Passenger Transport - April 3, 2015
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NEWS HEADLINES

DOT Chief Foxx Sends Revised Transportation Bill to Congress

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx sent Congress a proposal for a six-year, $478 billion transportation bill March 30 that would provide the funding growth and certainty needed so states and cities can proceed with repairing and improving the nation's infrastructure.

The measure is an update of the GROW AMERICA Act, a transportation bill the Obama administration sent to Congress two months ago. It reflects President Obama's vision for a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that invests in modernizing America's infrastructure. As lawmakers try to fund transportation beyond the May 31 deadline for expiration of the current bill, the act provides Congress with the option of increasing investment in surface transportation by 45 percent and supporting millions of jobs repairing and modernizing public transit systems.

"All over the country, I hear the same account: The need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply," Foxx said in a statement.

He noted that the proposal provides a level of funding and also funding certainty "that our partners need and deserve. This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures."

The proposal would primarily be paid for with revenue from taxing corporate overseas profits, called repatriation. It would require companies to bring back earnings to the U.S. at a 14 percent tax rate. This would generate an estimated $238 billion in revenue for the government that could be used to pay for infrastructure improvements, according to DOT.

A recent study by DOT, Beyond Traffic, revealed that public transit faces an $86 billion repair backlog. The report also revealed that, over the next 30 years, Americans will depend more on our nation's transportation system than ever before.

Foxx said his proposal will increase investment in all forms of transportation, which will restore the ability of states and local governments to plan for both needed repairs and efforts that increase capacity to meet future demand.

"It is clear to me that transportation is still a bipartisan issue, and I am really encouraged to see members of both parties working to get something done," Foxx said. "During these next two months, though, all of us who work in Washington need to be relentless in trying to get to 'yes' on a bill that is truly transformative and that brings the country together. And frankly, governors and state officials as well as mayors and local officials all over the country need to continue being relentless, too, by continuing to raise their voices in support of a transportation bill that meets both their immediate and long-term needs."

State-specific fact sheets are available here. See APTA's Legislative Alert for more details.

CTfastrak Enters Operation; First BRT Service in Connecticut

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker participated in ceremonies March 27 to launch CTfastrak, the first BRT system in the state.

A 9.4-mile bus-only guideway with 10 stations connects Hartford, West Hartford, Newington and New Britain, operating from the state capital into surrounding suburbs. Limited-stop and express buses also use the busway as part of regional service, and circulator buses provide service to nearby locations from each station.

CTfastrak is expected to carry approximately 16,000 riders a day, operating with a fleet of 48 new diesel-electric hybrid vehicles. Benefits of the service include Wi-Fi, off-site fare collection and level boarding platforms.

"With CTfastrak, Connecticut commuters will have another option to beat traffic as localities see new economic opportunities," Malloy said. "We are improving lives, easing congestion and delivering growth in municipalities. ... today's opening is a great start toward creating a 21st-century transportation system."

McMillan said, "Bus rapid transit systems like CTfastrak bring fast, high-frequency service for riders and serve as a catalyst for economic development. We're happy to help bring new transit options to central Connecticut's growing population and the thousands of new bus riders who are expected to use the new service to connect to jobs, education, businesses and other destinations in New Britain, Newington and Hartford."

Redeker said that the opening was a "great first day" during which CTfastrak operated smoothly despite snowy weather. "I talked with a significant number of people who never rode on a bus before today's start of service. I also met many commuters already using the new service to go to their jobs at UConn Health in Farmington, Bradley Airport via the Bradley Flyer and to downtown Hartford hotels and restaurants," he said.

Conn. DOT Transit Administrator Michael Sanders added, "After 13 years of ushering this transit project through its various stages, it's very gratifying to see people on buses enjoying the benefits of bus rapid transit services. As I visited almost all of the 10 new CTfastrak transit stations today, I was thrilled to see so many families and individuals checking out the new transit stations and experiencing the comfortable ride of our new bus fleet--even in the freezing rain and windy weather conditions. Today's response exceeded our first-day expectations."

CTfastrak "Transit Ambassadors" welcomed riders on opening day at the stations, in downtown Hartford and on board the buses.

Service began the morning of March 28 and will continue free through April 5.

