Passenger Transport - March 6, 2015
The Ventura County (CA) Transportation Commission (VCTC), Ventura, introduced service March 2 on its new fixed route bus system, Valley Express. The new service replaces VISTA, the agency's dial-a-ride service, which previously was its only offering except for a regional intercity route that remains in operation.
Specifically, Valley Express will operate on four new fixed routes in three communities, while VCTC continues to provide
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) recently opened an Innovation Center at its River Oaks headquarters as a space where VTA teams, companies, startups and students can develop, test and showcase new transportation technologies from trip planning to connected cars and security.
The VTA headquarters building is located within the North San Jose Transportation Innovation Zone, an area set up by the city of San Jose as a "living lab" for infrastructure demonstration. VTA used existing funds to make renovations to the building, which included the creation of the Innovation Center.
"The Innovation Center will bring Silicon Valley to the Valley Transportation Authority," said VTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Nuria Fernandez. "It's an incubator of new ideas and a developer of existing ideas that have not been applied to transit."
VTA will use the center to improve the customer experience, offer better transportation choices and optimize its vehicles, roadways and other mobility infrastructure.
"Ideas are fantastic, but what really counts are solutions. VTA is about solutions," said Doug Davenport, executive director of Prospect Silicon Valley, which administers the innovation zone. "We're trying to get something done. We partner with doers."
To understand what types of technology could help make transit more appealing, "we need to put ourselves in the positions of customers," said VTA Board of Directors member and San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Herrera. She also cited the North San Jose Transportation Innovation Zone as a good example of her city and VTA collaborating for innovation.
As economic and population growth puts more and more pressure on limited infrastructure, "we need to figure out how we're going to maximize the use of our transportation network," Fernandez said. She noted the importance of "the Internet of Things," a term that refers to the increasing wireless connectivity among everyday objects such as vehicles, refrigerators and watches, in this process.
Current technology projects at the center include a zero-emission vehicle with dynamic, on-demand routing that connects with smartphone requests, expanding VTA's current TransLoc real-time light rail arrival app to the bus fleet and an open-source, multimodal trip planner for any combination of public transit, walking, biking, park-and-ride, bikesharing and driving if necessary.
Visitors at an open house tour the VTA Innovation Center. In the foreground is a creative train exhibit brought by Cisco to demonstrate what the company calls "the Internet of Everything" as applied to a European train system. It enables increased awareness of real-time seating capacity and other information that can help customers plan their trip or improve operations.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced on March 3 a proposal for a new pilot program that will explore ways to make it easier for states and cities to hire local residents for transportation projects.
"Local workers often have the greatest stake in local road and transit projects, but federal rules make it hard for communities to ensure that their workers reap some of the benefits and that's just not right," Foxx said.
Federal contracting rules have traditionally prohibited FTA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) from allowing recipients to use contract provisions that do not directly relate to the performance of work but further social or economic goals, functionally prohibiting local hire provisions. The pilot program will allow both agencies to test and evaluate the merits of such provisions and determine whether the existing competitive bidding process can be improved.
"The investments we make in local communities are truly transformational," said Therese McMillan, FTA acting administrator. "These investments should not only change the landscape of a community, but it should also transform and improve the lives of its residents too."
The year-long pilot is proposed as an experiment under FTA experimental authorities and FHWA's "Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14)," which are provisions made possible by Congress to give both agencies leeway in finding new ways to build, maintain and manage federal transportation projects.
DOT published a related proposal in the Federal Register to modify the "common grant" rule geographic preference provision applied to department programs. To review and comment, go to the Comment Docket at the DOT website and search on "Notice on Contracting Initiative."
Frank DePaola, Massachusetts state highway administrator and Massachusetts DOT chief operating officer, will serve as interim general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston. He succeeds Beverly A. Scott, who is stepping down from the post.
Francis, Keolis Commuter Services, Boston
Keolis has named Gerald Francis general manager of Keolis Commuter Services in Boston, contractor for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail system since 2014.
