Passenger Transport - August 7, 2015
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Three Michigan Communities Approve Millages

Voters in the Kalamazoo area, Saginaw and Benzie County, MI, voted overwhelmingly Aug. 4 to enact or renew property tax millages to support public transportation in their communities.

Voters in the cities of Kalamazoo, Portage and Parchment, Kalamazoo and Comstock townships and part of Oshtemo Township—members of the new Central County Transportation Authority—approved the measure by a vote of 7,048 in favor and 4,200 opposed, according to preliminary totals. It provides for 0.75 mills for five years to maintain and expand fixed-route public transit service under the new authority, replacing a 0.6-mill levy in the city of Kalamazoo that expires at the end of this year.

In addition to maintaining current levels of fixed-route bus service, the new millage will add Sunday and late night services and increase frequencies on selected bus routes. Estimates show it generating $3.5 million annually.

In Saginaw, the unofficial vote totals show 1,415 in favor of renewing the 3-mill property tax for five years and 444 opposed. The millage had been scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

“We are overjoyed that the citizens of Saginaw consider public transportation part of their future and glad to see the overwhelming support we received,” said Sylvester Payne, general manager, Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services.

Benzie County voters approved a renewal of its half-mill property tax with almost three-quarters of the vote.

SFMTA Launches E Embarcadero Historic Streetcar Line; Single-Seat Service from AT&T Park to Fisherman's Wharf

Historic streetcars have taken to a second route in San Francisco with the Aug. 1 launch of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) E Embarcadero Line.

The “E Line,” operating weekends only, provides a single-seat ride from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants pro baseball team, and the Caltrain station at 4th and King streets to Fisherman’s Wharf and the northeast waterfront. It joins the F Market & Wharves Line in operating with the agency’s fleet of historic streetcars.

“We’re pleased to be expanding our historic streetcar service along the Embarcadero from Fisherman’s Wharf to 4th and King,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation. “The new E Line creates more capacity and reduces crowding on the enormously popular waterfront of San Francisco. We are proud to work with our longtime historic preservation partners at Market Street Railway to bring this new service to San Franciscans and those who visit the city.”

Specially designated double-ended historic streetcars will transport E Line riders along the same stops as the N Judah and T Third light rail lines between the Caltrain station and Folsom Street. However, the N and T turn at the subway portal while the E Line continues along the Embarcadero, joining the existing F Market stops to Fisherman’s Wharf.

SFMTA, which operates the streetcar service provider San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) among other transportation-related services, conducted pilot testing of the E Line during the America’s Cup 34 event in 2013, receiving favorable results.

The introduction of the E Line is one component of the 10 percent service increase announced earlier this year under the Muni Forward program.

This ongoing effort reallocates limited resources through route changes and service improvements, including implementation and expansion of a Rapid Network of core routes serving almost 70 percent of all SFMTA riders.

Other components of Muni Forward include updating the public transit fleet, making safety and accessibility improvements across the city and using technology to better integrate public transit with traffic signals and provide more real-time information to customers.

The E Embarcadero Line operates with historic streetcars between AT&T Park and Fisherman’s Wharf.

FTA's McMillan Outlines Agency's New Safety Role

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan issued an online letter to the public transportation industry in late July outlining the agency’s new accident investigation role, including how FTA accident investigators operate and interact with State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) and FTA grantees, a responsibility granted to the agency by MAP-21.

The role of FTA accident investigators is two-fold, McMillan stated: “to investigate safety-related events in the transit ­industry and to gather information that informs the safety process within the FTA. The FTA’s investigators may travel to the scene of an incident, or simply contact the responsible SSOA, the FTA grantee or other involved parties to obtain information,” she said.

She also noted the specific duties of FTA investigators, including “regularly contacting SSOAs, transit providers, manufacturers, trade organizations and other industry stakeholders to collect detailed safety-related data. These communications are part of FTA’s effort to use Safety Management System processes to identify risk across the transit industry. As a result, FTA’s investigators may contact you when there has been an accident or incident, as well as on a regular basis as they seek to partner with you to make a very safe mode of travel even safer.”

She also described the differences between FTA investigations and those conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “While FTA also conducts accident investigations to determine probable cause, it differs from the NTSB insofar as FTA can take a regulatory or other enforceable action to address the cause of a given accident. It also is important to note that by regulation, the FTA is guaranteed party status [which means NTSB deems FTA as having expertise] in any NTSB investigation of a transit safety incident. For a given transit-related safety event, the FTA may participate in an NTSB investigation, conduct its own independent investigation or choose not to investigate at all.”

To see the letter, click here. For details about FTA’s safety over­­sight role, contact Thomas Littleton, associate administrator for transit safety and oversight.

McMillan to Address APTA Annual Meeting; Network, Learn, Share in San Francisco

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan is confirmed as a keynote speaker at the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7, 2015, San Francisco, and will lead FTA Update, a question-and-answer general session that has become a staple at APTA conferences and a member-favorite event.

The Tuesday, Oct. 6, session will feature McMillan’s introductory remarks followed by an extended opportunity for APTA members to pose questions and share comments about FTA programs and policies.
Additional updates follow.

Celebrate Mobility
As part of APTA’s year-long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Annual Meeting will include two sessions devoted to ADA.

The Tuesday, Oct. 6, general session, ADA25: Public Transportation—Celebrating 25 Years of Access and Mobility, will highlight ADA’s impact on the lives of people with disabilities, on public transportation’s role in expanding access for all riders and industry efforts to strengthen partnerships with disability communities. A concurrent session on Wednesday, Oct. 7, will feature a discussion of FTA’s circular and best practices from public transit agencies and businesses.

