Passenger Transport - January 9, 2015
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BREAKING NEWS

WMATA Names Requa Interim General Manager/CEO

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors has named Jack Requa, an agency employee since 1998, interim general manager and chief executive officer. Requa will serve until a successor is found for the current general manager and CEO, Richard Sarles, who retires Jan. 16.

Requa’s current title is assistant general manager for bus services.

He also served as WMATA acting general manager in 2006, after Dan Tangherlini left the post to become D.C. city administrator in the Adrian Fenty administration.

NEWS HEADLINES

CHSRA Breaks Ground for High-Speed Rail in Fresno; Governor Calls It a Project to Bring California Together

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) celebrated a major milestone Jan. 7 when it broke ground for the state’s high-speed rail line at ceremonies attended by California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown and hundreds of supporters and government, student, community, transportation, business and labor leaders. The event was held at the site of a future high-speed rail station in downtown Fresno.

“What is important is the connection that we are rooted in our forebears and we are committed and linked to our descendants,” Brown said. “And the high-speed rail links us from the past to the future, from the south to Fresno and north; this is truly a California project bringing us together today.”

The first segment of construction will cover 29 miles from Madera County to Fresno County and will include grade separations, two viaducts, a tunnel and a bridge over the San Joaquin River.

CHSRA Board Chairman Dan Richard added, “We now enter a period of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system—for the next five years in the Central Valley and for a decade after that across California.” He called the line “an investment that will forever improve the way Californians commute, travel, and live.”

Plans call for the high-speed rail line to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2029, operating at more than 200 mph. Ultimately, the system will operate between Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations.

Funding sources for the high-speed rail line include $3.3 billion in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money and matching funds from Proposition 1A, a $9.9 million bond approved by California voters in 2008. The state also will use 25 percent of greenhouse gas fees collected under its cap-and-trade program to help fund the project. However, a funding shortfall remains, and CHSRA is continuing to acquire land for future development.

“California is leading the way in transportation innovation,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy in a released statement. “High-speed rail will expand transportation options in California and generate strong economic activity up and down the San Francisco-Los Angeles corridor. The American Public Transportation Association congratulates Gov. Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority on this major milestone and pledges to continue to work with them on this transformative project.”

Other speakers included owners of a family-owned steel manufacturer already benefitting from high-speed rail construction and student leaders from Fresno State and the University of California, Merced, who described how high-speed rail is creating new local opportunities.

Although the ceremony marked the official launch of the project, CHSRA has already broken ground in the Central Valley, and the day’s events included tours of nearby construction activity, including various demolition sites. Other achievements to date include finalization of project designs, ongoing right-of-way purchases and workforce training and mobilization.

 

California Gov. Jerry Brown and other dignitaries sign a ceremonial high-speed rail at ground-breaking ceremonies in Fresno.

Photo courtesy of CHSRA

Atlanta Streetcar Enters Service

The Atlanta Streetcar entered service Dec. 30 following a grand opening ceremony attended by Mayor Kasim Reed, hundreds of business and community leaders and officials from the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), one of the partners that worked to create the new system.

“Atlanta, like other world-class cities, recognizes the importance of investing in a robust public transit network,” MARTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker said at the opening. ­“Situated near four MARTA rail stations and numerous bus stops, the modern Atlanta Streetcar provides another much-needed alternative transportation mode. This is a critical first step in a long-overdue expansion of our region’s transit footprint.”

Parker noted that MARTA will expand its service area in March for the first time in its history, after voters in Clayton County approved the action.

“To build our rapid transit projects, the region and the state must invest in MARTA,” Parker said. “As the agency continues to show routine excellence in managing taxpayers’ investments, thereby increasing ridership and revenue, we are confident MARTA’s rail expansion projects will become a reality and our service area will continue to expand.”

The mayor said, “Opening the Atlanta Streetcar is the final highlight in an incredible year of economic development for the city of Atlanta. The streetcar links neighborhoods that have been divided for more than a generation. This project brings the largest infusion of federal funds into our transportation system in more than a decade. And even more, the streetcar brings more energy, excitement and investment to the neighborhoods near some of our most important historic and tourist sites. The streetcar will carry us into a vibrant, connected future for the city of Atlanta.”