Connecticut DOT operates CTfastrak and Connecticut Transit.

 

Holding the scissors to cut the ribbon on CTfastrak service are Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan is next to Wyman.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut DOT

Nashville Introduces Third BRT Service

The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) introduced service March 30 on its third "BRT Lite" corridor, Charlotte Pike, which joins two existing BRT lite routes and operates with 60-foot articulated hybrid buses from North American Bus Industries.

MTA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bland said, "On our existing BRT Lite corridors, we've seen ridership increases of over 25 percent in the past three years. Given the already dynamic growth in the Charlotte Avenue corridor, we expect no less success with this new service."

The agency reports that the Charlotte Pike route is among the most popular in the Nashville area, as indicated by ridership on previous standard fixed route service. BRT Lite service already operates on Gallatin Pike and Murfreesboro Pike.

BRT Lite operates faster than standard fixed route service between the Music City Central public transit hub in downtown and major retailers, a distance of more than 8 miles. The buses stop at 15 designated stations spaced at a distance of three-quarters of a mile and arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays. Traffic light extenders allow lights to stay green longer as the buses approach, allowing faster service with fewer stops for red lights.

MTA uses the term "BRT Lite" because these routes operate in traffic rather than in dedicated lanes typically used by BRT vehicles. The stations, unique for the Nashville area, feature kiosks with route maps and covered shelters, among other amenities.

Stand Up 4 Transportation Day Is April 9

Plans for Stand Up for Transportation Day are going strong! More than 250 public transit systems, businesses and advocacy groups will conduct outreach efforts nationwide on April 9 as part of APTA's Stand Up for Transportation (SU4T) initiative.

This national day for local advocacy, which is APTA Chair Phillip Washington's signature initiative, will underscore the importance of investment in our nation's infrastructure and the critical need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill.

Participants are planning a variety of activities, including hosting members of Congress and other elected officials at media events or tours at their facilities, wrapping buses with the SU4T logo, organizing parades and rallies, conducting town hall discussions and holding petition signings. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and some mayors in other states have issued official proclamations noting the importance of federal investment in infrastructure.

In some areas, public transportation systems are partnering with several agencies to hold mega events that will result in regional outreach to a number of neighboring communities.

Also on April, 9, APTA will promote the day to national media and will continue its strong online grassroots mobilization to help amplify the message. In addition, APTA will release the results of a new analysis and web-based tool that shows how the lack of federal funding impacts the nation.

APTA selected the April 9 date to attract the attention of members of Congress (who will be on spring recess in their home districts) and to highlight the urgent need for federal funding as MAP-21 expires May 31. The timing also helps ensure that events would have the greatest potential to resonate with the public and the news media at the traditional start of the construction season.

There is still time to participate if you have not already signed on! Visit the APTA website for a list of activity ideas and a toolkit you can customize to reflect your organization.

Who's Standing Up 4 Transportation?

Click here for a list of participants in Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, as of April 1, and a map of event locations.

$500 Million Available in Seventh Round of TIGER Funding

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced April 2 that the department must receive applications by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) June 5 for transportation projects under a seventh round of the 2015 TIGER competitive grant program; the pre-application deadline is 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) May 4.

DOT is making available $500 million for the discretionary grants on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area.

The program focuses on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for disconnected populations both urban and rural, while emphasizing improved connection to employment, education, services and other opportunities, workforce development or community revitalization.

More information is available here.

Chicago Breaks Ground For Loop Link Project

Chicago DOT and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) initiated construction March 16 for the Loop Link project, which will ease bus travel through the Loop (the city's central business district) with dedicated bus lanes, stations with bus-level boarding, protected bike lanes, two traffic lanes and additional sidewalk space.

"The Loop Link will provide faster, more reliable bus service to one of the most congested corridors throughout our entire bus network, serving thousands of customers each day," said CTA President Forrest Claypool. "Improving the customer experience will both benefit existing bus riders and help attract new ones."

Approximately 30,000 bus riders travel across the corridor and through Union Station each day. Loop Link, which will be substantially complete by the end of 2015, is designed to provide a balanced separation of bus, bike and regular traffic lanes.

