Passenger Transport - February 6, 2015
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Obama's Budget Includes 6-Year, $478 Billion Authorization Plan; Allocates $144 Billion for Public Transit

President Obama has included $478 billion for a proposed six-year surface transportation authorization bill--a reworked version of the four-year GROW AMERICA Act proposed last year--in the $4 trillion Fiscal Year 2016 budget he released Feb. 2. The budget includes $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for DOT for FY 2016.

The budget includes an $18.4 billion increase in FTA funding in FY 2016, up from $11 billion in FY 2015, along with $13.9 billion for Transit Formula Grants and $3.25 billion for Capital Investment Grants (New Starts). The proposal would also fund BRT-style investments through the Rapid Growth Area Transit Program at $500 million and again recommends the Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) program, a TIGER-like performance-based incentive grant program which would be funded at $500 million in FY 2016.

The budget proposes to rename and restructure the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as the Transportation Trust Fund and to add rail accounts that currently are not captured in the HTF.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy praised the budget proposal. "I applaud President Obama for highlighting the importance of investing in our country's transportation so that economic prosperity and global competitiveness continue. Maintaining the status quo would be a step backwards and a grave mistake. It is essential that the federal government significantly invest in public transportation to ensure our country's economic well-being," he said.

Transit formula grants in FY 2016 would total almost $14 billion under the proposal, compared with $8.6 billion enacted in FY 2015. Capital investment grants would account for $3.25 billion, up from $2.1 billion, and a new Rapid Growth Area Bus Rapid Transit Corridor grant program would receive $500 million.

The TIGER grant program would receive $1.25 billion per year and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program would receive an additional $6 billion over six years.

The proposal includes specific New Starts and Small Starts funding for 25 rail, BRT and streetcar projects in 13 states. The largest individual grant, $265 million, would go to Honolulu's high-capacity transit corridor. Four projects--the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Third Street Light Rail-Central Subway, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension in San Jose, CA, Regional Transportation District's Eagle project in Denver and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Cambridge-Medford Green Line Extension--would each receive $165 million. For the complete list, click here.

Also in the proposal are $320 million for Accelerated Project Delivery and Development, a new category that would provide an opportunity for other projects in the pipeline to move forward if they become ready for a construction grant prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Other highlights include a new Office of Safety Oversight to coordinate safety efforts across modes and a $29.4 billion, six-year Critical Immediate Safety Investments Program.

For details, see APTA's Legislative Alert here or visit the White House website.

DOT's 30-Year Plan Tracks Trends, Options

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx recently unveiled Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices, a new preliminary report that outlines key trends likely to shape the U.S. transportation system over the next three decades.

The purpose of the draft report, DOT officials say, is to inform a national conversation about the future of U.S. transportation, objectively frame critical policy choices and generate additional feedback. DOT will release a final report later this year.

"For too long, our national dialogue about transportation has been focused on recreating the past," Foxx said during a recent online event, which he conducted with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. "Instead, we need to focus on the trends that are shaping our future," Foxx continued. "In Washington, in state capitals and in city halls, it is time to sound the alarm bell: the future is calling. Beyond Traffic gives us a view into 2045 and the basis to plan for it."

Work on the report began in January 2014 when the department assembled a team of experts to identify trends, examine the potential impacts of such trends and provide a range of policy options. Additionally, the team met with several transportation leaders and shared key findings in six webinars that drew 1,300 participants.

To see a slide presentation summarizing the report, read the draft document or provide comments, click here.

Blumenauer Reintroduces Fuel Tax Increase

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 680 on Feb. 4 to allow passage of the first comprehensive, six-year transportation bill since 1997.

The proposal, the Update, Promote, and Develop America's Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, would phase in a 15-cent-per-gallon increase in motor fuels taxes that would be dedicated to public transportation and highway programs, index those taxes to inflation and examine ways to replace the taxes with a longer-term stable source of funding.

"Congress hasn't dealt seriously with the funding issue for over 20 years and it's time to act. The gas tax used to be an efficient road user fee, but with inflation and increased fuel efficiency, especially for some types of vehicles, there is no longer a good relationship between what road users pay and how much they benefit," said Blumenauer, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy commended Blumenauer. "APTA urges Congress to enact a bill that increases dedicated revenues for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), and the UPDATE Act is a sensible and effective way to address our nation's transportation needs," Melaniphy said, noting that APTA supports an increase in motor fuels taxes because they are user-based and the most cost-efficient way to provide a steady revenue stream to the HTF.