The streetcar line, which operates with vehicles manufactured by Siemens, serves 12 stops with access to major attractions like Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame. It also connects the new Center for Civil and Human Rights to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, the birthplace of the civil rights movement.

Funding for the $98 million streetcar project included a federal TIGER grant for approximately $47.6 million and funds from the city and regional agencies.

The streetcar will operate fare free for its first three months and then will cost $1 per passenger per ride.

 

MARTA General Manager/CEO Keith T. Parker listens as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addresses a large crowd during the launch ceremony for the Atlanta Streetcar.

Photo by Lyle V. Harris, MARTA

MBTA Receives FFGA Worth Almost $1 Billion; Foxx, McMillan Attend Ceremony

Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) received a $996 million federal Full Funding Grant Agreement at an event Jan. 5 to announce the extension of the agency’s Green Line light rail service by 4.7 miles.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other dignitaries attended the event.

“This project will put time back in the lives of commuters along this corridor, but the real story is about the potential for change this smart investment will bring for residents,” said Foxx. “We are proud to support projects like this one because when you connect people to more jobs, education and medical care, you create the ladders to opportunity that strengthen families and the communities in which they live.”

State funding sources will cover the remainder of the $2.3 billion cost. Project components include construction of six new stations, purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles, construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, construction of a community bicycle and pedestrian path in Somerville and relocation of some existing commuter rail track.

“The investment being made in the Green Line Extension (GLX) by both the federal government and the commonwealth will pay dividends down the line, not only in expanding access to transit, but in increasing development opportunities in Cambridge, Medford and Somerville through the GLX MassWIN program,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. MassWIN, or the Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now program, is an effort to build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects focused on workforce investment, education achievement, business development and city improvement.

The Green Line Extension will lengthen the route from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. According to MBTA, the project will cover some of the region’s most heavily populated areas not currently served by rail transit when it opens in 2021. 

Work on the project continues in four phases, due to conclude in 2020. Construction of three of the six new stations will begin this spring.

 

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, standing left, shakes hands with Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone at the FFGA announcement for the MBTA Green Line Extension. Other participants in the event included, from left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott.

CTA Reopens Damen Blue Line Station

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently reopened its Damen Station, one of 13 stations on the O’Hare branch of CTA’s Blue Line undergoing renovations and improvements as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $492 million “Your New Blue” program.

The $13 million Damen modernization project preserved historic features of the station, originally built in 1895, while increasing comfort for passengers. Project elements included new architectural lighting, new roofing, improved signage, additional turnstiles and wider gates, refurbished walls, stairs and platforms, new bike racks and a larger stationhouse footprint.

“Just a year ago this month, the mayor announced the ambitious ‘Your New Blue’ project to modernize the O’Hare branch. I’m pleased to report that in just one year’s time, we’ve completed major track work that is shaving as much as 10 minutes off of Blue Line commutes and have completed three station renovation projects,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We want to thank businesses and residents for their patience during this project, which will benefit the neighborhood for the long term.”

In addition to station rehabilitation, “Your New Blue” includes repairing track infrastructure and upgrading power and signal systems along the O’Hare branch, which serves about 80,000 passengers each weekday.

Funding for “Your New Blue” is being provided by a variety of local, state and federal sources, including $86 million from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s “Jump Start” program.

 

The renovated Damen Station on CTA’s Blue Line preserves historic features that date to 1895 while upgrading customer facilities and service capabilities.

Photo courtesy of CTA

Dearborn Opens Transit Center Named for Dingell

The city of Dearborn, MI, recently opened a new intermodal passenger rail station named in honor of former Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history and a longtime transportation advocate. Dingell retired from Congress last year after 59 years of service.

Amtrak operates and staffs the city-owned facility, which will provide service to six daily Wolverine Service trains
sponsored by Michigan DOT. More intercity passenger traffic is expected as Mich. DOT continues its accelerated rail project between Pontiac and Chicago, via Dearborn, and the station is also a component in proposed commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds covered the entire $28.2 million cost of the facility, which replaces a smaller station erected by Amtrak on city property in 1979. Amenities at the new station—located within walking distance of a prominent Dearborn museum, The Henry Ford—include free parking, free Wi-Fi, bike racks, and a soon-to-open restaurant.

Dingell’s wife and successor, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), represented her husband at the event.

