Passenger Transport - March 20, 2015
Mayors' Transit Roundtable, from left: Michael Allegra, UTA; Betsy Price, Fort Worth, TX; John Giles, Mesa, AZ; and William Applegarth, Riverton, UT.
Welcome to Washington
Former CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley offered a pundit's inside view of the Washington, D.C., political climate during her remarks at the Welcome General Session, noting that the ideological divisions in Congress present challenges to passing a long-term surface transportation bill. >There is no middle left, so nobody has any electoral mandate to compromise," Crowley said. "Your only hope is in targeting the interests of particular members," she said. "Start at home and broaden it out," she advised. The session was sponsored by AECOM.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) marked the first jurisdictional expansion in its history with a ribbon-cutting event March 14 in Clayton County, where residents voted by three to one last year to join the agency and increased the county sales tax by 1 percent to finance the service. The tax went into effect March 1.
MARTA is scheduled to launch three Clayton County bus routes on March 21, providing connections to rail service in Fulton and DeKalb counties. The agency estimates that the three new routes will add eight vehicles to the system and a total of almost 1.1 million additional one-way trips annually. Service will increase to eight fixed routes and two flex bus circulators before the end of 2015.
“Once the buses start rolling, we will keep listening to our customers and make the necessary tweaks and changes to ensure our customers get the very best ridership experience possible,” MARTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker said at the event.
“I’m from Atlanta and grew up riding MARTA,” said MARTA Board Chairman Robert L. Ashe III. “Four months after the November referendum, I am still overwhelmed by the vote that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that MARTA is needed in Clayton County and is here to stay. This is a watershed event for MARTA, for Clayton County and for metro Atlanta.”
Rep. David Scott (D-GA) joined local and county officials at the event, which began with a 14-vehicle motorcade along one of the new routes.
Members of the MARTA Police Department also were on hand to introduce themselves to Clayton County residents. The agency will open a mini-police precinct in the county and has assigned 13 officers to monitor the new bus routes.
Dignitaries including MARTA General Manager/CEO Keith T. Parker cut the ribbon to celebrate the coming launch of MARTA service into Clayton County.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, addressed infrastructure and repair issues at National Journal’s March 19 “Running on Empty: Tackling America's Infrastructure Crisis” event.
“Here in Washington, D.C., you don’t often see a duo like us—a Democratic member of the Cabinet, and a Republican member of Congress—on the same stage, let alone on the same side of an issue,” Foxx wrote in his blog, Fast Lane. “But crisis has a way of bringing people together, and a crisis is what we have.” See the posting here.
Shuster stressed that transportation must be seen as an interconnected system rather than individual modes such as public transit, highways or ports. “I feel confident that we will do a long-term bill, a five- or six-year bill,” he said, “because both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Capitol, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, everybody’s talking about a long-term bill.”
FTA has scheduled three webinars for the week of March 24. People wishing to attend the webinars must preregister; after they sign up, they will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
FTA’s Office of Transit Safety & Oversight is hosting two of the webinars: March 24, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, regarding the State Safety Oversight Program Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and March 26, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern time, covering interim provisions for the Public Transportation Safety Certification.
To sign up for the state safety oversight program, click here. For the public transportation safety certification event, click here.
Also on March 26, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time, FTA is hosting a webinar to discuss the Request for Proposals for a new National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative, which supports the Ladders of Opportunity initiative of the president and DOT secretary by providing technical assistance for TOD activities around public transportation stations, including technical assistance to economically distressed communities across the country. This webinar can be accessed here.
Participants in each of the webinars will have opportunities to ask questions at the end of the session or submit questions electronically through the web interface.
DOT announced on March 13 the final rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their polices, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The final rule applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride and complementary paratransit services. It establishes that an individual's disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to its service except where doing so would fundamentally alter the service, create a direct threat to others or is unnecessary to permit the passenger to use the entity's services in a non-discriminatory fashion. The rule also provides 27 examples of what the department believes is or is not a reasonable modification.
APTA will offer its members one or more webinars to assist complying with this new rule. As webinar dates and times are established, APTA will announce them in Passenger Transport or PT Express, post them on its website and provide notification throughout its committee structure. The rule becomes effective on July 13.
Art Leahy, the retiring chief executive officer of Los Angeles Metro, has been named chief executive officer of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink commuter rail in Los Angeles, effective April 20.
Leahy began his public transit career of more than 40 years as a bus driver for the former Southern California Rapid Transit District, the predecessor to Metro, and became its chief operations officer. He headed OCTA and Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul before returning to Los Angeles.
He serves on the APTA Board of Directors, chairs the Bus Standards Policy and Planning Committee and is a member of numerous other committees. APTA Chair Phillip Washington succeeds him at Los Angeles Metro.
The San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA, has named Jim Hartnett its general manager and chief executive officer. The position carries the titles general manager/chief executive officer of SamTrans, executive director of Caltrain and executive director of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.
He succeeds retiring Michael J. Scanlon, a past APTA chair who headed the agency for more than 15 years.
Hartnett is a longtime transportation advocate who served for more than a decade on both the transit district and Caltrain boards of directors and chaired both boards. He also was a member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors for four years, serving most recently as its vice chair.
Heath, Community Transit
Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, has selected Emmett Heath as its chief executive officer. He has been serving as the agency’s acting CEO since last summer and previously was its director of administration for 10 years..
Prior to joining Community Transit, Heath served in executive roles at the Snohomish County Public Utility District and Seattle’s King County Metro Transit, where he held positions including director, public transit vehicle maintenance, and director, Transit Department, capital planning and development.
Christopher Tomlinson has been appointed executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) in Atlanta. He also serves as executive director for the State Road and Tollway Authority, Georgia’s toll operator and transportation bond financing authority.
Before joining GRTA, Tomlinson was general counsel for agencies including Georgia DOT, the Georgia Technology Authority and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.
Burke, Chairman of the Board, AECOM
AECOM has appointed Chief Executive Officer Michael S. Burke to the additional position of chairman of the board. He joined the company in 2005 and was its chief financial officer and president before being named CEO last year.
This appointment completes a planned succession following the retirement of John M. Dionisio as executive chairman. Dionisio, who served AECOM for 43 years, will remain a board member.
Lee County Transit (LeeTran), Fort Myers, FL, dedicated its $42.9 million headquarters facility at ribbon-cutting ceremonies March 11. Joining LeeTran Transit Director Steve Myers, far left, are local, county and state officials and representatives of the architect and builder. The 23-acre campus includes a 30,000-square-foot administration and operations building, designed to meet LEED Silver standards, and a 45,000-square-foot maintenance building with 15 repair bays, along with parking for 125 buses (the current fleet is 60) and 90 paratransit vehicles (currently 42). Amenities on the site include a propane fueling station for new paratransit vehicles that will join the fleet shortly. Funding for the project included $32.1 million from FTA and $3.6 million from the state.
BY KATHERINE REYNOLDS LEWIS
Special to Passenger Transport
An engineer recently printed a working automobile engine and transmission on a 3-D printer. Surgeons can now 3-D print stents, splints, prosthetics and even parts of the human skull, knee or airway. It seems only logical that 3-D printing should begin to make its way into public transportation, holding the potential to lower costs and increase the speed of design, production and maintenance of public transit systems.
"I see 3-D printing as having a big impact on transit agencies in the near future. The ability to control their own supply chain and destiny when it comes to operations is huge," said Lou Cripps, administrator, asset management, for the Regional Transportation District in Denver. "RTD currently does not utilize any 3-D printing, but on the side I've been tinkering with the technology for a little while. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way most things are made."
A 3-D printer, first developed in the 1980s, prints ink not on a piece of paper in two dimensions, but outputs layers upon layers so that a three-dimensional object is eventually created out of materials like plastic, ceramic or metal.
Currently, 3-D printing is seen to potentially benefit public transit by lowering the cost of replacing hard-to-find parts, improving the prototyping and design process, giving more flexibility to maintenance shops, reducing the need for parts storage and creating more Buy America opportunities.
