Passenger Transport - July 24, 2015
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Update on Surface Transportation Bill

On Friday, July 24, the Senate passed a further procedural vote to advance the surface transportation bill. Senators are expected to work over the weekend and next week on the bill as the July 31 funding deadline looms. The House has approved a five-month extension to Dec. 18 to allow additional time to enact a long-term bill.

As the Senate bill stands today, the public transit authorization would increase from $10.690 billion in the current year to $11.633 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, and increase over the next six years to $13.36 billion in FY 2021. For the latest details, visit the APTA website.


Senate Releases Transportation Bill

As Passenger Transport went to press, on July 22 the Senate passed a cloture vote by 62-36 that allows it to proceed to consideration of a comprehensive, six-year surface transportation authorization bill released the previous day.

A cloture vote is a procedural vote that places a time limit on the Senate’s consideration of a specific measure. It require 60 votes to pass. A previous cloture vote attempt failed by 41-56.

The bill would extend highway and transit policy for six years, although senators have so far found only three years’ worth of funding offsets for it. The bill is now open to amendments.

The House previously passed its own bill that would extend transportation programs through Dec. 18.

The Senate’s bill includes a public transit title from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, a highway title from the Environment and Public Works Committee, a rail title from the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a finance title from the Finance Committee.

Much of the controversy involved the so-called “pay-fors” or offsets for the general funds that would be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund, including the Mass Transit Account. Total offsets were estimated to cover only about the first three years of the authorized spending and many of those offsets are considered somewhat controversial. Many senators expressed concerns about the way the bill reached the floor, stating that they had not had time to review it.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member, Senate Banking Committee, voiced concern about the failure of the committee to hold a markup and had not signed off on Shelby’s draft.

The Commerce Committee's title extends the PTC implementation deadline to Dec. 31, 2018. It also requires the secretary of transportation to coordinate with the FCC chairman to assess spectrum needs and availability for implementing PTC and to report to Congress on their findings. Further, the legislation also increases the liability cap, but it does not establish a mandatory minimum for insurance coverage.

In addition, the title includes a modified version of the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015, which was previously passed by the committee, and incorporates the Railroad Reform, Enhancement and Efficiency Act, approved by the committee on June 25.

The bill authorizes Amtrak funding, grants to rail agencies and modifies the Railroad ­Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program to support the implementation of PTC. It also leaves the TIGER program unauthorized, subject to annual appropriations as it currently operates.
For the latest details, visit the APTA website.

Colorado DOT Launches 'Bustang'

Colorado DOT (Colo. DOT) introduced Bustang service—the state’s first-ever state-owned and operated bus system—on July 13 with events in Glenwood Springs and Denver.

Bustang operates on two interstate highways during peak commuter hours on weekdays, using accessible 50-person buses equipped with amenities including free Wi-Fi, power outlets, USB ports and bicycle racks. The system’s three routes are the North Line, Fort Collins-Denver; South Line, Colorado Springs-Denver; and West Line, Glenwood Springs-­Denver. All ­Denver trips terminate at ­Denver Union Station.

“Bustang introduces a new era of transportation to Colorado commuters,” said Colo. DOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. “When we look back on launch day, several years out from now, I think people will mark the launch of Bustang as one crucial step we took to create the most healthy multimodal transportation system in the country, getting our customers where they need to go more safely, easily and more confidently than even before.”

Colo. DOT created Bustang to help alleviate congestion and provide alternatives to driving on major highway corridors. It developed the service in response to public demand for a reliable transit alternative along the most heavily traveled corridors in the state. As an interregional service, Bustang enhances the peak period capacity of the existing transportation system without major infrastructure costs.

The fare varies based on route and pickup locations, with discounts for persons with disabilities and older ­riders. Single tickets, one-way and multi-trip discount tickets and advance ticket packages are all available.

Crowds ride Colorado DOT's new Bustang service, which connects Denver Union Station with locations throughout the state.

Charlotte's Gold Line ­Streetcar Begins Service

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan spoke at ribbon-cutting ceremonies July 14 in Charlotte, NC, introducing streetcar service on the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) CityLYNX Gold Line—the first time this mode has operated in the streets of Charlotte in 77 years.

An incident interrupted Gold Line operation shortly after the opening but normal service resumed within two hours, not dampening the enthusiasm of first-day crowds.

Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, called the Gold Line “a great addition to Charlotte’s growing transit network, connecting residents and students with work, school and other ladders of opportunity while also stimulating tremendous economic development that creates jobs in the city.” He echoed the administration’s call for Congress to pass a long-term transportation funding bill “to meet the rising demand for more and better transportation choices” like the new streetcar.

In remarks published in DOT’s FastLane blog, McMillan described the Gold Line’s importance as “a new way for people to access healthcare centers, universities, city services and scores of retail establishments” that connects with light rail and bus routes.

She predicted 1.1 million square feet of new development connected to the Gold Line, including 731 new homes and 21,800 square feet of new retail, which could mean a potential annual property tax revenue take of as much as $7 million by 2035.

The part of the CityLYNX Gold Line that opened July 14 is the first 1.5 miles and six stations of a streetcar system that CATS hopes ultimately will cover 10 miles. It is free to riders and operates seven days a week. The second phase of the line, projected to enter service in 2019, will add two miles to the west end of the line and one-half mile to the east end.

The streetcar line has been a part of the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s vision since 2002 and received an FTA Urban Circulator Grant of almost $25 million in 2010. Coupled with a $12 million investment by the city, the project cost $37 million and started ­construction in December 2012.

Crowds board Charlotte's CityLYNX Gold Line on opening day.

DOT's Foxx: 'Invest in Future Generations'

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx stressed the role of “generations investing in future generations” in creating “the safest, most efficient, most effective transportation system in the world” in his July 22 keynote address before the “New York Moves” transportation conference in New York City.

"Today, we don’t have an engineering challenge,” he said. “We have the knowledge. We do have the wherewithal, even. The problem is that we know we live in a growing country that’s going to add 70 million more people in the next 30 years. And we know that everything we build has a shelf life. And we know what needs to be done—for instance, building new rail tunnels for the 21st century. What we’re lacking right now, though, is the resolve and mettle of previous generations to find a way to complete those major efforts … that keep us sharp in the global economy.”

Foxx noted federal efforts to support transportation, including the GROW AMERICA Act; the LadderSTEP program, which is part of “a new vision of how transportation can become more inclusive, how it can revitalize and connect communities and how it can lift people up who are struggling to get into the middle class;” and enhanced safety and accessibility efforts for all residents, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

Sponsors of the event included Parsons Corporation and the Move New York Coalition, whose members include HNTB, San Schwartz Engineering, CDM Smith and Amalgamated Transit Union. Panelists included representatives of New York City DOT, Parsons and the Port Authority of New York and New ­Jersey, among others.

L.A. Metro Re-Creates 1990 Blue Line Opening

Los Angeles Metro commemorated 25 years of modern Metro Rail—and 87 miles of rail built—at a July 13 event by re-creating the opening of the Metro Blue Line at the same spot where it first occurred.

A Metro Blue Line train appeared from the 7th St./Metro Center Station tunnel in downtown Los Angeles through a cloud to break through a banner as it did in 1990.

“We’re here today to thank the voters of L.A. County,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro board chair and Los Angeles County supervisor. “This is your system. You told us what you wanted. You directed it. You supported it. And through your generosity and farsightedness, we’re creating a modern rail system that is regional in scope, rational in its appeal to riders and equitable in the benefits it is providing for the people of L.A. County. We would not be here today were it not for you.”

In addition to its current 87 miles of rail, the Metro Rail system has five major lines under construction, including two more set to open next year that will add 17.6 more miles to service.

“But we would be remiss if we didn’t also recognize the transportation visionaries of the time—particularly L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley—who worked so hard to pass Proposition A, giving us the kickstart we needed to create modern Metro Rail and expand our transit system,” said Metro Board First Vice Chair and Duarte Council Member John Fasana.

Metro Director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis added, “A 20-year USC study released this spring revealed that clean air can be directly linked to stronger lungs among children who have grown up in Southern California. We know that in the past 25 years regional smog levels have dropped and that translates to healthier air quality for our children. Metro Rail can’t take all the credit for our improved air quality, but with more than 1.5 billion boardings in the past 25 years—­representing thousands of cars not on our roads—it has undoubtedly contributed to cleaner skies,” she said.

“But Metro Rail does not fly solo,” said Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington, APTA chair. “It’s the centerpiece of a transit network that includes 2,200 Metro buses covering 170 bus routes and nearly 16,000 bus stops. Together with Metrolink [commuter rail], the municipal carriers like the [Santa Monica] Big Blue Bus, the local-return operators like the Glendale Bee and highway improvements like the ExpressLanes project for highway mobility, we’re building a balanced transportation network to address the issues of the entire region.”

L.A. Metro’s current and former board members and chief executives, including current CEO Phillip Washington, second from left, prepare to board the special railcar that re-created the opening of the Metro Blue Line 25 years ago.


New CEOs Named

Lewis, CATS, Charlotte

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has named John M. Lewis Jr. its new executive director, effective in August.

Lewis is chief executive officer of LYNX/Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Orlando. He previously held leadership positions with the Greater Richmond Transit Company, Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland DOT, and he is a member of several APTA committees.

He succeeds John Muth, who served on an interim basis since Carolyn Flowers became senior adviser at FTA in December 2014.

Bravo, Miami-Dade Transit

Miami-Dade Transit has named Alice Bravo, deputy city manager/chief of infrastructure for the city of Miami, its new director.

Bravo joined the city government in 2010 as capital improvements director and earlier served Florida DOT as District Six director of transportation systems development. Throughout her career, she has been responsible for managing a number of diversified public-private partnerships for transportation projects.

She succeeds Ysela Llort, who announced that she will step down effective July 31.

Dunham, Greater New Haven

The Greater New Haven Transit District (GNHTD), Hamden, CT, announced the promotion of Kimberly A. Dunham from deputy director to executive director, effective July 15. She worked at Greater Hartford Transit District for 20 years before joining GNHTD.

Donna K. Carter, GNHTD executive director for the past 20 years, will remain on staff as director of special projects, specifically devoting her time to an FTA hydrogen fuel cell bus research and development project and the GNHTD Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity created to raise funds for additional transportation services.

