Passenger Transport - September 4, 2015
With a burst of confetti, Valley Metro opened its first light rail extension at the Center/Main Street Station in downtown Mesa.
Celebrating the passage of Prop 104 at a breakfast event, from left: Dave Krietor, president and CEO, Downtown Phoenix Inc.; Kimber Lanning, executive director, Local First Arizona; Phoenix Councilmember Kate Gallego; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela; Shannon Scutari, director, Sustainable Communities Collaborative; and Tim Sprague, principal, Habitat Metro LLC.
More than 250 people attended an event to recognize the people who worked to build the Valley Metro Rail light rail extension to Mesa.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, second from right, went to the Phoenix area to announce a local fund to support TOD projects. Joining him are, from left, FTA Region 9 Administrator Leslie Rogers, Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta and Mesa Mayor John Giles.
The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) marked the grand opening of its new Blue Line light rail extension to Cosumnes River College (CRC)—a month ahead of schedule—with a community celebration Aug. 23 and the official grand opening ceremony the following day.
“The future of the Sacramento region’s economy, air quality and overall quality of life are inextricably linked to the transportation choices that we make,” said RT General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Mike Wiley. “RT and the Los Rios Community College District worked cooperatively to achieve milestones to advance transportation options for Cosumnes River College students and the surrounding communities. The 4.3-mile extension of the Blue Line—completed ahead of schedule and under budget—is truly a great accomplishment for higher education and public transit in the Sacramento region.”
FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, who attended the Aug. 24 event, said, “California’s capital region needs and deserves a robust public transportation network that connects residents to employment opportunities downtown, as well as South Sacramento and other destinations throughout Sacramento County. With continued population growth expected in the coming decades, Sacramento’s expanded light rail system will bring much-needed world-class transit options to this growing region.”
The opening of the new line, which brings the total light rail system to 43 miles on three lines with 54 stations, coincides with the start of the fall semester for Cosumnes River College and the Los Rios Community College District campuses.
“The completion of RT’s Blue Line to Cosumnes River College is a major milestone in growing Sacramento’s transportation system,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), adding that the extension will also provide much-needed congestion relief.
The extension runs from the current terminus at Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College in south Sacramento, and adds four new stations: Morrison Creek, which opens in 2017, Franklin, Center Parkway and Cosumnes River College, along with more than 2,700 park-and-ride spaces, two pedestrian bridges connecting neighborhoods to light rail and a bus/light rail transit center at CRC.
The community event on the CRC campus featured live entertainment, food trucks, community booths, children’s activities, drawings, giveaways and train rides. The opening ceremony at the same location featured the arrival of the celebratory train.
RT projected that the new extension will add 2,880 additional daily boardings on the Blue Line.
FTA contributed $135 million toward the $270 million total project cost through its Capital Investment Grant Program and an additional $7.1 million in other DOT funds. The remaining cost was covered by state and local funds.
Arriving at opening-day ceremonies on the first train of Sacramento’s Blue Line light rail extension are, from left, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, Rep. Doris Matsui and Sacramento Regional Transit District General Manager/CEO Mike Wiley.
Omnitrans dedicated its San Bernardino Transit Center in recent ceremonies that included the release of 200 butterflies as a symbol of the multimodal hub’s transformational role in the city, which includes connecting 10 local and two freeway express bus routes, the BRT line and bus routes operated by neighboring agencies.
The $25 million downtown facility opens to the public on Sept. 8. Omnitrans officials expect the center to serve 6,000 customers daily.
“The San Bernardino Transit Center represents more than a decade of planning and partnership between Omnitrans, SANBAG (San Bernardino Associated Governments) and the city of San Bernardino,” said P. Scott Graham, Omnitrans chief executive officer/general manager.
In the future, the facility will provide connections to Metrolink commuter rail, due in 2017, and later SANBAG’s Redlands passenger rail line, which has been cleared for final design and construction.
“Improving our public transit network is an important part of growing the Inland Empire economy. The San Bernardino Transit Center is a perfect example of the type of results we can achieve when communities work together to move our region forward,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA). He also pledged his support for a long-term surface transportation bill, saying, “We need to stop kicking the can down the road.”
The public transit center, located on a four-acre site, comprises 22 bus bays and a 7,500-square-foot building. It meets LEED Gold sustainability standards and features solar panels, drought-tolerant landscaping and energy-efficient design and systems.
