Passenger Transport - April 17, 2015
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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Long-Term Solution to Address Highway Trust Fund
Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Reid Ribble (R-WI), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing legislation that provides a long-term solution to ensure the Highway Trust Fund, which will again run out of money sometime this summer, is sustainable.
The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act
, (H.R. 1846), allows all transportation funding proposals to be considered, while simultaneously ensuring the trust fund remains solvent for no less than 10 years. In order to sustain the trust fund in the near-term, the legislation indexes the gas and diesel user fees to inflation - raising approximately $27.5 billion and providing funding for infrastructure needs for 1.7 years. To help reach a long-term funding solution, the legislation would create a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission by September 1, 2015. This group would be charged with determining a path for sustainable funding, and would be advised to consider all options.
Renacci, Pascrell, Ribble, and Lipinski stated: “The users of our roads, workers, and state and local governments need the certainty that adequate and timely transportation program reauthorizations and funding provide. The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act allows for the consideration of all viable options so that Congress can get serious about finding a long-term, sustainable solution for the Highway Trust Fund.”
APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “APTA urges Congress to enact a bill that increases dedicated revenues for the Highway Trust Fund, and the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act is an effective way to increase dedicated revenues for the Highway Trust Fund by immediately indexing federal motor fuel taxes and mandating increases that would support current program levels if Congress could not find an alternative source of dedicated revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund. APTA strongly supports efforts to increase the dedicated revenues that finance necessary investment in our transportation infrastructure and we commend Reps. Renacci, Pascrell, Ribble, and Lipinski for their leadership on this issue.”
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Stand Up 4 Transportation Day Galvanizes Support for Public Transportation
Every seasoned public transit rider knows when it’s time to stand up. And that’s exactly what hundreds of thousands of transportation advocates and supporters did April 9. But this wasn’t to get ready for a station stop; it was to prevent a funding stop.
More than 360 entities from across the country—representing small, medium and large communities—participated in APTA’s Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, a nationwide, grassroots advocacy effort in support of long-term federal transportation funding. Public transit passengers and elected officials as well as business, community and transportation leaders took part in more than 150 events, from rallies at public transit stations and educational programs for students to tours of public transit facilities and manufacturing plants.
With time running out, social media was abuzz: #standup4publictransportation was the third highest trending topic in the U.S. that day. The current federal transportation funding bill, MAP-21, is set to expire May 31.
Stand Up 4 Transportation Day was the brain child of APTA Chair Phillip Washington, general manager and CEO of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). In that city, nearly 400 people joined RTD and its many partners, including the mayor, for a unity parade and rally as a part of the advocacy day’s festivities.
“I was thrilled to see that people from all walks of life in Denver and throughout America came together to tell their members of Congress that federal funding for public transportation is essential and they need to pass a long-term transportation bill,” Washington said. “This is a national movement and we are not going away. Congress needs to act now to pass long-term, sustainable transportation funding.”
As part of the day’s activities, APTA released a report that shows how lack of federal funding would cut public transportation budgets by 43 percent, resulting in an economic loss of $227 billion. This report was released during a national media call and at a Congressional staff briefing. In addition to Washington, participants on the call included APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, Mayor Chris Koos of Normal, IL, Chairman and CEO of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Thomas Prendergast and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.
APTA produced a new web-based tool that visually displays the costly impact a shutdown of the federal transit program would have by Congressional district. To read APTA’s analysis, go to www.apta.com.
Melaniphy noted, “The message is loud and clear. Americans want Congress to make transportation funding a priority and pass a multi-year, well-funded transportation bill. A long-term transportation bill is urgently needed to help our local and national economies grow and to provide crucial funding for public transportation infrastructure.” To see who participated and sponsored events in communities across the country, go to www.standup4transportation.org
Click here to see photographs from Stand Up for Transportation Day.
Almost 400 people in Denver gathered April 9 to participate in Stand Up 4 Transportation Day.
EESI Executive Director Carol Werner, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, Mayor of Greenbelt, MD Emmett Jordan, and Drew Preston, manager, Congressional and Public Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Paul Balmer, not pictured, legislative assistant to Rep. Earl Blumenauer, also spoke at the joint APTA/EESI briefing.
