Passenger Transport - February 20, 2015
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Foxx Ends Bus Tour in D.C.; Proposes Rule Safety Framework for Rail Transit

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx completed his four-day, five state bus tour at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station on Feb. 20, where he reiterated his appeal to Congress urging action on a long-term transportation bill and announced a proposed rule to increase the oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs).
The proposed rule—issued by FTA and reflecting new statutory safety authority established by MAP-21—would give states more resources to increase oversight over rail transit systems, require adoption and enforcement of federal and state safety laws and require SSOAs to be financially and legally independent of the rail transit systems they oversee.
“We must improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to provide the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day,” Foxx said. “Rail transit is a safe travel option, but we have an obligation and opportunity to make it even safer.”
In addition, FTA would have greater authority to review and approve each State Safety Oversight program, including triennial audits, review of annual status reports and certification of SSOAs. If states do not meet statutory criteria, FTA may withhold federal funds until an SSO program is certified. Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
“FTA appreciates the continued cooperation and engagement of our state and rail transit industry partners as we take this major step forward toward a new safety regulatory framework,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “We drafted the proposed rule to ensure it allows for the flexibility and scalability needed to provide effective safety benefits for passengers and employees of transit agencies of all sizes and operating environments.”

Foxx Promotes Light Rail in Visit to Durham, NC

As part of his four-day, five-state GROW AMERICA Express bus tour, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Durham, NC, Feb. 19 to talk about the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. Triangle Transit in Research Triangle Park, NC, is currently conducting planning and environmental review activities for the 17.1-mile line, which ultimately will connect the cities of Durham and Chapel Hill.

Joining Foxx at the event were Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Durham Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell and David King, general manager of Triangle Transit, which is overseeing the light rail project.

“We support reauthorization for the proposed  project and others across the country so they can get done because they need to get done,” King said.

“Projects like the Durham-Orange Light Rail Line will connect Americans to opportunity by improving access to jobs and education while helping to spur economic development in growing communities like Durham, Chapel Hill and across the country,” Foxx said. “I’m traveling throughout the Southeast this week to highlight projects like this one that show if we invest in a 21st-century transportation system, we can grow jobs and the economy—and create a brighter tomorrow for future generations.”

The secretary also cited statistics showing an 80 percent increase in the region’s population by 2040.


DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, at podium, speaks about the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project, joined by Rep. G.K. Butterfield and Triangle Transit General Manager David King.


APTA's Legislative Conference to Feature Insiders' Insights

APTA’s 2015 Legis­lative Conference, March 8-10 at the JW Marriott Hotel in ­Washington, D.C., will provide an ideal opportunity for agency and business members to carry public transportation’s message to Capitol Hill, meet with peers and hear from members of ­Congress and other Washington insiders about progress on a surface transportation authorization bill.

A summary of the conference schedule follows:

Candy Crowley, former CNN chief political correspondent and anchor of the Sunday morning talk show State of the Union with Candy ­Crowley, officially kicks off the conference on Sunday afternoon, March 8, with remarks that provide an overview of the Washington, D.C., political environment. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will provide welcoming remarks.

At Monday’s Breakfast Session, sponsored by APTA business members, Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Travel Association, will discuss the importance of public transportation to those involved in the travel industry.

This will be followed by the Opening General Session, which will include remarks by APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and chief executive officer, Denver Regional Transportation District, and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Monday will also feature a session with ­Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Mesa (AZ) Mayor John Giles and Fort Worth (TX) Mayor Betsy Price who will participate in a “Mayors’ Roundtable” to discuss their support for and experience with public transportation in their communities.

On Monday afternoon, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg will brief attendees on their respective agencies’ program updates and initiatives, and key staff from congressional committees that oversee federal public transportation programs will discuss legislative efforts to reauthorize MAP-21 prior to its expiration May 31. In addition, the Capitol Steps, a perennial conference favorite, will provide luncheon entertainment.

On Tuesday, APTA members will hear directly from key members of Congress involved in the authorization debate, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the ranking member of the ­Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Other members of Congress have also been invited.

The conference also includes multiple APTA committee meetings beginning late Saturday, March 7, and continuing into Sunday.APTA’s 2015 Legis­lative Conference, March 8-10 at the JW Marriott Hotel in ­Washington, D.C., will provide an ideal opportunity for agency and business members to carry public transportation’s message to Capitol Hill, meet with peers and hear from members of ­Congress and other Washington insiders about progress on a surface transportation authorization bill.

For details and to register, visit the APTA website.




Candy Crowley 

Roger Dow 

Therese McMillan 




Sarah Feinberg 

Sen. Sherrod Brown 

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton 

FTA Awards $29 Million in Safety Grants

FTA recently awarded $29 million in grants to 13 organizations to support technologies that will help public transportation agencies improve track worker and passenger safety, better withstand natural disasters and respond more effectively to emergencies.

Ten of the organizations are APTA members; three are partnering with association members.

The grants are part of the FTA’s Innovative Safety, Resiliency and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration.

“Safety is our highest priority at DOT and we are committed to ensuring that public transportation remains one of the safest ways to travel in the United States,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These grants will help transit agencies utilize the latest, most innovative technologies available to reduce collisions, protect track workers, improve operations during emergencies and natural disasters and maintain equipment and infrastructure,” he added.

“FTA is proud to support cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to significantly improve transit safety and operations in the years ahead,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “It is critical that we continue to invest in 21st-century systems that will keep transit riders and workers safe, and offer places like New Jersey and New Orleans the tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and natural disasters.”

The projects include:

* San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, $5 million to develop and demonstrate technologies that will help prevent accidents involving trains and track workers.

* Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, $4.2 million to install and demonstrate Bombardier’s TrackSafe system along six miles of its rail system to reduce hazards associated with track inspection, maintenance and repair.

* New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, $3.6 million to research and demonstrate an automated, data-based information collection system to measure and monitor the condition of subway railcar wheels and rail infrastructure.

* UChicago Argonne LLC in partnership with Pace Suburban Bus Service, Arlington Heights, IL, and Metra commuter rail, $2.9 million to research, develop and demonstrate a decision support tool for transit asset management that addresses all-hazards emergency response and recovery.

* Battelle Memorial Insti­tute in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, $2.7 million to research, develop and demonstrate integrated vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology to minimize transit bus collisions with automobiles and pedestrians at intersections.

* Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois in partnership with five APTA members across the nation, $2.4 million to develop and deploy prototype concrete crossties and fastening systems to increase the life cycle of critical components and help maintain rail infrastructure in a state of good repair.

* Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Burnsville, MN, $1.8 million to equip additional buses in its BRT and express bus fleets with GPS-based technology to improve safety and service in narrow shoulder lanes along congested corridors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

* Los Angeles Metro, $1.7 million to install and test a radar-based system to detect track intrusion and alert rail operators and transit officials when people or objects are detected on the track.

* Applied Research Associates Inc. in partnership with the Sacramento Regional Transit District, $1.3 million to develop, test and demonstrate a front-end bumper design for light rail vehicles that operate in a shared right-of-way environment.
Center for Transportation and the Environment, Atlanta, approximately $1 million to develop, evaluate and plan the deployment of a Bus Exportable Power System that would allow existing public transit buses to export power using their hybrid propulsion systems.

* Portland State University in partnership with Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, approximately $1 million to develop and test a transportation demand management system that uses social media and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology for emergency response and recovery.

* New Jersey Transit Corporation, $850,000 to develop a forecast and observation system that can provide real-time information on the potential risk and magnitude of flooding before and during significant storm surge events.

* City of New Orleans in partnership with the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the University of New Orleans, $500,000 to improve the evacuation of city residents and vulnerable populations during emergencies and disasters and to identify transportation assets needed for evacuations and those currently used daily by the RTA.

Find details here.

Snowbound in Boston

A Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter train is snowed in as agency employees and contractors with Keolis dig out from the latest in a series of winter storms that dumped more than 97 inches of snow—that’s 8 feet—on Boston this winter season, with more than 60 inches falling in February alone, making it the snowiest month in the city’s history. The storms also deposited record-breaking snowfall levels in other parts of the Northeast.

Photo courtesy of MBTA

CTA Opens Cermak-McCormick Place Station

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) opened its newly constructed Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station Feb. 9 on the city’s Near South Side, filling a 2.5-mile gap between CTA stations that has existed since 1977, when the previous station at that location was demolished.

“This station will benefit businesses and residents of this neighborhood, improving transportation and, as we have seen with other CTA new and rehabilitated stations, stimulating economic development in the neighborhood,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “Through [Chicago] Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel’s commitment to improving the transportation infrastructure in ­Chicago’s neighborhoods, we are continuing to increase affordable transportation options for people who live, work and visit this community.”

At the dedication event, Emanuel said, “Today we cut the ribbon on not just a new station for the Green Line, but on a new economic future for the businesses and residents on the Near South Side. For Chicago to have a growing 21st-century economy, we must have a 21st-century infrastructure. So this new station is an essential investment in the continued growth of the Near South Side.”

In addition to serving its immediate neighborhood, the Cermak-McCormick Place Station is two blocks from McCormick Place, one of the nation’s major convention and meeting venues.

The project was financed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a funding tool used by the city to promote public and private investment such as infrastructure construction and repair.  Funds are generated by growth in the Equalized Assessed Valuation of properties within a designated district over a 23-year period, beginning with the baseline of property taxes at the time the area is declared a TIF district. As property values increase, all property tax growth above that amount can be used to fund redevelopment projects within the district. The increase or increment can be used to pay back bonds issued to pay up-front costs or can be used on a pay-as-you-go basis for individual projects.


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, at microphone, speaks at dedication ceremonies for CTA’s Cermak-McCormick Place Station. CTA President Forrest Claypool is at left of Emanuel.

Houston METRO Opens Newest Station

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) opened its 25th and newest station on the METRORail Red Line, Central Station Main, on Feb. 18. The station will also become a transfer point when METRO opens the new East End/Green and Southeast/Purple light rail lines, scheduled for this spring. Cutting the ribbon, from left: Houston City Councilmember Robert Gallegos; Houston METRO Board Member Christof Spieler; Downtown Management District President Bob Eury; Ryan Leach, executive director, Downtown Redevelopment Authority; Luther Villagomez, chief operating officer, George R. Brown Convention Center; and Houston METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert.

New CEOs Named

Stanek, CityLink, Peoria, IL

Al Stanek is the new general manager of the Greater Peoria (IL) Mass Transit District. John Anderson, assistant general manager of maintenance, had served in the post on an interim basis following the retirement of Tom Lucek at the end of 2014. Anderson is returning to his previous job.

Stanek leads the First Transit Inc. team that manages CityLink public transportation for a service area that includes Peoria, West Peoria, Peoria Heights, East Peoria and Pekin. He has more than 30 years of public transit experience, most recently in Racine, WI, where he worked for ­Wisconsin DOT for 19 years and he held management positions with public transportation systems in Sheboygan and Madison, WI.

