Passenger Transport - September 18, 2015
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BREAKING NEWS

Vice President Biden Visits Detroit DOT


Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Detroit DOT bus driver Brian Miller during his Sept. 17 visit to Detroit. Biden joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at Detroit DOT headquarters to welcome the last four buses in an 80-vehicle order, which means the agency has enough buses running to meet its schedule for the first time in two decades. “Detroit is resilient, it’s tough and it’s defined by a work ethic that’s unmatched” anywhere else, the vice president said as he spoke about how federal investments are helping the city's economic revitalization efforts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

 

 

Feinberg Appears Before Senate Commerce Committee on Confirmation

In testimony at her Sept. 17 nomination hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg described the importance of the agency in making sure U.S. railroads "transport [passengers] safely to their jobs each morning, to their homes and families each night and to deliver goods and products safely every day."

In answer to questioning by committee members, Feinberg stated that only Congress, not FRA, has the authority to extend the deadline.

Feinberg acknowledged recent legislation that provides nearly $200 million in grants and funds to leverage Rail Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loans for costs associated with PTC.

Members of the committee will deliberate before submitting Feinberg's nomination to the full Senate for approval. Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) said after the hearing, "I thought she handled herself well today. We need somebody in there, and so we'll try and, as we get written responses and that sort of thing, expedite it."

In related PTC news, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Sept. 16 stating that most U.S. passenger and freight railroads will not be able to meet the current Dec. 31 deadline for implementing PTC and calling for legislation to extend the deadline.

In a statement on the report, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy cited the “strong evidence that Congress needs to act now to extend the deadline. The report supports what the industry, [FRA] and the GAO have said in the past: significant challenges of technology, spectrum and funding make the end of year deadline unattainable. … We support efforts in Congress to craft an extension that would provide for the full effective interoperable implementation of this life-saving technology. We are also dedicated to working with Congress in appropriating the funding to assist the industry complying with this essential safety mandate.”

The full text of Melaniphy’s statement is here. The full text of the GAO report is available here.

NEWS HEADLINES

New York MTA Opens 7 Subway Line Extension to West Side; 34 St-Hudson Yards: First Addition in 26 Years

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) opened the 34 St-Hudson Yards station—the 469th station in the MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) subway system—on Sept. 13.

The new station, MTA’s first to open since 1989, is the terminus of a 1.5-mile extension of the 7 subway line. It offers access to the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the High Line “linear park” and the newly opened Hudson River Park, along with major residential and retail development in the emerging 45-square-block ­Hudson Yards neighborhood.

“Just as the 7 train created neighborhoods [in Queens] like Long Island City, Sunnyside and Jackson Heights in the 20th century, this extension instantly creates an accessible new neighborhood right here in Manhattan,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. ­Prendergast. “It will improve service reliability for all 7 line customers and, thanks to the foresight of ­[former] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, it is anchoring the transit-oriented, mixed-use development transforming the far West Side.”

The city funded the $2.42 billion, 1.5-mile extension of the 7 Line with $2.1 billion for the station and $266 million for other non-subway related infrastructure work. MTA contributed $53 million for the extension, helping spur the development and transformation of the rezoned far West Side.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station, called the new station and line extension “an expression of this city’s capacity to do big things. The 7 train extension is going to anchor new growth and opportunity on the West Side and will improve the commutes of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. And the new public space opening above is a tremendous addition to the cityscape.”

The station and the new subway line contain state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical and communications equipment and systems. Public spaces provide capacity for future system changes, integrating signage, lighting, digital advertising and artwork. The station also contains other notable “firsts,” including the longest column-free station platform, the longest escalators inside any station and two wheelchair-accessible inclined elevators that connect the upper and lower mezzanines.

The station has three public floors: the upper mezzanine, 27.6 feet below street level, the lower mezzanine, 109 feet below street level, and the platform level, 125 feet below street level.

APTA business members involved in construction of the 7 line extension and the new subway station include WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup, a subcontractor on tunnel design.