The 16,000-square-foot building takes its inspiration from historic railroad architecture, combining traditional red brick with large expanses of glass and a clock tower with gabled roof. In addition, the facility achieved LEED Silver certification through its use of environmentally friendly materials and design features, such as a metal roof with solar collectors, energy-efficient lighting and geothermal heating and cooling.

 

Holding scissors to cut the ribbon at the John D. Dingell Transit Center are, from left, FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo, The Henry Ford President Patricia Mooradian, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr.

New CEOs Named

David Richter, Hill International

Hill International, based in Marlton, NJ, announced the promotion of David L. Richter to president and chief executive officer. The former CEO, Irvin E. Richter, will remain chairman of the company he founded in 1976.

David Richter, who is both an attorney and a civil engineer, has worked at Hill for 20 years, serving as president and chief operating officer since 2004. Before joining the company, he was an attorney with the New York City law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP.

Gill, Seon

Tom Gill, chief operating officer of Safe Fleet’s subsidiary Seon Design since 2009, has been promoted to president of the firm. He succeeds Terry Akiyama, co-founder of Seon, who retired as president but remains with the company as its chairman.

Before joining Seon, Gill was chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Silent Witness prior to its acquisition by Honeywell in 2003.

Caine and Proglio, Thales

Thales, based in Neuilly-sur-Seine Cedex, France, announced the selection of Patrice Caine as chairman and chief executive officer and Henry Proglio as chairman of the board. Philippe Logak, who had served as acting chairman and CEO since the departure of Jean-Bernard Lévy, stepped down from the organization.

Caine joined Thales in 2002 as a member of the Group Strategy Department. He held leadership positions within a number of the firm’s operating units before becoming senior executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief performance officer in 2013.

Proglio has served as chairman and chief executive officer of Compagnie Générales d’Entreprises Automobiles, vice president of Vivendi and CEO of Vivendi Water, chairman and CEO of Veolia Environnement and chairman and CEO of EDF, a French electric utility.

APTA NEWS

APTA Conferences Focus on Best Practices, Networking

APTA announces two conferences that explore timely issues and trends, advance best practices and offer opportunities for peer-to-peer networking. Details follow:

Transit CEOs
The 2015 Transit CEOs Seminar is set for Feb. 7-10 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, hosted by Valley Metro.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese W. McMillan will offer a keynote presentation, Lynn Spencer of FTA’s Office of System Safety will lead a discussion on safety management systems and FTA’s investigative authority and Sonya Proctor, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s Surface Division, will report on maintaining secure transportation networks.

Among other seminar features, APTA Chair Phillip Washington and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy will lead a roundtable discussion about the association’s initiatives, including “Stand Up for Transportation Day,” a national day of advocacy scheduled for April 9.

Marketing & Communications
The 2015 APTA Marketing & Communications Workshop, Feb. 22-25, West Palm Beach Marriott (FL), serves as a major educational forum with sessions focusing on all aspects of public transit marketing and communications, including branding, ridership, media relations, market research, customer service and social media.

The workshop will begin with a special two-hour session conducted by the National Transit Institute on Title VI requirements. It will also feature a special luncheon celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other events.

Details for both programs are available at the APTA website.

APTA to Host ADA Conference Call

APTA will host a conference call open to all members Jan. 16 beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time to discuss and refine its draft comments on FTA’s proposed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) circular.

The call is expected to last 60-90 minutes. To join, call toll-free at (866) 951-1151 and enter conference room 9375720.

FTA has released seven chapters of a planned 12-chapter circular designed to help transportation providers comply with ADA requirements. In response to industry requests, FTA extended the comment period until Feb. 11.

The proposed chapters focus on transportation facilities, fixed route service, demand responsive service, ADA paratransit eligibility, passenger vessels, other modes and oversight, complaints and monitoring.

APTA hosted an initial call to discuss these proposals on Dec. 18. More than 100 members participated, exploring such concerns as confusion between statutory and regulatory requirements and FTA recommended practices, implementation of yet-to-be-finalized requirements for reasonable modification of paratransit services and the introduction of new requirements beyond existing law and regulations.

The draft APTA comments drawn from the earlier call are posted here. APTA encourages all of its members to provide input to its comments and file individual comments detailing local impacts and concerns.