Planned improvements include red-colored pavement and enhanced signage clearly delineating the bus lanes, raised boarding platforms at eight new stations with large canopies, early green lights to allow buses to get a jump on car traffic at intersections, bus tracker screens and customer seating.

CTA also has begun work in preparation for construction of a new Washington-Wabash CTA station to replace two century-old stations at Madison and Randolph with a single, fully accessible station. This project is scheduled to last 18 months.

 

An artist's rendering of the completed Loop Link project showing buses entering the red designated bus lane.

Art courtesy of Chicago DOT

DART's New Streetcar 'Stands Up 4 Transportation'

In advance of the launch of Dallas Streetcar service April 13, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) will display its first modern streetcar April 9 as part of APTA's national Stand Up 4 Transportation advocacy effort. (See related news in this issue.)

The streetcar, designed and built by Brookville Equipment Corp., will be the first in the U.S. to operate with wireless traction power; it will run on overhead electric lines on surface streets but will use an on-board stored energy system as it crosses the 101-year-old Houston Street Viaduct.

"Our track record with DART Light Rail and the Trinity Railway Express gave the city of Dallas confidence that we also could successfully design, build, operate and maintain the Dallas Streetcar," said DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas.

DART will operate the streetcar for the city of Dallas on a 1.6-mile dedicated track between downtown Dallas and north Oak Cliff. Other partners in the project are FTA, the city of Dallas and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

 

DART will display its new streetcar on Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, April 9.

Pachan Is Temporary General Manager at AC Transit

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, has named Chief Operations Officer Jim Pachan its temporary general manager following the resignation of David Armijo, AC Transit’s general manager since 2012.  

Pachan, who joined the agency in 2012, has 30 years of transit management experience, primarily with Los Angeles Metro. He is a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2002 and serves on numerous APTA committees.
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APTA NEWS

Bus & Paratransit Conference to Feature Programs Focused on ADA Anniversary

When APTA goes west for the 2015 Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6 in Fort Worth, TX, attendees will have the opportunity to attend dozens of educational programs, from large general sessions to topic-specific workshops and events, several of which will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A summary follows:

"Using Accessible Paths of Travel to Leverage Infrastructure Investments" will address how public transit agencies and municipalities can work together to maximize the impact accessible neighborhoods and communities can have on transit for people with disabilities.

"Not Either/Or But Both" will feature strategies for supporting people with disabilities who can use accessible fixed route public transit for some trips and helping agencies integrate paratransit and accessible fixed route transit to provide more service at a lower overall cost.

"Can Ride Sharing Provide More Shared Rides for Less?" will help public transit agency leaders understand the rise of "retail transportation" (such as Uber and Lyft) and the potential impact such companies have on demand-response transportation.

The conference will also feature the annual "Walk and Roll Wellness Event," May 5, to highlight the importance of accessible public transit for people with disabilities. The event is cohosted by APTA, Easter Seals Inc. and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), the conference host system. Participants in previous "Walk and Roll" events should wear their yellow T-shirts.

For details, click here or contact Pamela Boswell.

Veterans' Hiring Fair
APTA will also conduct its third employment workshop and fair on May 5 to help veterans transition from military careers to employment in the public transportation industry.

Representatives of APTA business members, public transit agencies and other industry organizations will be on hand to discuss career paths for veterans and to share tips on transitioning to civilian life, writing resumes and preparing an "elevator speech" to succinctly describe career background and aspirations. The initiative arises from APTA's Military/Transportation Cooperative Initiative Task Force.

For details, click here or contact Karen W. Harvey.

 

APTA's 2015 Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 3-6, will be held in Fort Worth, one of Texas's top tourist destinations celebrated for its eclectic mix of frontier lifestyles, family entertainment, international cuisine and diverse museums. APTA's conference features dozens of education programs organized in seven "routes," or tracks of study: technology; operations and maintenance; safety and security; accessibility and mobility management; planning, finance and sustainability; BRT; and workforce development, management and policy. In addition, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), conference host system, will conduct technical tours on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and the International Bus Roadeo is May 1-5.

Photo courtesy of leekris, Fotolia

2015 APTF Scholarship Applications Available Online

Do you know a promising college student who's interested in a career in the public transportation industry or individuals already working in the industry who want to further their education?