Ultimately, Hudson Yards will house more than 40 million square feet of mixed-use development.

For additional details, click here.


Participating in dedication ceremonies for NYC Transit’s new 34 St-Hudson Yards Station, from left: MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio.
Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

Portland's TriMet Opens MAX Orange Line

Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) celebrated the opening of its newest light rail service, the MAX Orange Line, Sept. 12 and reported approximately 40,000 rides on the line that day.

The line, a 7.3-mile extension that features 10 new stations, begins at Portland State University and heads south to Milwaukie with two new stations on the west side of the Willamette River and eight on the east side. It crosses the river via Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People—the first bridge in the U.S. to carry public transit, bicycles and pedestrians but not cars. ­Eighteen new light rail vehicles from Siemens Transportation Systems operate on the line.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, who attended the opening, said, “The MAX Orange Line will make a huge difference in the quality of life for thousands of people in the greater Portland area, offering a one-of-a-kind, world-class travel option between north Clackamas County and downtown Portland. This project demonstrates the power of public transportation to help transform a major American city and bring 21st-century transportation options to a growing population and future generations.”

The celebration began with a procession of members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde accompanying the first Orange Line train across Tilikum Crossing, followed by festivities at stations along the line. All TriMet bus and light rail service, along with the Portland Streetcar and Portland Aerial Tram, operated free for the day.

TriMet expects the new light rail line to provide 22,800 average weekday trips by 2030.

The agency invited area residents to explore the MAX Orange Line by downloading the free TriMet Tickets app and participating in the “O Marks the Spot” ­scavenger hunt game. Players used the app to find local businesses and stations along the line, checking in at each location to become eligible for prizes.

FTA contributed $745.2 million, or half the total $1.49 billion cost, to the expansion. State and local sources covered the remaining cost.


TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane welcomes FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan at the opening celebration for the MAX Orange Line.
Photo courtesy of TriMet

 

FTA Announces $75 Million to Expand BRT at Lane Transit

During a Sept. 11 visit to the Lane Transit District (LTD) in Eugene, OR, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced the award of $75 million in federal Small Starts funds for the third expansion of the agency’s Emerald Express (EmX) BRT system.

“Delivering vital transportation options to residents of Eugene is crucial to improving the quality of life in the state’s second largest city,” McMillan said.

The funding will allow LTD to construct a nine-mile transit corridor, West Eugene EmX, that will operate direct and frequent transportation service in west Eugene and connect to the existing 15-mile BRT system currently operating between downtown Eugene, downtown Springfield and the Gateway region in north Springfield. When completed, the new line will expand the EmX system by 60 percent and connect 52,000 residents who live along the corridor with an estimated 81,500 jobs located within one-half mile of the route.

LTD General Manager Ron Kilcoyne acknowledged the support of Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and the city council, chamber of commerce and MPO for the project.

“As a city, we've invested millions and partnered with our businesses to grow downtown into the bustling hub it is now. Continuing to grow the EmX system is a key to our continued success in competing against cities much larger than us,” Piercy said.

The FTA grant accounts for most of the $96.5 million project cost, along with $2.1 million in federal formula funds, $1.6 million in ­ConnectOregon funds and $17.8 million in Oregon Lottery Bond funds.

When West Eugene EmX enters service in late 2017, it will offer enhanced travel corridors, new bicycle-pedestrian bridges, road improvements, new or rebuilt sidewalks, and new stations with real-time bus arrival displays. 


FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announces federal funding for an expansion of BRT in Eugene and Springfield, OR.
Photo courtesy of Lane Transit

 

Torrance, CA, Breaks Ground for Regional Facility

The city of Torrance, CA, recently broke ground for the Torrance Transit Park and Ride Regional Terminal, a facility that will feature eight bus bays and a park-and-ride lot and is designed to pass LEED certification.

Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey called the project a milestone for the city, adding, “This facility truly will be a regional transit center and a regional asset. It is a wonderful example of city staff working together and with outside agencies on a project that really will benefit so many.”

Los Angeles Metro is spearheading work on the multimodal facility, which will also serve Torrance Transit and possibly other area agencies.

Approximately 85 percent of the total funding for this project, $18.1 million, will come from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008, along with $2.4 million in state Propo­sition 1B bond money and $1 million from Torrance.

FTA Announces TOD Grants; APTA Members Among Recipients

FTA has announced $19.5 million in grants for 21 organizations around the U.S. through the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program to support projects that improve access to public transit.

“By investing in transit planned around housing, jobs and services, these communities are creating ladders of opportunity for their citizens and laying a strong foundation for economic development that our growing nation demands,“ said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced the grants Sept. 14 in Tacoma, WA, where Sound Transit, in partnership with the city, received the largest single grant: $2 million to support a mobility and economic development plan for communities along a proposed 2.4-mile extension of light rail.

“Transit-oriented development is critical to the success of new projects and to the economy of the local communities they serve,” McMillan said. “These grants will help communities like Tacoma develop a transportation system that encourages people to use transit to reach jobs, education, medical care, housing and other vital services that they need.”

In total, the program will fund comprehensive planning work in 17 metro­politan areas to help communities integrate land-use and transportation planning efforts as they improve their public transportation systems.

The other largest grants include:

* $1.7 million to GoTriangle, Research Triangle Park, NC;

* $1.6 million to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority;

* $1.25 million each to the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the city of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Chicago Transit Authority and the Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI;

* $1.1 million each to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; and

* $1 million to the Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis/St. Paul.

To be eligible for funding from the program, which was established in MAP-21, the planning work must be associated with a public transit project for which the local community intends to seek funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants Program.

Find details here.

APTA Announces Leadership Transitions

Kathy Waters, APTA’s executive vice president for member services, announced that she will retire effective Jan. 8, following a distinguished career in public transportation that includes posts as deputy administrator at the Maryland Transit Administration, vice president for commuter rail and railroad management at Dallas Area Rapid Transit and manager and chief operating officer for Maryland Area Regional Commuter Train Service.

As an APTA member, she was chair of the Commuter Rail Committee and vice chair for commuter and intercity rail on APTA’s Executive Committee. She represented APTA for more than 17 years on FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee.

Succeeding Waters is former APTA chair and longtime industry executive Richard White, who was named vice president for member services by President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. White assumed his new position on Sept. 14.

Most recently an executive with Parsons Corporation, White has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, including positions with AECOM, DOT and New Jersey Transit Corporation and as chief executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District and the W­ashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

He was a member of the APTA Executive Committee for nine years. In addition to serving as chair from 2004-2005, he also was secretary-treasurer.

“Kathy’s considerable achievements illustrate her deep knowledge of and commitment to APTA and our industry,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “She has been instrumental in our success and growth over the years. Dick’s exceptional experience and knowledge are ideal for helping APTA continue to progress and serve our members and the industry.”

Join the Dialogue on FTA's 'XPEDITE' Planning Initiative

FTA has launched the Expedited Public Transportation Improvement Initiative (XPEDITE), an initiative designed to speed up planning, approval and delivery of its capital investments and better support innovative financing methods that support such investments.

FTA invites public transit professionals to join in the online ­dialogue through Oct. 16. This website includes a list of questions and subject areas but FTA also wants industry professionals to note areas of improvement. “No one knows the challenges faced by transit providers better than those working every day to keep America moving; share your insight with us,” FTA states on the website.

This project will enhance the public transit industry’s access to improved technologies; proven methods to speed up planning, development, approval and delivery of FTA supported capital investments; and enhanced financing methods and opportunities for public-private partnerships through “value capture that supports improved capital project delivery.”

For details, click here.

