Passenger Transport - November 13, 2015
|Local newscasters interview CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. during the ceremonial first ride on the reopened Yellow Line aboard one of the system’s new railcars making their first revenue-service run.|
Special from Greater Cleveland RTA
“In a year where collaboration is taking center stage, it is great to see the collaborative efforts of two federal agencies, labor unions and some of the finest educational institutions in the country produce successes like we are seeing in Cleveland,” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board of Trustees.
That success is translating into jobs, and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Tom Perez visited RTA and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) on Nov. 2 and participated in a roundtable discussion on workforce development for front-line positions. His visit launched a week-long tour recognizing National Apprenticeship Week, Perez noted in the DOL blog.
Like many other public transit agencies, RTA is facing a wave of retirements among skilled workers. That’s why the system is kicking off a standards-based training and apprenticeship program funded by a $400,000 FTA Innovative Workforce Development Grant, including partnerships with Tri-C, Cleveland State University and El Barrio Workforce Development Center.
Joining McCall and Perez on the roundtable were RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese, FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers and representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transportation Learning Center (TLC).
"These collaborative efforts help improve the readiness of potential future employees to enter these technical apprenticeships and careers,” McCall said, “and they help expand employment opportunities for disadvantaged populations, veterans and women.”
Calabrese, also TLC board secretary, said, “Standards-based apprenticeship training systems can bring along the next generation of skilled technicians that we urgently need.”
He cited new DOT studies showing that the public transit industry will need to hire and train new workers equivalent to 126 percent of today’s total workforce over the next 10 years. That means RTA will need to hire more than 30 electricians and mechanics and more than 200 bus and rail operators within the next year.
“Apprenticeships are essential to our ability to meet this workforce challenge,” Calabrese said. “Partnerships with community colleges and career and technical high school programs help expand the pipeline of qualified applicants for entry-level workers.”
TLC Executive Director Jack Clark emphasized cost-effectiveness in these new apprenticeship programs. “When the industry develops new standards-based training, 20 agencies can share the cost and grants from the Federal Transit Administration provide matching dollars to agency contributions. So each agency is paying only one-fortieth of the total cost,” Clark said during the event.
In addition to APTA, sponsors of the TLC program include ATU, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Community Transportation Association of America.
As Passenger Transport went to press, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) was preparing for the first extension of the commuter rail line since its launch in 1992 with the Nov. 16 opening of its new Spotsylvania Station.
The new station, located near Fredericksburg, will become the southern terminus for VRE train service on the Fredericksburg Line. It includes a waiting area and a 700-foot platform with canopy, both built by VRE, and an adjacent 1,500-space parking lot constructed by Spotsylvania County. VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen called the new station “well-designed, conveniently located and has plenty of parking.”
VRE anticipates opening-day ridership of 600 at Spotsylvania Station and noted that a developer is planning a mixed-use development adjacent to the station. The system does not provide reverse commute service; commuter trains travel north to Washington in the morning and south in the afternoon.
Gary Skinner, Spotsylvania County supervisor and VRE Operations Board vice chairman, added, “We’ve been long anticipating the completion of the Spotsylvania Station. It will be a tremendous amenity for the citizens and businesses of Spotsylvania County and points south.”
In addition to the station, VRE, CSX Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation are constructing a third track nearby to efficiently accommodate passenger and freight rail traffic in the corridor. This project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.
|A test train at VRE’s Spotsylvania Station in advance of the beginning of commuter rail service.|
Governing Magazine has named Joe Calabrese, chief executive officer and general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), as one of its nine “Public Officials of the Year.” He was the only one named in public transportation.
“Thanks to his efforts, Cleveland today has the best bus rapid transit system in the country,” the magazine states in its December issue. “Since it first opened eight years ago, the city’s first BRT (the HealthLine) has spurred $6 billion in economic development along its nine-mile route.”
APTA Chair and RTA Board Member Valarie J. McCall said, “On behalf of APTA and its 1,500 member organizations, I wish to extend my hearty congratulations to Joe Calabrese,” adding that as “the longest serving general manager at a U.S. multimodal public transit system, leading RTA for 15 years,” the well-regarded Calabrese is always willing to share his knowledge.