Given the way 3-D printing is changing other manufacturing sectors--and becoming commonplace for everyday products like eyeglasses, shoes, jewelry and tools--there are likely applications that industry experts haven't yet imagined.
However, before public transit agencies can leap into 3-D printing, there are challenges to overcome, including the reliability, performance and longevity of the printed materials, their compliance with regulations and standards and concerns about infringing on trademarks, patents or other intellectual property.
"There is a huge liability attached to anything that is safety-related. To do all that testing is very expensive," said Peter Vrinceanu, vehicle maintenance chief at the King County Metro Transit Division in Seattle, who is waiting for clearance from his legal department before pursuing 3-D printing.
That doesn't mean that Vrinceanu doesn't see the potential of 3-D printing. King County Metro is constantly looking for possible retrofits and changes for its fleet. It could save time and expense to simply print new designs or cosmetic items such as brackets, clamps or decorative panels.
In addition, the agency owns a fleet of historical buses dating to the World War II era that are used for special events. Since most parts are no longer manufactured, it can be costly and time-consuming to hand-make replacement components.
"A large number of these coaches do not run because they have missing parts. The parts are one-of-a kind, so there's lots of research to make a part and they're very expensive," he said. "It's part of our history, it's part of who we are. We would like to present the fleet to more people so they have a better understanding of what we are like today and how we got here."
In some situations, a small 3-D-printed part could solve a big problem. For instance, the plastic parts inside a farebox may not cost more than a few dollars, but they could keep a bigger component costing as much as $75,000 from being usable.
"If it's a major component, and the whole coach has to be parked and not used, you have a million-dollar piece of equipment that is not being used for so many days or weeks," Vrinceanu said. "You can have the same bus not being usable because a small bracket is missing, that's a safety item."
Whenever a part is created or printed on-site, it could take a step towards compliance with Buy America provisions. "It will help them if they make the parts in house; the part could be labeled as made in the United States. It will help them meet the magic number," he said.
The technology could also lessen the need for parts storage, which ties up space and capital, if agencies could simply print on demand when they need replacement parts.
"In any industry, it looks like everybody is walking away from storing parts, everybody wants just-in-time parts, so the inventory is very low in any transit agency. If we have a way to produce it in house, quickly, it would always be a benefit," he said, noting that recently he had to wait six weeks to get a simple decal from the manufacturer, something that could potentially be printed in house in just a couple of hours.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) could potentially benefit from 3-D printing of small parts and components, which currently are made on a CNC machine, agreed Patrick Astredo, deputy executive officer. "We do see some limited opportunities for us to use 3-D printing as the quality of the materials improves," Astredo said. "Some clips on older vehicles are very difficult to come by and we could just print them out."
Another opportunity is to validate the design and fit of parts, he said. An employee could draw a system with 3-D CAD software, print a model and make sure it works before committing to the actual product.
That's exactly what Conductix engineers did in designing a new insulating cover for the third rail in New York City's Second Avenue subway project. After 18 months of design, drawings and consultation, they felt they were close enough to produce a test part. But instead of taking six weeks to create a tool, ordering specialized materials at large enough volume for a minimum run and making the part itself, they simply printed a six-inch section of the cover. They went from the final design stage to rapid prototyping within a day.
"We went back and forth five or six times over the design on paper; we were debating over thickness, and I said, 'Let me send you something to put in your hands'," said Ryan Frost, a development engineer in Conductix's Omaha headquarters. "The next communication we heard was the purchase order. It definitely cut through a lot, maybe six to 10 weeks of time saved."
Since the cover needs to fit exactly over the third rail--which itself is different from one subway system to the next--the agency needed to know that the design was perfect before committing.
"Anything that facilitates the rather involved process of design, verification and validation is very, very helpful. It's critical to the nature of the transit business," said Keith Forman, global director of transit. "Time is money."
In addition, 3-D printing can be helpful in creating installation jigs, drill jigs or other fixtures that hold equipment in place for maintenance purposes, Forman said, noting that sometimes it can take more time tooling the fixture than the repair itself.
"ÒIf you look at all the activities where there's some manipulation, some positioning, some aligning, where this technology [could] be applied, there are incredible amounts of things," he said.
Early 3-D printers only created flimsy products. Nowadays, they can be as strong as injection molded parts, and the newest 3-D printers can print metal or other non-plastic objects. "The quality of the prints at the commercial level is already better than injection molding and already as good as some casting and machine parts," said RTD's Cripps.
Philadelphia-based Bentech uses 3-D printing in 40 percent to 50 percent of its production processes for railcar and bus handrails and fittings, to model and design parts for casting more quickly. Engineers need to adjust for some shrinkage and are learning the conversion factors between the 3-D printed part and the final product.
"It does save us anywhere from two to three weeks in new parts. Prior to that time, prototypes had to be carved out of wood," said Robert Benninghoff, head of sales and engineering. "Machines can be left to run overnight. They can be left on a Friday night and the part is ready on Monday morning. People have a nasty habit of wanting to eat, sleep and watch a baseball game. That does allow us the flexibility to do more iterations at a much reduced cost."
Cripps sees applications in public transit systems' accessibility programs. "The local agencies for a few thousand dollars might be able to print their own braille or make customized accessibility features for a low cost. The cost for uniqueness goes down," he said. "You can customize things to different users .. if you have parts that travel with operators to make things more ergonomic for them or passengers who have a disability."
When agencies are reaching out to the public with a new station design, they could rapidly produce multiple different styles that people can see and touch, rather than having to imagine from a two-dimensional rendering. These kinds of applications are a safer way for agencies to begin to experiment with 3-D printing, since they are one-off or original designs.
Raul V. Bravo + Associates is experimenting with 3-D printing in the design and production process for trucks, the running gear for passenger rail equipment. But rather than investing in equipment and materials capable of printing products that could be used in railcars, the firm decided to focus on 3-D printing that will facilitate modeling, conceptualizing and integration for upcoming projects, said Vice President Claudio Bravo.
"There are certain technologies where you can have what they call 'end user parts'; you print something and then you can actually use it on a component, bolted onto a system or vehicle," Bravo said. "We opted to go with the technology and material that doesn't allow for end user parts."
Thus far, the firm sees three primary uses for 3-D printing. First, it can produce a scale model that customers can display to make it easier to understand the design, rather than having to visualize the end result. "It has a certain value to suppliers and consultants who can display models in their public spaces," he said.
Second, 3-D printing can speed the design process by enabling engineers to experiment with different physical interfaces and develop concepts that might prove fruitful for the final design, whether for a system, component or vehicle. "We can use it during design review meetings to help communicate to the group involved in those design reviews where we stand at any moment," Bravo said.
Finally, 3-D printing can let the company test how different systems come together physically so that any incompatibility or problems can be resolved early on. "That's how we're hoping and planning to roll out our technology," he said. "It's going to be an evolution in the industry."
Indeed, with the quality issues seeming to be on a path toward resolution, the trademark and patent concerns could be the next challenge for agencies interested in 3-D printing of parts, especially as a substitute for expensive, hard-to-get replacements.
"The issue has not been addressed in courts yet," said Vrinceanu. "The popular example is, if we are producing Mickey Mouse, who is Disney going to sue? Are they going to sue us, as an agency, because we're producing it or the printer manufacturer, whoever produced the file from software? The lawyers are looking at past practices and it went both ways."
It's one thing when a part is completely obsolete. The real problem arises with those parts that are available but are cost-prohibitive to buy. "Manufacturers are making a ton of money on replacement parts. We are not foreseeing them giving this up without a fight," said Vrinceanu.
It's far more difficult to reverse engineer a part and carve it out of wood, versus using a 3-D scanner to create an image of the part and then simply print it out. "Case law, and public opinion in these areas, and many others we cannot even yet fathom will have to be developed to determine the ethics of what can and cannot be done," Cripps said.
Conductix's Forman pointed out some companies are already reverse engineering parts. "Certainly 3-D printing could facilitate that, but what do you do about that? You can either try to resist it or you can try to use that technology to your advantage," he said. "In the long run the technology's advantages far outweigh the disadvantages."