New CEOs Named

Knueppel, SEPTA

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia has named 27-year SEPTA employee Jeffrey D. Knueppel as its next general manager, succeeding Joseph M. Casey upon his retirement Sept. 30.

Knueppel joined SEPTA in 1988 as an entry-level structural engineer and moved through the ranks, serving most recently as deputy general manager in charge of two divisions (Operations and Engineering, Maintenance & Construction) and several staff support departments. SEPTA is the sixth largest U.S. public transportation agency, with 9,300 employees.

For APTA, he is a member of the Bus & Paratransit CEOs Committee, Commuter Rail CEOs and Rail Transit CEOs subcommittees and Elevators & Escalators Technical Forum.

Cole, Cubic Transportation Systems

Cubic Corporation, ­parent company of Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), has named Matthew J. Cole president of CTS and senior vice president of Cubic Corporation, effective Oct. 1.

Cole joined CTS in 2003 and most recently served as executive vice president and deputy of strategy and business development. In his new post, he succeeds Stephen O. Shewmaker, who plans to retire in 2016 and has been appointed chairman of CTS.



Miller, GE Transportation

GE has named Jamie Miller as president and chief executive officer of GE Transportation in Chicago. She succeeds Russell Stokes, who will lead GE’s energy management business effective Oct. 1.

Miller joined GE in 2008, serving most recently as senior vice president and chief information officer overseeing the company’s global Information Technology strategy, services and operations.



APTA NEWS

New Learning, Networking Opportunities Enhance Annual Meeting in San Francisco

APTA continues to add sessions and events to the schedule for the upcoming Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7 in San Francisco. A few new highlights follow:

The Oct. 7 Closing General Session, “Public Transportation: A Pathway to Health,” will examine the connections between transportation mobility options and quality of life. Communities across the country are implementing new, innovative strategies to improve mobility options in accessing health care.

Speakers will report on FTA’s new Rides to Wellness Initiative and ways to lead conversations and initiatives around improving transportation to health care facilities, collaborate with the health care industry in local communities and work directly with city and state decision-makers to promote awareness of this issue.

APTA also has added a new track devoted to procurement-related sessions. Topics include the following:

Procurement Audits. Public transportation agency internal auditors can work collaboratively with procurement professionals to promote economy, efficiency and effectiveness by planning in advance.

Alternate Project Delivery Methods. Most government construction projects built in the 20th century were procured through the traditional Design-Bid-Build method. Industry experts will discuss the pros and cons of alternate methods such as Design-Build, Construction Manager at Risk and Job Order Cost.

Understanding Bid Protests and Contract Claims. Protests and claims might be the best and last chance for a disappointed bidder or contractor to seek equity from a government. On the other hand, protests and claims can impose costly delays and administrative burdens on transit properties.

Register for the Annual Meeting here.

Event to Benefit APTF

All attendees are invited to attend an event to honor APTA’s incoming chair, Valarie J. McCall, on Monday, Oct. 5, 8:30 p.m.-midnight, Imperial Ballroom, Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel. It features a short program, which will start at 9:15 p.m.

The event will benefit APTA’s foundation, APTF; donations to APTF are appreciated, but not required.

For details, contact Pam Boswell.

Tee Up for APTF's Golf Tournament


Put together a foursome and register today for the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Annual Golf Tournament, Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Presidio, San Francisco’s award-winning golf course and a National Historic Landmark located inside a national park. The tournament is open to all Annual Meeting attendees; proceeds will benefit the APTF scholarship program. Tournament sponsors are Faiveley Transport; Motor Coach Industries; Chuck Wochele, TransitConsult; Clever Devices; Wabtec and Xerox. To register, click here.

APTA ISAC Receives Honor

The Public Transportation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (PT-ISAC) managed by APTA recently received recognition from the Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI), an intelligence industry association.

AFEI presented its 2014 Excellence in Enterprise Award (industry category) to EWA Information & Infrastructure Technologies Inc. (/IIT), analyst experts who operator the “Surface Transportation, Public Transportation, and Over the Road Bus Information Sharing and Analysis Centers.” APTA also manages the ISAC for over-the-road buses, while the Association of American Railroads manages the Surface Transportation (ST) ISAC.