The bill is supported by a wide range of leaders, including those representing unions, engineers, trucking, bicyclists and equipment manufacturers.

DOT Awards $120 Million Loan to CTA

DOT has awarded the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) a $120 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to make major improvements to the Blue Line of the agency’s “L” rail service, announced Secretary Anthony Foxx and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a Feb. 5 event also attended by CTA President Forrest Claypool and other city officials.

Specifically, the loan will upgrade the tracks, stations, power supply and signal system along a 19-mile route between the downtown Loop and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to reduce or eliminate “slow zones,” resulting in faster, more reliable service for more than 80,000 daily riders.

“By modernizing the Blue Line, we are investing in Chicago’s future, as it not only serves as a vital transportation link connecting O’Hare and downtown but it serves as a key economic engine for scores of Chicago neighborhoods,” Emanuel said. “This federal funding will help us ensure that we build the infrastructure Chicago needs to succeed economically in the 21st century.”

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan called the L a “lifeline” for residents and visitors to the city’s jobs, attractions and events. “With this project, CTA, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve,” she said.

The TIFIA loan is part of a four-year, $408.7 million Blue Line renovation project (known as Your New Blue), also supported by $16 million DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds awarded in 2012, with the remainder coming from state, local, and other sources. The project represents the largest upgrade of the Blue Line since it was extended to O’Hare in 1984.

FTA Announces Grants for Zero-Emission Buses

FTA announced Feb. 5 that it will award $55 million in competitive grants through its Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program to 10 projects to help public transportation agencies purchase zero emission buses.

FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers announced the grants in Louisville, KY, home of one grant recipient, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC), during an event attended by TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker and local officials.

“As the nation’s population and transit ridership continue to rise, we must invest in innovative technologies that will help transit agencies like TARC expand their bus fleets and bring a new generation of energy-efficient buses to Louisville and cities and towns nationwide,” Flowers said. “These grant awards will also help create new jobs and support a growing industry of domestic manufacturers who are developing advanced technologies to power public transportation for the future.”

Other agencies selected for the grants include SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA; Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas; and the newly merged Red Rose Transit Authority, Lancaster, PA, and Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority, Reading, PA.

Find a complete list of grant recipients here and additional details here.

T&I Introduces Rail Legislation

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced H.R. 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, on Feb. 5. The bipartisan bill is very similar to one approved out of committee last year.

The bill includes provisions regarding the operations of Amtrak, including a 40 percent reduction in authorized federal funding levels; non-federal participation and increased public-private partnerships in rail station and corridor development; the overhaul of the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program; the role of states in railroad planning; and streamlining environmental reviews and accelerating project delivery.

Find more information here.

MCTS Introduces Two New Express Lines

Milwaukee County Transit Services (MCTS) recently introduced service on two new MetroEXpress limited-stop bus routes while reconfiguring two existing regular bus routes.

The GoldLine connects the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with Brookfield Square, while the PurpleLine will join existing regular bus service in the area, the second largest route in the system.

MCTS also retired its Route 10, which originated in 1890 as the first electric streetcar line in Milwaukee and became a bus route in 1958. The GoldLine and a reconfigured regular route will take over segments of the former Route 10.

Metro-North Collides with SUV in Fatal Accident

Six people were killed and 15 injured during the evening rush hour on Feb. 3 when a northbound Metro-North commuter train collided with a black Jeep SUV that appeared to stop on a crossing near Valhalla, Westchester County, New York. Those killed include the driver of the SUV and five passengers.

The Harlem Line train was carrying approximately 400 passengers; the train typically carries about 650 riders, reported officials of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which includes Metro-North.

Metro-North officials evacuated passengers through the rear of the train and the train operator, who sustained injuries, helped other passengers off the train, witnesses reported.

"The entire MTA family's thoughts are with the relatives and loved ones of the victims of last night's tragedy," said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast the day after the incident. "We are tremendously saddened by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. We also thank the first responders who assisted with safely removing the passengers from the trains and transporting those who were injured to area hospitals. And we extend our gratitude to the American Red Cross, local hospitals and communities who have provided care and assistance during this difficult time."

Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti reiterated the agency's commitment to safety. "We want Metro-North's customers to know that they can remain confident that their safety, and the safety of our employees, is always the first priority in everything we do," he said. "We will work closely with the NTSB and local officials to determine the exact cause of this tragedy and work to ensure such incidents are not repeated."