Now's the time to encourage them to apply for one of the academic scholarships awarded by the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF). Scholarships are for the academic year beginning in fall 2015; the deadline for applications is June 15.

APTF's mission is to increase and retain the number of individuals choosing careers in public transportation by providing scholarships and opportunities for deserving students and professionals to engage and connect with experienced industry leaders. The foundation's work is part of APTA's workforce development strategies and initiatives.

Since its founding in 1988, APTF has awarded more than $700,000 in scholarships to support more than 200 students nationwide. In 2014, the foundation awarded more than $85,000 in scholarships, the highest annual amount in its history.

For details, go to the APTF website or contact Mariah Stanley.

APTA's Career Day Is Approaching

May 14, APTA's National Public Transportation Career Day, is fast approaching but public transportation agencies and business members still have time to reach out to elementary, middle and secondary schools and youth groups to engage young people in activities that showcase the industry's diverse and interesting careers.

The annual event is part of APTA's workforce development initiative. Members can get involved by conducting a career fair, encouraging staff to take their children to work, distributing small giveaways, conducting tours of public transit facilities, encouraging job shadowing, staging mock interviews, reviewing typical job expectations and responsibilities for some positions and distributing materials to schools.

To see ideas for students of different ages, click here or contact Mariah Stanley.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Conference Provides Insights into Election Process

APTA invites public transit employees, supporters, advocates and local officials to attend the biennial Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference, hosted by the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE), June 1-3 at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI.

This is the only national conference exclusively devoted to understanding transportation ballot measures and advocacy campaigns. Topics will include successful tactics from fundraising to getting out the vote, organizing coalitions, preparing for a campaign, developing effective messages and media strategies, responding to critics, planning effective ballot language and timing, working with partners and creating champions and acquiring tips for small and mid-size community campaigns.

Interactive sessions will offer insights into recent elections and key trends shaping campaigns, including extensive case studies. The conference also provides numerous opportunities for networking.

CFTE has extended the early registration discount until April 7. To register or for more information, visit the CFTE website.

JTA Breaks Ground for CNG Facility

The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority broke ground March 31 for a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility, which will include a public access station where other CNG customers can refuel their vehicles.

JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. cited the environmental and financial benefits of CNG. "When construction is completed at the end of this year, CNG will have a major impact on how the JTA does business, how the authority contributes to the sustainability of Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida region and on JTAÕs finances because of the tremendous savings we will experience over time by using CNG instead of diesel," he said.

"This project helps elevate Jacksonville's position as a leader in the natural gas revolution that's transforming our energy landscape," said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, who attended the ceremony. "By investing in better transportation options, weÕre investing in a better, more prosperous community."

JTA awarded the $8.1 million contract for the CNG project to Clean Energy Fuels Corp.--the agency's first public-private partnership. Clean Energy will design, build, operate and maintain the project during the 15-year agreement. JTA will replace 100 diesel buses with CNG buses over the next five years, many of them for use on the 55-mile First Coast Flyer BRT system now under construction.

 

Breaking ground for JTA’s CNG fueling facility, from left: Lisa Darnall, JTA vice president of transit operations; Peter Grace, senior vice president, Clean Energy; JTA Board Chairman Scott L. McCaleb; Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown; JTA Vice Chairman Isaiah Rumlin; JTA Director Ari Jolly; Jeff Sheffield, executive director, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization; JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. and Jacksonville Councilman Jim Love.

Metrolink Introduces PTC on San Bernardino Line

Metrolink commuter rail introduced Positive Train Control (PTC) technology on March 2 as a revenue service demonstration along the commuter railroad’s San Bernardino Line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

Metrolink Board Chair Shawn Nelson called the action “a huge step toward fully implementing an interoperable safety initiative that will keep millions of lives safe. … We remain on track to have our entire system fully operable with PTC well before the December 2015 federal deadline” mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

The system first launched PTC in revenue service demonstration last year under the authority of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. That set of tracks includes portions of Metrolink’s Orange County, 91 and Inland Empire-Orange County lines. Testing is currently underway on two more lines.