Perhaps a system will develop in which public transit agencies could print a replacement part if they pay a royalty to the original manufacturer for each unit. "We have to work with manufacturers so that maybe when we purchase something, each time you print a copy of that part there's a payment that's given to them. It's almost usage on demand and payment tied to that usage," he said.
But that kind of a legal framework is currently just theoretical. "Some of this stuff needs to be vetted out," Astredo said. "As a public agency, we don't like to be on the bleeding edge of technology. We want to have something that's proven and a process that's already in place and makes sense for us from a financial point of view."
Then there's the whole issue of regulation and standards for reliability of materials. Even though 3-D printed products are becoming stronger and more durable, they can't replace existing materials until the regulators and standard-setting bodies decree that they are okay.
Public transit agencies foresee another long process before the raw materials used for 3-D printing of a molded plastic part are deemed equivalent to the regulator-designated grade of plastic currently in use.
"Most components are made out of steel or plastics and they're a specified grade. A lot of these 3-D printer anufacturers create their own materials and they're PVC-like," said Conductix's Frost. "When you get to a point where 3-D materials are standardized and all these bodies have approved them, [then] that would open up the market greatly."
Until that time, the best opportunities for public transit agencies will be for small interior parts on buses and on trains, signage, accessibility improvements and the like. "It's one of those things that I think is definitely going to take off. A 3-D printer will be a mainstay in a lot of shops but it's just a matter of how many years from now," Astredo said. "We've got to get past the novelty phase and into heavy production and usage."
Not only could 3-D printing lower costs, speed design and production, and offer other benefits, it could potentially unleash new areas of innovation as engineers and designers are able to print and test objects that previously were simply impossible to create. "We will be able to design and build parts that could never have been machined, cast or assembled," Cripps said.
Indeed, 3-D printing could revolutionize logistics patterns, the flow of materials and even how parts rooms are designed. "You probably will have to have on-site fulfillment. We would be able to bring manufacturing to areas so bulk materials came in and the parts were made here," he said. "I do see this also changing patterns in logistics shipping because if we're decentralizing some of the manufacturing, we see less and less transportation of goods and more just raw materials."
Change could come more quickly than one might imagine, as innovators build on each others' advances. "The idea is that as the cost comes down, these things will be as common as copy machines. We've got years to go, not decades," Cripps predicted.
A 12-inch 3-D model produced by Raul Bravo and Associates of a Bradken truck. Photo courtesy of Bradken.
A third rail cover. Photo supplied by Conductix.
A third rail insulator. Photo supplied by Conductix.
A tee fitting made from a pattern printed by a 3-D modeling machine. Photo supplied by Bentech.
What's Your Story?
Is your agency or business working with 3-D printing? Let Passenger Transport know! Reach us by clicking here.
"Big data"--a term that identifies data sets so large, complex and dissimilar that they are difficult to process and analyze using traditional data management techniques--can be both a boon and a bust to public transportation. Passenger Transport recently asked several members the following question regarding big data and the role such information plays in the industry.
How can industry agencies and businesses harness and apply big data to strengthen their operations?
Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (CA)
There is no doubt, big data can return big results to public transit agencies.
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is not unlike other large public transit systems. We collect billions of data points every day. Fares, boardings and alightings, vehicle analytics, preventive maintenance, on-time performance, web hits ... the list is almost endless. WeÊhave struggled with traditional analytic tools to make sense of it all.
Making data useful and ensuring that its potential is realized and becomes a boon to the agency is critical. MTS has made a huge commitment to invest in its data infrastructure. We have made multimillion-dollar investments in software development. We have a dedicated team of more than 20Êpeople from all disciplines and appropriate contractors working on this challenge.
Over the next two years, we will be building our transit asset management and our enterprise asset management systems. When done, this effort, combined with other existing data mining techniques, will provide many benefits. Some ways to use this data when harnessed include the following:
Leverage the assessment of asset conditions and preventive maintenance data to perform predictive maintenance analytics; fully analyze and communicate our Key Performance Indicators in an almost real-time environment to better manage our people and assets; combined with GIS analysis, analyze our rider use patterns on a more granular level to better allocate resources and to anticipate future capacity and growth; and boarding patterns on a spatial level could assist in fare pricing models and developing targeted advertising and personalized promotional campaigns.
Our ability to collect data will continue to grow exponentially. Big data is a relative term. What is big today will be commonplace tomorrow. We need to design our systems with an eye to the future so that we continue to turn all of the data into powerful, actionable information.
Director, Business Development, Urban Insights
It is becoming widely acknowledged that today's standard reporting tools and methods are no longer effective in providing transportation operators with adequate information for understanding and benefiting from the overwhelming amount of operational data they are collecting from enterprise information systems in addition to vast sensor networks.
The design of these legacy systems typically inhibit the inferences and insights that are possible today through the application of big data tools and proven data science methodology to reliably and repeatedly model, forecast, plan, simulate, visualize and inform policymakers, planners and operators on how to improve operational efficiency and serve travelers' needs better. They also fail to account for the rapid demographic shifts that require rethinking how mobility services will be provisioned and delivered five or 10 years in the future.
Commercial enterprises in logistics and fleet operations have already gained incredible insights from applying these new capabilities to diverse data sources, and as a result are improving customer satisfaction, fleet efficiency and the financial performance of their organizations.
It is time for urban public transportation agencies and authorities to achieve similar results by applying these same tools, techniques and methodology to the immediate and future challenges of their communities and customers. Then they will be able to explore the implications and opportunities that exist to better align the transit network and provisioned services with current and anticipated future traveler needs and preferences.
Technical Programs Specialist, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Washington, DC
Successful applications of big data require a thorough rethinking and retooling of organizational attitudes toward data. This change requires both a top-down and a bottom-up approach.
First, executive level decision makers must fully embrace the potential that data and existing capabilities to extract knowledge from that data have to transform operations for the better. This means hiring the talent necessary ("data scientists") and making the appropriate investments in data mining software and means to acquire, store and manage vast sets of data. It also means reforming reporting practices to include fully integrated data-driven insight on every line of business.
Second, public transportation professionals who understand the value of big data technologies the most must effectively communicate the benefits of implementation in order to help decision makers realize a return on investment. Because funding streams in the public transportation industry can be uncertain at best, agency executives must be able to understand how big data techniques can deliver a return. That is why it is so critical for the business analysts, computer engineers and other technology-savvy professionals of public transportation to clearly tie big data capabilities to business results. For example, the potential for data mining to optimize scheduling or maintenance routines should be clearly demonstrated.
Initiating a change to an organizational culture of data-driven decision making is not easy. There are certainly other technical hurdles to realizing the benefits of big data in public transportation, such as ensuring data meet a level of quality where it can be successfully analyzed. But these technical issues can't even begin to be addressed until there is widespread buy-in to data, and the promise it holds, in the first place.
Manager, Service and Performance, Analysis, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Portland, OR
Over the past 20 years, TriMet has worked to capture and record as much data about our services as possible. To achieve this, the agency made a substantial investment in database technology to house the growing streams of data being produced by vendor and internally developed systems.
The greatest benefit we have seen using big data are the possibilities it creates in understanding and improving transit operations. For example, last year we began collecting five-second location data from all in-service buses, allowing us to conduct detailed and specific intersection delay analysis and evaluate the effectiveness of transit signal priority treatments. This information will be invaluable in guiding future BRT improvement projects.
One of the biggest challenges remaining with big data systems is long-term data storage. Even with our ongoing investments, storing more than 18 months of detailed raw data is difficult. At present, we have created "summary tables" for essential datasets that need to be stored for longer periods of time. As TriMet works to address this need, the agency is also looking at ways to integrate existing and future datasets into other business intelligence tools to deliver a better product to our customers.
Laura M. Minns
Senior Project Manager, LYNX, Orlando, FL
I see the use of big data as twofold. There are the operational aspects. By leveraging big data generated by our daily operations, transit agencies can track the health of their systems--rolling stock, facilities, what have you. It can be used as a way of tracking assets, particularly when it comes to maintenance and replacements. Ultimately, the use of big data as an asset management tool would allow the agency to better plan for major capital costs to be proactive rather than reactive.