‘Fore’ Scholarships
Attendees and their guests can register for Golfing for a Cause, the golf tournament hosted by APTA’s foundation—APTF—Saturday, Oct. 3, immediately before the Annual Meeting.

This year’s tournament will be held at The Presidio, a course known for its spectacular setting and challenging play located in a national park in downtown San Francisco. The event will benefit the APTF Scholarship Fund.

Tournament organizers are Stephen Banta, chief executive officer, Valley Metro, and Jack Martinson, vice president, Faiveley Transport North America, and member, Business Member Board of Governors. For details and to register a foursome, contact Pam Boswell at or click here.

Calling All Students
APTA has invited San Francisco-area colleges to encourage students to participate in the Annual Meeting by winning a chance to present during the meeting.

Competing students must submit an abstract of their presentation idea to APTA. The selected winners will then deliver their presentation to an industry panel. In addition, APTA’s Human Resources Committee will offer a workshop for all attending students.

More in Store
The Annual Meeting also includes ­dozens of educational sessions, the APTA Awards presentation, Products and Services Showcase and networking receptions. To register, click here.

Caltrain's New Grant Will Fund All-Electric Trains

Caltrain in San Carlos, CA, recently received a $20 million grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to help fund electrification of the 51-mile commuter rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose.

“The air district has been a vocal leader and a strong ally in support of Caltrain’s electrification project,” said Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett. “We are honored that the air district is redoubling its commitment to the environmental benefits of electrification through the award of this $20 million grant.”

Caltrain currently runs with diesel trains. Transitioning to electric-powered trains will result in zero emissions locally and the ability to increase service, as well as reduced engine noise and reduced traffic congestion along two area freeways. The agency hopes to begin operating the electric trains by winter 2020.

In preparation for the shift to electrical operation, Caltrain is purchasing electric multiple unit (EMU) railcars. Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann said EMUs provide the maximum benefit through significantly improved acceleration and deceleration.

“When we first begin electrified service in 2020, we anticipate we will have about 75 percent electric and 25 percent diesel,” she said. “Diesel trains and freight trains will still be able to operate on the tracks underneath the wires. The other primary infrastructure that will be added through electrification are the overhead catenary wires and the wayside electrical facilities.”

A combination of local, regional, state and federal funding sources will cover the total project cost, estimated at $1.53 billion. Funding for the air district’s allocation comes from the Mobile Source Incentive Fund, collected from a $2 fee on motor vehicles registered in the Bay Area.

Sen. Boxer Meets with Big Blue Bus


Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) discussed the Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) Expo Integration Plan with Director of Transit Services Ed King, center, during a July 18 tour of Los Angeles Metro’s under-construction Downtown Santa Monica Expo Line Station, which BBB will also serve. At left is Geoff Bender of Skanska-Rados, who led the tour. BBB’s “Evolution of Blue” plan will inaugurate six new routes, 53,000 new annual revenue service hours and more than 230 new stops and expand the BBB fleet. These improvements will ensure first and last mile connectivity to the seven new Expo Line stations in the BBB service area.

Ann Arbor's New Buses First with Fuel-Efficient Allison Transmissions

The Ann Arbor Area Transpor­tation Authority (TheRide) partnered with Allison Transmission at a July 31 event to welcome the first of five dozen ­Gillig buses, becoming the first agency in the world to operate a vehicle that uses ­Allison’s new fuel-efficient ­transmission.

“We will continue to seek emerging, cost-effective technologies that foster environmental responsibility,” said Matt Carpenter, TheRide’s chief executive officer. “Allison Transmission’s solid reputation for quality and reliability have been at the forefront of our successful relationship. Pairing the brand new xFE transmission with our bus fleet will help us burn less fuel and serve as an important step as we implement both our new and improved services and our sustainability initiatives,” he added.

The new buses will replace older vehicles in the agency’s fleet and feature an updated exterior design that reflects the many service improvements in TheRide’s Five-Year Transit Improvement Program, which the agency launched in 2014.
The buses include conventional and clean diesel-electric hybrid engines; TheRide introduced its first hybrid-electric bus in 2007 and uses ultra-low-sulfur biodiesel in its entire bus fleet.

Allison is celebrating its centennial this year and has worked with TheRide for more than 20 years, according to Heidi Schutte, executive director of the company’s North America sales.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) speaks at ceremonies to welcome the first of TheRide's buses with new Allison transmissions.

DHS Awards $87 Million in Transit Security Grants

The Department of Homeland Security recently awarded $87 million in Fiscal Year 2015 Transit Security Grant Program funds for 34 public transit agencies, transportation organizations and municipalities in 19 states and the District of Columbia through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The largest grants are $22.3 million for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and $17.3 million for New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit).

Thirty-two of the recipients are APTA members. In alphabetical order by state, the member grant recipient agencies are:

California: Los Angeles Metro, Orange County Transportation Authority, Sacramento Regional Transit District, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Connecticut: Connecticut DOT.

District of Columbia: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Florida: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg.

Georgia: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

Illinois: Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail, Pace Suburban Bus.

Louisiana: Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans.

Maryland: Maryland Transit Administration.

Minnesota: Metropolitan Council/Metro Transit, Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Missouri: Bi-State Development Agency, St. Louis, and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

New Jersey: Delaware River Port Authority, NJ Transit and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

New York: New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority.

Ohio: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Oregon: Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, Portland.

Pennsylvania: Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia.