PTC involves a complex GPS-based technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, unauthorized incursion into work zones and train movement through switches left in the wrong position. PTC monitors and, if necessary, controls train movement in the event of human error. PTC may also bring trains to a safe stop in the event of a natural disaster.

Metrolink estimates a total cost of $216.3 million for developing, installing and deploying PTC, using a combination of approximately 49 percent local, 41 percent state and 9 percent federal funding sources.

 

Metrolink recently introduced Positive Train Control technology in revenue service.

 


Caption

Valley Metro Celebrates Central Mesa Milestone


Valley Metro, Phoenix, celebrated a construction milestone for its Central Mesa Light Rail Extension—completion of the Mesa Drive/Main Street station platform—on March 23. The station art panels depict a mother and father reading to their children, representing storytelling as it is passed down from one generation to the next. Attending the event are, foreground, Mesa Vice Mayor and Valley Metro Rail Board Chair Dennis Kavanaugh displaying a commemorative pin; back row from left, Valley Metro Chief Executive Officer Steve Banta, Mesa Deputy City Manager Kari Kent, Councilmember Chris Glover, Mayor John Giles, FTA Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers and station artist Mary Lucking.

San Antonio Introduces Downtown Circulator

VIA Metropolitan Transit introduced “The E,” a new circulator service in downtown San Antonio on March 28, in a six-month pilot program in partnership with the city and Centro San Antonio, the downtown public improvement district.

“The E will undoubtedly provide easy connections for people in the central business district, and it will be a great travel option for workers in the area,” said VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Jeff Arndt. “It is just one more piece of the puzzle for a vibrant downtown.”

Using specially branded orange trolleys, The E operates fare free, serving major entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants, cultural sites and the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

 

Passengers depart from “The E,” VIA Metropolitan Transit’s free downtown circulator.

 

The Ups and Downs of Elevator and Escalator Maintenance

BY HEATHER REDFERN, Public Information Manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia

Where some public transit organizations outsource escalator and elevator repairs to third-party contractors, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and agencies including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) have brought the work in house, using their own dedicated mechanics to maintain and repair the people-moving equipment and creating training labs to give mechanics hands-on experience.

"We can't take elevators and escalators in the field out of service to train our mechanics," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel. "Our facility allows our team to participate in simulation training on hydraulic and electrical mockups, with parts they will find in the field."

SEPTA recently outfitted its training facility with a full-size second-hand escalator and elevator with real-life functionality. The sides of the escalator are transparent, allowing mechanics to see all moving parts. The elevator can simulate defects that students and mechanics have to troubleshoot.

In keeping with SEPTA's commitment to cost containment and sustainability, the agency purchased the training equipment from Philadelphia's naval shipyard after the units became available for a greatly reduced price. SEPTA also completed the installation of the equipment almost entirely with an in-house crew.

"Utilizing our in-house resources has been extremely beneficial for SEPTA," said Knueppel. "We have the ability to respond to equipment issues quickly during the first and second shifts, which in turn has resulted in solid elevator and escalator reliability numbers every day."

Not only does SEPTA work on its own elevator and escalator training and upkeep but as part of an industry-wide consortium, the agency collaborates with public transit authorities across the country on a national Transit Elevator/Escalator Maintenance Training and Apprenticeship Program, adhering to standards set forth by APTA. The project, administered by the Transportation Learning Center, receives matching funds from FTA.

Joining SEPTA, WMATA and NYC Transit are the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and Chicago Transit Authority and their union partners. Members of the consortium have almost 350 years of combined public transit industry experience.

The consortium was established in 2009 and to date has designed and used in pilots almost 40 courses for the three-year apprentice program. The group recently met in Philadelphia to discuss and develop master-level classes and tour SEPTA's elevator and escalator training center.

In addition to participating in the elevator/escalator consortium, SEPTA entered into a five-year agreement with the Delaware River Port Authority's Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) to perform inspection, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of that system's 13 elevators and 14 escalators. Since the contract began, PATCO has experienced an improvement in the daily reliability of its elevators and escalators.

 

Members of the national Transit Elevator/Escalator Maintenance Training and Apprenticeship Program consortium recently met at SEPTA in Philadelphia.