He formerly served as deputy general manager and succeeds Thomas Mulligan in the top post. Also, Franck Dubourdieu succeeds Francis as deputy general manager.
Before joining Keolis in 2014, Francis worked for Union Pacific Railroad, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and TASI-Caltrain, where he was general manager under a Herzog Transit Services contract.
Before joining Keolis in 2014, Francis worked for Union Pacific Railroad, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and TASI-Caltrain, where he was general manager under a Herzog Transit Services contract.
Safe Fleet, headquartered in Belton, MO, has acquired Elkhart Brass, a manufacturer of firefighting and fire protection equipment in Elkhart, IN.
This acquisition is the third for Safe Fleet, which was formed in 2013 through the merger of ROM Corporation and SMI Corporation. The company’s portfolio of 10 brands includes Seon, a manufacturer of video surveillance and fleet management products for public transit.
BY J. BARRY BARKER, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY
Chair, APTA Legislative Committee
With yet another short-term transportation funding plan about to expire, members of Congress, the administration and national media are focusing more than usual on how to fix a broken system. The clock is ticking, with the current funding plan, known as MAP-21, set to expire on May 31. Our underfunded system can't begin to meet the backlog of existing needs let alone address future demands.
The clock is ticking, with the current funding plan, known as MAP-21, set to expire on May 31. Our underfunded system can't begin to meet the backlog of existing needs let alone address future demands.
This "Commentary" section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.
APTA is calling for public transportation agencies and businesses across the country to conduct a media or special event on April 9 for Stand Up for Transportation Day (SU4T), a national day of advocacy to underscore the importance of infrastructure investment and the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill.
As Passenger Transport went to press, 135 organizations signed on to conduct an event. See the map and list of participants here.
APTA selected the date so events would have the greatest potential to resonate with the news media at the traditional start of the construction season in many parts of the country, to attract members of Congress (who will be on spring recess in their home districts) and to stress the urgent need for federal funding as MAP-21 rapidly reaches its expiration on May 31, said APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and chief executive officer of the Denver Regional Transportation District.
"We need to conduct media and high-impact events in as many American cities, suburbs and rural communities as possible," Washington said. "Stand Up for Transportation is our national day of advocacy when we unite in common purpose around a crystal-clear message: 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."
Follow three key steps to streamline event planning for SU4T:
Take action quickly to improve the likelihood that the news media and members of Congress can attend. "This is prime time to get their ear," Washington said. "We'll never have a better chance to show them the powerful ways public transportation helps build this nation." APTA has posted several suggestions for events on its website:
One key to a successful event is to identify a wide range of partners, stakeholders and advocates. "We must rally our friends to help us make the case, to cut through the clutter and get our messages heard," Washington said.
One way to begin, advises APTA, is to contact nearby public transit agencies and APTA business members to broaden the event's reach and impact. Visit the APTA website for a list of other suggested partners.
Count on APTA
APTA has developed a wide range of resources participating organizations can customize, including talking points, action plans, sample documents and logos.
As a run-up to April 9, APTA will issue weekly announcements, including news releases, social media postings and infographics, and will encouraging riders and public transit advocates on a national level to sign an online petition and send emails to their members of Congress.
On April 9, APTA will promote the event to national media and will organize a Thunderclap--an online tool that helps amplify a single message.
To use APTA's customizable resources, see a list of agencies and businesses that are holding events and get ideas for participation, click here and search on "Stand Up for Transportation." For additional details, contact Rose Sheridan.
Passenger Transport polled a few APTA member agencies and businesses about their plans for conducting an event on Stand Up for Transportation Day.
General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, Denver Regional Transportation District, APTA Chair
Denver RTD is pulling out all the (bus) stops for Stand Up for Transportation Day.
RTD plans an array of activities to create awareness and support for long-term, sustainable transportation funding. Leading up to Stand Up for Transportation Day, RTD will take the SU4T show on the road through a "signature bus tour" to all 15 districts in RTD's service area. A specially branded bus will make a stop in each district at locations that draw a crowd--a park, a rec center, a farmer's market, a town main street--and give people the chance to sign the bus as a visible show of advocacy. A grassroots video will capture the bus tour and be part of RTD's social media campaign. All along the bus tour, RTD staff will also encourage people to sign the SU4T online petition.