Texas: Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Utah: Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City.

Washington: King County DOT, Seattle; Pierce Transit, Lakewood.

For more information, click here.

New CEOs, Interim Named

Friem, St. Louis Metro

The Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA), ­operator of Metro Transit in St. Louis, has named Ray Friem to the new ­position of executive director of Metro Transit. Friem joined Metro in 1995 and most recently held the position of chief operating ­officer for transit.

Engel, AVTA

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, has promoted Len Engel, director of operations and maintenance since 2012, as its new executive director. He succeeds Julie Austin, who retired earlier this year. Engel has worked in ­public transit for 40 years, earlier serving as vice president and chief operating officer of Southland Transit, El Monte, CA.

Black, LYNX

The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) Board of Directors in Orlando has named Susan Black interim chief executive officer. She will succeed John M. Lewis Jr. when he steps down Aug. 31 to become executive director of the Charlotte Area Transit System. Black, a licensed ­attorney with more than 25 years of experience, previously oversaw LYNX’s administrative division.


Solutions on Tap: California Public Transit Agencies Ahead of Governor's Call to Save Water

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

When California Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent cut in the state’s water use by Feb. 28, 2016, most public transit agencies were well beyond meeting—and exceeding—that mandate.

In fact, agency leaders in the state report that their existing conservation and recycling efforts mean they will not need to take any additional measures to comply. That said, their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle continue—­saving millions of gallons of water with little or no negative impact on their fleet maintenance.

Cris B. Liban, executive officer, compliance and sustainability, for Los Angeles Metro, noted that in 2010 the agency began implementing a comprehensive water action plan that ultimately should save about 200 million gallons a year. Metro had some challenges in the early years of the plan, he said, but those issues have been resolved and the agency is making up for lost time. Nonetheless, Metro operations used approximately 298 million ­gallons of water in 2014, 28 percent less than the previous year.

But L.A. Metro’s sustainability initiatives began long before, in 2003, he said, as part of a report on environmental considerations of the agency’s design criteria. These include installation of bioswales to infiltrate stormwater and resupply groundwater resources, introduction of water-­efficient cleaning equipment for bus stop areas and planting of drought-tolerant shrubs and trees.

The agency introduced its first water use and conservation plan in 2009, which it has updated on a continuing basis since its introduction. The most recent version of this report is available at

Regarding water use in washing its fleet—2,212 directly operated buses, 104 heavy rail vehicles and 171 light rail vehicles—Liban described how Metro uses both “downstream” and “upstream” solutions to keeping its vehicles clean. “Upstream” refers to preliminary measures that can lessen the need to use as much water: Metro is conducting a pilot project with ­Diamond Seal System, which has created a non-stick exterior coating that makes the surfaces more durable and easier to clean of soil and mud. “Downstream” refers to recycling and reusing water after it has been through the washing process.

Liban said the testing phase of the pilot will end in December, with ongoing evaluations through February 2016.

“Since 2003, Metro has been actively pursuing water conservation strategies in all of its construction and operations and maintenance of its system,” he said. “Particularly for bus washing, it has not only implemented downstream technologies such as the reuse and recycle of washwater, the agency is currently exploring upstream strategies such as the application of nanotechnology coating on its buses to keep the buses from getting dirty to begin with.”

Another part of Metro’s sustainability effort is solar panels, which need to be washed occasionally. Liban said the agency is considering a painted-on coating that would repel dust but not affect the operation of the panels.

Foothill Transit in West Covina has cut its water consumption by 30 percent as part of its multi-pronged Environmental & Sustainability Management System (ESMS). Other water-related elements include updating its bus washing equipment to reclaim 80 percent of wastewater via reverse osmosis and using drought-tolerant plants to reduce outdoor water use.

Foothill Transit implemented the ESMS in two years and became ISO 14001 certified in April 2013. These efforts also helped the agency raise its level in the APTA Sustainability Commitment from silver to gold this year.

“The drought touches everything we do, from how we provide quality service to our stewardship of resources,” said Doran Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit and APTA secretary-treasurer. “Public transit already has a big footprint in improving public awareness of environmental impacts. It’s vital that as California agencies, we also provide local leadership in water use, which confirms that our commitment to environmental responsibility doesn’t end at the curb. It’s one piece of how we’re wedded to our communities.”

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) introduced water-saving measures in 2007, the last time it faced concerns about water, according to Chief Executive Officer Darrell Johnson. By installing low-flow faucets and toilets, changing its landscaping to incorporate drought-tolerant plants and reducing the frequency of bus washing from daily to twice a week, OCTA realized a 20 percent saving in water use—equivalent to 7 million gallons annually, or the contents of 10 Olympic-size swimming pools. In addition, the agency uses a treatment system that reclaims and filters bus washwater for reuse, saving about 30 gallons from each wash. The agency has 556 fixed-route buses and 248 paratransit vehicles in its fleet.

OCTA recently stepped up its efforts with the “Every Drop Counts” campaign, joining Caltrans, elected officials and representatives of the region’s two largest water districts to promote conservation to county residents. The agency is using wrapped buses that serve as “big moving billboards” and window clings for all buses in the fleet to spread the word about saving water.

Johnson also noted that OCTA—which also oversees roads in the county—has additional measures planned. The agency has completed installation of drought-tolerant plants instead of grass at its bus operations base in Garden Grove and has applied for a rebate to replace grass with artificial turf at its Anaheim bus operations base.

Measure M, Orange County’s voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, also addresses water quality and runoff issues through its Environmental Cleanup Program. Two percent of Measure M money—expected to total about $300 million over the 30-year life of the measure—has been earmarked to improve and save water throughout Orange County.