Baker, Greater Lynchburg Transit Co.
Joshua Baker, a First Transit employee who began his public transportation career as a bus driver, is the new general manager of the Greater Lynchburg (VA) Transit Company (GLTC).

Baker received the President’s White House Champions of Change Award in May 2014 for his efforts in the launch of Radford Transit in Radford, VA, in 2011. His more than 15 years of public transit experience began during his undergraduate days at Virginia Tech. He was a competitor in the 2000 APTA Bus Roadeo in San Francisco.

He joins GLTC from New River Valley Community Services, where he served most recently as general manager of transit and facility programs.

Reardon, KCATA
The Kansas City (MO) Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) has named Joe Reardon, former mayor/chief executive officer of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS, as its new president and chief executive officer. KCATA’s service area also includes Kansas City, KS.

Reardon, currently an attorney in private practice, will join the agency in March. An advocate of public transportation, he is credited with introducing Sunday bus service in Kansas City, KS, still the only community in the state to provide regular bus service on that day. In addition, during his tenure as mayor, the city built the first major public transit center in its history, and he partnered with KCATA to support several other significant transportation projects through an FTA TIGER grant.

He succeeds Mark Huffer, who stepped down as KCATA general manager in August 2014.

Allen, TransLink
TransLink, Vancouver, BC, named Doug Allen its interim chief executive officer after Ian Jarvis stepped down Feb. 11. Jarvis, a TransLink employee since 1999 and CEO since 2009, will act as an advisor to the TransLink Board of Directors until his contract ends in June 2016.

Allen has an extensive background in the public and private sectors in British Columbia, serving most recently as president and chief executive officer of InTransit BC, the company that built and operates the Canada Line.

Business Acquisitions

Wabtec, Railroad Controls L.P.
Wabtec Corporation, Wilmerding, PA, has acquired Railroad Controls L.P., based in Benbrook, TX, a provider of railway signal construction services and formerly a subsidiary of RCL Services Group LLC.

Raymond T. Betler, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer, said, “In recent years we have expanded our presence in signal design, engineering, project management and construction …. Railroad Controls further strengthens our turnkey capabilities in this key market segment and provides technical expertise that complements our existing electronics, signaling and train control offerings.”

Irwin Transportation Products, Irwin, PA, has acquired VECOM USA LLC, based in Tampa. VECOM USA’s products include train to wayside communication systems, train digital warning systems and an Ethernet-based passenger information system.

VECOM will continue to operate at its Tampa location as VECOM USA, a division of Irwin Transportation Products. Irwin Transportation Products is an affiliate of Irwin Car and Equipment that specializes in rail switching systems, signals and controls and equipment for public transit, trolley, mining and tunneling applications.

VHB, based in Watertown, MA, recently acquired GMB Engineers & Planners Inc., a transportation firm with offices in Orlando and Chipley, FL, and Atlanta, where it operates as Metro Planning & Engineering (MPE).

GMB will join VHB’s Southeast Region operation and the Florida offices will do business as VHB; the Atlanta unit will keep the MPE name and operate as a division of VHB.

The two firms join forces after a 10-year relationship collaborating on projects. The acquisition will double the size of VHB’s Southeast Region.

Chicago Mayor Cuts Ribbon at Freedman Seating

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, recently joined Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts, left, and Craig Freedman, right, president of Freedman Seating Company, to cut the ribbon at the company’s new office space on the city's West Side. The business, a multi-generational, family-owned company in Chicago, is currently manufacturing seats for the new fleet of Chicago Transit Authority buses. Its community outreach efforts include partnering with Austin Polytechnical High School to support skills training, working with the Chicago City Colleges as part of the College to Careers program and supporting Skills for Chicagoland’s Future through the mayor’s office.


Meet Tracy Reed!

Tracy Reed
Rail Activation Manager
Sound Transit
Member, Leadership APTA Class of 2012; mentor, Early Career Program, 2014, 2015; member, Human Resources, Rail Safety and Policy & Planning committees

Please describe your agency’s scope.
Sound Transit, which is headquartered in Seattle, builds and operates regional train and bus services for Central Puget Sound. The Sound Transit district stretches 1,080 square miles through three counties and has nearly three million ­people—40 percent of the entire population for the state of Washington.

Sound Transit started in 1995 with 26 employees; today it has more than 630. Services include ST Express buses, Sounder commuter trains and Link light rail trains operating in four cities: Tacoma, SeaTac, Tukwila and Seattle. The agency contracts with other transit providers in the region to operate most of those services.

Sound Transit continues to enjoy a strong ridership growth trend and anticipates that its buses and trains will provide about 34 million rides in 2015.

In addition, Sound Transit has invested more than $5 billion in infrastructure, including direct-access ramps, park-and-rides, HOV lanes, light rail and heavy rail improvements, and it has an additional 41 miles of light rail extensions in planning or construction.

How long have you worked in public transportation? What drew you to a career in the industry?
I’ve worked in public transportation for 22 years—initially, as a founding member of Transportation Choices Coalition in Washington state and a university research associate in project prioritization tools.

I was drawn to work in transit for the oppor­tunity to positively impact people’s daily lives. ­Providing good alternatives to driving and reducing our impacts on climate and the environment are still key motivations.

I am fortunate to have joined Sound Transit early in its light rail program development phase. Although I’ve been with the same organization since 1998, my work is ever-changing. I’ve been involved in every stage of project implementation from planning to startup of operations and seeing ideas transformed from paper into reality is a great reward. I love when I find myself standing in a new facility or at a job site and realize that it looks just as I imagined back in the office.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I have been an APTA member since 1998 when I first began participating in APTA Annual Meetings, presenting at rail conferences and in technical forums.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped.
APTA’s partnership with other organizations is a great asset for members. Efforts such as jointly sponsored transit conferences or committee collaboration on research and standards development help develop relationships in a cost-effective way for members. Combined efforts help me make the most connections on every trip.