Metro-North is cross-honoring tickets on two other lines and offering free parking at a station in northwestern Westchester County. It also set up a family assistance center and phone hotline.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the scene.

SunLine Opens Its First Administration Building

After operating out of trailers for the past 30 years, the SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA, finally has its own permanent facility: a state-of-the-art, 25,000-square-foot administration building that opened Jan. 28 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"The SunLine board and I are extremely pleased to have partnered with Doug Wall Construction [a local firm] for our new administration building," said Chief Executive Officer/General Manager Lauren Skiver. "SunLine focused on creating a 'green' building, supporting the agency's vision and focus on our environment. Also, by using local firms, we created local jobs. SunLine staff--who have been housed in temporary trailers for close to 30 years--now have a beautiful 'permanent' home."

The construction contract required that the building conform to Silver LEED requirements, but SunLine hopes it will achieve Gold LEED certification. Its green features include an energy management system with controlled lighting, rubber flooring in the Training Room/Wellness Center made from sneaker manufacturing company scraps, pervious concrete pavement in the parking area and low-maintenance desert landscaping maintained with recycled water. The next phase of the project will include solar panels on the roof of the parking area.

SunLine operated out of the city of Palm Springs' corporation yard from its formation in 1977 until 1985, when the agency moved into used trailers on its land in Thousand Palms. In 2006, with the trailers coming to the end of their useful life, the board approved the budget to begin environmental, engineering and architectural services and develop a master plan for an administrative building. Funding for the $16 million project came from FTA and California Proposition 1B. 


Cutting the ribbon at SunLine Transit Agency's new administration building are, from left, SunLine Board members Ty Peabody and Russell Betts, Chief Executive Officer/General Manager Lauren Skiver, Board Chairperson Gregg Pettis, Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos-Watson and board member Dana Hobart.

RTA New Orleans Breaks Ground for New Streetcar

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority kicked off construction of the 1.6-mile North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar Project, which will connect the historic neighborhoods of the French Quarter and Treme to Canal Street and Loyola Avenue when it opens in 2016.

"New Orleans' streetcar system is the envy of the world and an enduring icon for our city," said Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu. "The Rampart/St. Claude Streetcar extension will continue this great tradition by enhancing mobility options for riders, improve connectivity to our historic neighborhoods and spur economic development. New Orleans is a perfect example of a truly multimodal, integrated transit system that already includes bus, streetcar, ferry and paratransit services. This streetcar line extension is another sign of our dedication to increasing transportation options for every citizen."

In addition to track installation on the inside lane on both sides of the street, the project includes underground utility upgrades/relocation, asphalt and concrete restoration/replacement, installation of historically accurate street lights, traction power and overhead electric cable system, traffic signalization upgrades, six covered shelter stops and new landscaping. A dedicated bike lane will be marked on the lake side of the street.

The new line will operate with the same streetcars that currently operate on the Loyola and Canal Street lines.

FTA Hires First Safety Inspector

George Good Jr. has joined FTA as the first full-time safety investigation in the agency's 50-year history as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to strengthen its safety authority granted by the passage of MAP-21.

Good previously was safety program director for Maryland DOT. He has 28Êyears of experience in operations safety and security for bus, light rail, heavy rail and commuter rail.

For FTA, he will support round-the-clock operations for accident investigations, announced Thomas Littleton, FTA associate administrator for safety and oversight. He will work closely with the public transit industry and other DOT agencies.

"While accident or defect investigation is a standard procedure in several DOT agencies, the proven skills and expertise that George Good, Jr., brings to FTA are critical assets at a time when we are beginning to establish our independent investigative safety authority as required by law," Littleton stated in Fast Lane, DOT's blog. Littleton added that FTA plans to hire additional safety investigators to complete its investigative team.

MAP-21 grants FTA the authority to establish and enforce a new comprehensive framework to oversee public transportation safety throughout the U.S. This authority closes a loophole that has existed since 1964; FTA can now establish basic safety standards to better ensure the safety of tens of millions of passengers that ride public transportation each day.

Prevost Opens Production Line At Expanded Nova Bus Facility

Prevost, a division of the Volvo group specializing in touring coach and bus assembly, recently opened its first U.S. production line in Plattsburgh, NY, in the expanded facility of its sister company Nova Bus.

The company invested $26 million in the Plattsburgh facility to increase its size by 10,000 square feet, which will accommodate an assembly production line. This project is tied to a $164 million New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) award to Prevost to build 300 over-the-road commuter buses.