Holmes Dies; Past IndyGo Head

Gilbert L. Holmes, 79, retired president and chief executive officer of IndyGo in Indianapolis and president/founder, Gil Holmes Associates LLC, died June 24.

Holmes earned a J.D. degree from Indiana University, Indianapolis, and had a career in the U.S. Army, retiring as a major. He retired from IndyGo in 2008 and held numerous other jobs including commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and chairman of the BMV Commission. He retired in 2012 as executive director of the ACLU-Indiana.

Holmes was a former member of the APTA Board of Directors and served on numerous APTA committees, including as vice chair of the Bus and Paratransit CEOs Committee. He was named Transit Executive of the Year in 2008 by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.

He was a past president of the Indiana Transportation Association and a past member of the Greater Indiana Chamber of Commerce Transportation Commission.


Celebrating 25 Years of ADA, 1990-2015

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed historic civil rights legislation enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act, surrounded by congressional supporters, people with disabilities and families on the South Lawn of the White House. Flanking Bush are, from left, activists Evan Kemp, then chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the Rev. Harold Wilke; Sandra Parrino, then chair, National Council on Disability; and Justin Dart Jr., often called the “Godfather of the ADA.” Click here to see the special publication APTA created to commemorate ADA’s 25th anniversary.

APTA Staff Attends White House Event Celebrating ADA Anniversary

APTA Vice President of Workforce Development and Educational Services Pam Boswell, right, and Passenger Transport editor Deborah Bongiorno attended a July 20 White House event in the East Room to honor the 25th anniversary of ADA.
President Obama addressed advocates and stakeholders, paying tribute to the law’s signing by quoting President George H.W. Bush who said, “Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, freedom and independence.” Obama continued, “Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life—schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks—they truly belong to everyone. Millions of Americans with disabilities have had the chance to develop their talents and make their unique contributions to the world. And thanks to them, America is stronger and more vibrant; it is a better country because of the ADA.” Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, former Sens. Bob Dole (R-KS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and former Rep. Tony Coelho (D-CA), all early ADA advocates in Congress, and he acknowledged several longtime activists in his remarks. See other ADA-related news in this issue and in a special commemorative publication.

"Yes, Please Touch the Art": VIA Hosts 'The Color of Blind' to Celebrate ADA Anniversary

BY SHAWNA C. RUSSELL, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio

Art creates a shared bond in communities. It brightens faces, lifts spirits and provides therapeutic value. Imagine, if you will, a beautiful piece of artwork without actually seeing it, but instead using your remaining four senses to grasp the artist’s expression and “see” and understand his or her vision.

Debuting in 2013, “The Color of Blind” was a dream many years in the making—and now VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio is helping promote a more inclusive arts community for a more diverse audience, hosting “The Color of Blind” through Aug. 21 at its corporate headquarters, The Grand at VIA Villa.

“Innovative efforts such as The Color of Blind allow our community to be more inclusive,” said VIA President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey C. Arndt. “VIA is proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by hosting this special exhibit and partnering with the arts community in a non-traditional way to call ­attention to the importance of inclusiveness in San Antonio and beyond.”

Show founders set out to create an inter­active, multi-sensory art show to result in fuller sensory experiences. The Color of Blind allows visually impaired individuals, along with others with special sensory needs or challenges, to better connect with art through a show specifically dedicated to redefining participants’ “vision” of art.

Through this show, local visual artists are challenged to think beyond merely what the eye can see. Exhibited works entice smell, touch and taste for a sensory perception unlike any other art show.

Trina Bacon, the show’s curator, is a local art teacher, ceramicist, tactile and 3-D artist. Her approach to art represents a significant departure from the traditional museum experience. “Everyone should be able to fully experience art,” Bacon noted. “Through our transformative efforts, we strive to say, ‘Yes’—please touch the art!”

VIA plays a major role in providing connections to the community it serves, including passengers with disabilities. In 2014, VIA provided 44.4 passenger trips throughout its 13-city service area and more than one million rides on VIAtrans, its paratransit service. VIA’s mission is to enhance the community’s quality of life by providing regional, customer-oriented public transportation that is dependable, cost-effective and enticing to riders.

Krystel Puente of The Color of Blind ­contributed to this story.

Weston Wright enjoys a mermaid sculpture created by Charles Ingram, part of "The Color of Blind" exhibit.

Photo by J. Michael Short


RTA Participates in Disability Pride Parade

The Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, Pace Suburban Bus and Metra were among the sponsors of Chicago’s recent Disability Pride Parade. CTA also participated in the parade, joined by Mobility Ventures LLC.

Photo courtesy of CTA


Annual Meeting: Speakers, Educational Sessions, Networking

The 2015 APTA Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, will offer something to interest every public transportation professional: insightful keynote speakers, a variety of networking opportunities, educational sessions, award ceremonies and technical tours.

Registration costs will increase on Aug. 28, so begin making plans to attend now!

During the weekend of Oct. 3-4, the APTA Board of Directors will meet following the election of officers and numerous other APTA committees will convene. Other weekend activities will include the American Public Transportation Foundation’s golf tournament to benefit its scholarship fund, “This Is APTA” and the Welcome Reception in the Products & Services Showcase.

Also on Oct. 3, the National Transit Institute will hold a four-hour training session, “Understanding ADA,” to teach public transit professionals the legal background of ADA and paratransit requirements. The course is open to all APTA Annual Meeting registrants at no additional charge; registration is first-come, first-served. Participants will receive 0.4 continuing education units and a certificate of attendance upon completion of the course.

For more information, contact Myrna Sirleaf.

Monday’s Schedule

The meeting itself kicks off the morning of Oct. 5 with the Opening Session: State of the Industry and Association. Speakers will include outgoing APTA Chair Phillip Washington, the incoming chair and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, who will report on the association’s national initiatives and 2015-2019 strategic plan.

Following the first two sets of concurrent educational sessions and lunch in the Products & Services Showcase, DOT representatives will lead a late afternoon General Session. Topics will include President Obama’s GROW AMERICA Act proposal, safety efforts and next steps for federal transportation programs.

Also on Monday is the 36th Annual AdWheel Awards Ceremony, recognizing the best and most innovative public transit marketing and communications efforts from the past year, and an evening reception honoring the recipients of this year’s APTF scholarships.

Tuesday Events

APTA business members will host a morning General Session Oct. 6 on integrated mobility, followed by more concurrent sessions including an APTA-Conference of Minority Transportation Officials assembly on Disadvantaged Business Enterprise efforts and a session for transit board members focusing on the hiring process for a new CEO.

All Annual Meeting registrants are invited to attend that day’s APTA Awards Ceremony and luncheon to honor this year’s recipients. The following awards will be presented: Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement, Outstanding Public Transportation ­Manager, Outstanding Public Trans­portation Business Member, Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member, Distinguished Service and Hall of Fame.

Tuesday afternoon will offer more concurrent sessions, including ceremonies recognizing the Leadership APTA Class of 2015 and APTF scholarship recipients, a General Session marking the 25th anniversary of ADA and technical tours.

What’s on Wednesday

The Wednesday Wake Up Breakfast will launch the schedule on Oct. 7, ­followed by more concurrent sessions, the Closing General Session and more technical tours. FTA will host a workshop on MAP-21 capital investment grants in the afternoon.

Learn more about the 2015 Annual Meeting here.

SFMTA Is On the Move in San Francisco; Use Public Transit to See the City by the Bay

BY EDWARD D. REISKIN, Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

The city of San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transpor­tation Agency (SFMTA) and the Bay Area’s regional transit agencies are delighted to host this year’s APTA Annual Meeting. I look forward to welcoming you and your colleagues to our wonderful city and region.

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in how we see transportation, and not just in dense urban areas like San Francisco. Technological innovation is allowing for new travel options—and changing people’s expectations for getting around. As public transportation providers, we must work together to face the challenges and harness the opportunities of these new technologies, including everything from mobile ticketing to bike sharing to real-time data collection and analysis.

The SFMTA is unique because we manage San Francisco’s streets and taxis in addition to ­public transit. This mandate provides a great opportunity as we, like cities and towns across the nation, are redesigning our streets in support of efficient, safe public transit. We must build transportation systems with safety and interconnectivity in mind by supporting bicycling to transit and focusing on pedestrian safety at and around transit stops and stations.

Public transit helps keep transportation affordable and accessible to all. This year we are celebrating accessibility nationwide with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have come so far in supporting mobility for people of all abilities since the disability advocacy movement started in the Bay Area decades ago.

Still, other challenges remain. In spite of strong public support for investing in public transportation, funding problems persist. We must advocate vigorously for increased investment and a 21st-century vision for public transportation. Critical projects like San Francisco’s regional Transbay Terminal, now in construction, and California high-speed rail depend on federal support. We will need these projects in place to support growing demand for transit now and in the future.

In San Francisco we are making strides. Near the conference site at Union Square, you’ll see construction in progress on a new Muni subway station, the Central Subway’s Union Square/­Market Street Station. When in service in 2019, the Central Subway will connect our eastern neighborhoods to SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, some of our fastest-growing and most densely populated areas.

You can enjoy our beautiful waterfront on the new E Embarcadero historic streetcar line. Launching this summer, it’ll travel on the weekends between AT&T Park, home to the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, and beloved attractions such as the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf.

By the time you arrive, we will have launched a new mobile payment app for Muni, allowing visitors and locals alike to pay their fare on a mobile phone. We are also in the process of increasing Muni service by 10 percent throughout the city and installing highly visible red transit-only lanes. And we’ve added more than 150 new efficient buses to our fleet, with more to come. Whether going to Golden Gate Park or the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll experience a more enjoyable ride.

It’s an exciting time in our industry, and the APTA Annual Meeting is a great time to share our collective expertise and work together on solutions.

See you in San Francisco!

SFMTA is increasing Muni service by 10 percent throughout the city, installing highly visible red transit-only lanes, adding more than 150 new efficient buses to the fleet and launching a mobile phone app to facilitate fare payments.

Photos courtesy of SFMTA

Educational Sessions Offer In-Depth Look at Public Transportation Issues, Trends

A major component of the APTA Annual Meeting is the numerous educational sessions focusing on issues ranging from federal legislation and public-private partnerships to leadership strategies and maintaining continuity in operations.