Under this program, cities can apply for funding for projects such as retrofitted sprinkler systems with more advanced nozzles and controllers and irrigation systems that are set back ­farther from the streets, causing water savings and less runoff into storm drains. Between 2011 and 2014, Measure M funded 15 projects with water-saving features, helping cumulatively save about 56 million gallons of water each year.

Farther north in Stockton, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District cited its participation in the federally funded Environmental Sustainability Management System program as a major step toward increased sustainability. RTD General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Donna DeMartino noted that participants from the agency learned “not only from the instructors at Virginia Tech, where it was held, but also from our peers—the 10 other agencies that participated in the program.”

DeMartino continued, “Because we want to be good environmental stewards and part of our core values is environmental sustainability, we’ve made many changes in our operation.”

For example, in addition to installing low-water-use plumbing fixtures in both employee and public facilities, RTD added sensors that prevent irrigation systems from operating within 48 hours of rainfall. The agency now washes its buses once a week rather than every day and reuses the washwater for landscaping.

In response to the ongoing drought in its region, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) implemented water reduction strategies a year prior to the governor’s order. For example, the system cut its washwater use by half when it changed the train car washing schedule from every four days to every eight days, and BART recycles 90 percent of the water it does use.

“BART has made a concerted effort to significantly cut back on water usage at our stations, shops, yards and facilities,” said General Manager Grace Crunican. “We’ve been strategic in our efforts to cut back in ways that make a difference but don’t impact the health and safety of our riders and employees.”

BART’s other water conservation steps include reducing its irrigation schedule by approximately two-thirds since February 2013, updating the landscape design to integrate low-water, low-maintenance plants, introducing upgrades for toilets at its facilities and promoting awareness of water use by employees when not on the job.

But even with these conservation strategies in place, public transit agencies will always need water for a variety of purposes, including washing their vehicles. How has the California drought affected the manufacturers of vehicle washing equipment?

Bitimec manufactures small washing units on wheels, attached to a hand-held power brush that strictly limits the amount of water. Customers can wash a vehicle with only 25 gallons of water, applied just before and after using the brush, compared with 100-120 gallons used in permanent washing units. “We literally use only enough water that the brush needs,” said Bitimec President Bruno Albanesi.

Albanesi explained that his units also eliminate water waste by parceling out the water as needed, unlike systems with pressure washers that may not have a shut-off valve and may keep the water running even when it is not needed. He noted that the SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, is among Bitimec’s customers, along with school bus and university fleets.

NS Corporation, a manufacturer of free-standing bus and railcar wash units, incorporates water reclamation systems into its products. Francis Tenggardjaja, executive vice president, explained that these units collect the used washwater, let it sit in two or three tanks to allow dirt and other suspended solids to settle out, then filter it in preparation for reuse. That water can be reused repeatedly, he said. Clean water is used for the final rinse, but that accounts for only 15 percent of the total amount of water used in the process.

Tenggardjaja also said his company is implementing more efficient technologies that allow for less water use. Earlier washers, he said, mixed soap into water and then sprayed the mixture onto the vehicle. Now, by mixing the soap with air to create a foam, it sticks better on the vehicle and lessens the need for water. Another water-saving measure comes from using smaller nozzles.

Other innovations keep water from flowing off the washed vehicle and into a storm drain, he added. In the past, bus washers used forced air to dry the vehicles at the end of the wash; newer technologies integrate a squeegee with the air blower to suck up the remaining droplets before the vehicle leaves the washer.

An OCTA bus wrapped in the message “Every Drop Counts—Join Us In Saving Water” was unveiled outside agency headquarters, launching a public awareness campaign supported by several other public agencies, including Caltrans.

Los Angeles Metro is currently testing a non-stick exterior coating designed to ease the cleaning process and allow less water use.



APTA's Advocacy Efforts Heat Up During Congress' August Recess

APTA is urging all of its members to reach out to their congressional representatives during the August recess to thank them for taking action to approve short-term funding for MAP-21 (which expired on July 31) and to emphasize the importance of investing long-term in road and public transportation infrastructure before the program’s next deadline on Oct. 29.

The Senate has moved forward with the first step in the process by providing funding for a three-year bill. Now the focus is on the House, and APTA is advocating for House members to pass a bill that provides six years of funding

Specifically, members can contact their members of the House in a number of ways, including writing a letter, visiting their district offices, inviting them to a facility or on a ride-along, attending a local Town Hall meeting and conducting a special event.

For tips and materials, APTA has compiled the “August Recess Outreach Toolkit,” which includes sample letters to members of Congress, a list of local Town Hall meetings listed by geographic area and model op-eds and letters to the editor.

In addition, the toolkit includes detailed background information, which APTA also distributed in its Legislative Alerts. For details and to access the toolkit, click here and look under News Updates.

In related news, DOT is also encouraging transportation officials, riders and advocates to take action in August by participating in its “Infra-Wear” social media campaign.

The campaign features photos of underfunded and under-maintained transportation infrastructure uploaded to its Instagram page, using the tag @USDOT and hashtag #ShowUsYourInfraWear.

APTA Members Named to International Boards

Three APTA members who are ­public transit agency general managers have been appointed to UITP governing bodies representing the U.S. and North America.

UITP (the International Association of Public Transport) is an international organization for public transportation authorities and operators, policy and decision makers, scientific institutes and businesses and suppliers. All three appointments are for two-year terms and are part of a long-standing collaboration between the two organizations.