Once complete, the expansion project will create more than 50 jobs at the facility. The Prevost contract, combined with a $195 million MTA contract for 414 Nova Bus vehicles for MTA New York City Transit--the agency's largest single order to the manufacturer in its history, with the potential of up to 700 more buses--will bring the total number of employees at the facility to more than 250.

Alstom Enters into Contract With Hong Kong Metro

Alstom and other partners have entered into a 330 million euro ($372 million) contract with MTR Corporation, operator of Hong Kong's metro network, to resignal and upgrade the signaling systems of seven metro lines.

The contract also includes a maintenance option.

The project will equip seven MTR lines with updated communications-based train control (CBTC) technology, which will add capacity, reliability and maintainability to the existing infrastructure.

Alstom and the other partners will be responsible for replacing the existing signaling system, including automatic train supervision, interlocking, CBTC and automatic train control in the control center, trains and stations.

CBTC gives rail operators precise control in the movement of their trains, allowing them to run on the line at higher frequencies and speeds safely, with or without drivers.


National Day of Advocacy Focuses on Infrastructure Funding

APTA is making plans for its nationwide Stand Up for Transportation Day event on April 9, an opportunity for public transportation professionals to promote the importance of infrastructure investment and the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill.

APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and chief executive officer, Denver Regional Transportation District, is encouraging public transportation agencies and businesses to host events on that date and invite members of Congress (who will be on spring recess), the news media and public transit advocates.

"Stand Up for Transportation Day is a single day when every transportation agency and business unites in common purpose with a unified message," Washington said. "It's time to set aside partisanship and once again act in the best interest of our country to repair, strengthen and build transportation infrastructure.

"It's time to work together--Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the White House, states and cities--to close our nation's embarrassingly massive infrastructure deficit, fund state of good repair and expand public transit in every state," he added.

Stand Up for Transportation Day activities could include events highlighting projects that could be started or completed in the next five years with federal funds, public discussions emphasizing the importance of transportation service to specific populations including older Americans and college students, facility and business tours and rallies featuring people who benefit from public transportation services.

A toolkit with resources including logos, talking points, an action plan and activity ideas is available here. For additional details, contact Rose Sheridan.

BMBG Holds Annual Business Meeting

The APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) recently held its Annual Business Meeting in Florida. The meeting schedule focused on doing business in the public transit industry, BMBG support for APTA's advocacy efforts, including Stand Up for Transportation Day (a national day of advocacy on April 9), procurement and jobs, innovative financing and the BMBG work plan. More than 100 business members attended the two-day meeting. At the meeting, from left, are APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, BMBG Past Chair Angela Iannuzziello, APTA Chair Phillip Washington, and BMBG Chair Patrick Scully, Second Vice Chair Huelon Harrison and First Vice Chair Jeff Wharton.

APTA Plans April Study Mission

APTA announces that 20 openings are available for an April 19-24 study mission to London, Stockholm and Munich, which will focus on innovative funding and financing strategies. APTA and Canadian Urban Transit Association members interested in participating must submit a completed registration form and a deposit by Feb. 16.

The mission will begin with an introduction to Transport for London's funding and governance model, specifically the city's Cross Rail project. In Stockholm, the group will examine that city's funding and financing mechanisms, including the congestion pricing scheme. The visit to Munich will consider how transit-oriented land use has led to a solid long-term funding structure.

Questions regarding the study mission can be directed to Mariela Garcia-Colberg.

Obama's Budget Analyzed at APTA Event

DOT Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs Sylvia Garcia, at the podium, addresses a full crowd at APTA's monthly event, Transportation Tuesday, on Feb. 3, one day following the release of President Obama's FY 2016 budget proposal. Garcia reviewed the budget's key proposals related to public transportation, fielded questions and shared insights regarding funding. (See related story in this issue.)

Photo by Mitchell Wood


The Rapid's Varga: Grand Rapids Newsmaker of Year for 2014

The Grand Rapids Business Journal recently recognized Peter Varga, chief executive officer of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, and immediate past chair of APTA, as its 2014 Newsmaker of the Year.

In addition to the top honor, Varga was one of 16 community leaders who received individual recognition for their efforts in western Michigan. In this individual award category, Varga was recognized for his specific accomplishments in economic development.

The newspaper selected Varga for his work on the Silver Line BRT, which entered service in summer 2014 after 10 years of preparation. The Silver Line is the state's first BRT.