The preliminary list of sessions, which range in length from 90 minutes to two hours, scheduled for this year’s meeting in San Francisco includes these topics:

Congress and the Federal Transportation Agenda. With short-term extensions maintaining federal funding levels for surface transportation and congressional committees working to develop a long-term authorization bill, what should the public transportation industry expect to see in terms of legislative progress before the end of 2015? Key congressional staff will share their views.

Emergency Preparedness: Case Studies for Senior Leadership. Virtually all public transit agencies engage in emergency preparedness drills, but what themes and lessons learned will help the industry strengthen its incident response and create emergency management plans that will maintain operational efficiency?

High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Projects. This session concentrates on the planning, engineering, funding and political arrangements behind the passenger rail projects moving forward in regions across the U.S.

Small Public Transit Agencies’ Best Practices. APTA members that represent small operations—those with 100 or fewer vehicles—highlight innovative practices that help them make the most of their opportunities.

Transportation Infrastructure Projects Worldwide. The public transportation sector accounts for many of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. These projects will help transform communities, bolster regional economies and position public transportation as key for shaping communities and serving future generations.

AdWheel Awards Ceremony. This lively, entertaining event honors the best in public transportation marketing and communications and includes the announcement of the grand award winners.

CEOs Report. Chairs of the APTA Small Operations, Mid-Size Operations, Bus & Paratransit CEOs and Rail Transit CEOs committees and Commuter Rail CEOs Subcommittee will engage in a wide-ranging discussion of public transportation issues.

APTA-COMTO DBE Assembly. APTA and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials will hear from representatives of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises who have obtained contracts with both prime contractors and government agencies.

For Transit Board Members: The Complex Factors of Hiring a New CEO. When hiring new leadership for a public transit agency, the board members’ role in the process needs to be clear and concise to ensure the decision-making process remains transparent and effective.

Strategic Risk Reduction Techniques for Executive Management. FRA and FTA are on a regulatory path of requiring risk reduction programs with responsibility aimed squarely at public transit agency boards of directors and executive management teams.

Transit Ballot Measures. Public transit systems in regions large and small continue to gain approval for new funding by appealing directly to the voting public. Experience shows that voters are very supportive of public transportation when campaigns make clear the uses for and public benefits of those additional resources.

Celebrating Tomorrow’s Leaders: Leadership APTA and APTF Scholarship Awards. Join the celebration as we applaud the recipients of American Public Transportation Foundation scholarships, congratulate the graduates of Leadership APTA Class of 2015 and welcome the incoming Class of 2016.

Public Participation and Outreach. This session will highlight best practices that have increased the reach and degree of involvement by public transit customers and the public in the decision-making process on major projects and vehicle design.

Demographic Trends and Public Transportation. The demographic landscape of regions is changing, as are generational attitudes on travel. Learn more about the forces that will help determine our future.

Measuring the Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment. This session will provide an overview of the four major types of analyses and provide standard measurement practices for public transit professionals to apply.

Other sessions will look at sustainability, funding and finance, alternative fuel options, the first and last mile and other topics.


Click here to see the APTA Annual Meeting Schedule-at-a-Glance as of July 21.

Save on Travel Costs by Using APTA's Partners

Are you planning to attend the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco? APTA has partnered with several companies to provide discounts to meeting participants. Take advantage of these discounts and save.

United Airlines

Valid for Travel: Oct. 1-10
Eligible Airports: San Francisco International (SFO)

Attendees receive a discount of 2-10 percent off published fares. To make a reservation:

Go to and save an additional 3 percent. Choose flight times and access your meeting discounts by inserting ZU2C251746 in the Offer Code box, or

Call United Meetings at 800-426-1122 for reservations. Refer to Z Code ZU2C and Agreement Code 251746. There will be a service fee collected for all tickets issued through United Meetings Reservations.

Please note: Discounts applicable to U.S./Canada originating passengers and apply to round-trip travel only. Not valid with other discount certificates, coupons or promotional offers.

Delta Airlines

Valid for Travel: Oct. 1-10
Eligible Airports: SFO

APTA has partnered with Delta to provide meeting attendees a discount of between 2-10 percent off round-trip fares for travel to San Francisco. To make a reservation:

Go to to book the flight. Enter your Meeting Event Code, NMKQB, or

Call Delta Meeting Network reservations at 800-328-1111. Please note that a direct ticketing charge will apply for booking by phone.

Please note: Discounts applicable to U.S./Canada originating passengers and apply to round-trip travel only.  Not valid with other discounts, certificates, coupons or promotional offers. 


Valid for Travel: Oct. 1-10

Amtrak is offering a 10 percent discount off the best available fare for travel to San Francisco. To make a reservation:

Call Amtrak at 800-872-7245 or contact your local travel agent.

Make sure you refer to the fare code, X94W-929, when making your reservation. This discount is not available for online reservations.

Please note: This offer is not valid on the Auto Train and Acela service. Offer valid with sleepers, Business Class or First Class seats with payment of the full applicable accommodation charges. Fare is valid on Amtrak Regional all departures seven days a week, except for holiday blackouts.

AdWheel: 36 Years of Marketing, Communications Awards

What’s so special about your organization’s special events? Does your app or social media presence bring increased awareness of public transit to your community? Is your branding an important way to keep your name before the public?

If so, you may receive recognition at APTA’s 36th annual AdWheel Awards, presented to honor the brightest and most innovative marketing and communications efforts in the public transportation industry.

Judging is currently underway for the annual competition, which recognizes excellence in public transportation marketing, advertising, promotion and communications. First-place award recipients will be notified by early September. The AdWheel Grand Awards, selected from among the first-place honorees, will be announced in a special ceremony on Monday, Oct. 5, during the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

APTA member public transit agencies and business members submitted 522 entries in six main categories: print, electronic media, campaign, social media, special events and a special recognition category for 2015 to highlight the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA ­category will recognize the organizations that best demonstrate the ability to communicate and market to people with disabilities.

Public transit systems are judged in categories based on the number of rides they provide each year.

All AdWheel entries will be available for viewing at an interactive exhibit during the Annual Meeting.

For more information, contact Stephen Kendrick.

SFMTA, Partners Plan 14 Technical Tours

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), host system for the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting, and its regional partners have released the following preliminary list of technical tours. More information regarding date, time and specific requirements (i.e., dress for walking or bicycling) will be released closer to the meeting.

SFMTA: Central Subway. Take a walking tour of key sites of the SFMTA’s Central Subway Project. Learn about the design, permitting, execution and community outreach challenges associated with major construction adjacent to some of the densest, most valuable real estate in North America. Work permitting, access to the construction site may be possible. (Tuesday, Oct. 6)

SFMTA: Cable Car Barn. Ride a San Francisco icon and go behind the scenes of the world’s last operating cable car system. Enjoy a guided tour of the powerhouse, car barn and museum. Learn how this pioneering urban transit system was invented, dominated the industry, changed city planning and improved the urban environment. You can only take this tour in San Francisco! (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

SFMTA: Better Market Street by Bike. Following New York City’s lead, San Francisco is the ­second U.S. city to experiment with red transit-only lanes, which it  began in 2013 and expanded the next year. The SFMTA is evaluating the effectiveness of these lanes and will share its findings with FHWA and the California Traffic Control Devices Committee for potential adoption as a new traffic control device. This tour will be by bicycle. SFMTA staff will discuss lessons learned. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

SFMTA: Accessible Technology and Design Tour. Come experience exciting new technologies and design in the areas of accessibility including the Paratransit Taxi Debit Card system, new bus securement systems and audible wayfinding tools for customers with vision impairments. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

SFMTA: Historic Vehicles. The SFMTA has one of the most diverse fleets of historic vehicles of any public transit agency. In addition to its world-famous cable cars, Muni has a fleet of almost 50 ­operational streetcars from around the world—the oldest from 1896—that operate in regular service on the F-Market and Wharves and E-Embarcadero lines. ­(Wednesday, Oct. 7)

SFMTA: Transportation Management Center. This facility, which opened in 2014, combines public transit functions with transportation functions, allowing the agency to manage not only buses and light rail vehicles but also ­traffic flow, traffic signal timing, security, station operations, parking lots and parking control officers. In the future, SFMTA will expand the center to cover additional mobility functions including taxis. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

Transbay Joint Powers Authority: Transbay Transit Center Construction Site. The Transbay Transit Center, known as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” will connect eight bay area counties and 11 public transit systems, including future high-speed rail. The first phase of the facility is scheduled to open in late 2017. Construction began in August 2010 and excavation and foundation work were completed in 2014, allowing structural steel construction to begin in November. (Tuesday, Oct. 6, and Wednesday, Oct. 7)

Water Emergency Transportation Authority: San Francisco Bay Ferry Waterfront Tour. The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) operates ferries among San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, South San Francisco and Vallejo, with expansion plans for Richmond, Berkeley and Treasure Island. The tour begins at the Ferry Building and includes a tour of the San Francisco waterfront from one of WETA’s vessels. (Tuesday, Oct. 6)

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District: Golden Gate Ferry Operations Tour. Boarding at Golden Gate Ferry’s San Francisco Terminal, the group will take a ferry ride on the San Francisco Bay, including a stop in Sausalito. GGBHTD is a special district of the state responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District: Bike Share and Bike Station Tour. This tour includes visits to two new BART bike parking stations and two Bay Area Bike Share stations to explore successful approaches to integrating bicycles and transit. (Tuesday, Oct. 6)

BART: A Tour of the Ed ­Roberts Campus and Ashby BART Station in Berkeley. The Ed Roberts Campus—built on BART property as a joint development project—is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that has been formed by organizations that advocate for people with disabilities and share a common history. The tour will highlight universal design and accessibility at the campus and Ashby BART Station. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

BART: Warm Springs Extension Tour. This project will extend BART service just over five miles to southern Fremont and serve as the gateway for the further extension of BART to San Jose. The tour will visit the nearly complete line and participants will hear about key planning and construction issues. It will conclude at the Warm Springs Station, located adjacent to an 800-acre TOD site and near Tesla, the largest working car factory in California. (Wednesday, Oct. 7)

BART: BART to Oakland Airport Tour. BART to Oakland Airport is a driverless aerial trackway system connecting Coliseum BART Station to the Oakland International Airport. Since its opening in 2014, ridership from the station to the airport is up nearly 30 percent. (Tuesday, Oct. 6)

AC Transit: Temporary Transbay Terminal and AC Transit’s Hydrogen Fueling Station. The Temporary Transbay Terminal provides temporary bus terminal facilities during construction of the new multimodal Transbay Transit Center. Tour participants and AC Transit staff will board a hydrogen fuel cell bus for a short ride across the Bay Bridge to the system’s Emeryville Division, home of a state-of-the-art fueling facility that dispenses hydrogen made both from natural gas and from water and solar electricity. ­(Wednesday, Oct. 7)

An artist's rendering of the Grand Hall of the Transbay Transit Center currently under construction.