The PT-ISAC provides its constituency with a round-the-clock security operating capability that provides critical physical security and cybersecurity information/intelligence to address critical incidences, threats and vulnerabilities.

To learn more, click here.

APTA Awards Recognize Industry's Best

Click here to read about the recipients of the 2015 APTA Awards, who will be honored Oct. 6 during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Industry Recognizes 14th Anniversary of 9/11

Approximately 200 public transit workers who responded to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were honored this Sept. 9 with commemorative medals and pins for their efforts at Ground Zero in New York City.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 hosted the event to honor employees who carried out rescue and recovery efforts, cleared away destroyed vehicles, dismantled building debris and evaluated damage to the subway system at the site. According to a list of Ground Zero responders from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, more than 3,000 public transit workers participated in the emergency and cleanup efforts. The event marks the first-ever ceremony to honor the public transit workers.

Local 100 President John Samuelsen—himself a 9/11 responder—emphasized that the union would fight to achieve the public recognition its members deserve. The union presented 11 medals, three posthumously, to employees with documented 9/11 injuries, and the pins to all participants in the effort.

The medal, which honors those injured or made ill, was designed by TWU Local 100 Executive Board Member and 9/11 responder Mario Galvet and is inscribed with a Latin motto translated as “above the call of duty.”

Other Ceremonies
Other U.S. public transit agencies including the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, KY, and Chatham Area Transit in Savannah, GA, commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks with a “moment of remembrance.”

In both agencies, bus operators pulled their vehicles out of traffic and parked them, sitting in silence for a minute before resuming service.

Hutchison Dies; Former Head of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus

J.F. (Jack) Hutchison, 85, director of the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines (Big Blue Bus) from 1967 until his retirement in 1995, died Sept. 5.

Hutchison was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame in 1997. In addition to his 28 years with Big Blue Bus, he spent 19 years with the privately owned Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway and its successor, Omaha Transit. He was an APTA regional director in the 1970s and also served on local, state and regional advisory committees.

Hutchison oversaw Sandra Bullock when she learned to drive a bus for the 1994 movie “Speed.”


APTA Business Members Announce Acquisitions

Clever Devices, Woodbury, NY, has acquired Houston-based RSM Services Corporation, a provider of public transit ridership reporting software.

“This is very exciting news for us,” said Frank Ingrassia, president and chief executive officer of Clever Devices. “Passenger counters were one of our earliest products and this investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to delivering the best technology available."

Rich Ruskan, founder and chief executive officer of RSM Services, added, “Our company is a very strong cultural fit with Clever Devices. Both organizations are industry leaders and have similar emphases on customers, employees, innovation and excellence.”

Syncromatics Corp. has entered into a strategic investment agreement with GMV. Syncromatics will continue operating in the U.S. as an independent company with headquarters in Los Angeles, with support from GMV.

Syncromatics provides advanced computer-aided dispatch/automatic vehicle location technologies. GMV is a global technology company with subsidiaries in 11 countries and customers on six continents.

SW Transit Expands 'Prime' Service

SouthWest Transit, Eden Prairie, MN, recently expanded its SW Prime shared-ride bus service—which began within that city in July—to serve the neighboring communities of Chaska and Chanhassen and parts of Carver and added Saturday service.

SW Prime is a shared-ride, curb-to-curb service that operates with ADA-compliant small vehicles; users can request a ride up to 48 hours in advance through a smartphone app or the agency’s website or by phone.

SFMTA Introduces Interactive Performance Dashboards

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has introduced new, interactive online dashboards that allow the agency to better report on its performance by sharing information with the public and increasing transparency and ­accountability.