"Public transit is good for business and business is good for public transit," Varga said at an event attended by more than 400 business leaders. "This is shared with all our employees, because to anyone who has dealt with bureaucracy, you know how hard it was."

In other news, The Rapid and the Silver Line received several other community awards. The Local First organization, which promotes local businesses in Grand Rapids, presented the agency with its Change Agent Award for launching the Silver Line. The Neighborhood Business Alliance recognized the Silver Line with the Best New Construction Award for 2014 and The Rapid won the Invest in Ability Award from Disability Advocates of Kent County.

Providing Super Service in Phoenix

Valley Metro in Phoenix experienced record ridership for Super Bowl XLIX festivities, including 126,000 boardings on Jan. 31, the day before the big game. The agency provided multiple layers of service to support the week's events, such as five days of enhanced light rail service to respond to increased rider demand, specialized bus service to and from outlying park-and-rides to provide added transit options and strategic operations planning that included on-site maintenance technicians to ensure continuous operations. More than 100 Valley Metro staff members assisted and engaged riders at light rail stations and park-and-rides. Representatives of Americans for Transportation Mobility also joined in the Super Bowl spirit, collecting video and written comments about the importance of infrastructure.

San Diego MTS Welcomes Low Floor Trolley Cars

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently introduced new low floor trolley cars on its Blue Line, which connects the U.S.-Mexico border with downtown San Diego. The line is the busiest in the region, providing more than 15 million passenger trips in FY 2014.

MTS Board Chairman Harry Mathis called the new cars "a significant milestone for our region's trolley network," explaining that the low floor vehicles will make the entire system more efficient.

The launch of the Blue Line's low floor service is part of a $600 million effort to modernize the entire trolley system, funded primarily by California Proposition 1B bond funds and TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG. Other components of the renewal effort have included new station platforms, next-arrival electronic signs, signaling systems, overhead catenary wires, larger shelters and track replacement.


Paul Jablonski, far left, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, and other dignitaries welcome a new low floor trolley at the 8th Street Station in National City, CA.

Detroit DOT Unveils First Buses in New Fleet

Detroit DOT recently took delivery of the first seven buses in an 80-bus order from New Flyer comprising 70 40-foot vehicles and 10 60-foot articulated buses, which will replace older ones that have exceeded their useful lifespan. DDOT Director Dan Dirks explained that the buses became available in less than a year, compared to the usual two years or more for manufacture and delivery, through "piggybacking" on existing orders with other agencies.

Mobility Management Center Issues Access Design Challenge

The FTA-funded National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) is accepting applications through March 27 for its Healthcare Access Mobility Design Challenge. NCMM--operated by a consortium of APTA, the Community Transportation Association of America and Easter Seals--is seeking eight community teams to design innovative solutions to common transportation challenges related to healthcare.

Each multidisciplinary team selected to participate in the six-month challenge will receive grant funds of up to $25,000 and technical assistance to take potential solutions from concept to impact. The teams will organize broad-based coalitions, including members from healthcare, transportation, consumer advocacy organizations, technology, consumers and caregivers.

During the challenge period, each selected team will work to create two concepts through engagements with customers and other stakeholders, selecting one concept to prepare for implementation. The goal is to show that the proposed solution that will be used by riders and customers from the healthcare system is operationally and technologically feasible and financially viable and sustainable.

Find details here.

Agencies of All Sizes Report Record Ridership

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. are reporting record ridership levels in 2014 despite falling fuel prices. Here are a few examples.

The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency (RTA) announced that its ridership was the highest in its 38-year history, 9.7 million boardings; this breaks the record of 9.3 million passenger trips set in 2013. RTA noted that it also exceeded monthly ridership records for 10 of the last 12 months.

"Each of these boardings represents a unique trip by a veteran or senior citizen headed to an appointment, or someone going to class, to a full-time job or to visit family or friends," said RTA Board Chairman Andrew Kotyuk. "These numbers are remarkable and we are committed to continuing our efforts to give people a reason to ride."

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Burnsville, MN, also reported the highest annual ridership in its history, 2.8 million, in 2014. This number is 3.9 percent higher than in 2013. MVTA also noted service improvements during the year such as Wi-Fi on its buses and additional service to the University of Minnesota.

"The economy proved stronger in 2014 and gas prices plummeted, but ridership remained strong," said MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller.

