Passenger Transport - August 21, 2015
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) launched a substantially new bus network—78 updated routes, including 22 scheduled to run every 15 minutes or more often at least 18 hours a day, seven days a week—on Aug. 16.
“METRO’s New Bus Network will provide tremendous benefit for our community,” said President and CEO Thomas Lambert. “We’ve made significant improvements so riders have service seven days a week, including 22 frequent routes where buses arrive every 15 minutes or better, plus improved connections to our three METRORail lines. Another impressive fact is 75 percent of all riders will experience more frequent service; that’s up from 25 percent with the old system.”
Lambert said the agency added a next bus texting feature so riders can track real-time arrivals.
Further, he noted, the new network is “built on a foundation of better service,” including connections to major employment centers and growth in weekend service, with increases of 37 percent on Saturdays and 93 percent on Sundays.
The introduction of METRO’s New Bus Network, the first major change in service since the 1970s, marked the first phase of a five-year plan to improve mobility for the area.
Lambert joined staff members, supervisors, street teams and board members on opening day, providing assistance to tens of thousands of bus riders across the region. These helpers answered questions, handed out schedules and bottles of water and sometimes walked riders right to their bus. In addition, METRO buses and light rail operated fare free Aug. 16-22. (METRO’s two new light rail lines—the Green and Purple lines—opened in May.)
In preparation for the service changes, more than 100 METRO teams took to the streets on Aug. 16, replacing 9,000 bus signs throughout the service area.
Elements of METRO’s “reimagined” bus network include:
* Connections to additional destinations and improved service to key activity centers;
* More frequent weekend service;
* Simplified routes with more and better connections;
* A sustainable system that serves the community today and anticipates expansion;
* A bus network that connects more than one million people to one million jobs, with shorter wait times for buses; and
* An effort to provide passengers with the best public transit service possible.
METRO President and CEO Thomas Lambert shows a rider the schedule for a new local bus route on the first day of service for the agency's New Bus Network.
Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the city of Boulder recently marked the opening of RTD’s Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station—part of a 160-acre area that is being redeveloped into a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood with regional public transit connections.
“RTD is investing in Boulder and its residents and the opening of this new facility is a shining example of the good things that happen through regional partnerships and collaboration,” said Dave Genova, RTD interim general manager and chief executive officer, at a recent ceremony.
The 45,655-square-foot facility includes six underground bus bays, a ticket sales and information booth and 75 parking spaces in the garage reserved for RTD patrons. In addition, bike-and-ride passengers will have access to 27 bike racks that hold 54 bikes and pedestrians can access the underground facility via a breezeway.
The facility currently provides service on two bus routes. When it enters operation in January 2016, the Flatiron Flyer, RTD’s BRT service connecting Boulder and Denver, will use Boulder Junction as an end-of-line station.
The Boulder Junction area under development also features public spaces, a 150-room Hyatt Place hotel, an apartment complex with 71 affordable housing units and plans for a future restaurant.
“This transit center will bring state-of-the-art transportation service to east Boulder,” said RTD Board Chair Chuck Sisk. “With a Flatiron Flyer arriving every 15 minutes during peak travel times, Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station will be a cornerstone for Boulder commuters. This facility will be accessible and welcoming to all, regardless of transportation mode.”
Dignitaries including RTD Interim General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Dave Genova, center, and Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum, fourth from left, cut the ribbon to open the Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) opened its first new Red Line rail station in 46 years, Little Italy-University Circle Station, at recent ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
“The impact of this new rail station on the neighborhood has been large, positive and immediate. Located in the heart of Little Italy, the station significantly alleviated a long-term major parking issue,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese. He noted that because the new station is open, the neighborhood is now accessible to more people and to people who don’t want to drive.
RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese, back row center, and Valarie J. McCall, second from right, RTA board member and APTA vice chair, join other area officials to cut the ribbon at the Little Italy-University Circle Station.
Sound Transit recently executed the sale of nearly $1 billion of green bonds that will help fund voter-approved regional public transit projects, including construction of more than 30 miles of light rail extensions on track for 2023.