Participating in Leadership APTA and in development of the new Early Career Program have also been valuable experiences. The sustained commitment to a yearlong training program as student, mentor or instructor helps ingrain the lessons more completely and allows time to consider applications to my own career before seeking additional feedback.

Finally, being involved with a national organization like APTA gives me perspective on my local situation and work environment without having to move around. You get to know people with similar responsibilities who can act as a sounding board, offering support or referrals.

What do you like most about your career?
I enjoy bringing people together to make a difference in my adopted hometown. Sound Transit is a relatively new service provider and being involved in changing the way people think about getting around the region or investing in property development near new stations is important to me, and fun.

What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Sound Transit’s Link light rail trains run at-grade, in tunnels, on elevated tracks and by 2023, will be the only passenger trains in the world that operate on a floating bridge.

That I-90 floating bridge, which is over a mile long, connects Seattle and ­Bellevue over Lake Washington.


Meet Kamille Turner!

Kamille Turner
Administrative Assistant
Workforce Development and Educational Services Department

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

I support APTA’s workforce development programs—the Early Career Program, Leadership APTA, Transit Virtual Career Network—and the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) scholarship program. I participate in the planning process for related sessions at APTA’s major meetings and conferences and help with events on site at the meetings.

For example, I helped organize the APTF benefit golf tournament at the 2014 Rail Conference in Montréal and provided support to the promotion of the Transit Virtual Career Network at the 2014 Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston. When APTF decided to honor Fran Hooper on her retirement from APTA by establishing a scholarship in her name, I was on the team that helped make it happen.

I also provide extensive support to the APTA committees advised by Joe Niegoski, director-educational services, and Pam Boswell, vice president-program management and educational services. I take minutes at committee meetings and post information to collaboration pages on the APTA website that only committee members can access. I send letters and memos to committee members as a heads-up for pending business and other timely issues. I help plan committee-related receptions at APTA meetings and help out when members visit the APTA offices.

Please share more about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.

I interact with participants in the Early Career Program and Leadership APTA and participate in their conference calls and webinars.

I’m the first line of contact for class members who have questions—say, about logistics. Most of the time I can answer the questions, but if I can’t I know who to refer them to. I also provide outreach, make sure class members know what they need to know to get the most out of their experiences.

For example, I will circulate draft documents to committee members, then follow up with a survey to receive their comments and make changes in the documents. I’m on the team that schedules conference calls for program participants and supports class presentations. I also provide support to Joe Niegoski as he organizes sessions and contracts with speakers.

What have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

I’ve been part of the Transit ­Virtual Career Network since before it went live last year. The network is a one-stop online location where job seekers can learn about many of the front-line job opportunities and resources in our industry. A lot of front-line workforce employees are retiring, so a resource that can connect potential employers with employees is very important right now. The industry needs to attract new talent to meet an increasing need for public transit service.

The network also provides information on job training for public transportation careers, so people who are interested in working in the field but don’t currently have the background can learn what training they need and how they can get it.

I helped prepare the network for its soft launch in the summer of 2014, doing research, gathering information and doing member outreach for information about the job descriptions and career resources we ultimately used on the website. Following the soft launch, we did the official launch in September and used EXPO in early October for a major promotional effort.

From what I heard while interacting with people at EXPO, our work on the network has been well received. We’re continuing to expand the network. It meets a specific and widely requested need for the public transportation industry. It’s accessible here.

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

I’ve been at APTA about a year. I started out as a temp in the Workforce Development and Educational Services Department and received a permanent job offer when Jose Reyes, who previously held this job, took a position in APTA’s Corporate Affairs Department.

This is my first experience working in the public transportation field, but I’ve been a transit supporter and user for many years. I grew up in ­Maryland and went to Columbia University in New York City for my bachelor’s degree in international relations. I knew I wasn’t going to have a car in Manhattan, so I always used public transit when I was in school, and that pattern continued when I moved back to the D.C. area.

What professional ­affiliations do you have?

None related to transportation. I’m a member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and Women in Foreign Policy, based on my college background.

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

I recently began taking classes in West African drumming. I’d never thought much about being a musician but one of my friends teaches a class. I enjoy it because it allows me to use a different part of the brain from when I’m working.

Case Study

The Outer Limits

See this case study here.


Stand Up for Transportation Day Is Central Feature of Transit CEOs Seminar

BY LYNNE MORSEN,Director-Program Management

Public transportation chief and senior executives gathered to participate in professional development and educational sessions at APTA’s Transit CEOs Seminar, Feb. 7-10 in Phoenix.

APTA Chair Phil Washington, general manager and chief executive officer of Denver’s Regional Transportation District, shared plans for the industry’s national day of advocacy on April 9, Stand Up for Transportation Day, targeted at getting Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation authorization bill. “This growing movement is about getting the bill that the nation needs,” he said.

Opening General Session speaker Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton described the link between economic and public transportation growth in his region. He, joined by Valley Metro Chief Executive Officer Stephen Banta, also signed up to engage the city of Phoenix in the day’s activities. He noted that Phoenix had hosted one million people only one week prior, for the Super Bowl, and is celebrating many changes.

Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith showed conference participants that success in getting light rail in the region was due less to information about efficiency measures and more to people believing that the new service changes their lives. “We need to better celebrate our accomplishments,” he said. “We had to do something bold to create something bold. But how good would the light rail be if there weren’t any buses? The rail is part of a much bigger system. The allure is that rail builds a better transportation system.”

