also has served since 1994 on the railroad’s board of directors in a position appointed by the governor to represent the employees.
Marc Renaud, Arjan van Andel, Stefan Gemperli
MONTREAL, QC—GIRO announced the hiring of Marc Renaud as general manager of services engineering and Arjan van Andel as director of business development.
Also, the company named Stefan Gemperli director of public transport software for the Canadian market. He most recently worked for SNC-Lavalin and had a 20-year career with a public transportation software and technology company in Switzerland.