Photo by Mitchell Wood
GCRTA Breaks Ground for Reconstructed Rail Station
As part of its Stand Up 4 Transportation Day activities on April 9, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) broke ground for a new $11.3 million reconstruction of the Brookpark Rapid Station, the last station on the Red Line before Hopkins International Airport. The original station opened in 1969 as part of a four-mile extension of heavy rail to the airport.
The reconstructed station will be fully ADA compliant and will include upgrades to the existing tunnel and a new elevator core, rail platform and passenger waiting areas. Redesign of the grounds will incorporate landscaping, wider sidewalks and additional lighting, security systems and cameras. The construction will follow green/sustainability design principles.
Development of the new Brookpark Station is expected to take 18-24 months.
Breaking ground for GCRTA’s Brookpark Rapid Station, from left: GCRTA General Manager Joe Calabrese, board members Dennis Clough and Valarie J. McCall, also APTA vice chair, Cleveland Councilman Martin Keane, Brook Park Councilman Tom Troyer, Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne and Ohio state Rep. Stephanie Howse.
SFRTA, Miami-Dade Transit Open Station at Airport
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) in Pompano Beach, operator of Tri-Rail commuter rail, joined Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) April 9 in conjunction with Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, at the opening of the Miami Airport Station, part of the Miami Central Station at the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). The station opened to passengers a few days earlier.
MIC also provides service to MDT’s Metrorail and Metrobus service and ultimately will connect with Greyhound intercity bus and Amtrak intercity rail. It also serves the MIA Mover, which transports passengers to the airport.
SFRTA Chair Bruno Barriero called the opening “another significant milestone, which is symbolic of our vital role to connect South Florida to the world.” He added, “Our loyal passengers, plus the thousands of new riders that we anticipate to travel in and out of Miami International Airport, will greatly enjoy this state-of-the art facility that we expect will become an international transit hub of which we can all be proud.”
Crowds attended opening ceremonies for Tri-Rail’s new Miami Airport Station held in conjunction with Stand Up 4 Transportation Day.
L.A. Metro Opens Peak Hour Bus Lanes
Los Angeles Metro and Los Angeles DOT opened five miles of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard on April 8, reducing travel times by up to 15 minutes for those traveling the entire corridor, Metro officials say.
The new lanes, which are reserved for buses and bicyclists during the morning and afternoon peak periods, join 1.8 miles that entered service in 2013, bringing the current length of the lanes to 6.8 miles. Metro expects to open the final segment, which covers nine-tenths of a mile, later this year. Both regular fixed routes and Metro Rapid BRT will operate on the lanes.
“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with Los Angeles to bring more state-of-the art transit options to the growing region,” FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan said at an event in advance of the opening. “Enhanced bus service along Wilshire Boulevard will make a huge difference for the thousands of Angelenos who rely on public transit to travel throughout this busy corridor—to jobs downtown, school at UCLA, medical care at the VA Hospital in Westwood and other important destinations.”
Other dignitaries at the launch event included APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy and Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, who said the new bus lanes give city residents multiple options, ease traffic flow and reduce air pollution in “the car capital of the world.”
Funding for the $31.5 million transportation improvement project came from a $23.3 million federal Very Small Starts grant and an $8.2 million local match. While Metro secured funding and environmental approval, the city and county of Los Angeles led construction of the segments within their jurisdiction.
Foothill Gold Line Unveils Sustainability Features
The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority recently highlighted the sustainability features built into the 24-acre Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia, CA. The facility is part of the six-station, 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line project, currently under construction, that will extend light rail from Pasadena east to Asuza, housing up to 84 light rail vehicles.
The authority designed and built the $265 million campus to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards.
“The Gold Line Operations Campus is one of the only facilities of its kind to meet the [LEED] Gold standard,” said authority Chief Executive Officer Habib F. Balian. “Our goal was to reduce consumption of natural resources, reduce pollution and provide a healthy work environment for the future staff that will work at the campus. I believe we have achieved that goal.”
The facility’s 714-panel on-site solar power array will generate 22,000 kilowatt-hours per month—enough electricity to meet one-third of power needs of the 132,000-square-foot main shop building. If not immediately used on-site, the electricity generated by the solar panel array will be made available to the local electric grid.