The mid-August sale represents the world’s largest municipal sale of green bonds, agency officials said, a growing trend in the financial industry that facilitates investments in bonds that advance environmental sustainability.
“A growing number of investors want to see strong returns for both their portfolios and their planet,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “They need look no further than these green bonds, which will fund transportation projects that increase commuters’ mobility while reducing reliance on cars.”
The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority in Los Angeles recently held a dedication ceremony for the Duarte/City of Hope Station, the first in a series of celebrations marking the substantial completion of construction for the six-station, 11.5-mile light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa.
Dedication ceremonies for the remaining stations will occur in the coming weeks. Speakers at the event included Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington, Habib F. Balian, chief executive officer of the construction authority, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and state and local officials.
The Foothill Gold Line project will be turned over to Metro for pre-revenue service in late September 2015, with passenger service projected to begin next year.
“It is an honor to be here to thank so many of you here today who lobbied and rallied in support of this project for over a decade and for the men and women who safely built this project on time and on budget,” Habib said. “This tremendous success is due in part to the grassroots support for this project and the partnership between the Foothill Gold Line cities, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority and Metro.”
The event also featured the unveiling of public art at the station, including an extensive sculpture that incorporates the city’s history and culture.
|Hundreds brave the heat at the Duarte/City of Hope Station to celebrate the substantial completion of the six-station, 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line, which ultimately will connect Pasadena and Azusa.|
The Central Arkansas Transit Authority in North Little Rock recently held a special celebration to announce its new name, Rock Region METRO, a move Executive Director Jarod Varner said reflects the “citizen-focused, forward-thinking organization we are.” Varner, at the podium, center right, said, “We want to weave our brand into every aspect of our business, educating the public about our services while also representing a transit system of which they can be proud. The rebranding of Rock Region METRO is more than just a new name and logo,” Varner added. “It’s an opportunity to more fully engage our community in how they perceive public transit in central Arkansas.” System changes include the introduction of 15 buses powered by compressed natural gas, free Wi-Fi on all of the agency’s buses and the addition of 35 new bus shelters by the end of the year.
Tennyson, North Carolina DOT
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Nick Tennyson secretary of North Carolina DOT, succeeding Tony Tata. Tennyson had held the position on an acting basis since Tata’s resignation and served as chief deputy secretary since March 2013. He was mayor of Durham from 1997-2001 and served three months as interim commissioner of the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. He was an officer in the U.S. Navy and worked as a home builder and developer.
Hursh, AC Transit
Ferrara, NYC Transit, Interim
James L. Ferrara, president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels in New York City, will serve as interim president of MTA New York City Transit following the retirement of Carmen Bianco.
Ferrara joined the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a bridges and tunnels officer in 1977 and was named president of that division in 2010. He has chosen Bridges and Tunnels Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Donald Spero to serve as acting president during this time.
[Photo by MTA/Marc A. Herrmann]
Benson, UTA, Interim
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, has announced that Jerry Benson, vice president of operations, will serve as interim general manager following the Aug. 28 retirement of President/Chief Executive Officer Michael Allegra.
Benson serves on the APTA Sustainability Committee and is a past chair of the Transit Labor Exchange, Labor Relations Subcommittee and Human Resources Committee. During his tenure at UTA, it became the first U.S. public transit agency to achieve certification to both the ISO 9001 quality management standard and the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
WTS International recently announced the creation of a new annual award—the WTS Secretary Ray LaHood Award—which will be bestowed on men in the U.S. who have been key to the organization’s efforts to attract, retain and advance women in transportation.
Fifteen percent of WTS International members are men. The award will be presented at the national level and by all 53 professional chapters.
Marcia Ferranto, WTS International’s president and chief executive officer, spoke about the decision to name the award after the former DOT secretary, who served from 2009-2013. “The impact that men have on the advancement of women was clearly illustrated during former Secretary LaHood’s term. All over the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, we will be carrying on his legacy,” she said. For details, click here.
USSC, a leading manufacturer of safety and survivability solutions for extreme duty, niche transportation markets, has entered into a strategic partnership with Dubin Clark & Co., a private investment firm.