The second purpose of mining big data would be to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and the overall health of the agency. From a business perspective, decision makers can leverage big data to monitor how well the agency is meeting its business goals. These KPIs can then be converted to a dashboard report showing various trends in ridership, ticket sales, on-time performance and even monitoring procurement and inventories.
The good thing is all this data is being collected nearly every second of every day. We are a sound-bite-driven society these days and the need for information in a timely, easily digestible format is key. It does the industry no good to have massive amounts of data without understanding what it means for the agency.
Director of Product, TransLoc, Durham, NC
Big data is a huge part of any industry's future, and this is particularly true for public transit. TransLoc is investing heavily in the development of rider and vehicular datasets that will enable the next wave of transit innovation. We are entering an era of mobility driven by software intelligence, and big data is the fuel that software intelligence consumes.
TransLoc collects a tremendous amount of data to understand how riders interact with transit systems--where they start, board, alight and end up. This anonymous, aggregated data drives the intelligence of the tools we create. But that's just the start. We're also leveraging big data to understand how riders move when they're not on buses and instead moving through cities in cars, on bikes or on foot. The implications of this data cannot be understated: It is the key to extending the reach, ubiquity and appeal of public transit.
We see public transit as a growth industry, one on the brink of explosive growth. When you marry trusted modes of public transit with big data insights, new models begin to emerge. These models won't eradicate transit as it exists today; they will extend it, empower it and make it more attractive to people who have never used it before.
TransLoc is focused on helping public transit move greater numbers of people through America's cities and suburbs. To do this, we are mining huge amounts of rider data to build a software platform that routes transit vehicles based on rider demand. This kind of software intelligence, powered by big data, will enable public transit to maintain its leadership as new competitors for riders emerge.
Within the walls of TransLoc, we talk a lot about making public transit the preferred mode of transit for everyone. Big data will play a huge role in making that vision a reality.
BY SUSAN BERLIN
Whether the technology is plug-in (using rechargeable batteries) or fuel cells, electric propulsion is becoming an increasingly feasible mode of operations for public transportation buses. A growing number of U.S. public transit agencies is incorporating electric-powered vehicles into their fleets, thanks to the growing presence of electric vehicle manufacturers and subcontractors. Figures from 2013, the latest available, quoted in APTA's 2014 Public Transportation Fact Book, show that 13.2 percent run hybrid-electric buses.
Here are a few examples of what's happening now and what's coming up.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
FTA recently awarded funding to 10 public transit agencies through its Low or No Emission (NoLo) Vehicle Deployment Program. The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Canton, OH, received $8.9 million for the purchase of five hydrogen fuel cell buses manufactured by ElDorado National, Ballard Power Systems and BAE Systems.
SARTA, located about 60 miles from Cleveland, earlier received funding for two other fuel cell buses through FTA's National Fuel Cell Bus Program. These buses should arrive by the end of 2015; one of them will undergo testing at FTA's Altoona facility before the agency places them in commercial service. The five buses covered in the NoLo grant will arrive later and will begin their service on a demonstration basis.
"When it comes to fuel cell technology itself, northeastern Ohio is has the third largest fuel cell industry in the U.S., behind Connecticut and California," said SARTA Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Kirt Conrad. "A lot of the fuel cell industry is located here: manufacturing, research and development." Conrad explained that the state has invested $90 million in the fuel cell industry through Ohio Third Frontier, a statewide technology-based economic development initiative supporting companies, universities, nonprofit research institutions and other organizations.
The fuel cell powers the vehicle by taking hydrogen from on-board tanks and combining it with oxygen to create electricity and water, creating virtually no emissions. The engine also recaptures additional energy generated through braking, which it uses to recharge the batteries.
Conrad said he has been interested in electric vehicle technology for about 10 years. "Zero-emission vehicles allow an agency to move away from carbon-based fuel; it's totally based on renewable energy. Transit agencies that use this technology can lead the way toward carbon-free transportation--what we're all driving toward."
Over the past several years, the SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA, has tested several generations of hydrogen fuel cell bus technology. With a $9.8 million FTA NoLo grant, SunLine is preparing to build and deploy five buses similar to the ones SARTA is receiving.
"Fuel cells generate the energy to create electricity," said SunLine Chief Executive Officer/General Manager Lauren Skiver. "We have solar panels everywhere on our property. We're located out in the desert and we're not going to let any sun get away."
She also emphasized the importance of promoting hydrogen as a commercially viable fuel for public transit buses; for example, she explained, compressed natural gas has only become a popular fueling option because of agencies trying and maintaining it and staying with it for 20 years. "If you don't have some transit agencies that continue to move the ball with alternative fuel sources, these fuels fall by the wayside," she added.
SunLine has a long history with alternative fuels, beginning in 1994 when the agency replaced its entire diesel bus fleet with CNG-powered buses overnight. The five new buses, now being built, will be "battery-dominant." Unlike a traditional fuel cell bus, which includes a battery similar to the kind used in hybrid-electric vehicles to recharge the fuel cell, these buses will have large plug-in electric batteries partnered with small fuel cells that can extend their range of operation.
Tommy Edwards, SunLine's deputy chief performance officer, explained the operating specifics of a battery-dominant bus. A full-size fuel cell bus can run 250-300 miles without recharging while plug-in electric buses have a shorter range. The addition of a small fuel cell to the electric battery allows the engine to operate for the same distance as a full-size fuel cell bus.
"The biggest cost to operate a fuel cell bus is the fuel cell itself," Edwards said. "A large fuel cell may cost $600,000-$750,000 each. The very small fuel cell on a battery-dominant bus is much less, probably about $100,000. Because the fuel cell is so much smaller, the bus needs to carry only one or two tanks of hydrogen fuel instead of the seven tanks needed for the full-size fuel cell bus."
Michael Sanders, transit administrator for Connecticut DOT, described another side of fuel cells: stationary cells that power Connecticut Transit's bus maintenance facilities in Hartford and New Haven.
"Electric propulsion means that, rather than carrying the power plant with you, you can use the energy regenerated from a fuel cell," Sanders said. Stationary fuel cells use natural gas to create electricity and produce a fair amount of heat, which the agency uses to heat water in the facilities. In the future, he said, the electricity generated by these fuel cells could be used for charging electric-powered buses.
Sanders noted that Conn. DOT is a participant in an ongoing FTA "zero-emissions bus summit" that brings together public transit operators and bus manufacturers to discuss possible options for electric vehicles. Hybrid-electric buses make up part of the fleet for the agency's CTfastrak BRT, which enters service March 28 between Hartford and New Britain. In addition, 100 solar panels on the roof of the downtown New Britain terminal add to the agency's use of clean energy.
Siemens: Hybrid and All-Electric
Thomas Orberger, hybrid drives marketing manager for Siemens Industry Inc. Drive Technologies, described how electric powertrains can be used in a number of sizes of bus; Siemens has a contractual relationship with New Flyer, which builds the bus bodies. In the North American market, Siemens provides powertrain solutions for public transit buses ranging in size from 40 feet to 60 feet, as well as 70-foot double articulated vehicles for use in other countries.
While hybrid vehicles are popular globally, he said, the market is changing in North America where the focus is shifting to all-electric and fuel cell buses. For example, the Chicago Transit Authority is among the first agencies to operate these 40-foot electric buses. Siemens' plans include development, with New Flyer, of a 60-foot all-electric platform and a twin axle drive that will maintain operation in cold climates.
"The technical questions behind electric buses have been sufficiently addressed," Orberger said. "Now the issue is to make the technology more commercially accessible. If we are to deploy larger quantities to larger properties, we have to study what infrastructure ideas we will need to address, such as fueling facilities and vehicle storage."
BYD Motors Inc., which specializes in plug-in battery technologies, recently unveiled a fully battery-electric long-range bus that can transport up to 47 passengers at highway speed for more than 190 miles. This 40-foot vehicle, along with a 45-foot three-axle coach, will become available to clients by the end of the year, joining BYD's original 30- and 40-foot public transit buses and 60-foot articulated bus.