David Krietor, chief executive officer of Downtown Phoenix Inc., a community development group of city, business and community leaders, described how the city placed a convention center, arena and stadium in the downtown area once much of the city’s population had moved to the suburbs. Now, he added, a surprising and powerful new urban generation of downtown residents—including millennials and baby boomers—is supporting “walkable, livable, vibrant communities, making downtown areas their living rooms.”

A group of four CEOs joined Krietor onstage for a conversation about the nationwide trend of residents returning to cities, with public transportation systems adding connectivity in the cities that are coming back.
Federal representatives addressing the group included FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan; Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers; Lynn Spencer, director, Office of System Safety; and Sonya Proctor, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s Surface Division.

A session on career pathways offered insights into four transit systems’ workforce development programs such as innovative recruiting methods, tuition reimbursement and partnering with universities. Other topics of interest were APTA’s recent CEO survey about the hardest jobs to fill and its partnership in the new virtual career network.

Other key sessions for chief executives featured working with the board, labor trends and negotiating employment contracts. The seminar also featured a track of study for deputy CEOs whose career goals include becoming a transit chief executive.


Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs on to APTA’s Stand Up for Transportation Day as Valley Metro CEO Stephen Banta, center, and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy watch.

Photo by Deb Falco

APTA Seeks Nominations for Awards

Do you, your agency or your business have what it takes to be recog­nized for exemplary operations and practices?
If so, prepare your nominations packets now for either the APTA Awards program or its Safety & Security Excellence Awards initiative. Details follow.

APTA Awards
These prestigious awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry in North America. Nominations for the 2015 awards are due April 7.
Award categories include Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member, Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member, Distinguished Service, Hall of Fame, Innovation and Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement.

The awards are presented during a special ceremony at the APTA Annual Meeting, which this year is Oct. 4-7 in San Francisco. To submit a nomination, click here. For details, contact Erin Cartwright.

Safety & Security Awards
APTA is also accepting nominations for its Bus and Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards. Nominations deadlines are March 2 for the bus awards and April 1 for the rail awards.

The top honors in bus categories will be presented during the 2015 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6 in Fort Worth, and the rail awards will be given at the Rail Conference, June 21-24 in Salt Lake City.

To apply, visit the APTA website and search on Safety & Security Awards. For additional details, contact Michael Smith.

APTA Welcomes New Members

See the list of new members here.


FTA Seeks Comment on Emergency Relief Program Guidance

FTA is seeking public comment through April 6 on proposed guidance for the Emergency Relief (ER) ­Program it published Feb. 4 as part of the agency’s new Emergency Relief Manual: A Reference Manual for States and Transit Agencies on Response and Recovery from Declared Disasters & FTA’s Emergency Relief Program.

Submit comments here using docket number FTA-2015-0002.

The manual is intended for states and public transit agencies that might be affected by a declared emergency or disaster and that seek funding under FTA’s ER Program. The document also provides information on other ­disaster relief resources available through FTA and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a discussion of recommended practices for disaster preparation and frequently asked questions relating to disaster recovery.

The new manual revises and replaces FTA’s Response and Recovery from Declared Emergencies and Disasters: A Reference for Transit Agencies, last updated in June 2013.

This guidance supplements the Emergency Relief Program Regulation-Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on Oct. 7, 2014.

Sound Transit Opens Permanent Tukwila Sounder Station

Sound Transit held ribbon-cutting ceremonies Feb. 18 for a permanent Sounder commuter rail station, a new regional hub that will replace a temporary structure.

The new station at Tukwila, WA, will provide connections to Amtrak and buses, 390 parking spaces, storage for 80 bicycles and four electric vehicle charging stations.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who attended the event, said, “I was proud to be a voice for this community and fight for the federal investments this project needed and the results are worth it. This station will continue to link communities throughout the region, support local businesses and help commuters every day.”

Tukwila is one of nine Sounder stations on a line that serves more than 13,000 riders a day; service began in 2000. The temporary station allowed time for the city to establish its downtown development plan.

Sound Transit received $13.5 million in federal funding for the $46 million project.

Business Solution Center Opens Along L.A.ís Crenshaw Corridor

Los Angeles Mayor and Los Angeles Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti spoke Feb. 9 just before ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Metro’s Business Solution Center at the entrance to the Los Angeles Urban League building, where the center is located. The center, created by the Metro board, is a pilot program to assist businesses along the Crenshaw/LAX light rail corridor currently under construction. “The Crenshaw Line is a tremendous investment in our infrastructure to cut traffic, stimulate the economy and finally connect rail to LAX [Los Angeles International Airport]. This center is about making sure businesses get the support they need while Metro makes the infrastructure investments Angelenos deserve,” Garcetti said at the event.
Photo by Metro/Juan Ocampo

TSA Commends Five Public Transportation Agencies

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has commended five APTA members for earning the highest rating of “Gold Standard” on its 2014 Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement (BASE) for their dedication to building a strong security program.
The five agencies are Virginia Railway Express, Alexandria, VA; Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, D.C.; MTA Long Island Rail Road, Jamaica, NY; Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL; and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, Tampa, FL.
The BASE program establishes a security standard for individual system security programs and assesses progress. This voluntary comprehensive review of public transit agency security programs focuses on multiple categories identified as fundamental for a sound security program. They include a review of topics such as an agency’s security plans, security training, drills/exercise programs, public outreach efforts and background check programs. The BASE program analyzes the security program for each system and identifies opportunities to further enhance security. The recognized agencies attained high scores across all categories.
The program was developed to increase awareness, enhance prevention and protection capabilities and strengthen response preparedness of public transportation systems. As such, it meets the requirements in the 9/11 Commission Act’s security assessment section.