For the 2015-2017 term, Stephen Banta, chief executive officer, Valley Metro in ­Phoenix, and Daniel A. ­Grabauskas, executive director and chief executive officer, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, have been elected to UITP’s policy board, which prepares international strategies for the transit sector and takes official policy position on international transit issues.

“I appreciate the appointment, look forward to contributing to UITP and more importantly learning from our global peers,” Banta said.

“I am honored to be selected to represent APTA and the transit industry on this prestigious policy board. This will provide us with the opportunity to share strategies and discuss the latest developments in the transit industry,” ­Grabauskas said. “I have always been a strong advocate for public transportation and I look forward to contributing to this important international effort.”

Michael Allegra, president and chief executive officer, Utah Transit Authority, has been appointed to the UITP Executive Board, which oversees all of UITP’s association work.

“I am humbled to be invited to serve as the North American representative on the UITP executive board. I firmly believe that since we live in a highly interconnected global society, there is tremendous value in sharing inno­vations, technological advances, data and best practices with our international peers,” Allegra said. “A great deal can be learned from our collective experience and I look forward to the opportunity to participate in this capacity.”

To learn more, click here.




Sustainability Workshop Highlights Green Projects

APTA Sustainability Committee Chair Susannah Kerr Adler, general manager-regional operations, SYSTRA Consulting Inc., accepts congratulations from Peter Varga, APTA’s immediate past chair and chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, at the 2015 Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in Portland, OR. Varga presented Adler with a certificate of silver-level recognition for SYSTRA’s participation in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. For details about the workshop and the Sustainability Commitment, click here.

Photo by Mike Lloyd


Clinton Tours Des Moines Station

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) welcomed Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State and former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), center, to its LEED Platinum-certified DART Central Station on July 27. Clinton, joined by DART General Manager Elizabeth Presutti, left, and Keith Welch, building supervisor, examined the building’s sustainable features, including the well-loop return for heat pumps connected to geothermal wells that help heat and cool the facility. “We are proud of DART Central Station’s environmentally sustainable site development and construction and enjoyed sharing highlights of the building with Hillary Clinton,” Presutti said. “We are always open to sharing our experiences in public transit, including our efforts in the area of energy efficiency, with community, business and political leaders.” Since its opening in 2012, DART Central Station also has generated more than 86,000 kilowatt hours of energy with rooftop photovoltaic panels and reused 2.8 million gallons of cleaned and reused rainwater—almost half of all the water it used—for tasks such as washing bus platforms.

Valley Metro Sparks Billions in Corridor Development

From restaurants to residential development, 204 projects totaling more than $8.2 billion in private and public capital investment have been built adjacent to or near Valley Metro’s initial 20 miles of light rail that extends from Phoenix and Tempe into Mesa, with another $346 million in commercial and residential building in the planning stages, most from private developers.

“Transit provides the means to kick-start areas along light rail that are seeking redevelopment,” said Steve Banta, Valley Metro chief executive officer. “A viable transportation system attracts people, which translates into a healthy, diversified economy that supports new commerce.”

Valley Metro and its partners released the data during an event at Phoenix’s DeSoto Central Market, a new downtown venue intentionally located near a light rail station. The data demonstrates public transit’s significant impact on the local economy and underscores why locating near Valley Metro Rail is a critical business strategy.

“Big things are happening in Phoenix because of light rail, and big things are going to continue to happen,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “Light rail has been transformative for our downtown and our economy. With it we’ve linked jobs, education, arts and culture in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Economic development within one-half mile of the system has been stimulated by ridership that has exceeded original projections, agency officials said.

“Investment in transit does more than improve neighborhoods; it improves lives,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, also vice chair, Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors. “More than $3.4 billion has been invested in Tempe around light rail since construction began in 2005. Everyone benefits from public transportation.”

Also speaking at the event were Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel ­Valenzuela, Councilmember Kate Gallego and many of the agency’s other private- and ­public-sector partners.

Valley Metro began compiling economic development activity in a database since it started construction in 2005. The $8.2 billion in projects completed or under construction include commercial and mixed-use office space, multi-family residential units, hotel rooms and educational facilities, among others.

The agency’s 3.1-mile Central Mesa Extension is set to open Aug. 22, spurring another $90 million in public and private development since its construction started in June 2012.

Valley Metro Rail celebrates $8.2 billion in development along its light-rail corridor, with more to come. Attending a recent event were, from left, Phoenix Public Transit Director Maria Hyatt, DeSoto Market owner Shawn Connelly, Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela, Phoenix Community and Economic Development Director Christine Mackay, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix Councilmember Kate Gallego, Glendale Councilmember and Valley Metro Vice Chair Gary Sherwood, Tempe Mayor and Valley Metro Vice Chair Mark Mitchell and Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta.


NJ Transit Orders 772 Commuter Coaches from MCI

New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) recently authorized the purchase of 772 buses from Motor Coach Industries (MCI) for $395 million, with delivery spread over six years beginning in 2016.

The order for 45-foot clean diesel commuter coaches is the latest in a 33-year relationship between NJ Transit and MCI during which the company has delivered more than 2,000 buses. Each of the new buses provides seating for 57 passengers with amenities such as individual airflow controls and reading lights.

“These new buses will help us better serve our customers with safety features and Wi-Fi capability while meeting increased ridership demands along many areas of our bus network,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. “The buses will also add to the comfort and reliability of our service.”

The new buses will replace older 40-foot and 45-foot MCI coaches in the NJ Transit fleet, many of which have more than half a million miles of service.