Earlier, BYD drove a 40-foot bus from the fleet of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Lancaster, CA, more than 1,500 miles to APTA's EXPO 2014 in Houston, charging at 10 locations along the way. Lancaster is the site of BYD's design and manufacturing facilities and "The Lancaster" is the name of its 60-foot articulated bus, which made its debut at the EXPO.
The company also creates high-tech batteries for markets other than public transit, such as energy storage, solar power and information technology.
Another U.S. electric bus manufacturer, Proterra, builds electric-powered buses that use "fast charge" or "opportunity charging" rather than refueling by plugging the vehicle into a standard charger. This process, which takes three to five minutes and can be done repeatedly, involves driving a bus into an overhead charging station where the charger head can connect with a point on the roof of the bus.
To allow the buses to travel farther on a single charge, Proterra recently introduced a new extended-range product line. The TerraVoltª XR extended-range battery will allow Proterra buses to travel up to 180 miles between charges. It fits interchangeably with the TerraVoltª FC fast-charge battery in the company's Catalystª vehicle platform. This system allows public transit agencies to select the right amount and type of energy storage to meet specific route requirements.
The Center for Transportation and the Environment, a nonprofit organization specializing in moving clean transportation technologies into the marketplace, takes a big-picture view of electric technologies for heavy-duty vehicles, including buses and trucks. As Executive Director Dan Raudebaugh explained, "We build a prototype of the technology, demonstrate how it works [and] then deploy it on a small number of vehicles to see how it will work under real conditions."
Buses are the best vehicles for trying out new technology, Raudebaugh said, because--unlike over-the-road trucks--they operate on fixed routes with professional drivers and maintenance staff and refuel at central locations. This predictability allows testers to add variables once they know how the vehicle operates in day-to-day conditions.
The different electric-based vehicle technologies--battery-electric, plug-in and fuel cell--complement each other, he said. They have different strengths: battery-electric buses are typically simpler to operate and train system employees to use, while fuel cell vehicles run longer distances between charges but are more complicated to run and maintain.
Another concern cited by Raudebaugh is the cost of refueling electric vehicles, as per-kilowatt rates differ throughout the day and in different parts of the U.S. while the cost of hydrogen for fuel cells is "pretty predictable no matter when you fuel."
While public transit agencies are finding various ways to incorporate electric power into their bus fleets, all of these technologies are moving toward increased ease of use and practicality.
Imagine the impact of no federal funds for your public transportation agency.
What projects would stop or never begin? How many jobs would be lost and businesses would suffer? What would happen to your community and its residents and visitors?
Stand up for funding on Stand Up for Transportation Day on April 9, APTA's national day of advocacy, and schedule an event that shines a light on the value of public transportation and the importance of a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill.
"On this day, we need to conduct media and press events in as many American cities, suburbs and rural communities as possible," said APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and chief executive officer, Denver Regional Transportation District. "The nation simply can't continue to bear the horrendous cost of failing infrastructure. Every day without a bill puts us farther in the hole."
More than 200 APTA members and local, state and national organizations are participating in SU4T. Some agencies and organizations in the same or adjacent locations are collaborating on regional or statewide events, including in the greater Los Angeles area, the San Francisco Bay Area and Pennsylvania.
Here's a summary of some events already scheduled as of March 18. Organize your event today; send details to Washington or Rose Sheridan.
Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA
Conducting an event that builds on its ties to local colleges by partnering with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Cal Poly Pomona, on a student summit on the future of public transportation. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, will attend. Caltrans, the state agency responsible for highway, bridge, and rail transportation planning, will participate.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia
Partnering with a coalition of businesses, labor unions, consultants and stakeholders to hold a rally to highlight the economic impact of the multimodal transportation network and urge investment. The rally will be held outside Philadelphia's historic City Hall at Dilworth Park and will feature keynote speaker former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America's Future.
Valley Metro, Phoenix
Planning a parade of 15-plus vehicles (buses, vans, construction equipment and maintenance vehicles) leading to a media event featuring federal and local elected officials. The event is supported by multiple transportation agencies, including Arizona and Maricopa County DOTs, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority, Yuma County Area Transit, Arizona Transit Association and advocacy groups.
Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Lansing, MI
Planning a tour of the Capital Area Multimodal Gateway, operated by the agency and currently under construction, for congressional leaders, local media, business leaders, public transit leaders and government officials. The tour will feature the unveiling of a real-time video simulation of the region's proposed BRT route.
Greensboro Transit Authority, NC
Created an ad hoc partnership in North Carolina's Piedmont Triad to conduct individual events, such as bus tours, on-site booths, petition signings, advertising and a collective press conference. The partnership also created a Facebook page and a website that provides information, lists SU4T events and features links to petitions and members of Congress.
Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA), Jefferson City
Planning an outreach event to highlight the need for infrastructure investment and to celebrate the success of the HealthTran Rural Transit Pilot Program, which connects public transit resources to healthcare. Many area healthcare agencies and facilities will partner on this event.
Akron METRO, OH
Conducting an event with local, state and federal elected officials and private sector representatives to review the agency's plans for a $2.3 million investment in reactivating three miles of the Akron Secondary rail line. Agency officials will conduct a follow-up event on April 13 with officials from Ohio DOT, Portage Area RTA and Stark Area RTA.
Citilink, Fort Wayne, IN
Conducting a media event with the city council, chamber of commerce and local advocates featuring a bus ride and supported by social media. It will also submit an op-ed column to local media.
Long Beach Transit, CA
Hosting a press conference at the Queen Mary Events Lot and a community rally in downtown. Speakers include agency leaders, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), state and city elected leaders, Orange County Transportation Authority officials, advocacy groups and the city police department.
LTK Engineering Services
Partnering with public transportation agencies in 12 cities where the firm maintains offices.
Santa Clara VTA, CA
Organizing a rally at San Jose State University featuring an articulated bus wrapped with the SU4T logo. Participants will sign the bus and then attend a press conference in San Francisco with several other Bay Area public transit agencies.
AC Transit, Oakland, CA
As part of the larger Bay Area effort, producing a video outlining each agency's need for federal funding and holding a press conference with the GMs of each agency explaining the impact of funding disruptions on creating reliable transit.
RTC of Washoe County, NV
Organizing two press events with statewide MPOs and Nevada DOT to highlight SU4T, creating a video montage of community advocates and issuing a board resolution.
Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, PA
Participating in a press conference with local advocates and elected officials and conducting a social media/e-blast to encourage stakeholders to write to their members of Congress.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston
Organizing a press rally and event with business leaders, community officials and advocacy groups.
Champaign-Urbana MTD, IL
Organizing a group press event at the Illinois Terminal multimodal center featuring information about local public transit projects and the impact of federal funding on their success. Partners include Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) or his staff, area city and town leaders, Illinois DOT and the University of Illinois.
SU4T is already underway at Denver's Regional Transportation District, including a bus signing and street events with branded buses and information sharing.
Bay Area Rapid Transit's BARTmobile (its parade vehicle) displayed a SU4T logo at recent San Francisco events, including the Chinese New Year and St. Patrick's Day parades. Several Bay Area agencies are collaborating on SU4T events.
Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer, U.S. Travel Association (USTA), keynote speaker at a conference breakfast, said America stays "connected through travel and transportation," especially as U.S. cities compete for large-scale travel-related events with cities abroad. "Public transportation is a game-changer," he said. "We can't let the discussion become about modes competing for a smaller pie." He added, "USTA is ready to work with everyone in this room. We're all in this together." The session was sponsored by APTA business members.
More than 650 leaders from public transit systems and businesses that serve the public transportation market gathered in Washington, D.C., March 8-10 for APTA's 40th annual Legislative Conference. Click here to see a photographic portrait of the conference.
More than 650 leaders from public transit systems and businesses that serve the public transportation market gathered in Washington, D.C., March 8-10 for APTA's 40th annual Legislative Conference. Click here to see a photographic portrait of the conference.
Richard W. Andreski
Please describe your agency's scope.