"On behalf of the citizens of the city of Cleveland, I want to congratulate Mr. Joe Calabrese for being selected as this year’s Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. As chief executive officer and general manager at RTA, Mr. Calabrese has displayed remarkable leadership and vision. This award together with the appointment of Valarie McCall as the chair of the American Public Transportation Association shows the nation that Cleveland is leading the conversation on public transportation,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson.
The Public Officials of the Year program is in its 24th year and honors the most outstanding leaders who exemplify the ideals of public service.
During his leadership, RTA received APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Award in 2007, and he was named APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in 2008.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), with unanimous board support, named Paul Wiedefeld its new general manager and chief executive officer; the WMATA Board of Directors is expected to vote on the nomination Nov. 19.
Hammer, New Jersey DOT
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named 33-year New Jersey DOT employee Richard T. Hammer as the agency’s acting commissioner and has nominated him to succeed Jamie Fox, who stepped down in October. The position, which also includes serving as chair of the New Jersey Transit Corporation Board of Directors, requires approval of the state legislature.
Forbes, Palm Tran
Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, has named Clinton B. Forbes its new executive director. He has more than 27 years of experience in the public sector, 20 of those years in public transportation planning, directing and senior management.
Previously, Forbes was vice president of operations at the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus, a former president of JAX Transit Management Corp., where he directed public transit operations for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, and worked 23 years for Miami-Dade County government, including eight years with Miami-Dade Transit. Forbes received the 2013 Industry Innovation and Leadership Award from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.
While there are clear differences between light rail and streetcars, the differences aren’t always clear-cut, especially for newly constructed systems.
Light Rail & Streetcar Systems: How They Differ; How They Overlap, a report co-developed by LTK Engineering Services and APTA’s Light Rail Technical Forum and Streetcar Subcommittee, identifies the similarities and differences between the two modes. As the following examples suggest, the boundaries can be blurry.
The operating environment is simply a function of the market, infrastructure and vehicle configuration variations.
So light rail, which is focused on radial/regional trips, can be described as having partially exclusive right-of-way, running in multiple-car trains at reasonably high speeds and serving purpose-built stations spaced somewhat far apart.
When Is ‘Light Rail’ Not ‘Light Rail’?
In Sacramento, Regional Transit operates trains as long as four cars, where they run in mixed traffic at slower speeds (35 mph or less). But outside downtown, they operate on largely dedicated rights-of-way at speeds reaching 55 mph and higher. Light rail or streetcar?
Other places where light rail systems act like streetcars, with some in-traffic street running, include a short segment in Salt Lake City and portions of varying lengths on legacy systems in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Light rail or streetcar?
When Is a ‘Streetcar’ Not a ‘Streetcar’?
A major portion of the New Orleans streetcar network, the oldest continuously operating system in the U.S., runs in dedicated right-of-way rather than in mixed traffic for much of its distance. Streetcar or light rail?
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) recently opened its Sugar House Streetcar line (now called the S-Line) using vehicles nearly identical to those that operate on its extensive TRAX light rail network. The streetcars run on what was once a freight branch line situated behind homes and businesses, both commercial and industrial, running on dedicated right-of-way with no mixed traffic. Is it a streetcar or light rail?
The city of Atlanta has acquired some of these same vehicles, through UTA, that will run on its new streetcar system in the downtown. The system is planned to be extended to a corridor dubbed the BeltLine, a collection of former railroad freight lines which, when joined, form a ring around the city close to the downtown. While still in the planning stages, if the streetcars leave mixed traffic and turn onto the BeltLine right-of-way, do they lose their identity as streetcars and become light rail vehicles?
The city of Portland is well known for its regional light rail system operated by TriMet and its own downtown streetcar system. Light rail runs down its own lane on city streets, but at slow speeds and subject to the traffic signals that control roadway vehicles. The streetcars run in mixed traffic at similar slow speeds and are also subject to traffic signals. Which is which?
The primary authors of this document, published in October 2014, are Thomas B. Furmaniak and John W. Schumann of LTK Engineering Services.
BY SHELLY POTICHA and GLORIA OHLAND
Streetcar systems were ubiquitous at the turn of the last century and are uniquely suited now to serve all the high-density development underway in downtowns across the United States.
They’re much cheaper than light rail, are hugely successful in promoting development and street life and fit easily into built environments with little disruption to existing businesses, residents and traffic.