For more information, contact James LaRusch.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

DOT Webinar on Climate Change

DOT invites interested public transportation professionals to participate in “Climate/Weather Risk Management Tools—Learning from the Gulf Coast,” a 90-minute webinar Jan. 22 beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

The event will present the resources, tools and lessons learned from a five-year DOT study titled Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2. State and local transportation stakeholders can use these resources to evaluate their vulnerability to climate change and to understand facility-level adaptation options.

For more information, contact Rob Hyman.

Houston METRO Launches New Light Rail Cars

 
Tom Lambert, center, president & CEO, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), joined dignitaries including Houston Mayor Annise Parker Jan. 7 on board one of METRO’s six newest light rail vehicles. The ceremonial ride followed a ribbon-cutting event at the Downtown Transit Center. METRO has ordered 39 of the H3 cars from CAF USA; the cars will enter service in the weeks leading up to the opening of two new light rail lines in April and will bring the size of the light rail fleet to 76 cars.

Photo by Tom Callins

Valley Metro Prepares for 'Super' Service

 
Valley Metro in Phoenix is spreading the word about its service to Super Bowl XLIX, Feb. 1 in Glendale, AZ, with a specially wrapped light rail vehicle. As part of its “game plan,” the agency is offering a $25 package that includes a commemorative seven-day transit pass, souvenir lanyard, and pocket guide with maps and destination information.

VCTC Welcomes New Intercity Bus Fleet

 
The Ventura County (CA) Transportation Commission (VCTC) recently welcomed its new fleet of 14 intercity buses from Motor Coach Industries, purchased with state Proposition 1B funds. The dedication event also included the unveiling of the new branding of the service as “VCTC Intercity Bus.” Amenities on board the bright blue vehicles include high-back seats, foot rests, LED reading lights and electrical outlets. Pull-out bike storage trays, in addition to front-mounted bike racks, allow for the safe transportation of at least four bicycles. VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle, holding scissors, joins local and regional officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

TRB's Skinner to Receive Award

Robert E. Skinner Jr., who is retiring as executive director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) at the end of January, is the 2015 recipient of the organization’s Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation, which will be presented during the Jan. 14 Chairman’s Luncheon at the TRB 94th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11-15.

The award recognizes lifetime achievement in transportation, as demonstrated by a distinguished career, professional prominence and widely ­recognized contributions to policy, administration or research. APTA is one of the award’s sponsors.

Skinner will be honored for his career-long advocacy for innovation in transportation and his support of objective analysis as a foundation for policy making. Under his leadership, TRB strengthened the multimodal and multidisciplinary range of its programs, inaugurated major communications initiatives, fostered international research partnerships and coordination and worked to enhance the diversity of TRB’s committees, programs and staff.

Skinner will also deliver the keynote address during the Chairman’s Luncheon, the premier event of the Annual Meeting, “Corridors to the Future: Transportation and Technology.”

The meeting is expected to attract 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world and covers all transportation modes, with more than 5,000 presentations in nearly 750 sessions and workshops.

For details, click here.

Industry Briefs

CamTran Wins PA Governor’s Award — The Cambria County Transit Authority (CamTran) in Johnstown, PA, recently received the 2014 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence awarded by the Department of Labor & Industry. CamTran—the only public transit agency among five winners—received the honor for maintaining high standards in workplace safety, both in its new building and through its driver training program.

Greater Dayton RTA Honored for Health Initiative — The Ohio Department of Health and the Healthy Ohio Business Council recently honored the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, along with 45 other Ohio employers, for their healthy worksite practices. The agency’s health initiative, “HEARTA—Healthy Employees at RTA,” earned the state’s Silver Award for its emphasis on meeting the challenges of an aging and largely sedentary workforce.

Cincinnati Area Agencies Launch New Regional Farecard — Metro in Cincinnati and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) in Fort Wright recently introduced a new regional stored-value card that can be used on all buses operated by both systems. Riders should tell the Metro or TANK driver what fare they are paying and insert the cards into the slot on top of the farebox. The farebox will deduct fare from the card on each ride until all funds have been used.

New York Premieres Bus Safety Videos — The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently launched an on-air public service announcement campaign for MTA New York City Transit buses and the MTA Bus Company to educate bus customers, pedestrians, and bicyclists about safe behavior on and around buses. The campaign consists of 30-second videos, available in both English and Spanish, that raise awareness of safety issues involving buses, building on an earlier print campaign.