NJ TRANSIT is New Jersey's public transportation corporation with a service area of 5,325 square miles, providing bus, rail, light rail and paratransit services and linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia. The agency's more than 11,000 skilled employees operate a fleet of 2,027 buses, 704 trains and 45 light rail vehicles serving nearly 223 million passenger trips each year. As the vehicle that connects New Jerseyans with employment, education, health care and recreational opportunities, NJ TRANSIT is vital to the state's economic and social well-being, as well as its quality of life.
How long have you been an APTA member? Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what's rewarding about it.
I have been involved with APTA since the beginning of my career, participating in the Leadership APTA program, Class of 2009. I have remained engaged with this great organization, most recently as co-chair of the Early Career Program, a leadership development program for individuals relatively new to the public transportation industry, with three to five years of work experience.
The Early Career Program, now in its second year, was the brain child of NJ TRANSIT Board Member and APTA Past Chair Flora Castillo. Flora recognized the pressing need to develop younger managers for senior leadership positions and asked me, along with my co-chair Jill Stober from KFH Group, to implement this program.
I owe much of my success to some exceptional people who took an interest in my own professional development, and this program has been a golden opportunity to give back and assist in others' development.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
APTA's staff members are passionate about what they do and hold themselves to high standards of service. They are always willing to help and rise to the occasion when asked. They have been a resource for our own internal professional development programs and provided technical guidance on equipment design and maintenance practices. The Workforce Development and Educational Services Department does an outstanding job, offering webinars, online courses and university-caliber technical training and leadership development programs.
What do you like most about your career?
I have enjoyed the variety of experiences and diverse project assignments during my 16-year career at NJ TRANSIT. My professional career has included capital planning, rail and bus operations and policy roles, working directly for the executive director and with key external partners such as FTA and Amtrak. It has given me particular satisfaction seeing many of the projects I have been involved with completed and in service for the benefit of our customers.
More recently, I have been working with my counterparts up and down the Northeast Corridor representing NJ TRANSIT on the Northeast Corridor Commission. These efforts are the beginning of what I hope will be a new paradigm for increased investment and improved service for millions of people who travel over the Northeast Corridor each year.
In addition, I would like to see a sustained federal investment to take public transportation to the next level. We can't afford to delay investment as our national economy and ultimately our competitiveness in the global marketplace depend on safe, convenient and efficient public transportation.
What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Here are some fun facts about NJ TRANSIT: Newark Light Rail is one of the oldest continuously operating light rail lines in the U.S. It's been operating since 1935. Hoboken Terminal is the oldest still operating rail-ferry terminal in the U.S. It's the last of five former terminals on the Hudson River waterfront. The agency's rail operates in three states--New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. It's the largest statewide public transit agency.
Jeff Morales, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), recently spoke to rail industry representatives during a working lunch at the association's offices on how high-speed rail will have a transformative impact on that state's future.
The planned line would connect Los Angeles with San Francisco by 2029 with speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and allow for future extensions to San Diego and Sacramento. Construction began in January.
Morales noted that California is the eighth largest economy in the world and its population is estimated to reach 50 million by 2050. High-speed rail will address this growth as well as help to curb congestion and pollution.
The $68 billion project, Morales said, is funded in part with $3.3 billion in federal funding and $4.7 billion from Proposition A, which authorizes the California Transportation Commission to allocate funds for capital improvements to intercity rail lines, commuter rail lines and urban rail systems that provide direct connectivity to the high-speed train system and its facilities, or that are part of the construction of the high-speed train system.
In addition, 25 percent of future revenue from California's cap-and-trade program, the money industries pay to offset their air emissions, will help underwrite the project. Morales said the cap and trade is a game changer and represents unprecedented investment in public transit and in particular rail.
CHSRA Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales talks about the impact of high-speed rail in California.
Laketran in Painesville, OH, recently dedicated the new Painesville Transfer Center in memory of Julie A. Cunningham, a Laketran board member from 1998-2001 and president/chief executive officer of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), Washington, D.C., from 2001 until her death in 2014.
Cunningham was a native of Painesville and lived there until she joined COMTO, working as a senior consultant at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony coincided with the 59th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, AL, a key moment in the civil rights movement.
“The basic freedoms of equality and access are principles that Laketran firmly embraces as we serve over 750,000 riders each year. We are proud to take part in this national day of remembrance as well as recognize one of our own past trustees, Julie A. Cunningham, for her efforts to provide minority professionals a voice in the transportation industry by dedicating this new transfer center in her memory,” said Kevin Malecek, Laketran board president.
Annually, the transfer center serves 130,000 riders who use three Laketran bus routes. Its new location will improve riders’ access to the bus stop, provide additional safety and protect them from inclement weather, said Andy Altenweg, Laketran deputy general manager.
The construction project cost $287,752, with 80 percent covered by federal funds and the balance by local funding.
Members of Julie Cunningham's family take part in ceremonies dedicating Laketran's new Painesville Transfer Center in her memory. From left are retired Col. James Paige, Cunningham's partner; her father, James Smith; and her sister, Elisa Smith-Sanchez.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), Las Vegas, recently launched a $40.3 million project to improve the Flamingo Road corridor, which connects to 15 RTC routes: 11 residential, three express routes and the Deuce on the Las Vegas Strip that operates with double-decker buses. One route is dedicated to the corridor; it carries 12,000 riders daily.
Improvements planned for the 14-mile route include dedicated public transit/bicycle lanes, more than 100 new bus shelters, upgrades to traffic signals and enhanced median landscaping and pedestrian crossings. RTC will complete the renovation in four segments and plans to finish in fall 2016.
Noting that Flamingo Road connects existing and planned commercial and residential development directly to the heart of the resort corridor and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Clark County Commissioner and RTC Chairman Larry Brown said, “This project is vital to our ability to move people, goods and services efficiently east to west through this busy area.”
The project will cost $40.3 million, including $8 million in fuel revenue indexing funding, $18 million from Nevada DOT, $14.1 million from DOT and FTA and $200,000 in RTC funding.
Metra's online campaign promoting the rail service as the gateway to summer fun was recently honored with a Silver ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation, marking the second year in a row that a Metra marketing campaign has received a silver award.
The online banner ad campaign, created by Metra's marketing team with support from Staples marketing as part of the "Metra Summer Fun" campaign last spring, won in the "Banners Standard" category.
"The success of our recent marketing campaigns shows that we are really connecting with our riders to demonstrate Metra's value beyond the work commute," said Metra CEO Donald Orseno.
Metra's marketing campaigns have helped the commuter rail service increase ridership over time, agency officials say. The agency has experienced 22 consecutive months of ridership growth with 2014 marking the rail service's second highest ridership with 83.4 million rides. The commuter rail developed new brand identity focusing on customers and benefits, and it also entered into partnerships that drive ridership.
The American Advertising Awards are the advertising industry's largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 50,000 entries every year through local competitions.
Metra is the commuter rail division of the Regional Transportation Authority in the Chicago area. It operates 241 stations on 11 rail lines.
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) broke ground March 14 for the Harrisburg Overpass, the last component of the new Green (East End) METRORail light rail line scheduled to open this spring. The half-mile overpass is shown in this artist’s rendering. METRO President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Lambert said the bridge will serve as the perfect connector for East End residents. “This is going to tie them into a transportation network that gives them more travel choices to go to more places, more jobs, more opportunities, more entertainment,” he noted.
SEKISUI Polymer Innovations LLC (SPI) recently purchased a third manufacturing facility, a 375,000-square-foot building located two miles from the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bloomsburg, PA. The thermoplastic sheet manufacturer, which creates elements of public transit interiors along with other projects, also has a facility in Holland, MI.
“This expansion is part of our commitment to further invest in the KYDEX® and ALLEN® thermoplastic products portfolio. It is one of the reasons we merged the two businesses [KYDEX and ALLEN] to become SEKISUI SPI in 2014,” said Chief Operating Officer and President Ronn Cort.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) invites senior-level transportation security officials to participate in its Loaned Executive Program, which expands its information sharing capability to public transit agencies.
Executives from Amtrak and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have participated in the program, which began on a pilot basis last year.
Selected individuals will work directly with TSA’s surface division during a six-week assignment at TSA headquarters in Arlington, VA. Participants are required to have a minimum “Secret” clearance level and are typically high-ranking security professionals such as deputy chiefs of police whose agencies cover expenses of the loaned executive while he or she is participating in the program.