They can provide high-quality transit service to support compact, walkable, higher-density development in small and mid-size cities that can’t afford bigger rail systems—offering the potential to significantly increase the constituency for [public] transit in the United States. ...Demographics are changing: American households are older and smaller, and singles—not families—are becoming the new majority. Combined with the problem of traffic, these changes are having a dramatic impact on the housing market, as evidenced by the renewed popularity of loft and condo projects in close-in urban neighborhoods ... .
About the Authors
This article first appeared in Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the Twenty-First Century. Poticha was president and chief executive director of Reconnecting America and Ohland was its vice president for communications. The Natural Resources Defense Council assumed many programs and services of Reconnecting America, including the copyright to Street Smart. Article reprinted with permission.
This article summarizes a 2015 Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) report, “The Purpose, Function and Performance of Streetcar Transit in the Modern U.S. City: A Multiple-Case-Study Investigation” (MTI Report 12-39). Summarized with permission.
The streetcar has made a remarkable resurgence in the U.S. in recent years. However, despite the proliferation of streetcar projects, there is remarkably little analysis of the streetcar’s role as a transportation service.
This study examines modern-era streetcars in Little Rock (AR), Memphis (TN), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA) and Tampa (FL) as of 2012, as well as trends over time for the years immediately preceding 2012. The study team used in-depth interviews with developers, business leaders, transit planners, land use planners, streetcar advocates and other key participants in streetcar development in each city to better understand their communities’ goals for streetcar development and interviewees’ assessment of goal attainment.
The authors learned that interview participants largely viewed the streetcar systems in these cities as catalysts for development that stood as symbols of permanent public commitment to an area, icons of the community and important ways of denoting a city’s identity in efforts to attract visitors.
However, transportation objectives were largely afterthoughts with the notable exception of Portland (which the authors called “a clear standout performer” in terms of ridership and service) and, to a lesser degree, Seattle.
The cities’ different conceptions of streetcar goals led to different decisions about alignment locations, riders to be targeted and the degree of service coordination with other local public transit services, all of which affected how the streetcars serve the community.
The report highlights several themes that arose in the interviews:
* Local business leaders and streetcar advocates often play a key role in promoting streetcar development and then forging partnerships with the public sector to pursue financing for building and operating streetcar services.
* The primary objective of modern streetcar implementation in these cities has been development and urban revitalization of underused or declining urban cores, with public transit as a secondary goal “at best,” the authors say.
* Streetcars are regarded as icons that play a role in promoting the city to tourists. “The streetcar’s image as a symbol of a bygone age—the nostalgia factor—also emerged in numerous interviews,” the report states.
* Strong support for streetcars remains, but proponents recognize such ongoing challenges as financing and ridership.
* The authors discovered a “disconnect” between enthusiasm for the streetcar and its transportation performance. In most of the studied cities, streetcar ridership is low compared to bus ridership on routes operating in the same general area. Still, report authors say, “poor transportation performance tended to be downplayed because the streetcar was not seen as primarily a transportation investment but instead as something else.”
RecommendationsWhat should other cities take away from this study? The authors suggest a few lessons.
The full 400-page report features profiles of the streetcar lines in each city included in the study, interview materials and an extensive bibliography. Find the report here.
About the Report Authors
Jeffrey Brown is associate professor and department chair, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University (FSU); Hilary Nixon is professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, SJSU; and Luis Enrique Ramos is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, FSU.
Almost 400 cities around the world operate light rail and trolley (tram) systems and provided approximately 13.6 billion passenger trips in 2014, according to the most recent figures available from the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), with extensive activity in the U.S. and France.
UITP’s report, Light Rail in Figures, shows that 78 cities around the world have launched new light rail and tram systems networks since 2000, with the U.S. and France leading the way with 23 and 20 respectively.
More than 200 cities in Europe and almost 100 in Eurasia operate light rail and tram services with the most in Germany and Russia. All regions of the world have at least one light rail system in operation, with interest increasing in Africa and South America.
UITP issued the report at its International Rail Conference in Munich, where representatives of the global rail industry discussed the challenges they face and shared potential smart solutions for issues including energy, safety and maintenance.
The association and event participants jointly issued the “Munich Declaration,” which highlights the importance of rail to cities, calls on policy makers to keep a focus on urban rail and encourages planners to review the conventional design practice to keep costs under control. (See sidebar below.)