Water conservation measures will include high-efficiency fixtures and infrared sensor faucets to help achieve a 35 percent water reduction level, smart sprinkler technology and a variety of drought-tolerant plants to cut landscape water consumption in half. A specialized stormwater management system will capture 100 percent of stormwater, which then will be treated and infiltrated into the groundwater aquifers.
SEPTA Breaks Ground on Terminal Renovations
Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) kicked off the West Terminal Improvements Project at its 69th Street Transportation Center with a ground-breaking ceremony April 13.
“Almost 35,000 people use 69th Street Transportation Center every day,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey at the event. “The improvements we are making at the West Terminal will ensure that those customers will have a restored and modernized place where they can catch our buses and trolleys.”
The 69th Street Transportation Center is a 105-year-old multimodal facility that serves SEPTA rail, trolley and bus routes. The renovations will include reconstructing pedestrian ramps, platforms, canopies and a waiting area, installing cameras and incorporating sustainable design features such as green roofs, energy-efficient LED lighting and architectural elements that will allow for increased natural light and reduced energy use.
The $19.6 million 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvements Project is part of SEPTA’s “Rebuilding for the Future” capital program. Funding for the project comes from the FTA Bus and Bus Facility Livability Grant Program and Pennsylvania Act 89.
Dallas Launches Modern Streetcar
For the first time in almost 50 years, streetcars again connect downtown Dallas with Oak Cliff effective April 13. Dallas Area Rapid Transit is overseeing the city of Dallas’ first modern streetcar line, which operates free on a 1.6-mile dedicated track. Other project partners include the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Texas DOT and FTA, which provided $26 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants. Additional phases of the streetcar project will extend the route to Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District and to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Dallas Hotel.
WMATA Welcomes New Generation of Railcars
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority introduced its newest rail cars, the 7000 series, April 14 on the Metrorail Blue Line. The eight cars from Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., manufactured in Lincoln, NE, are part of an initial order of 64. Built of stainless steel, the new rail cars incorporate safety features, meeting improved crash-worthiness standards and rigorous fire safety standards.
Photo by Larry Levine, WMATA
New, Interim CEOs Named
Dreier, Pierce Transit
Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA, has named Susan Dreier its chief executive officer. She has served since 2010 as chief operating officer for Salem-Keizer Transit, Salem, OR, and began her career in 1992 as a bus driver for the Lane Transit District (LTD), Eugene, OR, later filling managerial positions at LTD.
Dreier succeeds Jim Walton, the former city manager for Tacoma, who has served on an interim basis since Lynne Griffith retired from the post. Griffith subsequently became director of Washington State Ferries.
Genova, RTD Denver
The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors has named longtime agency employee David Genova interim general manager. He succeeds Phillip A. Washington, who stepped down at RTD to take over the top position at Los
Washington designated Genova, currently assistant general manager of safety, security and facilities, as his successor in the staff succession plan. Genova joined RTD in 1994, serving as senior manager of public safety before assuming his current post.
For APTA, Genova is a past chair of the Rail Safety Committee, a past vice chair of the Bus Safety Committee and a member of numerous other committees.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), Woodbridge, VA, has appointed 22-year employee Eric Marx, currently director of planning and operations, interim executive director effective May 15.
He will succeed Alfred Harf, who has announced his plans to step down after 16 years as PRTC executive director.
Stand Up for Transportation Day Media Coverage
APTA Chair Phillip Washington's Stand Up for Transportation effort on April 9 received broad and extensive coverage from news media across the U.S. Click here are some samples.
Regional Pass Available for Bus Conference
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), host system for the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, has joined with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to make its GoPass app available free to attendees from April 30-May 9. The conference is May 3-6 at the Omni Fort Worth.
The GoPass app is available through both the iOS and Android stores. People who sign up will register their devices under the settings section but do not need to create a payment profile unless they wish to buy additional tickets.
A page referring to the APTA conference appears under offers in the events and offers section. It can be used for fares on The T, DART and Trinity Regional Express commuter rail, which serves Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This page must be displayed to any bus operator or fare enforcement employee when asked.