The loaned executives have the opportunity to visit sister public transit agencies and learn about such topics as current and emerging science and technology initiatives, TSA’s explosive ordnance division and cross-modal groups.
For details, contact Fred Goodine.
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, right, and Bud Wright, executive director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, recently released the 2015 Bottom Line Report, which estimates that all levels of government will have to make an annual capital investment of $163 billion for six years just to meet current demand for transportation infrastructure ($43 billion for public transit and $120 billion for highways and bridges). The organizations presented the report at a Capitol Hill hearing co-conducted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute during APTA's recent Legislative Conference. Find the report here.
Photo by Mitchell Wood
BY SARAH DRIGGS
King County DOT-Communications
King County Metro Transit's new reduced-fare program is making public transit service more affordable for thousands of lower-income riders.
Metro serves the Seattle area--well known for its tech-fueled prosperity but home to stark inequities as well. While the average annual income for the top 20 percent of households in King County is $248,000, for the lowest 20 percent it's only $15,000--affecting access to transportation and the opportunities mobility makes possible.
That's why last year King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed a reduced bus fare for anyone whose household income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $23,340 annually for one person). He was acting on the recommendation of a community advisory committee and his commitment to social equity.
Set at $1.50, the fare is discounted 40 percent or more from regular Metro fares and has no peak period or zone surcharges. The program rolled out March 1.
The fare is available only with the Puget Sound region's ORCA fare payment smartcard. Cards for the reduced-fare program, dubbed "ORCA LIFT," are free. Cardholders must add a monthly pass or "e-purse" value, which they can do at public transit center and light rail station vending machines, many grocery and drug stores, Metro's customer service offices or by phone or online. Metro also sends "ORCA-to-Go" vans to community centers and events.
Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond credits two community advisory committees for making invaluable contributions to the program. In addition to the committee that recommended a low-income fare, a second one offered advice about implementation.
"We didn't have a model to follow, and they helped us break the trail," Desmond said. "The advisory committees set lofty goals and gave us down-to-earth advice about how to achieve them."
ORCA makes fare payment easy for Metro's customers and operators and has another big advantage. Quick taps with the ORCA LIFT card replace many slower cash fare transactions, resulting in faster boardings and lower operating costs. As ORCA LIFT enrollment grows, Metro expects fare transactions using ORCA to increase from 62 percent today to around 75 percent--possibly leading to phasing out cash fares altogether someday.
As Metro planned the program, its biggest challenge was how to verify customers' eligibility and get ORCA LIFT cards into their hands. Metro's solution was to contract with the Seattle-King County Public Health Department to provide those services.
Public health has a long history in the community and recently managed local Affordable Care Act enrollment. Now Metro is leveraging the agency's wide network of outreach locations, relationships with clients and expertise in communicating with the target audience--including many people with limited English proficiency.
Metro also contracted with eight human service agencies, for a total of about 40 sites where people can apply for ORCA LIFT and leave with a card if they're qualified.
Several of Metro's partner agencies--Sound Transit Link light rail, the Seattle Streetcar and the King County Water Taxi--are extending the reach of the program by offering ORCA LIFT reduced fares. As a result, Metro's ORCA LIFT program is opening the doors wider to transportation and opportunity.
King County Metro Transit's new reduced-fare program is making public transit service more affordable for thousands of lower-income riders.
For details, click here.
"Rides to Wellness: An Executive Health and Transportation Summit," a recent half-day event organized by the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), attracted leaders from public transportation, healthcare organizations and federal agencies to explore strategies to eliminate one of the largest barriers to healthcare access: a lack of transportation. Participants at the Opening Plenary Panel, "Federal Perspectives," include, from left, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, who provided welcome remarks; Henrika Buchanan-Smith, associate administrator, FTA Office of Program Management, session moderator; FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, who also served as event host; Kathy Greenlee, administrator, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Audrey Rowe, administrator, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. NCMM, a technical assistance center funded by FTA, is collaboratively operated by APTA, Easter Seals Inc. and the Community Transportation Association of America.
Photo by Mitchell Wood
The APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6 in Fort Worth, TX, is only six weeks away. Here are a few more highlights from the conference schedule.
All conference attendees are invited to observe the May 3 International Bus Roadeo competition, where operators and mechanics from bus systems across North America showcase their skills in safe driving and vehicle maintenance. Tickets, which can be purchased in advance, are required for the International Bus Roadeo Awards Banquet on May 5, when the winners are recognized by their peers. The conference also includes educational sessions specifically targeted to roadeo competitors.
The sixth annual Walk and Roll Wellness Event will convene the afternoon of May 5. APTA joins Easter Seals Project ACTION and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority for an outdoor tour open to walkers and users of mobility aids.
Also, the APTA Mid-Manager Magnification Program has announced that a three-hour seminar, “Daily Decisions, Lifetime Impact: Leadership Development for Mid-Managers,” will be presented on the Sunday afternoons of both the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference and the APTA Rail Conference in Salt Lake City. This program, limited to 25 attendees, considers the art of leadership and how leaders develop an effective leadership paradigm.
To register for the seminar, contact Kamille Turner. On-site registration will be based on availability.
Learn more about the conference here.
The APTA Early Career Program (ECP) has extended its deadline for receipt of applications for the Class of 2016 until March 27.
The ECP is open to public and private transportation professionals who are current APTA members. Applicants must be relatively new to the public transportation industry with a maximum of three to five years work experience including one to three years of experience in managing projects and/or staff. Individuals must also demonstrate a strong interest in public transit and can identify key mid-term industry career goals. The ECP is committed to identifying and selecting a broad-based group of applicants that represent the richness and diversity of the industry and APTA’s members.
To learn more and/or apply, click here.
Three state and local officials testified March 17 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that they foresee significant disruption in long-range transportation infrastructure projects if Congress doesn't pass a long-term surface transportation bill. The hearing was the T&I Committee's second information-gathering session as it considers provisions in the bill.
The three are North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, member of the executive committee, National Governors Association; Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, president, National League of Cities; and John Cox, director, Wyoming DOT, and president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
See their complete testimony here (click on Hearings & Votes). Excerpts of their testimony follow:
... I am not here to endorse devolution of the federal surface transportation programs. In fact, I believe the federal government plays an extremely strong role in ensuring our country is able to move goods and people throughout our 50 states. I know Chairman [Bill] Shuster [(R-PA)] is fond of saying that our Founding Fathers understood the important role of the national government to maintain public works to facilitate interstate commerce. In doing so they laid the groundwork for connecting the country through trade and travel and recognized the critical role of an efficient, robust infrastructure network. Since that time, there has been a clear and consistent federal role and a national interest in developing, maintaining and supporting the vital transportation infrastructure that connects American consumers, manufacturers and farmers to domestic and world markets. ...
Governors need certainty at the federal level so states can plan for and make infrastructure improvements, as well as maintain our existing systems. A long-term federal transportation reauthorization will provide that certainty.
A continued federal investment is also necessary to leverage our efforts to maintain and improve infrastructure systems to meet our nation's surface transportation needs. The responsibility of the nation's interconnected transportation network cannot be left only to states and their municipalities because all levels of government must partner together to foster a cohesive transportation network, not a patchwork across the nation.
Federal highway and transit programs and funding should provide maximum flexibility to the states for implementation and innovation because of our diversity of geography, population and priorities. ...
Action at the state level must not be interpreted as an invitation for Congress to completely transfer the federal transportation program to state and local governments. Rather, to succeed, leaders across all levels of government must work together. ...
... [F]or cities, every transportation project is a partnership--with other local and regional authorities, with the state, with the federal government and with the private sector. ... Local governments have a unique perspective within these partnerships. ...
By necessity, local elected leaders are stretching the value of every dollar to invest in small- and large-scale projects of practical design. We are making existing corridors and networks more efficient and multimodal and doing so in ways that increase capacity at less cost to the taxpayer. These locally driven solutions are offering more travel options to the public, helping shippers and businesses keep goods and products moving and delivering a bigger boost to investors, developers and our economies overall.