"Local rail including trams, metros and commuter railways provides safe, convenient, affordable and sustainable mobility to 265 million people in some 400 cities around the world every day,” said Alain Flausch, UITP secretary general. “As a result of its attractiveness, many urban rail systems face overcrowding. Significant investment is required to meet this growing demand: more lines, extensions, additional rolling stock and improved signaling but also to maintain and refurbish systems sometimes built more than a century ago.”
UITP reports that more than 36,000 light rail vehicles are in operation worldwide. On average, North American and Western European systems operate vehicles less than 20 years old, while Eastern Europe is in transition and agencies in Eurasia operate with the oldest fleets.
More than 15,600 km of light rail tracks are in operation throughout the world, with another 850 km under construction and 2,300 km in the planning stage. Melbourne, Australia, and St. Petersburg, Russia, lead in the distance of track with 245 and 240 km respectively.
Light rail and tram systems with the highest annual ridership worldwide are in Budapest, Hungary, 396 million; Vienna, 363 million; Bucharest, Romania, 322 million; Prague, Czech Republic, 317 million; and St. Petersburg, 312 million.
When ranked by number of vehicles, the largest systems are in Prague, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, Melbourne, Bucharest and Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Find the report here.
UITP’s Munich Declaration
At the conclusion of the recent International Rail Conference in Munich, UITP Secretary General Alain Flausch listed these priorities for rail stakeholders including governments, international organizations, suppliers, consultants and operators:
1. UITP stresses again the importance and the role of rail in cities in providing safe, convenient, affordable and sustainable mobility. Rail is an essential component of a well-functioning economy in the powerhouses of the world—cities.
2. UITP calls on all parties to keep policy focus on urban rail, specifically by investing in new lines, extensions, additional rolling stock and improved signaling. Equally important is reinvestment in older assets, some of which date back more than a century.
3. UITP encourages planners and designers to review conventional design practice to control costs.
4. UITP recognizes the absolute need to improve the economics of urban rail operation and good practice on fare coverage.
5. UITP warns against medium-term technological challenges and threats such as electronic and software equipment with short life cycles and market availability.
Light rail systems crisscross neighborhoods, cities and even states, linking riders to job centers, prompting economic development and strengthening community and regional expansion. To find out how public transportation agencies are leveraging light rail’s value, Passenger Transport posed this question to leaders:
Please share one element of your agency’s light rail system that has had the greatest impact on your community, describe how light rail facilitates intermodal transit in your community and note how your system maximizes this for the benefit of your riders or greater community.
Administrator and CEO
Maryland Transit Administration (MTA)
Providing Access to Jobs. For more than 20 years, MTA’s light rail system has played an integral role in Maryland’s longstanding policy of investing in key transportation projects that drive job creation and enhance economic development opportunities.
Built as three separate projects over 16 years, our light rail system today carries more than 7 million riders annually and has strengthened the appeal of the central Maryland region as a place where people want to live and work and where companies want to locate and create jobs.
Based on recent surveys, nearly 50 percent of our riders use our 29-mile light rail line to get to and from jobs. That comes as no surprise to us as our system connects growing suburban job markets north and south of Baltimore to robust job markets within Baltimore.
Strategically aligned through the heart of Baltimore’s central business district, MTA’s light rail system provides convenient access to nearly 125,000 downtown jobs. With an extension to Penn Station completed in 1997, we also provide Baltimore area residents with easy transit connections to jobs in Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia via Amtrak and Maryland’s commuter rail line, MARC.
During that same year, MTA completed two additional light rail extensions focused on job growth and economic development: Hunt Valley to the north and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall) to the south. The extension to BWI Marshall has played a key role in the airport’s record-breaking growth in domestic and international travel. Serving more than 22 million passengers last year, BWI creates and supports nearly 100,000 jobs.
As MTA embarks on a $162 million investment to overhaul our entire light rail fleet, we expect ridership will continue to increase and support job growth throughout the area. The MTA also is developing a P3 project to construct a $2 billion-plus new light rail line in the Washington, DC, suburbs. Known as the Purple Line, this 16-mile light rail line will connect with WMATA Metrorail and MARC. Gov. Larry Hogan is committed to delivering on his promise that Maryland is open for business, and MTA’s light rail system is helping deliver on this pledge.
Gary C. Thomas
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
Changing the Map. DART’s light rail is changing North Texas.