On Thursday, April 9, RTD and its transportation partners will hold a unity parade down the 16th Street Mall to Denver Union Station, where a rally will take place. Leading the parade will be various modes of transportation, including buses, shuttles, bicycles and members of the disabled community in wheelchairs followed by regional leaders and members of the public.
Participants will wear matching SU4T T-shirts, carry signs and wave "transportation towels" as they march to Union Station--an iconic example of the importance of federal transportation funds. Of the $480 million budget to redevelop Denver's Union Station, $390 million is derived from various forms of federal funding.
The rally will feature a series of speakers from a cross-section of the community who will share brief comments about the importance of transportation in their lives. Speakers will include a transit-dependent rider, a veteran, a construction worker, a student, transportation officials and members of Colorado's congressional delegation.
The activities are designed to create opportunities for all sectors of the community to get involved and generate widespread earned media.
Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Business Member Board of Governors Chair
If Daniel Burnham, the 19th-century architect and city planner who uttered "make no little plans," were living today, he would likely add: secure long-term funds.
This sentiment is especially true in public transit, where agencies deserve long-term, sustainable, reliable transportation funding to wisely plan future upgrades and services for their ridership. The lack of a long-term funding bill not only constrains transit agencies, it impacts jobs at equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
Case in point: Motor Coach Industries. We're the leading builder of intercity coaches, with headquarters in the U.S. and a manufacturing plant in Pembina, ND, where we build on average 300 coaches each year for the public sector.
While MCI is not a direct recipient of federal funding, nearly 85 percent of the coaches produced at this facility are procured with U.S. federal funds from a variety of departments including FTA and the Departments of Defense, Energy, Justice and Homeland Security.
In support of Stand Up for Transportation Day on April 9, MCI has invited North Dakota's U.S. senators and representatives and many other guests to tour the MCI plant.
The objective is to tell our story. We generate jobs. MCI provides employment for hundreds in North Dakota and Minnesota, many of whom are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. We also support other U.S. employers through our network of 3,000 suppliers.
Closer to home, MCI will join in suburban Chicago's Pace activities with Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority. A unified front will send the message: Big plans, high aims and work--as Burnham expressed--contribute to a vibrant transportation landscape for cities and communities across America.
President/Chief Executive Officer, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Columbus
COTA is honored to participate in Stand Up for Transportation Day and lead the conversation in central Ohio about the importance of a comprehensive, long-term transportation reauthorization bill.
COTA staff members have been hard at work planning a highly visible advocacy and media event at our newly constructed Spring Street Transit Terminal in downtown Columbus. This new facility replaces a terminal that was in need of significant upgrades and serves as an example of much-needed recent infrastructure investment COTA has made in our community.
COTA Board of Trustees Chair Dawn Tyler-Lee, individual trustees and I will host our event, and staff members are in the process of engaging city, county and regional government leaders, transportation advocates, trade groups, businesses, transportation professionals and community leaders in the event.
The Ohio Contractors Association, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, COMTO Columbus Chapter and the Columbus Chamber have already committed to participate. COTA is also asking cities throughout its service area to adopt proclamations recognizing the importance of the Stand Up for Transportation Day.
Community stakeholders, transportation partners, and regional print, television and digital media outlets will be invited to the event on April 9. A press release will be distributed that includes highlights from the event and information advocating for funding. COTA will also coordinate a social media campaign that encourages riders and central Ohio citizens to engage with Voices for Public Transit and raise their voices to support government investment in public transportation.
General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA
RTD will celebrate Stand Up for Transportation Day by holding a two-fold event--one to encourage local leaders and the media to advocate for transit and the other to thank our customers for standing up for transit every day.
RTD's event will include a bus tour of important agency infrastructure projects, including its Downtown Transit Center, transfer stations and the construction site of the Regional Transportation Center.