SFMTA recently completed tunneling for the Central Subway. A technical tour during the Annual Meeting will include key sites of the project.


APTF to Name Scholarship Winners; First ADA, Fran Hooper Scholarships Will Be Awarded

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) will name the inaugural recipients of two new scholarships during special ceremonies Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the association’s upcoming Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

One new scholarship commemorates the 25th anniversary of ADA and the second honors longtime APTA staffer and business member liaison Fran Hooper.

The ADA scholarship will be awarded to a student or public transit professional in an undergraduate or graduate academic discipline who expresses an interest in working to enhance accessible public transportation.

APTF announced the scholarship during the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Houston with a base goal of raising $50,000 and a stretch goal of $100,000. Thanks to the overwhelming support of numerous businesses and individuals, the scholarship exceeded its stretch goal and currently has received more than $112,000 in donations.

Under the leadership of current APTF Chair Huelon A. Harrison, a task force named a steering committee to take the lead on soliciting donations. Steering committee members include longtime industry leaders ­Shirley A. DeLibero, Kim R. Green, ­William ­Millar, Jerome Premo, Robert H. Prince Jr., Michael J. Scanlon, Beverly A. Scott, Paul Skoutelas, Charles Wochele, Ron Brooks and accessibility advocate ­Christopher Hart.

With the leadership of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), which Hooper coordinated for many years, the Fran Hooper Scholarship has received more than $60,000 in donations to date. The scholarship will be awarded to an applicant studying rail engineering with the intent to pursue a career in public transportation, with preference given to a qualified female applicant.

Other named scholarships include the BMBG/Janie Wulkan Scholarship, established by the BMBG and Alan ­Wulkan, senior vice president, HDR/InfraConsult, in honor of Wulkan’s late wife.

APTF will award the scholarships during a special event with Leadership APTA to highlight these two programs that enhance career development in public transportation.

Last year, the foundation awarded more than $85,000 to 20 students, the largest amount in its history. Since 1988, the APTF’s founding, it has awarded more than $700,000 to more than 200 recipients.

The APTF’s mission is “to increase and retain the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career by providing scholarships and engagement opportunities to deserving students and transit professionals—our future leaders.”

For details and to make a donation, click here or contact Pam Boswell.

APTA's 2015 Awards Honor Exemplary Leaders, Organizations

BY ERIN CARTWRIGHT, Communications and Marketing Specialist

In celebration of the “best of the best” in public transportation, the newly named 2015 APTA Award winners are outstanding role models of leadership, dedication and commitment whose accomplishments have greatly advanced the industry.

The winners will be recognized for their achievements at an Oct. 6 ­luncheon during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Summaries of winners follow.

Two public transportation agencies will receive the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award: Connect Transit, Normal, IL, in the category of agencies with fewer than four million annual passenger trips, and Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), Houston, in the category of 20 million or more annual passenger trips.

At Connect Transit, public transit safety extends to the entire community and is a top priority of the agency. Operators go through an initial six-week training period with the majority of that time focused on defensive driving, customer interaction, system safety and emergency response. With participation in the Illinois Terrorism Task Force’s Infrastructure Subcommittee, Connect Transit has a strong presence in disaster planning at the state level.

The system has also embraced technology as a way to increase efficiency for operations and maintenance and enhance the passenger experience. A new CAD/AVL system allows greater supervisory control over on-street operations and convenient real-time bus tracking for customers. The result is increased on-time performance, fewer instances of overcrowding and more overall boardings per hour. Paratransit operations have also significantly increased efficiency with better scheduling that reduces the number of vehicles required to satisfy demand.

Houston METRO, the Houston region’s largest public transit provider, serves a 1,303-square-mile area with buses, light rail, paratransit services, vanpools and nearly 100 miles of HOV/HOT lanes.

METRO has achieved great success in recent years. The agency has expanded its light rail system from 7.5 miles to nearly 23 miles and recently redesigned and launched its local bus system. System-wide ridership has also increased each year for the past three years, with annual total trips topping 110 million across all modes.

METRO has implemented numerous initiatives to ensure that its workforce is prepared for the future. This includes creating an organizational development division charged with providing training and development programs; as a result, METRO now has a comprehensive learning curriculum. Classes focus on communications, interpersonal behaviors, management and supervisory techniques, computer applications and federally mandated/compliance.

With more than three decades in the public and private sector, Jeff Morales will receive APTA’s Distinguished Service Award. Morales’s career started in the early 1980s on Capitol Hill with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (R-NJ) (now deceased), where he was a principal drafter of the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

Morales then became executive vice president of the Chicago Transit Authority, the nation’s second largest public transit system. He subsequently became the director of Caltrans, where he managed a $10 billion program and more than 23,000 employees working to build, maintain and operate the largest state transportation system in the U.S.

Morales moved to the private sector when he was named a senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff, where he worked with transportation agencies to develop and implement major capital programs. Currently, Morales is the chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the state agency that oversees planning, designing and building the nation’s first high-speed rail system.

John Spychalski, chairman of the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) Board of Directors, State College, PA, for the past 13 years, will receive the Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award. Spychalski has been a member of the CATA board for more than three decades, beginning in 1980 when public confidence in the agency was low. Subsequently he helped rebuild and strengthen the agency.

In addition, Spychalski has represented CATA on the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordinating Committee for the past 20 years. Under his leadership, and in collaboration with his fellow board members and the CATA staff, CATA has grown in size, reputation and sophistication. Additional proof of this success was when CATA won APTA’s Outstanding Public Transit System Award in 2001.

The Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award goes to Keith Parker, general manager and chief executive officer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). Parker has spent 20 years of his 22-year career at the executive level. In December 2012, Parker took the top job at MARTA and shortly after he reorganized the management team, resulting in cost ­savings exceeding $1 million per year.

He and the MARTA board have made transit-oriented development (TOD) the cornerstone of the agency’s business model. MARTA’s TOD initiatives are designed to increase ridership, improve neighborhoods and generate revenue. Parker currently serves on APTA’s Executive Committee, chairs the Rail Transit Committee and is a member of the Leadership APTA Committee.

Angela Iannuzziello, vice president and Canada national transit market sector lead for AECOM, will receive the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award. Iannuzziello has more than 35 years of extensive and diverse experience in public transit and transportation planning.

She provides strategic direction on public transit pursuits across the country, engages in business development and coordinates transit team engagement. Iannuzziello is a member of the APTA Executive Committee, immediate past chair of the Business Member Board of Governors, a past co-chair of the Governance Review Task Force and has held numerous other volunteer leadership positions with APTA.

APTA will induct two individuals into its Hall of Fame who have more than 90 years of combined experience in the public transit industry. They are Elonzo “Lonnie” Hill, deceased, and Jerome “Jerry” Premo, principal, Premo Partnerships, Orange, CA.

Hill’s career at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) began as a bus operator in 1961. During his 35-year-plus career at CTA, Hill held numerous positions with the agency; in 1991 he was promoted to executive vice president/service delivery.

From 1987-1989, Hill chaired APTA’s International Bus Roadeo Committee and in this position helped develop the Rail Rodeo, which has expanded to rail cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Further, Hill mentored hundreds of public transit professionals locally and nationally through his professional affiliations with numerous transit systems, APTA, COMTO, DOT, businesses and individuals. From 2003-2009, Hill served on the Metra Board of Directors.

In a career that spans nearly 50 years in the public and private sectors, Premo joined the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, the predecessor organization to FTA, as one of its first dozen employees. He then became the first executive director of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the first executive director of New Jersey Transit Corporation, resulting in APTA’s recognition of that agency as the outstanding large transit system of 1983.

Premo moved on to the private sector when he joined Frederic R. Harris, becoming part of what is now AECOM, where he was recognized by APTA as Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member in 2008.

Premo’s association with APTA spans decades, including service as vice chair of its Executive Committee, Legislative Committee chair and membership on the Leadership APTA Committee and Business Member Board of Governors, to name a few.

San Francisco: A Small City with a Big Punch, the 'Perfect Place' for APTA's Annual Meeting

BY WILLIAM MARONI, Senior Program Manager

APTA’s Annual Meeting is always extraordinary, but when the venue is “the city by the Bay,” you know the four-day event will be otherworldly.

Who doesn’t love San Francisco? The bridges, the Victorian buildings, the hills and cable cars, the cultural variety, the food, the free-spirited atmosphere … it’s all there.

As Herb Caen, beloved San Francisco journalist, said, "One day if I go to heaven ... I'll look around and say, 'It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco.'"

If it’s true that a city is not gauged by its length and width but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams, then APTA picked the perfect place for a gathering about public transportation.  With parallels to our own industry, San Francisco began as a relatively small railroad town, evolved from an isolated urban center and became an international symbol of freedom and progress.

One of the nicest things about visiting San Francisco is that, although the city is “big” in terms of attractions, it is geographically small—only 49 square miles. So, it’s easy to take advantage of all the city has to offer in a short period of time—and without missing any APTA sessions!

The APTA website will tell you all about the important sessions and speakers scheduled for the 2015 Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7. But here’s a glimpse of not-to-be-missed things to do and see right outside your hotel.

Ride a Cable Car: No public transportation aficionado’s life can be complete without riding a San Francisco cable car.  This mode of transit has been carrying people around the city since the late 19th century. The spectacular views from atop the city’s celebrated—and steep—hills make this one of the most exhilarating forms of public transportation.

Walk Over the Golden Gate Bridge: The Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, is impressive to even the most seasoned travelers. About 120,000 vehicles cross it every day, but a walk or bike ride across the 1.7-mile span is the best way to experience this modern wonder of the world.