“In an effort to improve what we do, the SFMTA has been regularly reporting these metrics to the public for many years,” said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. “While those existing reports are informative, sharing these interactive reports will allow us to engage with the public in a more meaningful way because the data is easier to find, easier to read and updated constantly.”

The site contains results from 13 key areas, including the percentage of ­on-time performance, mode share, crime stats, the agency’s carbon footprint, collision data and other information aligned with SFMTA’s strategic plan.

Proterra Electric Bus Travels 258 Miles on a Single Charge

Proterra’s 40-foot ­Catalyst XR zero-emission battery-electric bus recently drove 258 miles on a single charge under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in Laurens, SC.

The Catalyst XR configuration includes eight battery packs with a total energy capacity of 257 kilowatt-hours (kWh). Based on these test results, Proterra predicts that its 10-pack XR configuration (321kWh) will be able to operate 300 miles on a single charge. The company cited available General Transit Feed Specification data showing that typical U.S. urban and rural bus routes run less than 200 miles a day.

“The U.S. is quickly waking up to the economic, environmental and performance benefits of zero-emission electric buses,” said Proterra Chief Executive Officer Ryan Popple. “Proterra is pushing the bounds of EV [electric vehicle] technology and steadily driving down costs. Achieving this range is validation for our technology and gives us the confidence that Proterra is capable of what we initially set out to accomplish—replacing every fossil fuel bus in the United States with a fully electric one.”

For more information, click here.

Tri-Rail's Rail Car Built for Bikes


The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail in Pompano Beach recently added its first car dedicated to carrying bicycles to its fleet of rolling stock. The specially equipped Bombardier trailer car contains 14 bike racks and some seating; it will operate as an add-on to the standard three-car train set. Demand has increased for bike storage on board Tri-Rail, which in the past only provided two bicycle straps per car. The agency is now retrofitting nine coach cars with bike racks so eventually each train will have its own bike car.

 

VIA Expands Wi-Fi Throughout System

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio recently made free wireless Internet service available throughout its entire fleet and all its facilities and upgraded the quality of service from 3G to 4G LTE.

VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Arndt called the effort “a significant step forward in connectivity for our riders. With this expansion and simultaneous upgrade to VIA’s Internet service, all of our riders will be able to take advantage of their commutes to finish work assignments, stay in touch with family and friends or simply pass the time while they ride the bus.”

Arndt noted that about half of VIA’s riders use electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Previously, VIA offered Wi-Fi service on selected routes and at 11 transit centers. The connection will extend to its paratransit fleet later this year.

New TCRP Reports Help Put Research into Practice

Several new reports from the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) of the Transportation Research Board provide insight into a wide range of challenges and opportunities for the public transportation industry. Summaries of a few follow.

Report R-180: Policing and Security Practices for Small- and Medium-Sized Public Transit Systems explores the current state of practice and identifies and responds to the challenges and issues associated with the security of small and medium-size public transit agencies. It follows the five stages of protection activity (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) by providing baseline options and identifying potential security countermeasures.

Report R-179: Use of Web-Based Rider Feedback to Improve Public Transit Services features a toolkit of practices, emerging platforms and approaches for customer web-based and electronic feedback to help improve services. Part I identifies promising practices among public transit agencies and other industries using in-house or third-party web-based and mobile platforms to engage customers and provide guidance on managing web-based feedback. Part II includes a Tool Selection Guide to help agencies select an online feedback tool.

Report R-177: Preliminary Strategic Analysis of Next Generation Fare Payment Systems for Public Transportation focuses on attributes, implementation strategies and applications of next generation public transit fare payment systems and documents the state of the practice of emerging fare payment options, among other topics.

Report S-117: Better On-Street Bus Stops is a synthesis of issues and successful approaches to address on-street bus stops from the public transit agency’s perspective and the customer’s perspective. It documents the current state of the practice regarding actions to address constraints and improvements.

Report S-118: Practices for Utility Coordination in Transit Projects summarizes utility coordination practices at agencies around the country and focuses on issues that agencies undertake during typical phases of project development and delivery.