APTA EXPO Honored by Trade Show News Network
Trade Show News Network (TSNN) has announced that APTA’s 2014 Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston placed 78th among the year’s TSNN Top 250 Trade Shows in the United States.
TSNN determines the top 250 trade shows held last year in the U.S. according to net square footage. EXPO 2014 covered 282,900 square feet in the George R. Brown Convention Center.
APTA hosts the EXPO every three years in conjunction with the Annual Meeting. The next EXPO is scheduled for Oct. 8-11, 2017, in Atlanta.
Kukushkin Dies; Rail Signaling Expert
Andrei Kukushkin, 51, senior signal engineer with HNTB Corporation in Pittsburgh, died April 6 during a vacation in Florida.
Kukushkin, a native of Kazakhstan, worked for STV, Stantec, Rochester Signal and US&S in January 1993 before joining HNTB. He was a member of the APTA Power, Signals & Communications Technical Forum, the FRA Rail Safety Advisory Committee Positive Train Control Working Group and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications-Based Train Control Working Group.
TCRP Releases Reports
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) reports, available at www.tcrponline.org.
Report 175: Guidebook on Pedestrian Crossings of Public Transit Rail Services. This report presents a wide array of engineering treatments designed to help improve pedestrian safety for three types of public transit rail services: light rail, commuter rail and streetcar.
Report 176: Quantifying Transit’s Impact on GHG Emissions and Energy Use—The Land Use. This report examines interrelationships between public transit and land use patterns to understand their contribution to compact development and the potential greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction benefits.
Synthesis 114: Critical Incident Management and Clearance Practices for Rail Transit. This synthesis summarizes the current state of the practice regarding incident response and identifies strategies for post-incident evaluations.
Synthesis 115: Open Data: Challenges and Opportunities for Transit Agencies. This synthesis documents the current state of the practice in the use, policies and impact of open data for improving public transit planning, service quality and treatment of customer information.
Synthesis 116: Practices for Establishing ADA Paratransit Eligibility Assessment Facilities. This synthesis examines practices used by public transit agencies to determine if a user is eligible for paratransit under ADA.
Synthesis 117: Better On-Street Bus Stops. This synthesis explores major issues and successful approaches to address on-street bus stops from the perspectives of both the public transit agency and the customer.
Synthesis 118: Practices for Utility Coordination in Transit Projects. This synthesis summarizes utility coordination practices at public transit agencies around the country.
MEET THE APTA STAFF
Meet KellyAnne Gallagher, CAE!
KellyAnne Gallagher, CAE
Assistant Vice President-Member Programs and Services
Member Services Department
What are the three job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
Member service, member service, member service.
My job title is assistant vice president-member programs and services. Under that umbrella, my team and I directly serve a broad cross-section of the APTA membership and interests, including public transit agency CEOs and business members. I work on international programs and relationships with partner organizations, as well as overseeing the programming and planning of APTA’s conferences. I also have modal responsibility for commuter rail.
Our team of 10 is responsible for 30 percent of all APTA committees and nearly half of all association revenue in an EXPO year.
Please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Everything I do comes back to providing value to APTA members. I field countless phone calls and emails each day, and spend the majority of my time working on projects that serve either a class of members or an individual’s needs.
One moment I may be preparing a compensation comparison for the CEO of a public transit system, and in the next scheduling the FTA administrator’s participation at an APTA conference so members can have direct contact with the federal agencies.
What initiatives, projects or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I’m proudest of introducing the “practicum” model of content delivery—an in-depth, hands-on examination of case studies in an interactive forum—for singularly focused topics.
We introduced this format in 2010 for high-speed rail, and used it again last year on the topic of innovative transit funding and financing. An APTA practicum is comprised of multiple modules, each centered on a case study, focusing on best practices and lessons learned.
Also, I co-chaired the UIC’s organizing committee for the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, held in Philadelphia in 2012, and served as APTA staff lead as the event host. I continue to serve on the UIC’s Congress planning team, now working on the 9th World Congress, which will take place in Tokyo later this year.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I landed at APTA 15 years ago when I interviewed to lead the association management practice that APTA was launching with its new contract to manage the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). The practice grew to include American Transit Services Council, the High Speed Ground Transportation Association and the WTS scholarship fund. I was responsible for these organizations for my first six years at APTA.