Visit the Rock: Alcatraz, the former prison, is located on an island of the same name in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of America’s most notorious criminals were incarcerated there, but since the 1960s it has been the location of several ­Hollywood movies and a favorite ferry ride for visitors.

See the Sea Lions:  Fisherman’s Wharf is home to PIER 39, a festive waterfront marketplace that is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Best of all, a community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the floats along the pier where visitors can watch (and hear!) their antics.

Shop in Union Square: Chances are your hotel will be in or around this superb shoppers’ paradise. Major department stores and the most exclusive designer boutiques line the bordering streets. Don’t miss Levi Strauss’s flagship store, since Levi’s was founded in San Francisco and is still headquartered there.

Explore North Beach: North Beach isn’t a beach at all, but rather the city’s Italian quarter. The neighborhood has romantic European-style sidewalk cafes, restaurants and shops centered near Washington Square. It’s also the site of the beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul (where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe posed for wedding photos) and Coit Tower (atop of Telegraph Hill), which provides great views of the Bay and houses floor-to-ceiling murals from the 1930s.

Explore a Real Ocean Beach: San Francisco does have a real beach, too. It’s a long, broad stretch of clean sand and moderate waves, right along the western shore of the city. It is easily accessible from downtown by public transportation. The water is almost always cold, but the smell of the Pacific Ocean and the views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge are heartwarming.

Walk Through the Nation’s Oldest Chinatown: The entrance to Chinatown is called the “Dragon’s Gate.” Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city within a city is best experienced on foot to see exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, enjoy a “dim sum” or watch fortune cookies being made.

Get Dizzy on Lombard Street: Lombard Street in the Russian Hill district is the crookedest street, not only in San Francisco, but in the world. This beautifully-landscaped, steep thoroughfare was created in the 1920s with eight sharp curves to allow vehicles to travel down the one-way, 40-degree hill. Paved with bricks, it is an amazing sight and home to some of the most expensive homes in the city.

Haight-Ashbury: This is The Haight you’ve heard about—the epicenter of the anti-war, counter-culture movement of the mid 1960s, when tens of thousands of young people descended on this corner of San Francisco. The neighborhood still retains enough of its colorful, wild-child self to remind any aging hippie that this is where Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane created legendary music.

Dine at World-Class Restaurants: Dining in San Francisco is an attraction in itself. Known as one of America’s best restaurant cities, its chefs create memorable dishes using local ingredients, authentic international ­flavors and a touch of innovation.  Choose your cuisine—Chinese, ­Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, Malaysian, Mexican, Greek, ­Russian or “fusion,” a combination of any or all.

Get Cultured: San Francisco is home to internationally recognized symphony, opera and ballet companies. Many playwrights introduce their works in San Francisco and avant-garde theater and dance companies can be found throughout the city. The Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor and other museums and galleries are devoted to the finest of classical and contemporary arts. San Francisco is also home to the California Academy of Sciences—the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a four-story rainforest all under one roof.

Hope to see you in San Francisco in October!

APTA staffer Maroni lives in the Washington, DC, area but he left his heart in San Francisco, his ­former hometown.

More About the 2015 Annual Meeting

APTA’s Annual Meeting offers plenty of opportunities to network, learn and share, but there’s more to do. Here’s a sampling:

See What Works in Marketing — All entries in the 2015 AdWheel Awards Competition will be showcased at a special exhibit in the Products & Services Showcase. The exhibit is the perfect place to gather new marketing and communications ideas.

Travel for Free — Visit the host information desk and you’ll receive a complimentary regional transit pass, courtesy of  San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, good from Oct. 3-8.

Find Research from TCRP — For more information on the latest reports and digests from the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), stop by the TCRP Information Center Oct. 5-7 and get free copies of reports and learn about its other services. You may also visit the TCRP website.

Hit the Links — Love to golf? Partici­pate in APTF’s Annual Golf Tournament, Oct. 3 at the historic Presidio Golf Course. Contact Pam Boswell.

The following business members have already signed up as sponsors: Accenture, AECOM, BAE Systems, Herzog Transit Services Inc., HNTB Corporation, Maruti Fleet & Management LLC, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Parsons Corporation, SPX Genfare, Stacy and Witbeck Inc., SYSTRA Consulting Inc. and Thales.

Sponsorship opportunities remain available. Contact Heather Rachels.


Meet Donna P. McNamee!

Donna P. McNamee
Painesville, OH
Member, APTA Executive Committee; vice chair, Transit Board Members ADA Subcommittee; member, Transit Board Members, Legislative and Access committees

Please describe your agency's scope.

Laketran transports approximately 3,000 people, six days a week, via six fixed routes, commuter express, and Dial-a-Ride—its door-to-door paratransit and demand-response service, with the latter available throughout our 228-square-mile county. Laketran also plays an integral role in the county emergency management agency.

How long have you been involved in public transportation?

I was first appointed to the Laketran Board of Trustees in February 2001. Following my run for Ohio State Senate in 2000, one of our county commissioners, knowing of my 20-year advocacy efforts on behalf of people with disabilities, invited me to send in an application for the Laketran board. He felt it would be a great “marriage” between my advocacy on behalf of the disability community and my business background. He was so right! One APTA conference—the Legislative was my first in 2002—I was beyond hooked!

Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.

Laketran has been an APTA member for more than 35 years. Absolutely the most rewarding factor is the opportunity to meet people involved in public transit all across the U. S. and Canada and their willingness to share their knowledge, challenges and successes.

APTA is about professional development and advocacy, both of which are very important to me professionally. In terms of professional development, being able to interact with all sorts of people with various professional backgrounds and from various regions has been a personal growing experience as well as a way to broaden my knowledge of the industry in general and on issues at various transit systems specifically.

As for advocacy, I’ve been involved in ­public transportation issues from the time I began advocating for the needs of people with disabilities when the ADA was little more than one of hundreds of bills before Congress in the late 1980s. That’s when I was telling the disability community’s story—my story!—to help legislators understand that ADA is our civil rights legislation and providing examples of how my community, and me personally, were unable to connect to or feel a part of the American Dream. It became my passion.

My involvement with APTA has been beyond rewarding. I have served on ­several committees, I chaired (and created) the Transit Board Members Committee ADA Subcommittee.

As chair of the ADA subcommittee (and now vice chair under Doug Lecato’s able leadership), it has been tremendously rewarding for me to watch transit board members’ knowledge and understanding of the ADA grow.

As chair of APTA’s ADA subcommittee and coincidentally chair of the Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA) National Steering Committee, I spearheaded the joint development of a book on the ADA specifically for transit board members, ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members, published jointly by APTA and ESPA in 2010. [Find it at the APTA Bookstore.] Another noteworthy reward was having Laketran recognized by APTA and receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award for a small system in 2000 and 2005.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit and why?

Frankly, over the course of my 14-year association with APTA, everything I have encountered has been a valuable resource and benefit and helped me to grow into my role as a transit board member.

But if I had to pick just one thing to encourage other board members to get involved, it would be to tell them to go to conferences and join committees. I would tell them that the ability to interact with transit board members across the country—to learn from each other—is tremendously helpful. I must say, this is really the most rewarding aspect of our entire industry: the willingness to share information and ideas to help foster the growth and development of public transit nationwide.

What would readers be surprised to learn about your agency?

Laketran primarily evolved from health and human service transportation. Founded in 1974, Laketran started out with one fixed route and adopted the existing health and human service transportation network, which was then supported by a “patchwork quilt” of grant funding.

By the late 1980s, that funding was drying up, yet the need for transport of seniors and people with disabilities was rapidly growing. In 1988, after many ­unsuccessful attempts to pass a referendum, voters finally passed a one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax levy. Laketran has remained true to its original mission to ­primarily serve seniors and people with disabilities by consistently committing two-thirds of its operating budget to serve paratransit and demand-response customers, who represent one-third of our ridership. Laketran’s passenger focus and its operating budget distribution figures are the two aspects of our service model that most surprise others in the industry.


Meet Channon Hanna!

Channon Hanna
Senior Legislative Representative
Government Affairs Department

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

Everyone in the Government Affairs Department works on promoting the passage of surface transportation reauthorization legislation. I also focus on funding, finance and tax issues, which include taxes going into the federal Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account, as well as municipal bonds, public-private partnerships and federal loan programs like TIFIA and RRIF.

Some of APTA’s larger public transit agency members issue municipal bonds to finance their budgets. A lot of federal tax laws surround the municipal bond process; interest from bonds are exempt from federal taxes but some proposals would eliminate that, which would significantly affect the cost of issuing a bond.

I meet with Hill staff as part of the Government Affairs staff. We’re very active with members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, House Ways and Means, the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance committees and the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate. That’s a lot of people. Also, earlier this year, we made contact with all new members of Congress, regardless of what committee they serve on.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.

Sure. Some APTA members call because they need more information about particular pieces of legislation and some have questions about the legislative process. On the other hand, I’ve found that our members are a very valuable resource to me. I’ve called several of them on my own to find out how certain legislation could impact them specifically. Conversations with our members give me an “on-the-ground” view of things, which is incredibly helpful for me to relay back to Hill staff. That includes business members as well as public transit agencies.

I try to answer any question posed to me by any APTA member. If someone has a question or needs help, I’m happy to help in any way I can. If I can’t help them, I’ll figure out who can and refer the member to that person.

What initiatives, projects or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

APTA held its annual Legislative Conference within my first few weeks as a member of the staff. I was in charge of finding a speaker for the business members’ breakfast session and members of the congressional staff panel. I feel happy that I completed these duties without a hitch.

The speaker for the business ­members’ session was Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer, U.S. Travel Association (USTA). When Government Affairs staffers brainstormed on ideas for speakers, I suggested we reach out to USTA; the organization had begun getting involved in transportation issues and had partnered with APTA in 2013 on a report regarding the travel industry and rail connections. I thought it would be good to follow up with USTA after the release of the report, concerning its new interest in the larger transportation industry and its issues.

How long have you worked at APTA? Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry and how did you “land” here?

I joined APTA about six months ago. I had no public transportation background at that time but I have worked in other transportation modes. I had a brief stint in South Carolina and, earlier, worked more than five years as director of government and political affairs with Airports Council International North America (ACI), a trade association that represents U.S. and Canadian airport authorities. I only lobbied on U.S. air issues; we had another staffer who worked on the Canadian issues.