COMTO Honors Outstanding Women


The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials recently honored its 2015 Women Who Move the Nation. Top row, from left: Marcia Ferranto for advocacy; Ysela Llort, director, Miami-Dade Transit, public transportation; Polly Trottenberg, commissioner, New York City DOT, state government; Chellie Cameron, aviation; and India Birdsong, senior manager, bus supervision and instruction, Chicago Transit Authority, ChairmanÕs Eagle Award. Bottom row, Carolyn Flowers, FTA senior advisor, federal/public transportation; Paralee Shivers, Shirley A. DeLibero Women Who Move the Nation Award; Joy Rhodafox, private sector; Cynthia Jones Parks, private sector; and Deborah Hersman, president and CEO, National Safety Council, multimodalism. Not shown are Ann August, executive director, Birmingham-Jefferson County (AL) Transit Authority, public transportation; Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), legislator; and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), lifetime achievement.

Industry Briefs

IndyGo Offers Promotional Fares in April--IndyGo is offering a special pass--10 trips for $10 in April--so residents and visitors can explore downtown Indianapolis without the stress of traffic and parking and give public transit a try. Indianapolis will be hosting numerous events, including the NCAA Final Four, during the month.

Record Sales Year for Bendix--For the first time in its 85-year history, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC surpassed $1 billion in sales during calendar year 2014, a milestone reflecting more than a decade of steady growth in helping improve highway safety. The company employs more than 2,800 people at facilities in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Mexico. The company also announced plans to construct a new headquarters in northeastern Ohio because it has outgrown its current facility in Elyria, OH.

Free Ride Week in Carlisle, PA--Capital Area Transit (CAT) in Harrisburg, PA, recently operated its Carlisle Circulator buses free for a week as a way to introduce an expanded route and a second bus to reduce travel times. CAT promoted the free ride week by sending postcards to every mailing address in Carlisle and providing postcards to major area destinations.

COMMENTARY

Seattle Mayor: Step Away from Ideology to Make Economy Work; The Wealth Exists; The Returns Are Huge

Seattle Mayor Edward Murray is a member of the Cities of Opportunity Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which recently held a press conference encouraging Congress to take bipartisan action and pass a surface transportation bill, among other measures.

"In Seattle, we've led the way on raising the minimum wage, expanding local transit and access to pre-K," Murray said at the press conference. "While cities are acting now, we can't do it alone. It's time for a national urban agenda, one that will repair our country's aging transportation infrastructure, expand access to affordable housing and address income inequality. We must have a re-energized federal government that is acting as an equal partner to support the great work happening at the local level."

Murray previously shared the following comments about infrastructure investment on The Infra Blog, published by InfrastructureUSA.org.

Citizens in Seattle Know the Importance of Transit
During the time when I was chair of transportation we passed the largest transportation taxes in the state's history. As a city, we are now one of the fastest growing cities in America. Just a year ago we passed Boston in population.

We increased bus transit service through a ballot measure last November, the largest increase in bus transit service in Seattle since the metro transit system was created in the 1970s. Voters who live here get that in the city we need more than just roads to be able to move around, and if we continue to grow we're going to need even more transit. Last August the voters passed a measure that will significantly fund our parks and our community centers--again, a major investment in infrastructure that will improve the quality of life. I think that's one of the ways that you get people to support these things, because it's clear what you're spending the money on.

We're a Wealthy Country, So Why Can't We Compete?
In the legislature I chaired first the capital budget, which is the state's construction budget, and then the transportation budget, which of course is the state's transportation construction budget. In both cases what I learned is that this is a country and a state that is falling behind the rest of the world, because we're not investing in infrastructure.

This country has a better economy, is wealthier than any place in the world. If the Chinese can build infrastructure, if the Communist Chinese can build infrastructure, then certainly a republic like the United States should be able to compete, and we're just not right now. The revenue--the wealth--exists, and the returns are huge. To make our ports work, to make sure our roads and bridges are safe, we can't afford not to do it. I sit here in Seattle, and just north of us in British Columbia they're building ports and they're building connections to the center of the continent that are going to clean our clocks unless the federal government steps up and partners with us.

Infrastructure Helps Businesses Thrive
Businesses need roads and sewer systems and electricity and the Internet to function, the Internet being the major infrastructure challenge, I think, of the 21st century. They need these things to function. So it is an issue of creating jobs and equity, but it is also a business issue.