Patrick Scully, MCI executive vice president of sales and marketing, added, “MCI greatly values our relationship with NJ Transit. Our newest models incorporate next-generation leaps in engine technology, efficiency, environmental innovation and passenger comfort ... [that] will help NJ Transit to deliver reliability, value and environmental benefits to the riding public in the state.”

Lansing Officials Visit Cleveland's HealthLine

Business, community and public transit leaders from Lansing, MI—including Sandy Draggoo, front row fourth from right, president and chief executive officer, Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA)—recently toured the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine BRT. CATA is considering implementing BRT on an 8.3-mile route serving sites including the Michigan State Capitol, Michigan State University and the downtowns of Lansing and East Lansing. HealthLine transported more than five million riders in 2014 on its 6.8-mile route.

APTA Business Members Involved in Acquisitions

Four APTA business members—Wabtec, Faiveley Transport, Hallcon Corporation and GlobeSherpa—have been involved in recent acquisitions.

Wabtec Corporation, Wilmerding, PA, plans to acquire Faiveley Transport S.A. through the purchase of approximately 51 percent of that company’s stock. Upon completing the purchase, Wabtec will introduce a tender offer for Faiveley’s remaining publicly traded shares.

Faiveley Transport’s headquarters in Gennevilliers, France will become Wabtec’s global transit headquarters under the Faiveley Transport brand name. This acquisition will create one of the world’s largest public rail equipment companies, with revenues of about $4.5 billion, say company officials.

Toronto-based Hallcon, which provides comprehensive outsourced employee transportation solutions for several companies, acquired Loop Transportation Inc. and SFO Shuttle Inc. of San Francisco, which operate as Loop. The companies will continue to operate under their existing brands and will maintain individual operating teams.

Loop provides employee commuter bus services to such firms as Google, Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn. It also operates airport shuttles at San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport.

Also, GlobeSherpa has become part of RideScout LLC, which is part of Daimler AG. GlobeSherpa’s operations remain in Portland, OR, and Nat Parker continues as its chief executive officer.

GlobaSherpa provides mobile ticketing technology for public transportation. RideScout is a mobile app that allows users to search and compare ground transportation options on demand.

Reno RTC, Capital Metro Receive Federal Excellence Awards

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), Reno, NV, and the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX, are among eight honorees in the 2015 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program developed by FTA and FHWA.

The program recognizes and celebrates the innovative transportation planning practices of planners and decision makers in communities across the country.

RTC’s 4th Street/Prater Way BRT Project, scheduled to begin construction in 2017, will improve connections between downtown Reno and downtown Sparks. The route will operate with four new electric buses; other improvements will include widening and improving sidewalks to comply with ADA and the introduction of bike lanes, new lighting and landscaping.

Capital Metro’s “Project Connect North Corridor: Taking Transit Where No Transit Has Gone Before!” incorporates local and express bus routes, BRT and new park-and-ride lots to ease congestion in a rapidly growing 28-mile corridor between central Austin and neighboring Georgetown. Since more than half of the study area falls outside the agency’s service area, the planning team undertook a comprehensive public outreach approach to generate support for the program. The first phase of service is planned to begin by 2016.

The program is cosponsored by the American Planning Association. For more information, click here.

Operation Lifesaver Grants Strengthen Agencies' Programs

Most of the fatalities that occur on public transit properties are due to ­incidents on platforms, people or bicyclists trespassing near tracks and collisions at crossings—accounting for 71 percent of such incidents in 2012, according to the National Transit Database.

Even the best-trained public transit employee cannot change the laws of physics: Depending on the type of vehicle, it can take a passenger rail train anywhere from 600 feet (two football fields) to a mile (that’s 18 football fields) to come to a stop after the operator applies the brakes.

“These startling facts show how critical it is that people are educated and empowered to keep themselves safe when interacting with transit tracks and trains,” said Joyce Rose, president, Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), the nation’s rail safety education organization and longtime APTA partner. “Working with Operation Lifesaver, transit agencies across the country are making important strides in educating the public and raising awareness about how to stay safe.”

Much of that collaboration is facilitated through OLI’s public transit safety education grants, an annual program the organization conducts in partnership with FTA. The 2015 grant application deadline is Aug. 31.

OLI offers grants to transit agencies, local governments and Operation Lifesaver state programs to support safety education and awareness campaigns tailored to their specific rail transit systems and target populations.

Last year, OLI awarded $162,500 on a competitive basis to 11 public transit agencies; in 2013, it awarded $190,000 to eight agencies.

The following vignettes represent a sampling of recent successful campaigns.

2014 Grantees
Chicago’s Metra commuter rail and New Jersey Transit Corporation used Operation Lifesaver’s national “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign materials to conduct public safety outreach initiatives. The materials include train banners, highway billboards, digital ­signage, ticket pouches and social media tools.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) conducted a safety campaign using OLI’s “See Tracks? Think Train!” materials that targeted the homeless p­opulation in Dallas and surrounding areas through an innovative partnership between the agency and social service organizations.

DART activities included conducting safety presentations, distributing rail safety-themed merchandise to homeless individuals and families and incorporating rail safety messages in the Dallas County directory of services for them.

Utah Transit Authority conducted safety campaigns emphasizing direct outreach to communities and community centers near its Sugar House Streetcar line.

St. Louis Metro targeted its safety messages to people crossing train tracks at locations other than designated crossings. The agency displayed safety messages at stations and on trains and buses to increase visibility among drivers and pedestrians. The agency saw a 38 percent reduction in trespassing occurrences as reported by operators between February and April 2015—the ­campaign’s duration—compared to the same time in 2014.