Project funding came from FTA, FHWA and the state through State Transit Assistance funds, Local Transportation Funds and Proposition 1B.
|Dignitaries including Rep. Pete Aguilar, second from left, prepare to release 200 butterflies at dedication ceremonies for the San Bernardino Transit Center.|
King County Metro Transit in Seattle recently introduced the first of 174 replacement trolleybuses from New Flyer—the agency’s first new electric trolleybuses in almost three decades—with the rest of the order being phased in over the next two years.
The agency will begin by introducing 110 40-foot coaches to service, followed by 64 60-foot buses in early 2016.
The new trolleys will use up to 30 percent less electricity than the current fleet and will significantly reduce operating costs. The agency operates the second largest trolleybus fleet in the nation.
“Electric trolleys are ideal for moving people in dense urban environments, making up 12 percent of our fleet but carrying 20 percent of our weekday riders,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “And they emit zero emissions. By running trolleys instead of diesel-hybrid buses over the next five years, we are keeping 42,000 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions out of our air,” compared with King County Metro’s hybrid buses.
Unlike older trolleybuses, the new model provides passenger-activated back doors for easier exiting and the ability to go off-wire for short distances to detour around construction zones and other obstacles and stay on schedule.
The trolleybus order costs an estimated $186 million, with federal grants covering approximately 65 percent. According to King County Metro, the electric trolleybuses will cost less to operate than its hybrid fleet once fuel consumption, maintenance and grant funding are factored in. Metro had been extending the life of older buses through refurbishment, but those coaches become outdated and unreliable as their electrical systems and motors wear out.
Down the Road: Battery-Powered Buses
The agency also is awaiting the arrival of three prototype battery buses that will use up to 30 percent less electricity than the current fleet and will significantly reduce operating costs. Constantine previewed one of the battery-powered prototypes at the event.
The three 40-foot battery-electric buses from Proterra, funded with a $4.7 million federal grant, are scheduled to arrive over the next four to six months. The new 38-seat buses can travel up to 23 miles between charges and remain on the road up to 24 hours a day. Batteries take 10 minutes or less to charge and the agency has already set up a charging station at a park-and-ride lot.
Metro will test the performance and efficiency of the new technology for up to a year on local streets and roads to determine whether battery-electric buses can be a future replacement option for its operations. The three prototypes will likely be tested on short routes serving the Eastside and downtown Seattle.
|Speakers at the introduction of King County Metro Transit’s new electric trolleybuses, from left: King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond, FTA Region 10 Administrator Rick Krochalis, Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmember Larry Phillips and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.|
The Clark County Public Transit Benefit Area Authority (C-TRAN) recently launched construction of the Vine, the region’s first BRT project, with ceremonies at the site of the future Turtle Place Station in downtown Vancouver, WA.
C-TRAN Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hamm explained, “We have worked for four years toward implementing this very important project. We’ll take a moment to celebrate but the real work is just beginning. We want everyone to know that C-TRAN is committed to minimizing potential construction impacts on businesses, property owners and transit riders throughout the duration of construction.”
The Vine will be the largest capital project in the agency’s history with a total cost of just more than $53 million, of which 80 percent is covered by an FTA grant, 6 percent by the state and 14 percent by C-TRAN. Once in operation, it is expected to cost less than the service it will replace.
The ceremony concluded with an unfurling of an oversized construction banner featuring images of the Vine in service at Turtle Place, which will be attached to the construction fencing while the station and its plaza are being built.
When the Vine opens in late 2016, it will operate with 60-foot low floor hybrid buses along a route with 34 stations. It will run on 10-minute frequencies much of the day—15 minutes in off-peak periods and on weekends—and will offer wheelchair self-parking areas and on-board bike racks.
C-TRAN Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hamm, holding a cookie decorated with the Vine’s logo, speaks at ceremonies to initiate construction of the BRT line. Jim Irish, C-TRAN board chair and La Center mayor, joins Hamm.
FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight is conducting webinars Sept. 17 and 18 to discuss the Public Transportation Safety Program Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Aug. 14, 2015, Federal Register, including provisions of the proposed rule and how industry stakeholders can get involved in the regulatory process.
The proposed rule would formally adopt Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the basis for FTA’s new Public Transportation Safety Program and would establish the framework for the FTA administrator’s authority to monitor, oversee and enforce safety in the public transportation industry. The proposed rule also outlines the National Public Transportation Safety Plan, which will be the subject of its own Federal Register notice expected later this year.