Before my tenure at ACI, I was on the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee, where I worked primarily on maritime and aviation issues with a little bit of rail. I always wanted experience in the public transportation sector; it is just as important a mode as the others and I’m really passionate about transportation policy broadly. When I saw the position opening at APTA, I jumped on it.

What professional affiliations do you have?

I’m a member of Women in Government Relations and the Association for Government Relations Professionals.

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

I graduated from Auburn University and am an avid college football fan. I’ve had season tickets to Auburn games for more than a decade, traveling down for as many games as I can during the ­season. When I’m not watching news, I’m ­usually watching ESPN.


Strategic Plan Guides APTA in Addressing Key Industry Challenges

APTA’s new strategic plan for 2015-2019, The Way Forward, continues to center the association’s work on five key challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

These are safety and security first, resource advocacy, workforce development, demographic shifts and technological innovation.

APTA Chair Phillip Washington led a Strategic Plan Steering Committee in 2014 while vice chair to lay the groundwork for a new five-year plan and brought it to the board in December 2014 for unanimous approval. “As a result, APTA’s strategic plan is a true consensus document,” he said, “built on an open dialogue that sharpens our focus and ensures that we take the right action at the right time.”

As APTA starts its new fiscal year, the first guided by this strategic plan, Washington highlighted the work some APTA committees are already doing to integrate the plan’s goals into APTA’s operations.

“I’m especially excited about the work a number of our committees recently launched on how to position public transportation in the rapidly evolving world of mobility and transformative technologies,” Washington said. “We are looking at game-changing innovation, driven by individual entrepreneurs as well as large corporations and ranging from automated vehicles to new apps like Uber and Lyft, all of which are potential opportunities as well as challenges for transit agencies.”

Numerous sessions at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco in October will feature work being done to meet the goals as laid out in the strategic plan, and Passenger Transport will report on progress made on various aspects of the plan.

For details, click here.

APTA Seeks Comments on Seven Standards

The APTA Standards Program requests public comment through July 31 on seven standards.

This process is open to APTA members, federal partners and the public. The standards under consideration follow:

APTA RT-OP-S-021-15 S for OTE Safety Requirements PC 3Q2015 (Rail): On-Track Equipment Safety Requirements Standard

APTA RT-VIM-RP-005-02 Rev 1 RP for Door System Periodic I and M for Rail Service Vehicles PC 3Q 2015 (Rail): Recommended Practice—Door System Periodic Inspection and Maintenance for Rail Transit Vehicles

APTA RT-VIM-RP-025-15 Operator Protection Features for Rail Transit Vehicles for PC 3Q2015 (Rail): Recommended Practice—Operator Protection Features for Rail Transit Vehicles

APTA SS_SIS_RP_ 016_15 RP for Tunnel Security for Public Transit PC 3Q2015 (Security): ­Recommended Practice for Tunnel Security for Public Transit Security

APTA_SGR_RP_004_15 RP for Repairing a TAM Plan—An Agency Checklist PC 3Q2015 (State of Good Repair): Recommended Practice for Preparing a Transit Asset Management Plan—An Agency Checklist State of Good Repair

APTA_PR-CS-S-018-13-Rev-1 S for Fixed Workstation Tables in PRC PC 3Q2015 (Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards-PRESS): Standard for Fixed Workstation Tables in Passenger Rail Cars

APTA SUDS_UP_RP_Transit Parking 101 PC 3Q2015v2 (Accessibility): Recommended Practice for Transit Parking 101 Accessibility.

To comment, click here. Click on the document links to review the most current draft.

Use the “Submit your comments here” link for each comment for each document.

Transit Board Members, Staff Meet for Best Practices Seminar

BY CHERYL PYATT, Program Manager, Educational Services

More than 150 public transit agency board members and professional board staff gathered recently in Denver for the APTA Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar, a two-track program that focused on best practices regarding policy making, governance and fiduciary duties, succession planning, safety, regional legislative issues, leadership development and funding among other topics.

The seminar, hosted by Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), featured remarks from area civic and elected leaders who discussed public transit’s role in community and economic development and the importance of securing adequate funding; safety management sessions led by FTA officials; peer-to-peer discussions organized by agency size; sessions on the complex factors involved in hiring the CEO and the board’s role in setting the CEO’s performance goals; transit as a catalyst for development; stakeholder engagement; MPO partnerships; ADA compliance; and the basics of funding.

APTA Chair Phillip Washington, CEO, Los Angeles Metro, and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy hosted an informal roundtable that featured brief remarks about APTA’s advocacy efforts, five-year strategic plan and other initiatives, leading to an engaging question-and-answer session during which Washington challenged attendees to advocate for transportation at national, state and local levels.

Also during the seminar, APTA Vice Chair Valarie J. McCall, board member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, was re-elected chair of the Transit Board Members Committee. David Stackrow, board chair, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY, was re-elected vice chair and Carol Herrera, executive board chair, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, was re-elected secretary.

In addition, RTD conducted technical tours of its BRT and transit-oriented development projects, light rail corridor, Denver International Airport and the recently renovated Union Station, where it also hosted a reception.

APTA will announce the date and location of next year’s seminar soon. For details, visit the website and search on meetings.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy addresses the APTA Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar.

Photo by Paul Wedlake Photography


Melaniphy Addresses International High-Speed Rail Congress

Copyright UIC / P. fraysseix

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy addressed the Closing Afternoon Session of the 9th UIC World Congress on High Speed Rail July 9 in Tokyo. He spoke about the the development of high-performance passenger rail service in several key corridors in the United States.

TRB Seeks Nominations for Sharon D. Banks Award

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is seeking nominations by Aug. 31 for the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation, given to recognize excellence in people-oriented initiatives throughout transportation.

TRB established the biennial award with support from DOT and other partners including APTA. It inaugurated the award in 2002 and will present it next during the Chairman’s Luncheon on Jan. 13, 2016, during the TRB 95th Annual Meeting.

Banks was general manager of AC Transit, Oakland, CA, from 1991 until her death in 1999 and chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998. She was nationally known for her personal integrity, for nurturing and mentoring young transportation professionals and for bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and commitments in the pursuit of organizational excellence.

The award recognizes a transportation professional with a documented record of innovative and successful humanitarian leadership in areas such as education, training and mentoring of transportation professionals; community-sensitive transportation facilities and services; and other people-oriented initiatives. The list of past award recipients is here.

Information on the nomination process is here.

Big Blue Bus to Introduce 'RNG' Technology

The Big Blue Bus (BBB) in Santa Monica, CA, will be among the first U.S. public transit agencies to convert its fleet from liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Redeem™, a new fuel product that the producer, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., calls “renewable natural gas” (RNG).

BBB has been fueling its vehicles since 2012 with LNG and compressed natural gas supplied by Clean Energy. The system has unveiled a new bus ad campaign promoting “bigger, bluer skies” to  emphasize the lower emissions and sustainability of the new fuel.

“[Santa Monica] City Council has voiced its support for non-fracked, sustainable sources of fuel and Redeem delivers a fuel made entirely of waste: a more sustainable product at an equal cost. This makes BBB’s partnership with Clean Energy to use the Redeem fuel a win-win solution,” said BBB Transit Director Ed King.

Clean Energy defines Redeem as renewable LNG, non-fracked methane harvested from organic waste in landfills. This gas has historically been burned off into the atmosphere, according to the company, but advances in renewable technology allow harvesting of the gas through a series of membranes implanted in the ground of landfills. Following filtration and refining, the liquid fuel is transported via pipeline to end users.

Engineering Career Ladders for Passenger Rail: APTA, Partners, Academia Explore Options

What does it take to integrate the workforce development needs of passenger rail with the curriculum of the nation’s leading higher education engineering programs?

More than 50 industry professionals and college and university professors explored this question and others at APTA’s first Passenger Rail Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES), a three-day program funded by the association’s business members and co-sponsored by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA).

The Philadelphia event, hosted by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and conducted at SEPTA headquarters, was modeled on AREMA’s Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES), a longstanding program that predominantly fosters interest among university faculty in freight railway engineering. APTA business members and participants affiliated with the National University Rail Center (NURail) provided instructors for the symposium. The NURail Center is a consortium of seven North American colleges and universities offering railway transportation engineering research and education.

“There are tremendous career opportunities for a new generation of young professionals educated in principles of rail transport. Public transport organizations should encourage and support partnerships with colleges and universities to help them expand their rail educational and research programs; p-REES was a critical first step in achieving this,” said Christopher Barkan, NURail Center director, professor and executive director, Rail Transportation and Engineering Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Michael Loehr, practice leader, transit and rail Americas, civil, CH2M Hill, was instrumental in putting the symposium together. “The inaugural p-REES session was a great success for the participants. The support of the APTA business members and the entire APTA organization working together to address the workforce development needs of our industry will have a lasting benefit,” said Loehr, chair of the newly formed Business Member Workforce Development Committee.

Jeffrey Wharton, Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), reinforced the importance of the event.

“The p-REES inaugural event began as an idea among several APTA business members several years back when discussing the difficulty of finding properly educated rail engineers,” said Wharton, president, IMPulse NC LLC. “Some of the professors in attendance were looking to hone their knowledge and expand their rail programs, while others were first time to the rail industry and looking to start new programs. Everyone got something new out of this event, including those of us from the private sector.”

As a result of the p-REES symposium and based on additional information provided by the REES program, Drexel University in Philadelphia announced that it would offer a new rail and transit engineering undergraduate course in fall 2015.

Engineering faculty also expressed their support of the symposium. “I applaud the effort of APTA for organizing this symposium. I feel students are much more familiar with highway than rail, and that plays an important role in their career choice,” said Mei Chen, associate professor, department of civil engineering, University of Kentucky.

“The symposium helps bridge the gap between the rail industry and college students. And hopefully through continued efforts of all involved parties, students will learn more about the rail transportation system and its role in economy and everyday lives, and have enough opportunities to see rail as a viable career field,” she added.

Topics included presentations and panel discussions on the rail industry in general, education and recruitment needs, infrastructure, engineering and design, shared corridor challenges, passenger rail projects and research. The symposium also featured tours of some SEPTA operations and projects, including its PTC initiative with CSX.