Invited guests will include local and state elected officials and representatives of local business groups, school officials and the media. En route to the various transit facilities, RTD staff will make an informal presentation on the theme "Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows."
As part of RTD's ongoing "It's Cool to Ride the Bus" marketing campaign, a group of local musicians will keep the guests entertained in between presentations. Following the event, guests will gather for refreshments in RTD's Downtown Transit Center boardroom and enjoy a photo exhibit illustrating RTD's BRT vision and examples of successful BRT projects in other cities.
RTD will also celebrate our customers for their continued support of public transit by making this day a Customer Appreciation Day. Local musicians will entertain RTD's customers at its facilities and RTD staff will distribute cookies and promotional giveaways, including a button and a wristband with the Stand Up for Transportation message.
We will also engage our customers in the campaign by asking them to take "selfie" pictures while holding a sign in their own handwriting explaining why they "Stand Up for Transportation." These materials, along with a print ad, will be shared on our social media sites and APTA's grassroots website.
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)
The Greater Cleveland RTA annual capital budget is approximately $75 million, with 60 percent on average being funded from the Highway Trust Fund.
RTA currently has more than $100 million in unfunded capital needs that include bus replacements and rail infrastructure such as track work, signal upgrades, station reconstructions, track bridges, power substations, right-of-way work, rail car parts and equipment needs.
To help create awareness of those and other capital needs, RTA is working closely with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and other stakeholders to call for a long-term sustainable transportation funding bill. Efforts have been underway throughout February and March and will culminate in a national media event on Stand Up for Transportation Day, April 9th.
Collective action is needed by elected officials to approve such a bill, so we are joining forces to throw the spotlight on the tremendous needs not just for transit, but also for roads, bridges and infrastructure--all of which desperately need to be brought to a state of good repair. We need to stand up for transportation at the grassroots level and educate--and advocate--in each community throughout the U.S.
MAP-21 expires in May, and all states that rely on much-needed federal dollars to fund transit projects will be without a federal funding source. Before we see a massive deterioration of our transportation infrastructure, we must take action.
In Cleveland, RTA is speaking loudly and has been hosting media briefings and granting interviews throughout February and will continue to do so in March. Beginning in April, RTA will host media and elected officials on a tour of its crumbling rail infrastructure. We will also feature a sizable photo display to depict repaired rail right-of-ways in contrast to track work that awaits funding and repair.
We plan to showcase the glaring need for a federal investment and hope to convince lawmakers that if these critical investments are not addressed now, they will be more expensive to address later.
Vice President, Transit, AECOM
Across AECOM, we have a large team of engineers, planners, designers and business professionals working in collaboration to prepare for Stand Up for Transportation Day.
In keeping with the grassroots spirit of the event, our local office teams are leading these efforts--whether it is reaching out to other APTA participants to foster connections, coordinating event planning or overall promoting the value of the event, our transportation professionals are working to ensure that there is a strong network that is informed, engaged and ready for April 9th.
Our transportation subject matter experts are also playing a role. Through their work in advocacy and thought leadership, they are helping to expand and elevate the important discussion about infrastructure's role in driving prosperity and growth. They are committed to connecting the issues and presenting the big picture on infrastructure, which reinforces the event's significance on a day-to-day basis.
We are also dedicated to building internal awareness and engagement amongst our employees for Stand Up for Transportation Day. Further, we are eager to use our social media presence, which is established as one of the largest social media audiences in the engineering and design industry, to help promote the event in both the lead up to the day as well as on the day itself.
We are excited and honored to support Stand Up for Transportation Day's important message. I look forward to working with participating APTA members and other stakeholders who share our vision that investing in infrastructure helps address current needs, captures new opportunities and solves the persistent challenges all communities have in front of them.
The late Tip O'Neill, longtime speaker of the House, famously said "all politics is local" as a way to signify that the success of federal lawmakers is directly connected to their ability to understand their constituents and act in local voters' best interests--a political truism at the heart of APTA's Stand Up for Transportation Day, April 9.
As the national advocacy day takes shape--and as MAP-21 is set to expire on May 31--many APTA members are working to schedule visits with their elected leaders on April 9, when Congress is on spring recess in their home districts.
Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are especially important to engage, said APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and chief executive officer of the Denver Regional Transportation District.
"As the expiration of MAP-21 rapidly approaches on May 31, we need to take every advantage to convince Congress that now is the time to craft the multi-year bill we need--the bill the nation needs," Washington said. "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--now at $88 billion--and to invest in systems across the nation.
"I encourage every APTA member to commit to an event on April 9 and invite their elected leaders," he added. "The clock is ticking. Stand Up for Transportation Day is our urgent wakeup call to Congress."
Making a Close Call
Does a member of the T&I Committee live in your neighborhood? Scan the list below to identify their home state and the communities in which the member maintains a district office.
To find local contact information go to APTA's grassroots advocacy website, Voices for Public Transit, click on Advocacy at the top, then Action Center, and then Legislator Search. To find information on all members of Congress, click here; for members of the Senate, click here. Then search for individual members by name.
Chairman Bill Shuster
Pennsylvania: Hollidaysburg, Chambersburg, Indiana
Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks
John J. Duncan Jr.
Tennessee: Knoxville, Maryville
Florida: Maitland, Oviedo, Deltona
Frank A. LoBiondo
New Jersey: Mays Landing
Candice S. Miller
Michigan: Shelby Township
California: El Cajon, Temecula
Eric A. "Rick" Crawford
Arkansas: Jonesboro, Cabot, Mountain Home
Pennsylvania: Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Sunbury
Texas: Corpus Christi, Victoria
Ohio: Ashland, Canton
Richard L. Hanna
New York: Binghamton, Utica
Florida: Winter Garden, Tavares, Clermont, Winter Haven
Reid J. Ribble
Wisconsin: Appleton, Green Bay
Kentucky: Ashland, Northern Kentucky, Oldham County
South Carolina: Grand Strand, Pee Dee
North Carolina: Caldwell, Haywood, Henderson, McDowell, Mitchell counties
Pennsylvania: Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, York counties
Rodney L. Davis
Illinois: Champaign, Decatur, Glen Carbon, Normal, Taylorville
South Carolina: Mount Pleasant, Beaufort
Indiana: Danville, Lafayette
New York: Auburn, Syracuse
Texas: Deer Park, Orange, Woodville
Nevada: North Las Vegas
Ryan A. Costello
Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Livingston
Florida: Florida City, Key West, Miami
North Carolina: Bolivia, Smithfield, Wilmington
Lee M. Zeldin
New York: Patchogue
Peter A. DeFazio
Oregon: Coos Bay, Eugene, Rosebur
Eleanor Holmes Norton
New York: Manhattan, Brooklyn
Florida: Jacksonville, Orlando, Gainesville
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Elijah E. Cummings
Maryland: Baltimore, Catonsville, Ellicott City
Washington: Bellingham, Everett
Michael E. Capuano
California: El Monte
Illinois: Chicago, Oak Lawn, Lockport, Orland Park
New Jersey: Elizabeth, Jersey City, West New York
Donna F. Edwards
Maryland: Prince George's, Anne Arundel counties
California: Davis, Fairfield
California: San Pedro, Compton, South Gate, Wilmington, Carson
Richard M. Nolan
Minnesota: Brainerd, Center City, Chisholm, Duluth
Arizona: Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Globe, Marana, Show Low
Nevada: Las Vegas
Sean Patrick Maloney
New York: Newburgh
Elizabeth H. Esty
Connecticut: New Britain
Florida: Boca Raton
Illinois: Peoria, Rock Island, Rockford
California: Eureka, Fort Bragg, Petaluma, San Rafael, Ukiah
California: Oxnard, Thousand Oaks
As members of Congress work to develop the next iteration of a surface transportation bill when MAP-21 expires on May 31, they follow in a long history of federal legislation to establish or fund transportation measures and programs, including those specifically related to public transit.
The following timeline charts some of those significant milestones.