IndyGo in Indianapolis set a 23-year ridership record with almost 10.3 million passenger trips. The year included seven months with all-time high ridership. The agency installed several amenities during the year, including shelters, benches and trash cans throughout the service area, and it announced plans to open the Downtown Transit Center this year.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus reported its highest annual ridership since 1986 with 19.3 million bus trips. This figure is more than half a million trips more than in 2013, representing an almost 3 percent increase.

COTA President/Chief Executive Officer Curtis Stitt said, "Members of this community are positively responding to our system improvements and more people are using public transportation. I am excited about the prospect of reaching our goal of 20 million trips this year."

COTA services introduced in 2014 included the free CBUS shuttle in downtown and reverse commute routes to a nearby business park.

Ridership on the Spokane (WA) Transit Authority's buses was the highest since 1953, more than 11.3 million rides. The agency noted that ridership levels were 2.5 percent higher than the previous year and had increased 44 percent since 2004--compared with 18 percent during the same time period for similar-sized cities across the nation.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, FL, reported 1.27 million boardings in December 2014, 5.7 percent more than the previous December. Daily ridership exceeded 50,000 on 14 days during the month, reaching a high of 58,662 on Dec. 3.


Meet Huelon Harrison!

Huelon Harrison
Legacy Resource Group, Dallas
Member, APTA Executive and Legislative committees, Authorization Task Force; chair, American Public Transportation Foundation; second vice chair, Business Member Board of Governors

Please describe the scope of your business.
Legacy Resource Group is a consulting practice that specializes in business development and strategic partnering between prime and subcontractors. More specifically, I help businesses find the qualified firms who can move their projects forward, starting at the RFQ and continuing right through to completion. Firms also often engage me to stay with a project team to help mitigate issues, address client concerns and identify other opportunities.

I started the firm full time in 2006 when I was leaving the board of directors at Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). As a result of my board service, I had a chance to see firsthand the need for making good matches--to pair up the right organizations with the right partners on the right projects.

Before this, I was in commercial banking, and I specialized in small business lending with a focus on serving historically underserved clients and on being a liaison to business owners, not-for-profit organizations and community groups.

How long have you worked in public transportation?
I was named to the DART board in 1998 and was the DART chair from 2003 to 2005. I was first drawn to public transportation as a graduate student in Atlanta, when I used public transit for the first time. After being a frequent rider, I developed an interest in the public transportation industry.

How long have you been an APTA member? Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what's rewarding about it.
I first got involved with APTA in 1999--a year after I was named to the DART board--when I attended my first conference. I wanted to learn about public transportation from the ground up. Since then, I've attended most APTA conferences--bus, rail, the Legislative Conference, the Annual Meeting, the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) and the Transit Board Members Committee meetings.

I first got active in the Transit Board Members Committee, where I worked my way up through the ranks through various roles and then became chair. In addition to my current roles, I've also been on the Diversity Council and served on various other APTA and BMBG committees and subcommittees.

When people join organizations like APTA, they can either be observers or participants. I decided early on to be a participant. I understand the need for long-term committee service, but I also believe in mentoring others so they can participate in leadership roles too.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
APTA committees and resources are invaluable. As a conference attendee, I go to sessions, ask questions and try to serve as a resource myself.

I appreciate the exposure to this education and the ability to connect with other consultants across the country and share best practices. I can pick up the phone--and do, sometimes on a weekly basis--to my BMBG colleagues and ask questions and get answers, hear how someone has solved a problem or addressed an issue. It's also a great venue for networking--for my own business and to help introduce others too. Being part of an organization is helping others grow.

What do you like most about your career as a consultant?
I enjoy helping people--being part of their success stories, helping them get to the next opportunity and linking their particular skillset with the needs of an organization.

What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?
I don't try to close a deal in the first conversation. I want people to know they can trust me, that I can get the job done. I try to do a little bit extra with every project, to spend time on a job, to give the right answer--even if it's not always the answer my client might have wanted to hear. I'm a hands-on consultant.

I also love to take photographs. I started taking photos in 1973. It's an opportunity to capture a moment, and it's a good way to meet people and make sure they remember me. I've taken photos at many APTA meetings and conferences. It's a good conversation starter and a way to connect with speakers and other participants. It's a real highlight for me that one of my photographs--the opening of DART's Orange Line light rail--was on the cover of APTA's 2014 calendar.


Urbanization and Smartphones Are Killing Car Culture; Cars Once Facilitated Social Outings. Has that Role Been Filled by Technology?


The Western world's century-old love affair with the automobile is coming to an end.