USSC, headquartered in Exton, PA, will continue to operate its product divisions USSC, GSS, FMNA and partnership 4ONE. Dubin Clark has a 30-year history of investing in middle-market companies and building businesses in partnership with existing management teams.
“We are excited to be partnering with Dubin Clark,” said Christian Hammarskjold, CEO at USSC. “Dubin Clark has a strong national reputation for facilitating company growth and developing new strategies. This partnership with Dubin Clark will enable us to reach our future goals.”
Clarence “Clancy” Carl Cornell, 85, of Clermont, FL, founder and chairman emeritus of ABC Companies, died Aug. 15.
Cornell grew up around buses and in the 1950s began purchasing small bus operations, turning Faribault Bus Service, Faribault, MN, into a tour and charter business. The operation evolved into buying and selling coaches, leading to the creation of ABC Companies. His son, Dane Cornell, serves as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer and the firm includes a third generation of family members in management roles.
It’s August. Do you know where your member of the U.S. House of Representatives is?
Chances are, he or she is spending the summer recess in the district, right in your backyard—making these last days of summer the perfect opportunity to advocate for a six-year federal transportation funding bill and build on the bill the Senate passed just before the August recess.
APTA has compiled the August Recess Outreach Toolkit to help. The toolkit includes suggested social media posts, talking points for a letter to your representatives, a sample op-ed, blog post and letter to the editor and background information.
Approximately 35 concurrent sessions have been scheduled for APTA’s 2015 Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7 in San Francisco, on topics ranging from alternate fuels to safety, MAP-21, procurement best practices and transformative technologies.
Concurrent sessions range from one to two hours in length, giving attendees ample opportunities to explore a topic in detail, learn from industry experts and share experiences and insights. Details on a few sessions follow:
FTA staff will conduct a special workshop to discuss rating projects under the new MAP-21 evaluation process as described in the New and Small Starts Evaluation and Rating Process Final Rule and the new Final Interim Policy Guidance for the Capital Investment Grant Program. The workshop will also cover performance planning and environmental provisions as they relate to project development.
APTA published two research reports in August that feature analysis, best practices and statistics to help strengthen public transportation agencies and businesses.
Public Transportation Embracing Open Data, a white paper that draws in part from a recent synthesis developed by the Transit Cooperative Research Project, probes key questions and challenges related to the use of open data in the industry. It features examples of how public transit agencies use open data, discusses licensing issues and describes the benefits of open data. For details, click here.
The Public Transportation Infrastructure Database, published every other year, compiles data related to several of the industry’s technological and infrastructure advances.
For example, the database shows that the number of public transit agencies offering real-time arrival information to customers has increased by 30 percent since 2012, reaching near unanimity among the largest agencies. Wi-Fi in stations and parking capacity are also increasing, according to its figures.
The report includes data on rail lines and stations parking for all modes and information about status, mileage and opening dates of future rail projects.
The database is free for APTA members and $100 for non-members, and it is available in several formats. To download or order, click here.
Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive of Metrolinx, has been appointed to the policy board of UITP (the International Association of Public Transport), an international organization for public transportation authorities and operators, policy and decision makers, scientific institutes and businesses and suppliers.
He is representing Canada on the board. “I am honored to have been appointed to the UITP board and look forward to representing Canada’s interests on the board,” McCuaig said. “I am a strong believer in sharing best practices among the global community of transit service providers, and the work of the UITP policy board is a key way to make this happen."
BY ERIC JAFFE
Uber isn’t known for working peacefully with cities. Case in point: pretty much everywhere it’s ever launched a new service. But the e-hail cab company seems to be making an effort with public transportation agencies in the U.S., at least if a few early partnerships are any indication.
In Dallas, DART riders can now access Uber via the agency’s mobile ticketing app, a program intended to simplify connections at transit stations. A similar smartphone union has emerged between Uber and MARTA in Atlanta. Transit agencies in Los Angeles and Minneapolis now cover Uber trips as part of their “guaranteed ride home” programs, which reimburse regular commuters who need to travel outside rush hour for an emergency.