The webinars will begin at 1 p.m. (eastern). Participants must pre-register here. Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions by submitting them electronically through the web interface.
For questions, contact Lynn Everett.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced 19 Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program (Ladders of Opportunity Initiative) grants totaling $9.5 million.
“The public transit industry offers good-paying careers that can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and more of these careers will be available in the future,” Foxx said during the event at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC). “These grants will help us overcome skills gaps and provide more young people with the training, apprenticeships and educational opportunities they need to gain entry into these careers.”
Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer and APTA Chair Phillip Washington, whose agency received two of the grants, added, “Like us, transit agencies across the country are working to build out their systems and shore up their infrastructures. But our industry must be ‘people-ready’ to deliver these projects. That’s why these grants are so important and why we’re grateful to FTA’s Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Program for contributing this funding to help train a new generation of skilled workers.”
The largest grants went to these organizations:
LATTC, in partnership with Los Angeles Metro, to establish the Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training, the first in a U.S. community college;
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, to establish a program to promote careers in low-income and high-unemployment communities and among minorities, veterans and women;
Chicago Transit Authority, to expand its Second Chance training program;
Massachusetts DOT, to improve existing pre-apprenticeship programs in construction;
International Transportation Learning Center in Silver Spring, MD, to work with partners including APTA to integrate two existing projects related to training in railcar maintenance; and
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to establish a program with the Bronx Design and Construction Academy on trade and technical positions in transportation, design and construction.
Find a list of grant recipients here.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, second from right, at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC) where he announced workforce development program grants. Joining Foxx are Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer and APTA Chair Phillip Washington, left, and LATTC officials.
The Atlanta Streetcar has named Keith Jones its interim executive director following the departure of Tim Borchers.
Jones, a former chief executive officer and general manager of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (now Rock Region METRO) in North Little Rock, has 40 years of public transit and transportation experience, most recently with URS Corp. He is a past president of the South West Transit Association, a former director of statewide planning for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and a past director of transportation planning for Metroplan, the MPO for the Little Rock area.
Longtime disability rights activist and retired DOT Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation Richard Devylder died of natural causes at his home in Long Beach, CA, on Aug. 8.
Devylder, 46, who was born without arms or legs and propelled a wheelchair using his shoulder, said public transportation accessibility was key to his work.
President Obama appointed Devylder to his DOT position in 2010; he retired in March.
“I always say, the number one thing that can make us independent to the fullest is transportation. [Without it] we can’t go to school, we can’t get to work and we can’t live independently,” stated a DOT obituary recounting remarks Devylder made in 2010.
Prior to his DOT position, Devylder worked in the office of the governor of California and was the deputy director of the California Department of Rehabilitation. He also was the director of the Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled in Anaheim.
For APTA, he met with bus, rail and commuter rail CEOs to better understand their issues and concerns, participated in the Walk-and-Roll event at the 2011 Bus Conference in Memphis, conducted a rail accessibility workshop at the 2012 Rail Conference in Dallas and addressed the 2013 Youth Summit.
He attended Biola University in La Mirada, CA, and was a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where he received a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Retired DOT official and activist for people with disabilities Richard Devylder, far right, participated in the Walk-and-Roll event at APTA’s 2011 Bus Conference.
The 2015 APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco is less than a month away and the number of speakers and sessions continues to grow.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx will address attendees at an afternoon General Session Oct. 5, focusing on the need to invest in America’s infrastructure, among other critical issues. He oversees more than 55,000 employees at DOT and a $70 billion budget that administers the federal investment in surface, air and maritime transportation.
For a different perspective, demographic expert Kenneth W. Gronbach will address the Oct. 7 Wednesday Wake Up Breakfast, “Charting the Course Through Demographic Change.” Gronbach, president of KGC Direct LLC and author of The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm, will share his research on worldwide demographics, migration, aging and immigration, and he will forecast societal, cultural, political, economic and commercial trend
Register now by clicking here.
Make sure to participate in social media during the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting.APTA invites Twitter users attending the meeting to tweet using the official hashtag, #APTAannual15.
Watch for APTA’s app to access an interactive meeting schedule, maps, a list of registrants and other important information.