People are driving less than they did before the recession, and there are fewer cars on the road. In the U.S., the number of vehicles per driver has fallen from a peak of 1.2 in 2007 to 1.15 today, according to data compiled by Schroders, an asset management firm. Young Americans are getting their drivers' licenses later than they did in 1983 or even in 2008. Fewer Britons under the age of 30 have licenses today than in the 1990s. And many young people on both sides of the Atlantic are not getting licenses at all.

This could very well be the end of the road for car culture, writes Katherine Davidson, automotive analyst at Schroders, in a fascinating note that makes the argument that car sales may never recover to their pre-recession peak. The reason comes down to two things: urbanization and smartphones.

A Status Symbol No More
The majority of the world's population now lives in cities. And young people are increasingly willing to stay there, unlike their parents, who flocked to the suburbs as their families grew. Nearly two-thirds of American "millennials," or people born after 1984, live in cities today, and some 40 percent say they're not leaving. For them, "cars are not as relevant as a status symbol, and getting a license is no longer a 'rite of passage' in the way it once was," writes Davidson.

Urban centers, of course, are less pleasant and more expensive to drive in, thanks to congestion, lots of traffic lights and pricey parking. And the proliferation of smartphones--with apps that let city residents access real-time information on public transport and capabilities that have given rise to private taxi services like Uber--add to the sense among city dwellers that owning a car is an unnecessary expense.

A New Object of Desire
Smartphones cut car use in other ways, too. By allowing people to easily stay in constant contact, smartphones have reduced the number of trips people take. Danah Boyd, a researcher at Microsoft, noted this phenomenon in her 2014 book, It's Complicated, which looked at the use of communications tools among teenagers. "What the drive-in was to teens in the 1950s and the mall in the 1980s, Facebook, texting, Twitter, instant messaging and other social media are to teens now," she writes.

E-commerce also has detrimental effects on car ownership. If your supermarket delivers a hefty order to your home every weekend, trips to the out-of-town hypermarket suddenly become unnecessary. Ditto for bulky items, now delivered from Amazon.

New Models Needed
What does all this mean for car companies? "Our base case is that there will be a structural stagnation in the developed world auto industry, with no further gains in density and all future vehicle sales driven by replacement demand," writes Schroders' Davidson.

Nigel Griffiths, chief automotive economist with the research firm IHS, is somewhat more sanguine: "We do believe there is a structural change occurring. The question is how significant that is and how pervasive that will be in the long term," he says, adding, "We are being very cautious in our forward-looking models."

One reason is for that is the difficulty in reading structural changes amid a lot of cyclical noise. Gas prices are falling. Exchange rates are volatile. It's not clear where car ownership levels will settle out, post-recession. All of that has "really clouded the issue," says Griffiths.

Emerging markets don't offer much cause for optimism. Modest increases in car ownership in developing countries have already led to gridlocked cities, thanks to terrible (or, in many cases, a complete absence of) urban planning. From Mumbai to Nairobi, and certainly all over China, vast amounts of money are being poured into public transport. While there remains much room for growth in car ownership in these markets, signs are that emerging economies will learn from the west, adopt new technology, and avoid building their cities around the automobile.

Reprinted with permission. (c) 2015 The Atlantic Media Co., as first published in the Atlantic Magazine. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Mirani is a reporter with London-based Quartz, a partner of the Atlantic.

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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Ken Westbrook, John King, Derrick Breun
LOMBARD, IL--Ken Westbrook, chairman of the Transit Division of Transdev, has taken on additional responsibilities as president of the Rail Division while retaining his current duties. He succeeds Ron Hartman, who is leaving Transdev after 16 years to accept a position with Network Rail.

Early in his career, Westbrook was general manager for several transit contracts for ATC, becoming the firm's regional vice president in 1999. Veolia Transportation, Trandev's predecessor company, acquired ATC in 2005; in 2007, Westbrook became Veolia's senior vice president for the eastern region of the U.S. He was promoted to president and chief operating officer of the Transit Division in 2010 and became its chairman in 2014.

Also, Transdev named John King regional vice president of the Northeastern Region and Derrick Breun regional vice president of the Southeastern Region.

King previously was an area vice president for the Transit Division. Earlier he was general manager of Transdev's contract in Prince George's County, MD.

Breun previously was an area vice president for the same region of the Transit Division. He joined Transdev in 2005 as general manager of Jefferson Parish Transportation Operations in Louisiana and served as chief operating officer of Transdev's contract in service to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority Board of Commissioners.