Several other cities (Seattle and Tampa among them) are also discussing similar “first mile, last mile” arrangements with transit agencies, according to the Shared-Use Mobility Center, an interest group focusing on shared mobility, which is tracking the partnerships. The hope is that Uber, like other taxi outfits before it, can serve as a feeder option to and from bus and rail stops. Such coordination would benefit both sides by discouraging private car-reliance and encouraging more transit use.
The DART-Uber partnership emerged after a successful trial during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas. The idea was to encourage people to ride transit into town for the festivities but help them get back home safely after one too many glasses of green beer. As for why such arrangements hadn’t been made with traditional cab companies, agency spokesman Morgan Lyons says Uber has a “coolness factor” that raises transit’s profile in a city where it’s often overlooked.
“We want to try to create some solutions,” he says. “Get them to use DART. But it’s DART and. Not instead of.”
The and-versus-instead of discussion—essentially, the fear that people will use Uber to replace trips once made in part with transit—is one that Feigon hears frequently. There’s certainty a concern among some agencies that Uber will skim riders off the top of the system, she says. But in cities where transit demand is on the rise, agencies are often happy to see ride- and car-share operators provide service to lower-volume corridors that buses and trains can’t easily reach. ...
“Commentary” features points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
APTA Addresses ‘Transformative Technologies’
The potential impact of new innovative technologies on public transportation is on APTA’s agenda as it starts its new fiscal year.
APTA’s strategic plan for 2015-2019 includes “technological innovation” as one of its five overarching goals. The association’s work “to lead and serve member efforts to evaluate, develop and adapt to emerging technologies” is already underway.
Several APTA committees are identifying ways for the industry to benefit from rapidly evolving trends related to mobility and transformative technologies, including innovations driven by both entrepreneurs and corporations, automated vehicles and services like Uber and Lyft.
In addition, APTA has scheduled numerous sessions at the 2015 Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7 in San Francisco, focused on transformative technologies and new mobility services. For details, click here.
SEPTA's Casey Retires Sept. 30
PHILADELPHIA—Joseph M. Casey, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) since 2008, has announced he will retire Sept. 30.
Allegra to Step Down at UTA
SALT LAKE CITY—Michael Allegra, president/chief executive officer of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) since 2010, has announced his retirement effective Aug. 28.
Allegra has worked for UTA for 37 years, in jobs including manager of planning and research and director of transit development. He will remain a senior advisor to the chair of the UTA Board of Trustees through March 2016.
He is a member-at-large of the APTA Executive Committee and Board of Directors and serves on numerous APTA committees.
Terry Garcia Crews
PHILADELPHIA—FTA has named Terry Garcia Crews regional administrator for Region 3. Garcia Crews has headed public transit agencies including Cincinnati Metro, StarTran in Austin, TX, and LexTran in Lexington, KY, and is a national transportation consultant. She is a past chair of the APTA Mid-Size Bus Operations Committee.
FTA Region 3, with a regional office in Philadelphia, represents Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
JACKSONVILLE, FL—Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), has been named by the Jacksonville Business Journal one of Northeast Florida’s Ultimate CEOs for 2015. Ford has worked in the public transportation field for three decades and joined JTA in 2010.
Monica C. Fowler
FORT WORTH—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) has named Monica C. Fowler chief financial officer and vice president of finance. She previously served The T as assistant vice president of finance and earlier worked for the Denton County Transportation Authority and the Burnet County Auditor’s Office.
Randall C. (Randy) Redmond
DALLAS—Randall C. (Randy) Redmond has joined CDM Smith as a client service leader in support of the firm’s Texas transportation clients, based in Dallas. He has 26 years of experience, most recently as director of Texas DOT’s Dallas Fort Worth Strategic Projects Office.
SAN FRANCISCO—Herbert Els has been appointed national leader of the Building Technology Systems group at WSP. Els is a vice president of the firm who has managed this team since joining WSP in 2012, with 15 years of technology experience.
ODESSA, TX—Rob Stephens, general manager of the Midland Odessa Urban Transit District, has been appointed chair of the Texas DOT Public Transportation Advisory Committee (PTAC), on which he has served since 2012. He succeeds Michelle Bloomer, who has chaired the committee since 2007. The nine members of the committee are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.