2013 Grantees
Portland’s TriMet launched a campaign targeted at millennial males and distracted behaviors, with slogans such as “Don’t let LOL become DOA” and “Don’t let your smartphone make you stupid.” Campaign elements included ads on train bulkheads, buses, shelters, restrooms, online, TV and radio.

One of the most powerful—and attention-getting—campaign elements was a video message from Ian Sutherland, a 29-year-old TriMet rider and bicyclist who was hit by a MAX train, who provided a peer-to-peer testimonial of the risks of wearing earbuds and not paying attention to oncoming trains.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Washington, DC, rolled out a safety campaign targeted to schools in the neighborhood of its new DC Streetcar, seeking to raise safety awareness before the streetcar begins revenue operations. DDOT officials spoke at school assemblies and created an educators’ toolkit featuring flyers and activity sheets on “streetcar smarts.”

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ran an “Eyes Up, Phone Down” campaign aimed at college students who ride the Green Line. The campaign included safety events at Northeastern and Boston universities, radio PSAs on college radio stations, print ads in student newspapers and a Twitter outreach initiative.

For details about the 2015 grant application process and pending deadline, selection criteria and other successful campaigns, click here.

New Jersey Transit Corporation brands a train with Operation Lifesaver’s national “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign materials.

Photo courtesy of Operation Lifesaver


SFMTA Honors Top Cable Car Bell Ringers

Winners of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s 52nd Muni Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest are, from left, Leonard Oats, third place, Trini Whittaker, second place, and Byron Cobb, who received the grand prize for the sixth time. The contest also honored amateur bell-ringers who competed on behalf of the charity of their choice; the winners in that category were Scotty Bastable of CBS, first; a tie for second place between Lil’ Miss Hot Mess, a San Francisco celebrity and performer, and Brandon Mudd from Comcast Spotlight; and third place, Shaaron Resendiz of La Opinion de la Bahia. Their prizes will be donated to these respective charities: AIDS Research Institute at UCSF, Causa Justa-Just Cause, United Way and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Youth Program Fund.


Civic Action and Leadership Drive Recent Transportation Innovations

In the past decade, several cities have transformed their streets by adding bus and bike lanes, creating new pedestrian plazas and emphasizing the movement of people instead of cars—changes initiated by local-level advocacy, according to A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation, a new report released by TransitCenter.

The report studied recent innovations in transportation practice in six major metropolitan areas in the U.S.—New York City, Portland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Denver and Charlotte—and found that local advocacy and civic engagement were necessary for revitalizing urban transportation.

“Transformation happens at the local level, with civic organizations and transportation leaders who coordinate their actions and work together,” said David ­Bragdon, executive director of TransitCenter. “Municipal leaders should be bold in their attempts to innovate, and state and federal policy should encourage local-level innovation.”

Local transportation advocates and government officials have rebranded transportation reform as a quality of life issue, allowing them to galvanize higher levels of local support, the report states.

TransitCenter is a foundation that supports efforts to improve urban ­transportation. For details, click here and search on the report title.


Obama Signs Short-Term Patch; Senate Passes Six-Year Bill. Now What?

While many public transportation leaders are expressing appreciation for the newly signed short-term funding extension and the Senate’s long-term bill, they are also stepping up local advocacy initiatives to build momentum for a new measure when Congress returns from its August recess to a jam-packed agenda. (See APTA’s advocacy story in this issue.) Several APTA leaders share their thoughts about next steps.

Michael Melaniphy
APTA President & CEO

On behalf of the riders who take 10.8 billion trips on public transportation each year, we congratulate the U.S. Senate for its leadership in moving forward a multi-year bill. It is a good starting point and takes us closer to passage of legislation that helps our communities and country increase transportation options and continue to be economically competitive.

However, the job is not done yet. Congress should work to fully fund the six years of the bill. We also urge the House of Representatives to act expeditiously after it returns from the August recess so that final legislation is completed before the Oct. 29 deadline.

We look forward to working with the House of Representatives on development of its bill and with the entire Congress as it reaches agreement on fully funded multi-year legislation.

APTA continues to recommend to Congress that a more sustainable long-term financing solution is needed for the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account to prevent repeated financing crises.

Phillip Washington
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles Metro
APTA Chair

I applaud the U.S. Senate for putting America first and passing a long-term surface transportation bill. While not perfect and not completely ­consistent with industry priorities, they got something that looks long-term done. However, we need all three branches of government to come together, like we are doing at the local level, to address this matter of national significance—that being the upkeep of our country’s infrastructure.

I continue to find it amazing that our national leaders cannot find common ground on something as fundamental as transportation infrastructure. After a 24-and-a-half-year active duty career in the U.S. Army and seeing nation building on our dime in other parts of the world, I think we should do some nation building here at home.

I encourage the U.S. House of Representatives to provide the fiscal and long-term infrastructure planning certainty that we need, at the local level, by passing a multi-year, sustainable and industry-focused transportation infrastructure bill.

J. Barry Barker
Executive Director
Transit Authority of River City
Louisville, KY
Chair, APTA Legislative Committee

The U.S. Senate, under the leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), finally has us on track with a long-term transportation bill desperately needed to address the country’s economic, environmental and social needs.

While the legislative progress is great news, we’re still miles from a successful finish. First, the U.S. House of Representatives needs to follow suit with passage of long-term legislation so our transportation systems can plan and address needs effectively. We can’t do that when the funding plan runs dry after a few months or even a year, the path we’ve been on for the last decade.