Ten years ago on Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina roared across the Gulf of Mexico, nearly destroying much of the coastline from central Florida to Texas, killing at least 1,836 people and causing $108 billion in public and private property damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Click here to read about how the Regional Transit Authority coped with the storm and the agency's role in the recovery of New Orleans.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined other dignitaries at a recent ground-breaking event for a rail station in Dwight, IL, about 70 miles southwest of Chicago, that will be part of a future high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis. Illinois DOT has researched the possibility of implementing 110-mph passenger rail service in this corridor for more than 20 years.
"My friends, I believe in Amtrak, so does Illinois and so does America,” Durbin said at the event. “We’re going to invest in it, we’re going to use it and be proud of it.” He also stated his support for a long-term transportation bill.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will release a report on promoting walking and walkable communities with a call to action during a Sept. 9 webcast, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Details about how to watch the webcast will be available the morning of Sept. 9 on the Surgeon General’s website.
Murthy’s Call to Action will highlight the significant health burden that exists in the U.S. today due to physical inactivity and make recommendations about critical actions to help improve community walkability and increase walking throughout the U.S..
Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) recently introduced the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People—the only bridge in the U.S. that will carry public transit, pedestrians and bicyclists but not cars—in advance of the Sept. 12 opening of the agency’s MAX Orange Line light rail. The bridge over the Willamette River, more than 1,700 feet in length, is part of the Orange Line route. Streetcars and two bus routes also will use it. Visitors experienced the bridge during a “People’s Preview” event and a celebratory fireworks display. Also, as part of TriMet’s Orange Line public art program, artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis created an aesthetic lighting program for the new bridge using 178 LED lights that change color based on river conditions.
DOT and the Departments of Labor and Education recently released Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry, which details future employment “hot spots” in transportation, identifies good-paying, high-demand transportation jobs and analyzes the patterns in the education and work experience required for entry.
The report notes that employers will need to hire and train 4.6 million new workers—1.2 times the current transportation workforce—due to growth, retirements and turnover in the transportation industry from 2012 to 2022.Further, it cites projections suggesting that 417,000 of those jobs will be created because of increased demand for transit and ground passenger transportation on the West Coast and Gulf Coast and in the upper Mid-Atlantic, mountain states and the Midwest.
Find a fact sheet about the report here.
Special to Passenger Transport from VIA
In his 50 years behind the wheel of a bus, Jesse Quintero Jr. has traveled more than 3 million miles of road. That’s six times to the moon and back or 120 times around the Earth, give or take a mile.
Quintero, who was honored in August as the longest-serving operator for VIA Metropolitan Transit, also has the safest record in the San Antonio agency’s history—a half-century of service without a single preventable accident. His performance stands among the safest in the nation.
He was never really shooting for the moon, just a safe trip.
“I always give 100 percent,” Quintero said following a ceremony to recognize his service, during which he received commendations from local legislators and was presented with a flag that flew over the Texas Capitol on the 50th anniversary of his driving career. “Some people think it’s easy but it’s not that easy when you have 20, 30, 40 passengers, everybody has different questions. You have to concentrate on safety,” he said.
Quintero’s passengers know him as friendly and helpful, quick to start up a conversation or share a story. Some might say it runs in the family. His father was a bus operator and his son, Jesse Quintero III, is now the foreman for bus operations at VIA. “He’s now my boss,” the elder Quintero proudly noted.
Never one to sing his own praises, Quintero is well known in San Antonio for a different kind of song. Off the road, he is a seasoned mariachi musician who has performed for local and national elected officials.
His career as a bus operator began in August 1965 with the San Antonio Transit System (SATS), now VIA, in an era before air-conditioned buses, Wi-Fi access or digital route planners. When VIA took over public transportation operations from SATS in 1978, Quintero stayed on, full time, until his “retirement” in 2001, when he began driving part-time. The venerable driver is still on the road.
VIA estimates that Quintero has transported more than 2.7 million passengers in his career. “That’s 2.7 million smiles” that VIA President/CEO Jeffrey Arndt also credited to Quintero.
“Jesse represents the ideal VIA professional operator, serving his customers with care and brightening their day,” Arndt said. “His half-century of exemplary service to our community is beyond outstanding.”
Quintero’s safety record has earned him memberships in VIA’s Million Mile Clubs, which are part of a program sponsored by the National Safety Council to reward bus and van operators for safe vehicle operations. VIA organized the One Million Mile Club in 1998 and started the Two Million Mile Club the following year.