March 29, 1806: First federal highway program, the National Road, enacted, connecting Ohio with the east coast. (Signed by Thomas Jefferson)
July 1, 1862: Pacific Railway Act established, subsidizing the Transcontinental Railroad. (Signed by Abraham Lincoln)
Nov. 9, 1921: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1921 established a cooperative arrangement for the federal highway program for the rest of the 20th century. (Signed by Warren Harding)
June 29, 1956: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 authorized national interstate highways and created the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). (Signed by Dwight Eisenhower)
June 30, 1961: Housing Act of 1961 was the first measure acknowledging a federal role in mass transportation. (Signed by John F. Kennedy)
July 9, 1964: Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 enacted, a three-year program of federal matching grants to help states and localities provide adequate mass transportation for the nation’s cities. (Signed by Lyndon Johnson)
Sept. 30, 1965: High-Speed Ground Transportation Act was the first time the federal government sought to promote high-speed ground transportation. (Signed by Johnson)
Aug. 23, 1968: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. (Signed by Johnson)
Oct. 15, 1970: Urban Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1970 was a $10 billion, 12-year program to upgrade mass transit systems. (Signed by Richard Nixon)
Dec. 31, 1970: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 tangibly increased highway funding. (Signed by Nixon)
Aug. 13, 1973: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973 included optional application of the HTF for urban mass transit. (Signed by Nixon)
Nov. 26, 1974: National Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1974 authorized $11.9 billion over six years for capital and operating expenses of the nation’s mass transit systems, the first time Congress authorized funds for mass transit operating subsidies. (Signed by Gerald Ford)
May 5, 1976: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1976 established the Interstate “3R program” for resurfacing, restoring and rehabilitating interstate highways. (Signed by Ford)
Nov. 6, 1978: Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 first consolidated federal financial assistance programs for highways and public transportation. (Signed by Jimmy Carter)
Dec. 29, 1981: Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1981 established the Interstate 4R program, providing funds for resurfacing, restoring, rehabilitating and reconstructing the interstate system. (Signed by Ronald Reagan)
Jan. 6, 1983: Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 enacted; created the Mass Transit Account in the HTF. (Signed by Reagan)
Dec. 18, 1991: Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 gave states greater flexibility in the use of funds for mass transit. (Signed by George H.W. Bush)
Nov. 6, 1994: Swift Rail Development Act of 1994 provided for national high-speed rail initiatives. (Signed by Bill Clinton)
June 9, 1998: Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) enacted, a six-year, $216-plus billion surface transportation reauthorization bill. (Signed by Clinton)
Aug. 10, 2005: Safe, Affordable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act–A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) enacted, a $286.4 billion extension of ISTEA and TEA-21. (Signed by George W. Bush)
July 6, 2012: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) enacted, funding surface transportation programs at $105 billion for two fiscal years. (Signed by Barack Obama)
Aug. 8, 2014: One-year extension of MAP-21 signed; expires May 31, 2015. (Signed by Obama)
Click here to read about how Monterey-Salinas Transit used public outreach, information gathering and coalition building to pass a rural county's first sales tax for public transit.
Marlene B. Connor
Marlene Connor Associates, LLC
Member, APTA Board of Directors; chair, Mobility Management Committee; chair, Intergovernmental Issues Subcommittee of the Legislative Committee; member, Business Member Board of Governors, Research and Technology and Mid-Sized Operations committees; member, Standards Development and Oversight Council
Please describe your business' scope.
How long have you worked in public transportation? What drew you to a career in our industry?
I started my career in the industry right after college as a transportation planner for the local MPO and quickly learned the importance of both providing effective and efficient services and also opening avenues for input and access from the community and from customers. I was convinced I could make a difference by improving processes and programs for mobility and access in our communities in western Massachusetts and I still appreciate the opportunity to be able to add value to communities and people's lives.
How long have you been an APTA member? Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what's rewarding about it.
I have been an active APTA member for my whole career in public transportation and participate in a number of committees and task forces that allow me the ability to stay fully informed in a variety of issues as well as to contribute my perspectives to the national dialogue on enhancing access and mobility.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
It's all about the people and working with individuals who share the same interest in improving community mobility options in an effective and efficient manner with an ever-increasing number of new partners.