In addition to Loehr and Wharton, the symposium was developed with the assistance of several other APTA members, including William Thomsen, senior vice president and general manager, Urban Engineers; Lydia Grose, director of engineering and design, civil engineering, SEPTA; and Pat Morris, senior director, finance and administration, operations, SEPTA.

Bill Thomsen, Urban Engineers, left, and Mike Loehr, CH2M Hill, lead a discussion of workforce development needs with professors and industry leaders during APTA’s first p-REES program.

Photo by Joseph Niegoski


Midland Odessa District Opens 'Central Site' Administration Facility

The Midland Odessa Urban Transit District, Odessa, TX, operator of EZ-Rider public transit service, recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of its 8,000-square-foot administration building adjacent to the Midland International Air and Space Port.

The agency said the location of the new building, which will also include maintenance facilities in its next phase, will allow it to become a central site that will tie together public transportation in the area. The last part of the agency’s three-phase, three-year plan will accommodate intercity bus carriers, other private operators and rural bus service along with EZ-Rider.

In his remarks at the event, Judge Tryon Lewis, chair of the Texas Transportation Commission of Texas DOT, acknowledged “my appreciation for all of you who work so hard on this, to make transportation for people who often have no other option … so that they can get to their medical care providers, their jobs, they can be productive and have decent lives … That’s a wonderful thing, but it takes a lot of work.”

EZ-Rider also introduced its new “EZ-Connect” service between Midland and Odessa. This line improves existing operations by adding stops at points of interest including the airport and the Medical Center Hospital/VA Clinic in Odessa.

Griselda (Chris) Flores, at podium, chair of the Midland Odessa Urban Transit District, speaks at the grand opening of the agency’s administration building.

MTS to Rename Light Rail Blue Line for UC San Diego

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and UC San Diego Health have entered into a 30-year agreement to rename the system’s light rail Blue Line the “UC San Diego Blue Line."

The agreement includes naming rights to three stations on the line: the existing station at Old Town, to be renamed Old Town UC San Diego Health South, and planned stations at the UC San Diego main campus and at the health campus in La Jolla, which includes UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center, slated to open in 2016.

The line currently runs from San Ysidro to downtown, with plans to extend to Old Town, UC San Diego’s La Jolla campus and beyond. MTS is working with the San Diego Association of Governments, Caltrans, elected officials and other stakeholders to develop and complete the 11-mile extension by 2019.

“UC San Diego and MTS have been partners since 1969, working to encourage the use of public transportation,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “The renaming of the Blue Line to the UC San Diego Blue Line takes our partnership to a new level. The UC San Diego Blue Line extension will not only provide a great new way to travel to campus, but UC San Diego Health will realize exceptional opportunities to increase awareness of its world-class medical facilities via the naming rights for 30 miles of light rail service.”

Paul Viviano, chief executive officer of UC San Diego Health, added, “The health system has long been committed to playing an important and positive role in the life and lives of this region and its residents. This agreement is a figurative and literal reflection of that commitment. It represents a new, smart and sustainable way for San Diegans to visit, learn and access the diverse services we offer.”

Celebrating a Subway Centennial


The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of the now-defunct Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) with special nostalgia rides. Four trains that were in service decades ago returned to operation, transporting customers on non-stop loops that began and ended at the Brighton Beach Station on the Q Line—for the cost of a regular fare. Brooklyn’s first complete subway line opened June 22, 1915, taking customers between Lower Manhattan and Coney Island via the Manhattan Bridge, Fourth Avenue Subway and Sea Beach Line. The BMT became part of the city’s united New York City public transit system in 1940.

Photo by New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin

ORCA Agencies Introduce Regional Day Passes

The Puget Sound area public transit agencies participating in the regional ORCA smart card system have teamed up to launch the Regional Day Pass program, with two new pass products designed to ease system use especially for tourists and visitors to the area.

Adult riders can use the $8 Regional Day Pass for unlimited rides on services with fares up to $3.50. The $4 Regional Day Pass for ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit cardholders (older riders and persons with disabilities) is valid for unlimited rides on services with fares up to $1.75.

Agencies that accept the ORCA card are Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap ­Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit.

Metra Hosts CPR, AED Demonstrations

Metra commuter rail, serving the Chicago area, recently teamed up with Northwestern Medicine® and the American Heart Association to provide lifesaving demonstrations at several stations during the morning rush period.

The demonstrations, held during National CPR and AED Awareness Week, provided Metra customers with an introduction to the correct way to administer a new hands-only CPR method and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Metra and Northwestern Medicine, the strategic alliance of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, teamed up with Cardiac Science in 2012 to raise awareness and support for AEDs on Metra trains. The partnership led to the installation of some 425 AEDs throughout the system.

Riding Along in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Metro invited prospective bus operators to “shadow” driver Orlando King—a 23-year veteran and this year’s Operator of the Year—on Bus Operator Career Day at the Queensgate garage. The event also included information about the benefits and career advancement prospects within Metro and opportunities for participants to take the operator exam and conduct an onsite interview. This is the first time the agency has held this all-day event, designed to help people better understand its hiring process and learn more about the operator position. Metro Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Dwight Ferrell, at right, said, “Having an effective workforce development and recruitment program is key to finding operators who share that commitment, which is ultimately what keeps riders satisfied and coming back. The career day is a great opportunity for applicants to see what it really takes to become an operator and for us to make sure they have the necessary skills to provide great service to the community.”


MTA's Fulton Center Art Honored

Americans for the Arts recognized MTA Arts & Design with its Year in Review honor for two projects in the recently opened Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan: cable-net sculpture “Sky Reflector-Net,” permanent art, and the large-scale video installation “New York Minute,” temporary art.

Fulton Center is a public transit hub of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). This year’s competition honored 31 public art projects from the U.S. and Canada, out of more than 300 entries.

“Sky Reflector-Net,” an integrated artwork by the global engineering firm ARUP, artist James Carpenter and ­Grimshaw Architects, is a tensioned cable-net sculpture covered in perforated optical-aluminum panels that hangs above Fulton Center’s grand conical atrium.

“New York ­Minute,” created by Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, features portraits of New Yorkers doing everyday activities in super-slow motion, displayed on 52 screens throughout the public transit hub.

Fulton Center’s “Sky Reflector-Net” installation.

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin

AVTA Introduces Rider Relief Program

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) recently launched the Rider Relief Transportation Program, an initiative funded by Los Angeles Metro to help reduce the cost of public transportation for eligible valley residents.

The program allows area residents to obtain a discount on the cost of a monthly bus pass if their income level makes them eligible to participate

“We’re hopeful this program will help those in our community who need it the most, those struggling with a limited income,” said Board Chair Marvin Crist. “The AVTA is dedicated to seeking out opportunities like this subsidy program to help make life easier on our residents.”

CATA Retires Its First CNG Buses

After 22 years of service, the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), State College, PA, recently retired its oldest CNG-powered buses. Posing with one of the buses are, from left, CATA General Manager Louwana Oliva, Board Chairman John Spychalski and former General Manager Hugh Mose. CATA began converting its fleet from diesel to CNG in 1993 with the arrival of 16 CNG-powered buses from Bus Industries of America (now Orion Bus Industries) in Oriskany, NY. The last diesel bus left service in 2010, making CATA the first public transit system on the East Coast whose entire fixed-route fleet operates with alternative fuel.

California Bus Operators to the Rescue

Bus operators in San Jose and Riverside, CA, recently came to the rescue when children went missing in their service areas.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose honored bus operator Tim Watson for his recent actions to thwart the kidnapping of a 3-year-old boy in Milpitas, CA.

According to VTA, the young boy inadvertently wandered away from his mother in the Milpitas Public Library and was kidnapped. After receiving word of the incident through the agency’s emergency notification system, Watson recognized the suspect and the child as they boarded his bus.

Watson confirmed the child’s identity, based on descriptions given in the emergency alert, by devising a plan that allowed him to search the bus further and get a better look at the young child and the alleged suspect. Once confirmed, he immediately called VTA dispatch for further instructions.

The driver stalled for time until police could arrive at his destination, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s Fremont Station, where they arrested the suspect and rescued the child.

Watson joined VTA as an operator trainee last year and became a full-time operator in January. Earlier he was a driver for AC Transit in Oakland.

At the ceremonies honoring ­Watson, VTA also recognized its Operations Control Center employees and security staff, members of the Milpitas and Fremont police departments and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. Watson also threw out the first pitch at a San Jose Giants minor league baseball game.

In Riverside, CA, another bus driver, Keith Quamina of the Riverside Transit Agency, helped reunite a 15-year-old San Jacinto boy with his mother.

The teenager, who has disabilities, wandered away after school; when night fell, the San Jacinto Unified School District sent out a notification. Quamina, a former deputy sheriff, watched for the boy as he drove his route and saw him crossing the street, five miles from the school, as Quamina returned to the bus yard after his shift.

LAVTA Dedicates 'Art Shelter Mural'

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority, Livermore, CA, recently dedicated the 15th in its series of Art Shelter Murals, with high school students who created the artwork in attendance. The mural, titled “Art is Science on Wheels,” is located in a bus shelter at the west gate of the Sandia/Lawrence Livermore Labs. Livermore Mayor John Marchand and LAVTA board member Steven Spedowfski officiated at the event.

Industry Briefs

FRA Joins Google in Rail Crossing Safety Effort — Google is partnering with FRA to help make rail crossings safer for drivers and their passengers by integrating the agency’s Geographic Information System data into its mapping services. These data pinpoint the locations of the nation’s approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings. FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said, “Adding railroad crossing data to smartphone mapping applications just makes sense—it means supplying drivers and passengers with additional cues that they are approaching a crossing.”

GoTriangle Launches New ­Season of ‘Soap Opera’ — ­GoTriangle, Research Triangle Park, NC, has launched the second season of its public transit-centered soap opera, “As The Bus Stops,” using student actors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. “We had fun with our first year and have expanded the themes that highlight the benefits of using transit in the Triangle area and how to use the Emergency Ride Home program on those days that the unexpected happens,” said Lauren Parker, marketing manager for GoTriangle, GoDurham, GoSmart and the GoTransit Family of Commuter Services. “The videos communicate our many travel options and services to the ­general public.”