AVTA Recognized for Financial Audit — For the third year in a row, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, received a clean financial audit report for the 2014 fiscal year. The accounting firm Windes Inc., which conducted the annual audit, reported no operational weaknesses detected for the budget year ending June 30, 2014, and stated that AVTA complied with all federal requirements connected to grant funding. AVTA also received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.

Public Transit Reaches Out During Holidays

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. got into the holiday spirit with special outreach events and activities supporting their communities. Here are a few examples.

COMMENTARY

Public Transit Thinkers Praise ODOT Report; Preliminary Report Holds Lessons for Other States

BY ALISON GRANT

CLEVELAND, Ohio—At a slight four pages, a published “snapshot” of transit needs in Ohio hardly seems capable of reversing years of cuts to state funding of bus and local rail systems.

Yet public transit leaders statewide are hailing just such a report, commissioned by the Ohio Department of Transportation, as a key step in moving Ohio beyond its almost-last-in-the-nation funding of metro rail, bus routes and rural van service.

Read more in the Plain Dealer.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Leahy Announces Retirement from Los Angeles Metro

LOS ANGELES—Art Leahy, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) for the past six years, has announced that he is stepping down effective April 5.

Leahy began his public transit career in 1971 as a bus operator with the former Southern California Rapid Transit District and rose through the ranks to become chief operations officer. Before returning to Los Angeles to lead Metro, he was chief executive officer of the Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority and general manager of Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

He is a member of the APTA Board of Directors, chairs the Bus Standards Policy & Planning Committee and serves on numerous other committees.

Marlene B. Connor, Jim McLaughlin

HOLYOKE, MA—Marlene B. Connor, principal of Marlene Connor Associates (MCA), announced a strategic alliance between her firm and Wendel. She also announced that Jim McLaughlin has joined MCA as an associate, based in Raleigh, NC.

Connor chairs the APTA Mobility Management Committee and is a member of several other committees and the APTA Board of Directors. McLaughlin also serves on numerous APTA committees, including the Mobility Management Committee.



Regina Rhoads Ormond

COLUMBUS, OH—Regina Rhoads Ormond has joined the Central Ohio Transit Authority Board of ­Trustees, appointed by Mayor Michael B. ­Coleman to a term ending in April 2017. Ormond is vice president-­associate general counsel at Nationwide Insurance.

Perry Woodward, Cindy Chavez

SAN JOSE, CA—The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board of Directors has elected Perry Woodward its new chair and Cindy Chavez vice chair.

Woodward, who is Gilroy mayor pro tempore, joined the VTA board in 2010 and most recently served as board vice chair; he is also a member of Caltrain’s board of directors. He succeeds Ash Kalra.

Chavez, a Santa Clara County supervisor, has been a VTA board member since 2013. She previously served on the board from 1998-2006 while a San Jose City Council member.

Brian Garrod

ISELIN, NJ—Brian Garrod, Hatch Mott MacDonald’s deputy practice leader for tunnels, recently received the Ontario Professional Engineers Engineering Medal–Engineering Excellence Award, approved jointly by approved by the governing Council of Professional Engineers Ontario and the Board of Directors of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE).

Garrod also was named Engineer of the Year for 2014 by OSPE and the Hamilton Engineering Institute. The honor is given in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of engineering in the Hamilton/Halton area.

He is a world-recognized expert on tunnels and tunnel technology with 41 years of general civil engineering experience, the last 29 years devoted solely to transit and tunneling assignments.

Tom Blalock, Tom Radulovich, Nick Josefowitz

OAKLAND, CA—The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Director has named Tom Blalock its president for 2015—the third time he has served in that post during his 20-year career on the board.

The board also elected Tom Radulovich, a board member since 1996, as its vice president, a position he previously held in 2012.

Nick Josefowitz also has joined the BART board.

Scott L. McCaleb, Isaiah Rumlin, Kevin Holzendorf, Greg Evans

JACKSONVILLE, FL—The Jacksonville Transportation Authority Board of Directors has elected Scott L. McCaleb, president of Vulcan Land Inc., as its chairman for 2015, succeeding Donna L. Harper. McCaleb has served on the board since 2012.

The board also elected Isaiah Rumlin vice chairman, Kevin Holzendorf secretary, and Greg Evans treasurer.