Those networking relationships then allow us to incorporate evolving new policies into the consulting work we do for public and private sector clients.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
APTA is a collaborative of many different agencies and individuals who understand that building consensus to create one voice provides the best opportunity for the industry to move forward.
In addition, partnering with other associations and agencies can provide the best potential to move the country forward and develop new solutions that are applicable in today's world.
What do you like most about your career?
I love that the things we do add value to communities and to the lives of people who we serve.
What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?
My career in consulting has primarily been focused on working with small and mid-size public transit agencies including those in urban, suburban and rural communities.
We have had the opportunity in these assignments to have worked in more than 30 states over the last decade.
Communications & Marketing Production Specialist
Communications & Marketing Department
What are the job elements you focus on the most--your primary responsibilities?
I spend the majority of my workday producing and editing videos for APTA. APTA is dedicated to expanding its use of video as another way to communicate with members, stakeholders and the public. From coordinating on-camera interviews to scriptwriting to shooting and editing, my job is to tell APTA's story through video. You'll often hear my voice on APTA videos as I also frequently provide the voiceovers.
I have the opportunity to interact with members, particularly at APTA's major conferences where I attend to capture what's happening on video. During the conferences, I interview members and ask them to offer testimonials on association programs that have helped them or to share information on camera about exciting projects or initiatives taking place at their organization. I also invite them to tell me about association-related experiences they are proud of.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I get a lot of creative license as far as creating videos for APTA.
I've received many positive reviews from members on some of the specialized videos I've created. For example, I'm proud of the "Know Before You Go" video that uses humor to prepare conference attendees ahead of the event. I also enjoyed creating the APTA holiday video that shows our members that we're thinking of them as the year ends.
How did you "land" at APTA? How long have you worked here?
While I was working on my master's degree in journalism and public affairs at American University in Washington, I took a class in which each student had to choose and follow a specific beat. I chose the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Silver Line, which was then under construction. I interviewed business owners in the Silver Line corridor, who told me about the economic changes they were facing and spoke to area political leaders. The program included instruction in video editing. I graduated in August 2013 and, thanks to my interest in public transportation, I joined APTA in October of that year.
With APTA, I get the opportunity to strengthen my journalistic skills and report on an industry that is climbing to the top of political agendas across the nation.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry besides working at APTA?
No, but I've used public transportation since I moved to the Washington area in 2012. I got my SmarTrip card within two weeks of arriving and quickly became comfortable using Metro. I use it every day to go to work and take it on weekends to visit friends and grab a bite to eat in the DC area.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I became an Eagle Scout in September 2005. I led a project at a Presbyterian church renovating a classroom. This included raising funds to purchase materials, painting, carpentry, installing a new ceiling and logging time spent on the project by volunteers.
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) is seeking nominations through April 24 for the 2016-2017 term of the TCRP Ambassador Program. Selected individuals will travel to various areas of the U.S. to enhance the understanding, acceptance and use of TCRP-sponsored research reports and products.
Through peer-to-peer collaboration and at industry venues, TCRP Ambassadors inform and disseminate research information to transit practitioners and interested parties and speak about the TCRP research process and its benefits, participation as a research panelist, submission of research statements and other aspects of the program.
The program is open to any individual with practical public transit field experience who currently works for a U.S. public transit agency; government transit agencies at the state, regional or local level; transit educational institutions; transit industry organizations; or private firms providing goods and services to the industry.
The TCRP Ambassador Program is a joint effort of TCRP, APTA, FTA and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO); COMTO manages the program and seeks to continue expanding its outreach.
For more information or to apply, visit the TCRP website or the COMTO website.
Billy Smith, a customer service trip planner with Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), took the top honor at the seventh annual Call Center Challenge, held during APTA’s recent Marketing & Communications Workshop in West Palm Beach, FL. This is the first time a TriMet employee has competed in the finals of the program.
Before joining TriMet about a year and a half ago, Smith worked in customer service for Capital Area Transit in Harrisburg, PA. He cited several important skills for speaking with customers, including listening to the caller, being patient and empathetic, finding something in common with the caller and having a sense of humor.