I think if people step away from ideology and look at how do you make the economy work, how do you create jobs, how do you help business, how do you make business very successful, then I think folks will move forward. But if you're focused on ideology around taxes and revenue versus how you move the country forward, it's just going to stay stuck.

The concept of infrastructure, the federal government spending money on infrastructure, really originated with the Republican Party. It really originated with Abraham Lincoln, who used to talk about internal improvements, the need for the federal government to step up and build those, what he called "internal improvements," canals and railroads and the like, that make an economy function.

Why the Federal Government Needs to Step Up
We are so far behind in building the transit infrastructure we need. If we want to be competitive in the future worldwide, we as a city, the metropolitan region, and the state have simply got to invest in infrastructure. And we need the federal government to return and become a partner in this.

When you have the federal government paralyzed, you see cities and metropolitan regions and states stepping up to fund. But there are two dangers there:

One is that certain areas of the country will benefit because certain areas have more resources to tax themselves, and so that creates an inequity nationally that I'm not sure we want to return to.

Secondly, we can't do it by ourselves. The freeways and ports that we have were created in partnership with the federal government.

Our ability to renovate them and make sure they work for the 21st century can't be done without the federal government as a partner.

Reprinted with permission from InfrastructureUSA.org. ©2015. All rights reserved. InfrastructureUSA.org is a nonprofit online community advocating for comprehensive infrastructure investment throughout the U.S. To learn more, click here.

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

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Kilcoyne Retiring from Lane Transit District

EUGENE, OR--Ron Kilcoyne, general manager of the Lane Transit District (LTD) since 2011, has announced his plans to retire later this year. During his 35-year public transit career, he was general manager of the Greater Bridgeport (CT) Transit Authority and Santa Clarita (CA) Transit and planning manager at AC Transit, Oakland, CA.

For APTA, Kilcoyne chairs the Small Operations Committee and serves on the Board of Directors, as well as numerous other committees. LTD received APTA's Outstanding Public Transportation System Award in 2014.

Rina Cutler

PHILADELPHIA--Rina Cutler, Philadelphia's deputy mayor for transportation and utilities, is joining Amtrak as senior director for major station planning and development. Cutler worked for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter since 2008 and earlier was PennDOT deputy secretary for administration and transportation commissioner in Boston.

Richard Fischer, Josef Villa, Scott Sibert, Christopher Bente, Jason Tell
NEW YORK CITY--Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the following appointments.

Richard Fischer, a 18-year employee of PB, has been named New York City area manager. He is also a senior vice president and earlier served as the firm's Princeton area manager.

Also in the New York City office, PB has named Josef Villa a senior supervising engineer. He previously was a senior project engineer/assistant project manager in the structural department of another international engineering firm.

Scot Sibert
has been named a senior principal technical specialist in the firm's Charlotte office. He joins PB after working as a planning manager with an international engineering firm and a transportation planner in Gaston, NC, and Harrisburg, PA.

Christopher Bente
has been named a supervising GIS planner in the Sacramento office. He comes to the company after working as GIS manager in the Sacramento office of an international engineering organization.

Jason Tell has been named area manager for the firm's Portland, OR, office. He has more than 20 years of experience, joining PB in 2014 as a senior planning manager after 20 years with Oregon DOT.

 

 

 

 

 

Fischer 

Villa 

Sibert 

Bente 

Tell 


Craig Freedman
CHICAGO--Craig Freedman, president of Freedman Seating Company, has been named by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to serve on the secretary's Manufacturing Council. This organization, comprising 30 private sector leaders selected for their expertise and industry perspectives, advises the commerce secretary on policies to strengthen the manufacturing economy and create jobs.

David Haubert, Jerry Pentin, Steven Spedowfski, Fred Thompson, Roxana Martinez
LIVERMORE, CA--The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority welcomed four new members to its board of directors: Dublin Mayor David Haubert, Pleasanton City Councilmember Jerry Pentin, Livermore City Councilmember Steven Spedowfski and Palmdale City Councilmember Fred Thompson. They succeed Tim Sbranti, Jerry Thorne, Bob Woerner and newly elected State Assemblyman Tom Lackey respectively.