New Reports Show Value of Public Transportation

Here’s information summarizing several recently released reports of interest to public transportation.

U.S. PIRG: Tech Transportation Options
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group’s new report shows ­Austin, TX, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as the top U.S. cities integrating technology-enabled services and tools into their transportation options, followed by ­Boston, Los Angeles and New York City.

The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car ranks 70 major U.S. cities on the number of different types of new transportation technology options they offer, including carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing, taxi-hailing, bikesharing, navigation apps and virtual ticketing. It shows that residents of 19 cities currently have access to eight or more of the 11 services covered.

“None of these options even existed a few years ago and this trend is just beginning,” said Phineas Baxandall, transportation program director at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Technology has given people new convenient ways to get around more freely without having to own a car.” The organization explained that while these services and tools make differences individually, they gain in strength when taken as a group.

To read the report, click here.

BlueGreen Alliance: Transportation Investment Benefits Manufacturing
Federal and state investments in public transportation and passenger rail support manufacturing businesses and jobs in a majority of the states, according to Passenger Rail and Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S. released by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC).

The groups said the report demonstrates a powerful opportunity to increase public transit and passenger rail manufacturing nationwide, but argued that success depends on leadership from Congress to make the long-term investments in rail and transit that are key to sustaining a strong and globally competitive industry.

“Modernizing our nation’s passenger rail and transit systems will improve mobility, alleviate congestion on highways and at airports and will reduce pollution,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner. “This report shows that sound policies to accelerate passenger rail and transit will grow the economy and drive job creation at large manufacturing businesses, smaller fabricating companies and technical and engineering businesses across the country.”

The report identifies 212 companies in 32 states that manufacture public transit or passenger rail cars and locomotives or major rail propulsion, electronics and body components and systems. It also cites 542 additional companies in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions that manufacture subcomponents, materials, track and infrastructure and provide repair and remanufacturing to the industry.

For details, click here.

Smart Growth America: Complete Streets Policies
Los Angeles Metro joins nine municipal governments with the top 10 Complete Streets policies recognized by Smart Growth America in The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014.

Goals of the Los Angeles policy include maximizing multimodal benefits and efficiencies, improving safety for all users, facilitating multi-jurisdictional coordination, leveraging partnerships and incentive programs to achieve a “complete” and integrated transportation system that serves all users, establishing active transportation improvements as integral elements of the countywide transportation system and fostering communities where all residents have increased mobility choices.

Smart Growth America noted that more than 70 jurisdictions adopted Complete Streets policies in 2014. These laws, resolutions, agency policies and planning and design documents establish a process for selecting, funding, planning, designing and building transportation projects that allow safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income or ethnicity, and how they travel.

The report is available here.

TCRP Reports
Report 172-Guidance for Developing a Transit Asset Management Plan provides tools and guidance to improve asset management. The Transit Asset Prioritization Tool, a spreadsheet that accompanies the report, can help public transit agencies predict the future conditions of their assets and prioritize asset rehabilitation and replacement. The contractor’s final report summarizing the research and methodology of this project is also available. 

Report 174-Improving Safety Culture in Public Transportation presents research on the definition of safety culture in public transportation, offers methods and tools for assessing safety culture and provides strategies and guidelines that agencies can apply to initiate and build such a program.

Report 173-Improving Transit Integration Among Multiple Providers, Volume I provides guidelines and procedures to help agencies evaluate, plan and implement steps to integrate services in areas with multiple providers. It accompanies Report 173, Volume II-Research Report.

Visit the TCRP website to download electronic copies or to order a hard copy for a minimal fee.

APTA Fact Book
APTA recently released the 65th annual version of its Public Transportation Fact Book. The book, available here, features an overview of U.S. public transit facts, finances and operating statistics by modes of travel; vehicle characteristics and deliveries; federal grants and the Federal Transit Act and statistical trends of Canadian public transit operations.

Industry Briefs

Additional Funding for Metrolink Fare Enforcement — The Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors recently allocated an additional $1.7 million to help ensure 100 percent fare enforcement on all Metrolink Antelope Valley Line commuter trains through June 30. These funds will expand a Metrolink pilot program that began last year.

Riverside Installs Kiel North America Seating — The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency is installing lightweight, ergonomically designed seats from Kiel North America in 107 new buses in its fleet. Ninety of the buses have stainless steel seats, while the rest are equipped with fully padded seats.

Keeping the Cold Out — Amtrak, owner of Chicago Union Station, has rerouted foot traffic at the station to minimize exposure to outside air and improve temperature conditions for passengers, other station users, vendors and railroad workers. Limiting the use of some doors also will help control the influx of winter air into the station, which is expected to reduce incidents such as sprinkler pipe breaks caused by extreme cold.

VTA Joins Neighborhood Social Network — The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA, recently became the first public transit agency to join Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods across the U.S. VTA’s participation will allow the agency to better connect with its neighbors and provide information about countywide mobility planning, highways, bicycling, walking and local roads.

C-TRAN to Introduce INIT Fare Technology — The Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area (C-TRAN), Vancouver, WA, has contracted with INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc. for delivery of an updated electronic fare collection system. C-TRAN will install fare validators on the more than 100 vehicles in its fleet, allowing integration with the regional e-fare system operated by Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon.