To download PDFs of these and other reports,click here.

Industry Briefs

AC Transit Teams with Google — Real-time location data from every bus in AC Transit’s fleet in Oakland, CA, can now be found on Google Maps. Customers will know if the next bus due at their stop is on time and will have access to service alerts warning of construction or special event detours. Riders can access Google Maps and the Bay Area’s 511.org trip planner here.

Metra Provides Free Charging Stations — Metra commuter rail is installing charging stations at four of its downtown Chicago stations to provide its customers with a convenient and free place to recharge devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops. The system also added power outlets to its railcars and is considering ways to provide free Wi-Fi in waiting areas at its downtown stations.

MVTA Launches App
— The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Burnsville, MN, recently launched its free “Ride MVTA” app, which provides the same functionality as the agency’s website in a mobile format. In addition to route schedules and a trip planner, users can send comments and photos to the agency.

Grant Supports Free AVTA Rides for Seniors
— The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, will provide free annual bus passes to seniors courtesy of a $200,000 grant it received from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District, with matching funds from the city of Lancaster and Los Angeles County.

Houston METRO to Buy Buses with Bond Sale Proceeds — Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will purchase 150 new buses and refund $60 million in commercial paper with funds raised through the sale of $115 million of bonds. The order period generated approximately $375 million in orders from more than 20 institutional investors.

COMMENTARY

Connected Vehicle Pilot Programs Seek a Safer Transportation Future; DOT Invests in Programs in Three States; More Pilots to Come

BY DOT SECRETARY ANTHONY FOXX

Over the past year I have been visiting research labs, technology companies and manufacturers to deliver a simple message: The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to roll out the red carpet, not the red tape, for new technologies in transportation. If an emerging technology can improve safety and improve how we move, we want to see it on the market as quickly as possible.

And, as many “Fast Lane” readers know, we are especially bullish about the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technology. Because, who among us has never started to switch lanes thinking that the lane next to them was clear when it wasn’t? And who has never once had a hard time seeing an upcoming stop sign at night?None of us is perfect, and when we’re behind the wheel, mistakes can—and do—happen.

So imagine having a car that is equipped with technology that can correct human error. Imagine riding a bicycle to a transit stop during rush hour or walking across a busy street. Except now, you can basically communicate with the drivers and infrastructure surrounding you, and you’re armed with information, so you’re much less vulnerable.

This is what connected vehicle technology can do. It promises to eliminate 80 percent of accidents in which drivers were not impaired.

These technologies promise even more than this. Eventually they will be the backbone of a new, smarter trans­portation infrastructure that makes commutes easier and speeds up freight. They will help us be a country that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. They will help us design our smarter cities and connect every community to the 21st-century economy.

But the reality is, we know we can do more than research and show our support. Government also has a role to play in proving to potential consumers and investors that this is more than just a great idea. We can show the American people that this technology works—and more importantly, that it is safe.

We need to get this country wired. And if we do, yes, the use of this new technology will emerge. But according to researchers, so will a $35 billion industry in America.

So today [Sept. 14] we are vastly expanding on DOT’s efforts by investing up to $42 million in three new connected vehicle pilot efforts—in New York, Florida and Wyoming.

New York City will now be home to the largest demonstration of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in the world. In Midtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn, the New York City DOT will be able to install connected technology in 10,000 vehicles—taxicabs, transit buses, UPS trucks and the NYCDOT vehicle fleet—as well as in infrastructure such as the city’s traffic signals.

Tampa will install connected technologies in its streetcars and other vehicles to help address its mobility challenges. And in rural Wyoming, we’ll use connected vehicle technologies to explore ways to improve freight movement.

The truth is, we already know these technologies can work. Because we’ve seen it. We saw them work at the first test site we launched back in 2010 on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Now we’ll see them work again in New York, Wyoming and Tampa—and in more communities where we’ll launch pilots in the near future.