RIPTA Introduces ‘Clean Air Challenge’ — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) in Providence recently introduced the “Try Transit Clean Air Challenge.” While in the past RIPTA offered free rides on Air Quality Alert days for high ozone or particulate levels, announced by the state’s Department of Environmental Management, the new summer program offers five free all-day passes to riders who fill out a brief online survey about their travel habits. Funding for the Try Transit Clean Air Challenge comes from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant with a local match from RIPTA.

CTfastrak Users Can Earn Rewards — Connecticut DOT invites users of CTfastrak BRT to participate in its new rewards program. Riders need only present the appropriate bus transit fare ticket at participating central Connecticut businesses to receive a discount; businesses can participate for no fee.

KCATA Blog Provides Forum for Public Transit News — The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has launched a blog with information about the latest developments in the creation of a regional public transit network. The blog also will share information about the agency and related public transportation topics.

LIRR Opens Renovated Smithtown Station Building — MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) opened its newly renovated Smithtown Station building to the public on July 13. Smithtown is the latest construction project completed under the LIRR’s State of Good Repair program to modernize station facilities around the system. Crews from the Building and Bridges Division of the LIRR’s Engineering Department demolished the old ticket office to make room for restrooms, installed flooring with radiant heat and added decorative elements to the waiting room.

Kiel Delivers Seats for Refurbished IndyGo Buses — Kiel North America provided 39 seats for each of IndyGo’s 21 refurbished zero-emission electric buses, or a total of 819 seats. The lightweight seating, necessary for the buses to operate up to 130 miles per charge, is ergonomically molded and not upholstered.

Coast RTA Introduces Buses from Dallas — The Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority (Coast RTA), Conway, SC, has added five buses previously owned by Dallas Area Rapid Transit to its fleet after retiring 16 buses for mechanical issues. Coast purchased the vehicles from DART for less than $80,000 and plans to acquire five more in September.

New York Adds Eighth ‘Select Bus Service’ Route — New York City DOT and MTA New York City Transit introduced service July 13 on its eighth Select Bus Service (SBS) route, along 86th Street in Manhattan. This corridor currently serves 24,000 commuters daily and is the busiest route citywide per mile; the new line provides direct connections to 12 different bus routes and six subway lines. SBS routes operate with three-door articulated buses and provide off-board fare collection and real-time passenger information signs.

Safe Fleet Acquires Hadley’s Mirror Product Line — Safe Fleet, Balton, MO, has acquired the mirror product line for buses, shuttles and coaches from ­Hadley, based in Grandville, MI. The Hadley mirror business will remain at its current base in Elkhart, IN, but will relocate from the Hadley site to its own production facility over the next few months. Management, engineering, customer service, administrative and production personnel will remain with the business and transition to Safe Fleet.

Voltabox Opens Plant in Texas — Voltabox, a subsidiary of paragon, celebrated the official opening of its plant in Cedar Park, TX, on July 21. The company, based in Germany, manufactures battery packs for buses and other vehicles and previously operated out of leased premises.

VRE Extends Contract with ­Keolis — Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has exercised its option to extend its contract with Keolis for an additional five years to operate VRE commuter rail, which serves Washington, DC’s Northern Virginia suburbs. The contract, which also includes providing maintenance for the trains, is valued up to $21 million for the first year. Keolis has operated VRE trains since 2010 and will be eligible for an additional extension up to five years in 2020


Five Steps for Growing Inclusive Transportation Systems


Approximately four billion people currently live in urban ­environments around the world—a figure that is only expected to increase in the coming decades. While cities develop new transportation systems to support their current population and anticipated growth, many gaps exist in the transportation ecosystem. In the past few years, the sharing economy, or shared mobility, has grown to address these gaps, including the rise of bike sharing, car sharing and on-demand ride services.

Today, these “shared mobility” services connect many people to their destinations, while others—namely, low-income communities of color—have often been left behind. And there is growing public recognition that we cannot be satisfied with the status quo. As a result, many planners and transportation professionals are attempting to understand what it takes to create more accessible transportation systems in an era of diminishing public resources and expanding private transportation services. And like many complex urban issues, no one system or policy will be the silver bullet. Rather, cities need to provide a range of progressive policies and transportation choices, both public and private, to limit barriers and provide an array of opportunities for safe, efficient and inclusive transportation. …

A critical first step is understanding the travel patterns and demand of the general population and low-income communities. This is important because data can help us to understand where gaps exist and how better connectivity can be provided. The team at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational and Environmental Design (I-SEEED), recognizing the value of generating this understanding, developed a data collection platform called Streetwize, which allows for real-time surveying of low-income communities. …

Moving forward, it is critical to collect data from community members to gather new insights into their needs, culture and desires for expanding mobility options and overall connectivity. I-SEEED is just one example of an organization striving to make these connections through innovative platforms, like Streetwize, and facilitated workshops aimed at engaging community members and thought leaders. This data-driven approach can help us to harness new methods to address complex systems. …

First, new systems should be accessible not only by bank card but by cash as well, an option recently made available by Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC, and Indego Bike Share in Philadelphia. More shared mobility and other transportation systems should provide subsidized rates for those who qualify, which could be required through policy, as private transportation providers use public rights-of-way to generate profit and often do not pay toward the “public good” beyond standard taxes.

Second, physical access to services throughout a community is integral to transportation’s social equity as well; public and private transportation services should be geographically available in all communities. A report recently published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials found that “… in many cities, there is an insufficient number and density of [bike sharing] stations in neighborhoods where low-income people live, making bike-share an inconvenient choice for most trips.” Densifying existing stations, pods, stops and routes for various transportation systems within low-income communities is integral to creating reliable transportation systems that can meet the diverse trip needs of different city residents. …

Finally, to meet this diverse range of trip types, it takes an assortment of policies and mobility options. Public policy has a role to play in bringing innovation to low-income populations. In addition, public funding can be applied to address the gaps in mobility services in low-income communities and to advance the public good.

Collecting data, engaging community members and assessing mobility options is critical to creating more sustainable and accessible mobility systems. Increasingly, more organizations, like I-SEEED, are focused on addressing the needs of low-income populations and engaging them in growing solutions to complex problems, and many others are joining the effort. …

[W]e developed a list of five steps that city leaders should consider when designing accessible and inclusive transportation systems in their cities:

1) Increase the usefulness of public transportation and shared modes—that is, make sure that people have good access to public transportation … as well as first and last mile solutions, such as car sharing, bikes/bike sharing, and shared ride services, for people who live or are traveling farther away from existing public transit stops;

2) Lower barriers to innovative mobility options—ensure that new sharing options, such as car sharing, bike sharing and on-demand ride services, are also available to individuals with limited access to the Internet, mobile phones and credit lines … ;

3) Conduct education and outreach to understand the needs of specific communities—
work with community groups and leaders to better understand their needs and how best to communicate about the range of transportation options available in ways that are meaningful to each target audience … ;

4) Appropriately subsidize memberships and fares—ensure that everyone can participate in public transportation services, including shared mobility, through reduced fares and subsidized membership packages to encourage use; and

5) Measure and monitor the impacts of these changes on accessibility and quality of life—understand how efforts to provide more accessible transportation services are working and can be improved through ongoing evaluation and clear communication … .

We believe that by applying these five steps, the outcomes of transportation systems will be more reflective of the context-specific needs of specific groups, more responsive to different lifestyle needs.

Shaheen and Christensen are with the Transportation Sustainability Research Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Excerpted and reprinted with permission from Living Cities.

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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Diana C. Mendes

LOS ANGELES—AECOM has named Diana C. Mendes director of transit/rail, design and consulting services, Americas.

Mendes has more than 25 years of management experience. Her previous positions with AECOM include national director of transit planning and transit director for the U.S. West Region, director of strategic investments for North American transportation and most recently, Chesapeake District general manager.

For APTA, she is a designated committee chair director on the Board of Directors, vice chair of the Legislative Committee, immediate past chair of the Policy & Planning Committee and a member of numerous other committees.

William Tsuei

PHOENIX—Valley Metro announced the hiring of ­William Tsuei as its chief technology officer. Tsuei has more than 25 years of information technology experience, including tenures as IT senior manager for Access Services in Los ­Angeles and IT director for Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA.

He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2012, currently chairs the APTA IT Committee and is a member of several other committees.

Alireza Edraki

TORONTO—Alireza Edraki has joined Gannett Fleming as a vice president of Canadian operations for Gannett Fleming Transit and Rail Systems, based in Toronto. Edraki, a member of the APTA Rail Safety Committee, is a frequent speaker on system safety and security topics who has addressed numerous conferences.

India Birdsong

NASHVILLE—The Nashville Metro­politan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority have named India Birdsong their new chief operating officer. Birdsong previously worked for the Chicago Transit Authority, most recently as senior manager of bus supervision and instruction for the central region.

Melissa Bynum

KANSAS CITY, MO—Melissa Bynum has joined the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners, appointed by Mayor Mark Holland of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS. She fills the seat left vacant by the death of A.J. Dusek earlier this year.

Bynum is a member of the Unified Government’s Board of Commissioners and executive director of the Shepherd’s Center of Kansas City, KS, which advocates for the aging.

Dale Schiavoni
LAKE COUNTY, OH—Dale ­Schiavoni, an employee of Ohio DOT District 12 from 1974 until his retirement in 2012, has joined the Laketran Board of Trustees, appointed by the Lake County Commissioners. He served as the district’s transportation planning and engineering administrator in 2011-2012 and was its transportation planning and programs administrator for the previous 20 years.

He succeeds Ed Podojil and will serve a three-year term.

Cleveland Ferguson III, Cami Haynes, Aleizha Batson

JACKSONVILLE, FL—The Jack­son­ville Transportation Authority (JTA) announced the appointments of ­Cleveland Ferguson III, vice president of human resources, compliance and risk management; Cami Haynes, assistant vice president/safety and compliance officer; and Aleizha Batson, senior manager of multimedia and community relations.

Ferguson joined the Jacksonville city government in 2012 as deputy chief administrative officer; earlier he was a professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law as a professor and a member of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

Haynes has served JTA as ethics and compliance officer since 2013. She formerly practiced corporate law for Bank of America and Xerox.

Batson came to the city government as deputy director of communications in 2012 after working as manager of public outreach for the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority in Washington.