St. Louis Agency to Relocate Headquarters — The Bi-State Development Agency, operator of Metro ­public transit in St. Louis, has announced plans to move its headquarters to a new location this summer. Unlike its current space, where the agency has been based since 1982, the new location is served by MetroBus and Madison County Transit (Granite City, IL) as well as by MetroLink light rail.

IndyGo Partners with Pacers — IndyGo in Indianapolis and the Indiana Pacers pro basketball team teamed up Feb. 4 for a cross-promotion that included free rides throughout the system. The event featured 60-foot articulated buses wrapped in Pacers artwork, giveaways by team representatives and an opportunity to win free game tickets.

VRE Names Locomotives After Board Members — The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Operations Board, Alexandria, VA, recently introduced a program that recognizes especially noteworthy board members, placing their names on the front of VRE locomotives. The first to be honored include original board members Edwin King, Bernard Cohen, Sally H. Cooper and Sharon Bulova; James Hugh Payne Sr. and Bob Gibbons, the first members elected from their jurisdictions; and long-serving members John Jenkins, Hilda Barg and Elaine McConnell.

PB Extends Light Rail Contract in Ontario — Parsons Brinckerhoff and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, ON, have agreed to exercise a three-year option to extend their existing light rail transit contract. The $1 billion, two-stage project will bring light rail to the Waterloo Region, which includes the cities of Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener. Construction began last year on the first 11.8 miles of light rail between the urban cores of Kitchener and Waterloo.


Why I've Just Decided to Sell My Car

A millennial and sustainable transportation advocate explains why her car is increasingly irrelevant

BY AMANDA EAKEN, Deputy Director, NRDC Urban Solutions, San Francisco

Hi. My name is Amanda Eaken and I’m a walking, biking, transit-riding hypocrite. All this time I’ve been advocating sustainable transportation choices and shared mobility, and yet I still own my own car. At least for the next few weeks. …
With smart technology and an explosion of innovative mobility choices, coupled with the emergence of the sharing economy and a souring of America’s romance with the automobile, should anyone living in a city actually need to own a car? ...

There are some obvious reasons to walk away from my seven-year-old ­Toyota Prius, including my 100,000-mile maintenance bill ($600), recent tire replacement ($539), annual insurance ($1,200) and my routine-yet-maddening 45-minute searches for a place to ditch this hunk of plastic and metal since I refuse to pay another $300 per month for a permanent parking space. …

It has never before been so easy to gain access to a car when and where I want one. What I’ve realized is that I need a car sometimes—like during the holidays, when my mother ships a giant outdoor fire pit to my office and I need to haul it home.

Here’s the thing, though: Unless I want to pay $30 to park near my office and deal with the headache of having to drive downtown, owning a car doesn’t help me in that situation because it’s in the wrong place. My car is sitting on the street in my neighborhood, and I still need wheels where I am. I’m better off taking the bus to work and grabbing a cab or rideshare service home. Keep in mind, $25 is the average daily cost just to own and operate a car in the United States, so the $10 cab ride home—or even cheaper if I can dynamically share the ride with someone else through services like ­LyftLine and UberPool—is a bargain. …

I actually dipped my toe in the sharing economy from the owner’s side last year when I signed up with Getaround. I made almost $2,000 in the first year and was delighted at the idea that my car took on a new life as our neighborhood carshare car. And when I could make $150 a weekend by letting someone else use my car, I figured I was better off renting it out, and then paying $7.50 an hour if and only if I actually needed a car. The fact that Getaround helped me—a dedicated sustainable transportation advocate—make more rational, informed financial decisions about using my car versus other modes was surprising and exciting.

But at some point I realized: Other people are using my car much, much more than I am. And then I’m the fool left paying all these insurance bills, and having to repark it every time there is street cleaning.

What finally tipped us over the edge was that one of the windows broke (another $368 down the drain). And because the window was broken in the open position over the holidays, we had to store the car in a friend’s garage. A few weeks went by. We never drove it, we didn’t have to think about moving it, and you know what? We didn’t miss it. At all! That’s when I told my partner, “Honey, we’re selling the car.”

Here’s something else I observed: I think one reason it’s so hard to park in my neighborhood is because no one drives much! I imagine that I live around people just like me who mostly take transit, ride their bikes, or pay for rides to, from and around the city, reserving driving mostly for weekends.

The average American car sits parked for 95 percent of its life. In San Francisco, I’ll bet you that number is even higher. So when no one moves their car, parking is virtually impossible. I just started to realize that I AM A PART OF THIS PROBLEM. So, that means I could also be part of the solution by selling my car and using someone else’s car only when I need it. I really started to think that the whole notion that we all need to own our own cars—just so we have them available for the tiny percentage of the time that we actually use them—is a little crazy.

I’m not the first to realize that if we would all just share resources—use cars when we need them, move toward real-time, seamless, dynamic ridesharing so the average occupancy of cars is greater than 20 percent, and make point-to-point bikes publicly available through bikeshare programs—we could solve a lot of our congestion and parking woes.

Imagine—relief from all that daily stress and responsibility. It’s as simple as it sounds, yet I admit I’m a little nervous. After all, I recently bought the Yakima bike racks I wanted so I could take my mountain bike up to Mt. Tam and then lock it in place while I ate dinner afterward. Wait, did I just say I own a car so I can ride my bike? …

[I]t’s my life’s work to further sustainable transportation and contribute solutions to the fight against climate change. Driving less, burning fewer fossil fuels and participating in the leading edge of change puts me more in alignment with that.

“Switchboard” is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council. ©2015. All rights reserved. Reprinted and excerpted for length with permission. For details, click here.

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

Beverly A. Scott

BOSTON—Beverly A. Scott, general manager of the  Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts DOT rail and transit administrator since 2012, has announced that she will step down effective April 11.