And with good feedback from pilots like the ones we’ve launched today, we can anticipate these technologies becoming part of everyday reality across America in the very near future.

For more news about this $42 million pilot program, click here.

This Commentary blog posting originally appeared Sept. 14 as an entry on DOT’s blog, “Fast Lane.” For details, go to www.dot.gov. Foxx was confirmed as the 17th ­secretary of transportation in July 2013.

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


Learn More at APTA’s Annual Meeting
Foxx will speak at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Monday, Oct. 5, on the need to invest in America’s infrastructure and other issues of importance to the public transportation industry.

In addition, the meeting will feature a Tuesday, Oct. 6, General Session, “Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology: Positioning Public Transportation in a World of Game-Changing Innovation,” and several technology-focused concurrent sessions, including two specifically designed to follow up the General Session, “Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology: Creating a GREAT Rider Experience” and “Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology: Internal Use Within Organizations,” both on Oct. 6. To register, click here.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

Beverly A. Scott

WASHINGTON—The American Political Science Association presented Beverly A. Scott, chief executive officer, Beverly Scott Associates, with its Hubert H. Humphrey Award, given to recognize notable public service by a political scientist.

Scott earned a Ph.D. in political science from Howard University and recently was nominated to the National Transportation Safety Board by President Obama. She was APTA chair in 2008-2009 and serves on numerous APTA committees.

Her 30-year career included stints as chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Sacramento Regional Transit District and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. She was named a White House Champion of Change in 2012.

Joni Earl

OLYMPIA, WA—The Washington State Transit Association (WSTA) honored Joni Earl, chief executive officer of Sound Transit, with the Wall of Fame Award at its recent Public Transportation Conference & Expo.

Earl has headed the Seattle area agency for 15 years and has announced her plans to retire next year. WSTA noted that she has worked closely with the state legislature, transportation commission and governor’s office, as well as FTA and the state’s congressional delegation.

Herbert Els

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.







Patrick G. Emery, Rogers Anderson, Bill Lockwood, Mark Robbins

FRANKLIN, TN—The TMA Group (Transportation Management Association) elected Patrick G. Emery of Spectrum | Emery Inc. its chair for 2014-2016, succeeding Julian L. Bibb of Stites & Harbison PLLC.

Vice chair is Williamson County Mayor ­Rogers Anderson; secretary, Bill ­Lockwood, Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon; and treasurer, Mark Robbins, a local businessman.

 

Emery

Anderson

Lockwood

Robbins


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.

Kenneth Trahan

BOSTON—Kenneth Trahan is joining Keolis Commuter Services as chief mechanical officer for its contract to operate the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail system. Trahan has almost 40 years in the transportation industry, including 29 years with United Airlines, where he most recently served as director of maintenance.

Jon Holler, Darren Pynn, Sheena Zimmerman, Tom Rieger
DENVER—Maintenance Design Group (MDG) announced the following promotions.

Jon Holler,
a senior facility design manager who has been with MDG for six years, is now the firm’s Southeast Region manager, a newly created position based in Nashville. He has more than 20 years of experience planning and designing operations and maintenance facilities.

Darren Pynn, a licensed architect and facility design manager in MDG’s Los Angeles office, has been promoted to Western Region manager, based in Los Angeles. He has been with the firm for three years and has more than 30 years experience.

Sheena Zimmerman in Denver and Tom Rieger in Houston have been promoted to senior facility designers. Each has been with MDG for six years and both have worked on numerous transportation and municipal projects.

Holler

Pynn

Zimmerman

Rieger


P.S. Sriraj

CHICAGO—P.S. Sriraj has been named to the new position of director of research at the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was director of the Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative since 2011 and was elected research associate professor in 2013.







Wayne Joseph

ST. CLOUD, MN—New Flyer Industries Inc. has announced the promotion of Wayne Joseph to executive vice president, New Flyer bus business. Joseph joined the company in 2008 as executive vice president, operations.