What professional affiliations do you have?
I am a member of the American Society of Association Executives, and a Certified Association Executive (cae®).
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I was a Russian Studies major in college and, after a time on Capitol Hill, spent nine years of my career working on Soviet human rights issues. From Washington I orchestrated the first human rights conference in Moscow sponsored by a Western non-governmental organization.
My other activities have allowed me to breakfast with Gloria Steinem, lunch with Geraldine Ferraro and dine with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Years ago, when my daughter was too young to participate in Take Your Daughter to Work Day, I organized “Take A Daughter to Work” day, pairing Capitol Hill offices with the DC Boys and Girls Club. These children lived two miles from the Capitol but had no connection with women on the other side of the Anacostia River—and vice versa. Each year we kicked off with a speaker breakfast, where the girls heard from members of Congress and met their hosts for the day. After a couple of years of this, Gloria Steinem heard about what we were doing and invited herself to breakfast with a television crew in tow.
I lunched with Geraldine Ferraro when I was doing political consulting, putting together a nonprofit that supported new Americans. After the formalities of pledging her support, she was eager to share baby pictures of her grandchildren, and gently scolded me for not having more pictures of my own kids to share.
But meeting these two icons of the feminist movement may have paled in comparison to my encounter with Archbishop Tutu, which was at the height of his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I was coordinating his appearance at a gala in New York and had worked extensively with commission staff on every detail, but I was unprepared for the man himself. There is incredible power in his presence: he simply exudes a joyous energy that is infectious. In his personality you could understand his zeal to heal South Africa following the collapse of apartheid.
Currently. I serve on the boards of a political action committee and a human rights organization, and find that the most restorative vacations involve being on my road bike within earshot of the ocean.
AROUND THE INDUSTRY
HART Launches 22 CNG Buses
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, recently welcomed 22 buses from Gillig powered by compressed natural gas. The new 40-foot buses replace diesel buses that entered service in 2001-2002 and are ready for retirement.
These buses join 20 CNG HARTPlus paratransit vans and eight HARTFlex vans that entered service last year. HART is investing in CNG vehicles as part of an effort to maintain its existing level of service at lower costs with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
Other amenities of the new CNG buses include modular, ergonomic designed seats; disc brakes instead of drum brakes; electric fans replacing hydraulic fans for improved cooling and fuel economy; and a safety feature that identifies bus operators merging into traffic from bus bays with a flashing yellow “Yield” LED light displayed on the rear of the bus.
St. Louis Metro Tests an Electric Bus
Metro in St. Louis is testing a 40-foot electric bus from BYD Co. Ltd. on its Downtown Trolley route. “We’re always looking at environmentally friendly options to enhance our MetroBus operations and maximize the taxpayer’s return on investment,” said Ray Friem, chief operating officer. “In the past few years, significant progress has been made in the charge range for electric buses, so we thought it was a good time to get a firsthand look at how far electric buses have come.” While the purchase price of an electric bus is substantially higher than that of a diesel-powered bus, the investment could result in significantly lower fuel, parts and labor costs and less maintenance in the long term.
Louis Berger Enters into $100 Million Saudi Contract
Louis Berger recently entered into a $100 million program management contract with the AlMadinah AlMunawwarah Development Authority (MMDA) in Saudi Arabia for implementation of the AlMadinah AlMunawwarah Public Transportation Program (MPTP).
The MPTP includes a comprehensive metro and bus network, as well as substantial upgrades and new construction for the primary road network. It also provides stations, park-and-ride lots, depots and advanced Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Under the five-year contract, Louis Berger will support and assist with MPTP’s strategic planning while overseeing, coordinating and integrating service delivery of the various parties involved with the project.
Grant Will Help OCTA Survey Unsafe Sidewalks Near Stations
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Orange, CA, will complete its survey of unsafe and obstructed sidewalks with the help of a $163,333 Active Transportation Program grant from the Southern California Association of Governments in partnership with Caltrans. The required 11 percent local match, $21,162, will come from State Transportation Improvement Program funds set aside by OCTA for planning studies.