Palmdale Councilmember Roxana Martinez takes over the alternate director position previously held by Thompson.

Daniel J. Heilig, Joseph A. Naughton, Thomas Hofbauer, Luis Logo Jr., Megan Syrnick
MARLTON, NJ--Hill International announced the following promotions and hirings.

Daniel J. Heilig, based in Denver, and Joseph A. Naughton of Boston have been promoted to senior vice presidents within the company's Project Management Group. Heilig has more than 40 years of experience in transportation, power, petroleum, petrochemical, mining and aerospace. Naughton, also the firm's New England regional manager, has more than 25 years of experience in architecture and construction.

Thomas Hofbauer of Hill's Munich, Germany, office, and Luis Logo Jr. of New York City were promoted to senior vice presidents in the Construction Claims Group. Hofbauer has nearly 20 years of experience in rail, tunneling and road infrastructure projects. Lugo's more than 30 years of military and private-sector experience includes public transit and airport projects.

Also, Megan Syrnick, project manager in Hill's Philadelphia office, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Philadelphia Chapter of WTS International. She has more than 12 years of project management experience and received the chapter's Member of the Year honor in 2009.

Veronica Lowe
GRAND RAPIDS, MI--Veronica Lowe has joined The Rapid as its new transportation manager. Her 24 years of experience included serving as chief of paratransit and taxi operations in Prince George's County, MD, director of transportation for Frederick County (MD) Public Schools, manager of paratransit service in Flint, MI, and transportation supervisor and coordinator of community education transportation for Grand Rapids Public Schools.





Andrew Long

BALTIMORE--Andrew Long has joined CH2M HILL as a senior mechanical rail vehicle engineer. He has more than 22 years of experience in the rail vehicle industry with both car builders and sub-suppliers.







Mark Walbrun

ISELIN, NJ--Mark Walbrun has joined Hatch Mott MacDonald as its East Unit practice leader for rail and transit, based in the Chicago office. Since 1975, Walbrun has led major North American railroad and public transit planning, design and construction projects since 1975, including more than two decades with Amtrak.







Gerry Gustin, Gene A. Rhodes

DAYTON, OH--The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority announced the promotions of Gerry Gustin to manager of security and Gene A. Rhodes to chief performance officer.

Gustin spent 30 years in law enforcement, retiring in 2013 as a lieutenant with the Huber Heights Police Department. Rhodes has more than 40 years of work experience and joined the agency in 2011; he heads the newly formed Department of Performance Management.



Dave Cortese, Libby Schaaf, Jason Baker, Julie Pierce

OAKLAND, CA--Dave Cortese, president, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, has been elected to a two-year term as chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). He joined the board in 2007, representing the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and later transitioned to Santa Clara County's seat on the commission.

MTC also announced three new members of the commission: newly elected Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf; Campbell City Councilmember Jason Baker, representing the cities of Santa Clara County; and Clayton City Councilmember Julie Pierce, representing ABAG.


Brendan W. Cotter

ALLENTOWN, PA--The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority announced the appointment of Brendan W. Cotter as director of planning and development. He joins the agency after working as a management analyst with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia. Cotter also has held planning positions with the Delaware County (PA) Planning Department and Transportation Management Association of Chester County, PA.





Ron Hartman

LONDON, U.K.--Network Rail Consulting, a wholly owned subsidiary of Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, has appointed Ron Hartman its vice president of North America. Hartman formerly was chief executive officer of Transdev North America's Rail Division since 2008.

He began his public transit career working for APTA, was general manager of the Maryland Transit Administration for more than a decade, was vice president for planning and development with Amtrak and executive vice president-Mid-Atlantic and senior vice president with Veolia Transportation, now Transdev.

Wade Cooper, Beverly Silas, Ann Stafford, Delia Garza
AUSTIN, TX--The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors has named Wade Cooper its chair, succeeding Mike Martinez. Cooper joined the board in 2014. Beverly Silas was elected vice chair and Ann Stafford continues her tenure as secretary.

Also, Austin City Councilmember Delia Garza joined the board as the elected official appointee of the council. She succeeds Chris Riley, who had served on the board since 2007.