David Thurston, Alex Whittle, Sergio Callen, Dan Mesnick, Graham Stroud, Jonas Radstrom
TAMPA, FL--Atkins North America announced several appointments to its rail and transit business.

David Thurston and Alex Whittle are joining the firm's new design center in Pittsburgh, while Sergio Callen will head rail systems in the New York office. Dan Mesnick will succeed Graham Stroud in asset management and Jonas Radstrom will lead rail systems in the western U.S. from the San Francisco office. Stroud will remain with Atkins in the United Kingdom.

Roland Hoskins
EUGENE, OR--Roland Hoskins has joined Lane Transit District as director of administrative services. He is a former director of youth services and employee and labor relations manager for Lane County and more recently was a private consultant. Hoskins succeeds Mary Adams, who retired Jan. 30.

Bryan Smith
URBANA, IL--Bryan Smith has joined the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District as its chief operating officer. He previously served in several jobs at the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, Kent, OH.

Michael J. Natale

SACRAMENTO, CA--Michael J. Natale, ARM, CRIS, has joined Bickmore as a strategic partner in the Risk Management Consulting practice. He has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance and risk management field, serving most recently as risk manager for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Scott R. Armstrong
PASADENA, CA--Scott R. Armstrong has joined Parsons as vice president and Alternative Project Delivery business development director for its transportation business unit. He will be based in Columbia, SC. Armstrong has more than 27 years of experience in planning, managing and building transportation systems and other projects.

Natalie E. Cornell, Thomas B. Furmaniak

AMBLER, PA--LTK Engineering Services announced the appointment of Natalie E. Cornell as director of business development, based in the company's headquarters in Ambler. She previously managed a division of LECIP Inc. and earlier was a marketing director in Accenture's Transportation Practice.

Cornell succeeds Thomas B. Furmaniak, who led LTK's business development activities for the past five years. He has been named director with LTK's affiliate, NDYLTK Rail, in Sydney, Australia, where he is based.

Furmaniak worked for LTK in the 1970s; he returned to the firm in 1998 after tenures with MTA New York City Transit, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and the Athens Metro in Greece.

Robbie Makinen, Daniel Serda, Jim Klobnak, Dennis Bixby
KANSAS CITY, MO--The Board of Commissioners of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority re-elected Jackson County, MO, Commissioner Robbie Makinen as its chairman. Makinen is economic development coordinator for Jackson County and co-chair of the area's Regional Transit Coordinating Council.

Also elected were Daniel Serda, representing Kansas City, KS, vice chairman; Jim Klobnak, Kansas City, MO, secretary; and Dennis Bixby, Leavenworth County, KS, treasurer.

Paul Grether
CINCINNATI--Paul Grether has been promoted to director of rail services at Cincinnati Metro. He joined the agency in 2012 as rail services manager after serving as manager of streetcar development for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

Grether is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2011 and chairs the APTA Streetcar Subcommittee.

Travis Campbell, Moira Beznoska

WASHINGTON, DC--Operation Lifesaver Inc. has announced two new state coordinators: Travis Campbell in Idaho, succeeding Kim Davids, and Moira Beznoska in South Dakota, where Connie Greguson has served on an interim basis.

Campbell has been a volunteer with Operation Lifesaver for three years and has been involved in public service for 16 years. He served seven years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and has been a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific Railroad since 2004.

Beznoska is office coordinator with the South Dakota Safety Council. She has more than 15 years of experience as an educator in the medical field.

Katie Kraft
WASHINGTON, DC--Public transit attorney Katie Kraft has been elected to the partnership of Thompson Coburn LLP. She serves on the APTA Legislative Committee and is a member of WTS International.

Jeffrey Lalloway, Lori Donchak, Michelle Steel

ORANGE, CA--Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway is the new chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors. He joined the board in 2013, was its vice chairman for the past year and succeeds outgoing Chairman Shawn Nelson, who is also a county supervisor and remains on the board.

Lori Donchak, a member of the San Clemente City Council, is the new board vice chairman. She joined the OCTA board in January 2013. County Supervisor Michelle Steel also joined the OCTA board.

Jason Dunn, Ken Reed

CINCINNATI--Jason Dunn has been re-elected chair of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority board and Ken Reed was re-elected vice chair.

Dunn is director of multicultural affairs and community development for the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Reed is manager of loss control services for the Ohio Transit Risk Pool and previously served as general manager at Butler County Regional Transit Authority in Hamilton, OH.