Unfortunately, uncertainty at the federal level is causing discord in the intergovernmental partnership and driving up the risk and costs associated with transportation finance and innovation. ...
So however the future of transportation unfolds, we know the committee will need to balance investments with maintenance. Local governments own and operate 78 percent of the nation's road miles, 43 percent of the nation's federal-aid highway miles and 50 percent of the nation's bridge inventory. However, over the past 20 years, roughly 80 percent of all funding has consistently been reserved for the highway system. And although the remaining 20 percent is theoretically devoted to transit and other alternative transportation programs, it is not easy to steer funding that passes through state departments of transportation away from auto-oriented projects.
Congress ought to fix this imbalance. The next transportation bill should directly allocate greater funding to local governments and provide more flexibility for local decision makers to choose the best mix of transportation options to fit regional needs. ...
AASHTO President Cox
While we as a transportation industry do everything in our power to build our projects as fast as possible, many of them take several years to complete. The lack of a long-term surface transportation bill that provides a predictable stream of federal funding makes it nearly impossible for state DOTs to plan for large projects that need funding over multiple years.
Major transportation projects in several states are sitting on the shelves or have been delayed due to the unpredictability of federal funding. Such delays have serious economic consequences both in the short and long term. ... [A]lready several state DOTs are pulling back on needed projects that are scheduled to go out for bid. ...
State DOTs play a critical role in ensuring that we have a safe, reliable and efficient transportation network. ... But it is important to note that when states take action to increase revenue for transportation, they do so expecting to supplement the federal program ... not as a substitute for the federal program. Indeed, it is this century-old federal-state partnership that has enabled America to build a transportation system envied by the rest of the world. If one of those partners does not hold up their end of the bargain, this system will fail.
The federal surface transportation programs also provide substantial support for public transportation and AASHTO supports the current highway-transit funding balance. A large portion of transit funding is directly apportioned or allocated to transit agencies, not through state governments. But states are also actively involved in assisting transit service, particularly in rural areas and for seniors and special needs individuals. State DOTs also work closely with local transit agencies to spend ("flex") an average of $1 billion a year in federal highway funding on transit projects. ....
This "Commentary" section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.
PLATTSBURGH, NY—Nova Bus has named Judy Dennis West Coast regional sales manager. Dennis has sales experience in the transportation industry.
H.C. Christian Peeples, Elsa Ortiz, Greg Harper
OAKLAND, CA—The AC Transit Board of Directors has elected former attorney and longtime transit advocate H.E. Christian Peeples as its president. Peeples has served on the board since 1997.
Elsa Ortiz, a board member since 2006, was elected vice president. She represents the city of Alameda and portions of Oakland and San Leandro.
Also, AC Transit Director Greg Harper has been named chairman of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which oversees construction of the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco. Harper, an attorney, has served on the AC Transit board since 2000.
CINCINNATI--Cincinnati Metro has promoted Phil Beiting to director of customer relations and sales. Beiting joined Metro in 2011 as customer relations manager and earlier worked in the newspaper industry in customer service and distribution management.
Raouf S. Ghali, Thomas J. Spearing III, Mohammed Al Rais
MARLTON, NJ--Hill International announced the promotions of three members of its executive management team.
Raouf S. Ghali, based in Athens, Greece, was named chief operating officer. Ghali has almost 30 years of experience in program, project and construction management. His previous positions at Hill include president of the Project Management Group (International), senior vice president and vice president.
Thomas J. Spearing III of the Marlton office was promoted to the newly created position of regional president (Americas) with HillÕs Project Management Group. Spearing, who rejoined Hill in 2007, has more than 25 years of experience in the construction industry, most recently as president of Hill's Project Management Group (Americas).
Mohammed Al Rais, based in the firm's office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been promoted to regional president (Middle East) with HillÕs Project Management Group, another newly created position. Al Rais joined Hill in 2006, serving as senior vice president and managing director since 2010, and has more than 35 years of experience.
Hill International also named these senior vice presidents: Project Management Group, Daniel J. Heilig of Denver; Emmanouil Kotsifis of Dubai; Douglas V. Traver of New York City and Joseph A. Naughton of Boston, also New England regional manager; Construction Claims Group, Thomas Hofbauer of Munich, Germany, and Luis Lugo Jr. of New York City; and William J. Screnci of Marlton, senior vice president and treasurer of the Finance Department.
John Kemer, Scott Burkhart
ELYRIA, OH--Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC announced the promotions of John Kemer to vice president and general manager, valves and modules, and Scott Burkhart to vice president, sales, marketing, and business development.
Kemer joined Bendix as a staff engineer in 1996 and since then has served in a variety of positions in the Valves and Modules Business Unit, most recently as its director.
Burkhart, a nine-year Bendix employee, most recently was the company's vice president and general manager, controls and modules. He has three decades of experience in the trucking and automotive industries.
John A. Milano
CHICAGO--John A. Milano has been named Metra's deputy executive director for administration. He joined the commuter rail agency in 1998 and served most recently as deputy general counsel and as a senior corporate director overseeing real estate, marketing and revenue development for Metra. Earlier he was an assistant chief counsel with Illinois DOT from 1989-98.
DES PLAINES, IL--Motor Coach Industries (MCI) has named Steve Batho vice president of technical support, based in Ontario, Canada. He joins MCI after 17 years with Daimler Buses North America, serving most recently as vice president of product support. He also was director of plant and equipment for the London (ON) Transit Commission.
CINCINNATI--Brendon Cull, senior director of government relations and regulatory affairs at the Kroger Co., has joined the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board of Trustees. SORTA operates Metro in Cincinnati. Before joining Kroger in 2006, Cull was legislative director and press secretary for Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken.
POMPANO BEACH, FL--Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan has been selected to represent the Broward County Board of County Commissioners on the Governing Board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail). He was first elected to the county commission in 2012 and was elected mayor by his fellow commissioners in 2014 after serving as vice mayor the previous year. Ryan also served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1998-2006.
Neoma Jardon, Ron Smith, Hillary Schieve, Vaughn Hartung, Bob Lucey
RENO, NV--The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) Board of Directors elected Reno Councilwoman Neoma Jardon as chair and Reno Councilman Ron Smith as vice chair.
Three new members joined the board: Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Washoe County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Bob Lucey.
Jeffrey (Jeff) Trim
NEW YORK CITY--Sam Schwartz Engineering announced the promotion of Jeffrey (Jeff) Trim to chief operating officer. His experience includes 30 years of consulting service to Florida DOT. Trim is a fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Society for Healthcare Engineers.
David B. Thomas
HARRISBURG, PA--Gannett Fleming announced the appointment of David B. Thomas as director of strategic initiatives in the Miami office of Gannett Fleming. A senior vice president and a member of the companyÕs board of directors, Thomas joined the firm five years ago and has more than 40 years of industry experience.
Mel Sears, Steven Jarrett
NEW YORK CITY--Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointments of Mel Sears as deputy business member of its U.S. West region, based in Portland, OR, and Steven Jarrett as manager of the structural department in PBÕs Atlanta office.
Sears, a PB vice president, joined the firm in 2010 and most recently served as area manager for the Portland office. He has nearly 30 years of business and project management experience in both the public and private sectors.
Jarrett has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry. He previously worked at PB for 15 years and later was the lead structural engineer in the Atlanta office of a national engineering firm.
Joseph Bonsignore, Joel Minch
NEW YORK CITY--SYSTRA USA has promoted Joseph Bonsignore to chief engineer, overseeing the firm's U.S.-based infrastructure, traction power, systems, construction management, program management and planning practices, from his previous post as infrastructure sector manager. He has more than 25 years of experience, including 16 years with SYSTRA.
Joel Minch has been named to Bonsignore's former position, infrastructure sector manager.
SAN FRANCISCO--Lee Summerlott has joined the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) as deputy director of rail maintenance within the Rail Maintenance Unit of its Transit Division. Summerlott has more than 25 years of experience maintaining light rail vehicles; he joins SFMTA after 20 years with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, where he was most recently superintendent of light rail vehicle maintenance.