The Orange County Sidewalk Inventory Project will create a countywide inventory of sidewalks that will identify the gaps, obstructions and amenities that may block pedestrian activity and access. The study will take about 12 months to complete and will cover 1,620 miles of roadways, major transit corridors and sidewalks within a half-mile radius of all 11 Metrolink commuter rail stations and all six transportation centers in the county.
The state created the Active Transportation Program in 2013 to encourage the increased use of active modes of transportation including biking and walking.
What's New in Apps and Websites
Public transportation agencies are creating and launching apps and updating their websites to better serve customers. Here are a few examples.
There’s an App for That
YoTrain!, an app that notifies riders about train arrival times with voice alerts, and Departures NYC, an app that allows riders to access departure times by pointing their smartphone toward a bus stop, recently received the top prizes at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) App Quest 3.0. YoTrain! received $10,000 and the grand prize for Best Accessibility App for MTA Customers with Disabilities, and Departures NYC received the $7,500 grand prize for Best Consumer/Transit Rider App.
MTA hosted the competition with AT&T, Transit Wireless (the firm that installed Wi-Fi throughout MTA) and New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.
A free app now available in King County, WA, allows riders to plan trips across 11 public transportation agencies. The Puget Sound Trip Planner app, available for Apple and Android devices, includes information for numerous modes of travel.
The app provides maps and schedules for all public transit agencies in the region, along with a feature that shows real-time arrival information for King County Metro Transit and Metro-operated Sound Transit routes. Users can customize their trip preferences and create point-to-point schedules within a route.
The app is part of an ongoing effort to improve high-tech options for riders. Metro and Sound Transit are developing a pilot project to test mobile-ticketing technology that will allow riders to pay fares using their smartphones, and by mid-2016 the agencies plan to introduce cellular service in some tunnels.
Detroit DOT recently unveiled its free “DDOT Bus” app for Apple and Android devices. The app helps riders plan trips and minimize waiting time with maps and real-time location features.
The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD), Española, NM, launched the “myStop” app as part of a reorganization of routes, additional stops and improved connecting options. The app serves as a “Blue Bus Tracker,” giving riders GPS-enabled real-time updates on locations, routes and schedules. Bus stop signs feature a QR code and phone text information so passengers can find the location of their bus and arrival times for the next three buses. NCRTD also launched a redesigned website, www.ncrtd.org.
In Tampa, FL, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) upgraded its OneBus Away app to include a touch-tone feature. The original version of the app provided real-time information to riders with smartphones, computers or other Wi-Fi enabled devices; now the same information can be delivered via text or through touch-tone service to a landline or a cell phone that does not have a data plan.
Building Better Websites
Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) introduced new customer amenities and ease of use on its newly redesigned website at the same address, www.RTAchicago.org. The site features such resources as the RTA Trip Planner, which received more than five million visits last year and information about the transit region, the RTA and its members, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace Suburban Bus.
The new design converts easily to many formats so riders can use it from a smartphone, tablet or desktop, and it conforms to accessibility standards to ensure access for persons with disabilities.
The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville, MN, recently launched a new website, www.mvta.com. MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller explained that the site revision, the first in more than 10 years, will “enhance the user experience, simplify content management and provide better information and customer service to our community.”
Site users can sign up for route-specific alerts and the new site links to the Google Trip Planner, MVTA’s “Where’s My Bus” web portal and the agency’s first-ever “How to Ride” video.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Oakland, CA, recently introduced its innovative Vital Signs website at www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov, an interactive tool that can help users track the San Francisco Bay Area’s progress toward reaching key transportation, land use, environmental and economic policy goals.
The first phase of the Vital Signs initiative examines 14 indicators by which the health of the Bay Area’s transportation systems can be monitored, including several measures of public transit agency performance. Phase II of the project, slated for completion this spring, involves land use and economic development measures. Phase III, which will focus on environmental and safety questions, is due this summer.
Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, recently launched its redesigned website, www.fwcitilink.com, and RouteWatch, which provides real-time bus information. The free RouteShout app, available for mobile devices, provides the same real-time information and updates to Citilink riders.