Funding reliability and levels also need to improve to meet public transportation basic needs. Reliable funding for six, instead of three, years should be identified for the legislation to hold up as a long-term transportation bill. While there are funding increases called for in the Senate version, they are not at a level that will allow public transportation to do its job effectively and meet the growing demand and needs in communities large and small throughout the country. Levels of funding need to be sufficient to ensure public transportation is there so communities and people have an opportunity to achieve their potential and thrive.

We need to continue to push for long-term sustainable funding at levels that allow public transportation to provide effective service into the future. The millions of people who depend on us every day need and deserve nothing less. Let’s continue to call on Congress to deliver for a successful finish!

Diana Mendes
Senior Vice President
Director, DCS Americas Transit/Rail
Vice Chair, APTA Legislative Committee

The importance and urgency of a long-term bill that clearly increases and commits long-overdue investment in our transportation infrastructure cannot be overstated. The 35 short-term bills that have been passed since 2009 have limited our nation’s ability to realize the full range of potential benefits associated with reliable, long-term investment.

The continued uncertainty and lack of a sustainable funding source have impaired efficient and effective decision-making and caused adverse impacts to the safety, economic growth and quality of life in our communities.

We must make it our top priority to reach agreement on how to pay for the infrastructure that is so essential to keeping our nation competitive while ensuring that committed resources are equitably distributed to best leverage return on investment and meet the diverse needs of all Americans.

A long-term, dedicated funding source is essential to securing a safe and sustainable future. The longer it takes us to agree on a solution, the less likely it is that we will be able to set appropriate priorities in time to leave a legacy of which we can all be proud.

Valarie J. McCall
Member, Board of Directors
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)
APTA Vice Chair; Chair, Transit Board Members Committee

On behalf of the riders who take 50 million public ­transit trips in Cleveland each year, we congratulate the U.S. ­Senate for moving this legislation forward. It is critical to cities such as Cleveland for Congress to fully fund the bill, and we urge the House to do its job to finalize this critical, multi-year legislation.

Cleveland, like most cities across the nation, has seen increased ridership as we connect workers with jobs, students with schools and senior citizens and persons with disabilities with life’s activities.

At RTA we work hard every day to be the transportation mode of choice for those with transportation options and the lifeline for those dependent upon our services.

The only way for us to deliver on this vision in an effective way is for increased dedicated funding to allow us to renew our aging rail infrastructure, have a systematic bus replacement program and to best attract, train and retain the best talent available.

Anna M. Barry
Deputy Commissioner
Connecticut Department of Transportation

Connecticut DOT is a genuine multi­modal agency and with Governor Dannel Malloy, we are building a multimodal, $100 billion, 30-year transportation program called Let’s Go CT.  To make that work, we need a federal partner with a long-term commitment to each mode in the surface transportation bill. So, the Senate bill is a very reasonable approach. Including a rail title for the first time is helpful to us, as we craft capital and operating programs for railroad services,  including our Hartford Line high-speed rail program.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

David Nichols

PASADENA, CA—David Nichols, former director of Missouri DOT, has joined Parsons as vice president and transpor­tation program director. ­Nichols worked for Mo. DOT for more than 30 years.

Steve Peterson, Tom Gayman, Bob Mahaffey

DES MOINES, IA—The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority has elected a new slate of officers. Windsor Heights City Councilman Steve Peterson is chair, succeeding Polk County Supervisor and former Ankeny Mayor Steve Van Oort. Vice chair is Urbandale City Councilman Tom Gayman and secretary/treasurer is Des Moines Councilman Bob Mahaffey.

Richey Thompson, Theresa Smith

FORT WORTH—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) has named Richey ­Thompson chief rail engineer for the TEX Rail project. ­Thompson is a professional engineer with 15 years of experience, joining The T after working for CH2M HILL, URS and CP&Y.

Also, Theresa Smith has been appointed director of TEX Rail procurement. Working for the subcontractor Solis Group, she has been with the project team since 2011 as senior document control specialist.

Donna DeMartino, Karen Philbrick, Nuria Fernandez, Grace Crunican, Stephanie Pinson, David Turney

SAN JOSE, CA—The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) recently honored Donna DeMartino, chief executive officer and general manager, San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA, as alumna of the year in SJSU’s master of science in transportation management program. DeMartino, a 2001 graduate of SJSU, teaches transportation management classes there and elsewhere.

MTI Executive Director Karen ­Philbrick received a commendation from the city of San Jose and Mayor Sam Liccardo for excellence in transportation policy leadership.

The MTI Board of Trustees elected Nuria Fernandez, chief executive officer, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, to a two-year term as its chair. Grace Crunican, chief executive officer, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, will serve a similar term as vice chair. The trustees also recognized retiring Trustees Stephanie Pinson and David Turney as trustees emeriti—an honor previously presented only six times in MTI’s 25-year history.

Maurice Brown

CINCINNATI—Maurice Brown, ­president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal ­Workers (AFSCME) Local 250 representing city employees, has joined the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees. He has been a city employee since 2007.

Nancy Lyon-Stadler

CLEVELAND—Nancy Lyon-Stadler has been named a senior principal engineer in the Cleveland office of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB). She comes to PB with more than 27 years of engineering experience, working as a consulting engineer for 19 years after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

Drew Goaley

CANTON, MI—Spheros North America has named Drew Goaley regional sales manager for the southern territory. He previously was southern regional sales manager for Radio Engineering Industries in Omaha and subcontracted with ­Spheros over the past year.