Smith was one of seven finalists who competed before a live audience and a panel of APTA member judges. The competitors were judged on their ability to resolve various customer service scenarios in a friendly and professional manner.
APTA sponsors the Call Center Challenge to spotlight the importance of customer relations in public transportation agency call centers and to recognize individuals who excel in providing top customer service.
Billy Smith, third from right, winner of the 2015 APTA Call Center Challenge, with the other finalists at the event.
Discounted early registration closes March 27 for the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6 in Fort Worth, so plan now to attend. Visit the APTA website to register.
The conference offers more than 50 educational sessions in eight routes of study: technology; operations and maintenance; safety and security; accessibility and mobility management; planning, finance and sustainability; BRT; workforce development, management and policy; and capital programs.
Other highlights include two specially focused all-day events—Maintenance Monday and BRT Tuesday—and such popular features as the Products and Services Showcase and the Bus Display.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the host system, will offer technical tours to its Intermodal Transportation Center, headquarters, CNG fueling station and bus maintenance facility and a bike share tour of downtown Fort Worth.
The International Bus Roadeo will be held in conjunction with the conference, featuring North America’s top bus operators and mechanics.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has closed on $100.5 million in Series 2015 Revenue Bonds comprised of serial bonds due from 2017 to 2036 with a true interest cost of 3.04 percent.
JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. called the financing “a milestone for JTA. It allows us to develop a robust debt management program to leverage JTA’s financial position for the benefit of Jacksonville and surrounding areas through construction and transit operations.”
The proceeds from the bond issuance will provide immediate funding for construction of public transportation and road improvements through a program called JTAMobilityWorks, which JTA Chairman Scott L. McCaleb said will create jobs in the community.
The revenue bonds, underwritten by J.P. Morgan, will be paid off by 2036 through the extension of the Local Option Gas Tax. In July 2014, JTA successfully negotiated a 20-year extension whereby 1 cent paid on every gallon goes to the city and 5 cents goes to JTA to pay debt service and fund transit operations.
In anticipation of receiving the bonds, JTA hosted a three-part Business Development Academy to help small businesses—contractors, consultants and vendors—polish their skills regarding future grant possibilities with the agency. The academy addressed such topics as bonding, insurance, worker’s compensation, safety and financial management, bidding, estimating, scheduling, certified payroll, negotiating contracts, compliance, building relations, teaming and marketing.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) recently partnered with car-sharing service Zipcar to help make public transit a more practical option for Dallas-area commuters. Zipcar is now parking two vehicles at DART’s light rail Mockingbird Station.
“We know that many Zipcar members combine their Ziptrips with other transportation options such as biking, walking and public transit trips to get around the city,” said Catie Clemens, market manager of Zipcar. “We are pleased that this partnership with DART will provide even more access to downtown Dallas and beyond.”
Public transit agencies including DART must find ways to solve the problem of the “last mile” of a trip—helping travelers reach their destination when it’s not adjacent to a transit stop. According to Zipcar, other U.S. transit agencies incorporating its car-sharing service include the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Chicago Transit Authority, King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, New Jersey Transit Corporation, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), introduced its Free Muni program for low-to-moderate-income older riders and persons with disabilities on March 1.
The SFMTA board voted to include funding for this program—about $4 million a year—in its operating budget.
SFMTA has processed more than 38,000 applications for the program in the month since it was announced. The program is available only to holders of Clipper® smartcards.
Marking the opening of the SunLine Transit Agency’s first permanent administration building are, from left, Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos-Watson, SunLine Chief Executive Officer/General Manager Lauren Skiver, SunLine Board members Russell Betts, Desert Hot Springs mayor pro tem, and Kristy Franklin, La Quinta mayor pro tem, Indio Mayor Pro Tem Glenn Miller, and Tom Kirk, executive director, Coachella Valley Association of Governments. The building in Thousand Palms, CA, replaces trailers that had been in use for 30 years. This caption clarifies a previously published caption.