In 2004, VIA also instituted a Three Million Mile Club. Quintero, the club’s founding member and its lone fellow to date, had completed three 12-and-a-half-year periods or 75,000 vehicle hours without a preventable accident at the time.
The stellar safety record has drawn the attention of APTA. In May 2014, APTA highlighted 100 years of safety awards in the transportation industry by honoring Quintero, among three bus operators from across the nation, for completing more than 40 years of safe driving.
VIA congratulates Jesse Quintero on his outstanding accomplishment and thanks him for his five decades of service and his continuing commitment to excellence.
During a recent recognition ceremony, the VIA Board of Trustees, San Antonio, stands to honor agency bus operator Jesse Quintero Jr. for his 50 years of safe driving.
Metro-North Upgrades Energy Systems — The New York Power Authority recently completed $2.1 million in energy efficiency upgrades at MTA Metro-North Railroad’s North White Plains Train Yard, funded through a state program. The project incorporates comprehensive energy-saving and efficiency improvements such as replacement of several air-handling systems, a new boiler, electric smart meters and a building energy monitoring and management system.
San Diego MTS Offers Free Video on Demand — The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) recently became the first U.S. public transit agency to offer mobile-based multi-channel broadcast video on demand on board its trolley lines. Riders can access the service, operated through an ad-supported entertainment system for public transit operators, on mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Trillium CNG to Build Station in Buffalo — Trillium CNG™, a business unit of WEC Energy Group, has signed a letter of agreement to design, build, operate and maintain a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo, NY. They expect the station to be fully operational by the end of 2015.
How many earths do you think it would take to sustain our current global natural resource consumption levels? A hint: It’s more than the number we have.According to the Global Footprint Network (an international think tank that provides accounting tools to inform policy decisions), humans are using the resources of 1.5 earths. This means we are now using up natural resources 50 percent faster than they can be renewed. Europe would need three earths to sustain current consumption. The U.S. would need 4.5.
Clearly, something has to change.
RNL is a multi-disciplinary architectural design firm specializing in planning and designing bus and rail facilities. The firm has completed more than 100 such projects for U.S. public transit agencies and 50-plus similar works for cities, counties and special districts. Anderson, the firm’s eastern region transit director and an associate principal, is the studio lead for RNL’s Washington, DC office. Maley is the firm’s western region transit director and an associate principal, based in Denver.
“Commentary” features points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
Eno’s Schank Stepping Down
WASHINGTON—Joshua L. Schank, president and chief executive officer of the Eno Center for Transportation since 2011, has announced that he will leave that post effective Oct. 2 to take a new position in the public sector.
Prior to joining Eno, Schank directed the National Transportation Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center and served as transportation policy advisor to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) during the development of SAFETEA-LU. He also was a consultant with PB Consult, senior associate at ICF International in Washington, worked for DOT’s Office of the Inspector General and was a member of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee.
LOS ANGELES—The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink, announced the appointment of Elissa Konove, FHWA chief financial officer since 2008, as its deputy chief executive officer. Konove joined FHWA in 2006 after working for the Office of Management and Budget.
Colleen Busch, Kathy Lincoln, Bob Krebs, Steve Evans, Marcia Kelley, John Hamill
SALEM, OR—Colleen Busch and Kathy Lincoln recently joined the Salem-Keizer Transit Board of Directors, succeeding Brad Coy and Kate Tarter respectively.
Busch recently retired after 30 years as a home educator. Lincoln retired in 2013 as the senior assistant attorney general for the Oregon Department of Justice in the General Counsel Division.
The board also elected Bob Krebs president after two years as its vice president; he succeeds Jerry Thompson. Krebs has more than 40 years experience in transportation and tourism, retiring in 2004 from Oregon DOT as intercity passenger rail coordinator.
Steve Evans was elected vice president; Marcia Kelley, treasurer; and John Hamill, secretary. All officers serve two-year terms.
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.
Tony Nicely, Thomas Nichols
DAYTON, OH—The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced the promotions of Tony Nicely to security supervisor and Thomas Nichols to P.M. shift supervisor. Nicely previously was an operations supervisor, receiving the agency’s 2014 Supervisor Safety Award. Nichols, an RTA employee for almost five years, worked earlier as a paratransit driver and a fixed-route driver.