CityBus Opens CNG Station
The Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation (CityBus), Lafayette, IN, recently opened a large fast-fill compressed natural gas fueling station from TruStar Energy in conjunction with Energy Systems Group.
CityBus currently runs a total of 10 CNG-powered buses, six fixed route buses and four paratransit vehicles. Ultimately the agency plans to convert its entire 73-bus fleet to CNG.
“Cost and efficiency drove the decision” following an evaluation of fuel sources, expense, environmental impact and ridership, said CityBus General Manager Martin Sennett. “Other costs, too, are going up for CityBus, so we had to figure out how to make ends meet,” he continued. “We considered the cost of the different fuel options, cost of the buses and the emissions levels and determined CNG was the best option.”
AVTA Introduces Digital Advertising on Bus Exterior
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, will become the first public transit agency in California to display digital advertising on the side of a public transit bus as part of a five-year pilot program to determine if such advertising is a distraction to drivers. The state legislature granted AVTA permission to conduct the pilot; the agency will work closely with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to monitor the program. Digital advertising signs could serve as a more affordable alternative to vinyl wraps on bus exteriors. Business leaders and state legislators join Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), fifth from right, and, from fourth from right, AVTA Directors Dianne Knippel, Fred Thompson and Vice Chair Marvin Crist.
BART Launches Crisis Intervention Campaign
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is joining with the Bay Area Suicide and Crisis Intervention Alliance (BASCIA) to launch a multi-pronged campaign to address a recent increase in suicides and suicide attempts on district property.
The centerpiece of the campaign launch is station signage directing troubled patrons to call the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline, including the phrase “Suicide is not the route” and the phone number. This phrase has been tested in an MTA Long Island Rail Road campaign that has seen an increase in calls to the number.
“We looked at what other transit agencies have done on the topic and, with the help of local mental health experts, determined what steps would be appropriate for BART,” said Deputy General Manager Marcia deVaughn. “Posting a help line and providing training to our employees are some of the key things we can do as a transit agency.”
Another key component is training frontline BART staff on how to recognize and help a person in crisis. BASCIA will assist BART with this training.
“We are pleased that BART reached out to us for help with this important issue and we appreciate their help in getting our Lifeline number out to the public,” said Nancy Salamy, executive director of Alameda County Crisis Support Services, a member of BASCIA.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
Who's Doing What in the Industry
OVIEDO, FL—Grayson Thermal Systems Corporation announced the hiring of Helene Cornils as operations manager. Her business experience includes tenures with Eaton, CTS Corporation and Cummins.
JACKSONVILLE, FL—Florida Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Arezou (Ari) Jolly to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) Board of Directors, succeeding 13-year board member Donna L. Harper. Jolly, an assistant general counsel at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, earlier practiced law and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Harper served three terms as board chair and also was its secretary, treasurer and vice chair.
FORT WORTH, TX—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) announced the appointments of Shawn M. Donaghy as vice president of operations and maintenance, Kathy Bridwell as assistant vice president of procurement, Garry Brandenburg as director of safety and Peter Nelson as director of training.
Donaghy joins The T after serving as chief operations officer of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which operates Metro in Cincinnati. Bridwell previously worked in the procurement department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and earlier was purchasing manager for the Tarrant County College District.
Brandenburg brings more than 25 years of safety and risk management experience to his post, working at organizations including Garland Independent School District Transportation and Ben E. Keith Foods. Nelson most recently was vice president of training and leadership Development at Leslie’s Poolmart Inc. and previously was an instructor for Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.
C. Mikel Oglesby
POMPANO BEACH, FL—The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has named C. Mikel Oglesby deputy executive director. He has almost a quarter of a century of public transportation experience, most recently with Oglesby Consulting LLC. He worked for Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as assistant general manager and has been general manager of the SunLine Transit Agency and ATC Consultants.
BAKERSFIELD, CA—The Golden Empire Transit District (GET) Board of Directors elected Annazetta Henderson, a board member since 2013, as its
chair. She works in health care. James Hunter, elected vice chair, formerly served in the U.S. Federal Foreign Service diplomatic corps and is now chief executive officer of Knowledge Solutions Group.