Scott has worked in public transportation for almost 40 years, joining MBTA after becoming the first woman chief executive officer/general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. She earlier headed the Sacramento Regional Transit District and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and held senior-level positions in New York City, New Jersey, Washington and Dallas. She was APTA chair in 2008-2009 and currently serves on numerous APTA committees. She was named a White House Champion of Change in 2012.

John D. Jenkins, Francis C. Jones, Robert Thomas, Gary F. Skinner, Michael C. May, Matthew J. Kelly, Jonathan L. Way

WOODBRIDGE, VA—The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Executive Board announced that John D. Jenkins, a member of the Prince William Board of County Super­visors, is its new chairman. Manassas Park Mayor Francis C. Jones is vice chairman; ­Robert Thomas, a member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, secretary; Gary F. ­Skinner, a member of the Spotsyl­vania Board of County Supervisors, treasurer; and Michael C. May, a member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, immediate past chairman. At-large members are Matthew J. Kelly, a member of the Fredericksburg City Council, and Jonathan L. Way, vice mayor of the Manassas City Council.

Shawn Nelson, Daryl Busch, Keith Millhouse
LOS ANGELES—The Southern California Regional Rail Authority Board of Directors, the governing body of Metrolink commuter rail, has elected Shawn Nelson its chair, succeeding Highland Mayor Larry McCallon. Nelson, an Orange County supervisor and chair of the Orange County Transportation Authority, joined the Metrolink board in 2013. Daryl Busch, mayor of Perris since 1999 and a Metrolink board member since 2005, was elected first vice chair. He represents the Riverside County Transportation Commission. Keith Millhouse, second vice chair, is mayor of Moorpark and represents the Ventura County Transportation Commission. He chaired the Metrolink board in 2009-2010.

Nazih Haddad
WASHINGTON, DC—The Northeast Maglev has named Nazih Haddad executive vice president of the company. He will manage development of a high-speed rail system between ­Washington and New York City using superconducting maglev technology. Haddad has more than three decades of experience in the transportation and passenger rail sectors, serving most recently as senior program director for Louis Berger. He previously was chief program officer for Qatar Railways Company.

William Schafer

JACKSONVILLE, FL—­TranSystems has announced the promotion of ­William Schafer from associate to senior associate. Schafer has 41 years of experience in railroad planning, engineering and construction for freight and passenger rail, terminal facilities and commuter and light rail systems.

Jim Richards, Liliana Burbano Bonilla, Lauren Robinson
KNOXVILLE, TN—The Knoxville Transportation Authority Board of Directors elected Jim Richards, a board member since 2012, as chair. Richards is the general manager of Mast General Store in Knoxville. Liliana Burbano Bonilla, ­project coordinator of the Safe Rides to School Program for the Knox County Health Department, was elected vice chair, and Knoxville Area Transit employee Lauren Robinson as recording secretary.

Mike Suarez, Karen Jaroch, Sandra Murman
TAMPA, FL—The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Board of Directors named Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez to a second term as its chair. Karen Jaroch is the new vice chair and Sandra Murman is board secretary.

Bob Baulsir
FORT WORTH, TX—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) has named Bob Baulsir vice president of TEX Rail and of procurement. ­Baulsir joined The T in November 2014 as TEX Rail project manager. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing large transit projects, retiring last year as general manager of administration for the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee. Rob Harmon, The T’s chief financial officer who had been officer in charge of TEX Rail, will remain involved with the rail project.

Ron Yirigian

GLASTONBURY, CT—Parsons Brinckerhoff has hired Rob Yirigian as deputy area manager in its Glastonbury office. He has more than 27 years of experience managing major ­Connecticut transportation programs.

Robert Abdul-Salaam, Jerry Griffin, Chris Tomlinson, Russell McMurry

ATLANTA—The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board of Directors is welcoming four new board members in February: Roberta Abdul-Salaam, Jerry Griffin, Chris Tomlinson and ­Russell McMurry.

The Clayton County Board of ­Commissioners appointed Abdul-Salaam, a former Georgia state representative and leader of a county public transit advocacy organization, and Griffin, longtime executive director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. They are voting members of the board.

Tomlinson, executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority, and McMurry, the newly appointed commissioner for Georgia DOT, will serve as non-voting members.

Clint Hooppaw, Jon Ulrich, Jane Victorey, Chris Gerlach
BURNSVILLE, MN—The ­Minnesota Valley Transit Authority Board of Directors re-elected its officers for 2015: Apple Valley City Councilmember Clint ­Hooppaw, chair; Jon Ulrich, Scott County commissioner, vice chair; and Jane Victorey, Savage City Council member, secretary/treasurer. Also, Dakota County Commissioner Chris Gerlach has joined the board.

Chuck L. Sisk, Tom Tobiassen, Natalie Menten, Jeff Walker, Larry Hoy, Ernest Archleta, Tina Francone
DENVER—Chuck L. Sisk has been elected chair of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors. First vice chair is Tom Tobiassen; second vice chair, Natalie Menten; secretary, Jeff Walker; and treasurer, Larry Hoy.
Newly elected directors are Ernest Archuleta and Tina Francone.

John Cook, Gary Skinner, Paul Smedberg, Maureen Caddigan
ALEXANDRIA, VA—The Virginia Railway Express Operations Board has announced its officers for 2015. Board chairman is Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook; vice chairman, Spotsylvania County Supervisor Gary Skinner; secretary, Alexandria City Councilor Paul Smedberg; and treasurer, Prince William County Supervisor ­Maureen Caddigan.