A new community is emerging from the prairie around our Bush Turnpike Station on the Red Line. The CityLine development features nearly 3 million square feet of office, commercial and residential space. It’s the region’s newest live-work-play community.
More than $5 billion in private funding already has been invested in new transit-oriented development along our corridors. Office properties located near our stations command a nearly 14 percent higher lease rate. Properties near rail lines are more valuable and, according to the University of North Texas, they’re generating more in local taxes. Tax contributions for development located near our stations exceed $36 million a year, more than twice the $14 million estimated from their control group of properties.
Another revitalized community is the Cedars, south of downtown Dallas. South Side on Lamar, once an empty Sears, Roebuck department store and warehouse, is the center of a community that features residential properties, great entertainment and dining venues. We don’t think it’s coincidental that the Dallas station locations under consideration for the privately funded Texas Central Railway high-speed line linking Dallas and Houston are in that area and will be easily accessible by DART.
For many, whether in the city center or suburbs, access to transit is becoming as big a factor in choosing where to work or live as schools and shopping. North Texans, as do others in transit-oriented communities, know that transit is more than a transaction—moving someone from Point A to Point B. It’s about transformation. It’s about changing development patterns, creating economic opportunity, and in the process, changing lives.
President and CEO
Bi-State Development Agency (Metro, St. Louis)
Spurring Billions. The MetroLink light rail system’s most important role is as an economic engine for the St. Louis metropolitan region. Since 2011, more than $2.2 billion in commercial development has been completed or is currently under construction within a half-mile radius of MetroLink stations.
However, MetroLink delivers an even more tangible economic impact to our communities, and a more meaningful impact to our riders as a connection to employment. Seventy-five percent of our passengers ride Metro to get to their jobs. With more than 17 million annual boardings on MetroLink, this means that almost 13 million times a year someone is riding the train for his or her work commute.
Riders choose MetroLink due to the reach of our service. Our transit system connects with 95 percent of the jobs in our service area, which covers more than 500 square miles in Missouri and Illinois. This is not only a huge benefit to our passengers, but also makes the bi-state region an attractive option for businesses looking for access to a large employment base.
We’re able to achieve this coverage by how our transit system is organized. MetroLink is the backbone, operating at 37 stations across 46 miles of rail in Missouri and Illinois. MetroLink has stations in major employment centers within the region, and the majority of stations also serve as transit hubs, facilitating connections between MetroLink and any one of the 77 MetroBus routes we operate. This not only allows passengers to reach employers throughout the bi-state region, it also lets us optimize our system in a way that is cost-effective and maximizes the use of our financial resources.
Jerry R. Benson
Interim General Manager
Utah Transit Authority (UTA)
Anticipating the Future. Regional population forecasts predict an increase of one million residents by 2040, increasing the need for housing and other community infrastructure along the Wasatch Front.
The Wasatch Choice for 2040 plan, adopted recently by local officials, promotes mixed-use growth centers. UTA is supporting this vision by pursuing an ambitious TOD program that merges mobility with complementary lifestyles. TOD encourages people to live, work and play in communities that support all of their life needs, consistent with the Wasatch Choice for 2040 plan. To date the region has seen between $6 and $8 billion in land use change because of UTA.
UTA’s TRAX light rail system is an economic engine for growth in Salt Lake City and all along the Wasatch Front. Many of the new transit-oriented developments under construction are along the agency’s light rail lines, but they have also sprung up along UTA’s FrontRunner commuter rail and bus system. UTA’s intermodal system has been planned with an eye toward multi-unit housing, retail shops and livable pedestrian-friendly communities.
UTA completed $2.5 billion in capital improvements at the end of 2013, including 70 miles of new light rail and commuter rail lines in less than five years. Additionally, the S-Line, a streetcar running through Salt Lake City’s Sugar House district and South Salt Lake, was completed. UTA has significantly expanded market share to downtown SLC and the University of Utah. UTA serves 25 percent of the trips to downtown Salt Lake City and 37 percent of all trips to the University of Utah.
Creating sustainable living centers and improving the environment are core concepts at UTA. We believe that encouraging transit-oriented development throughout our system is key to cutting down on congestion and achieving cleaner air. Currently the UTA transit system moves the equivalent of 3 highway lanes worth of capacity in Salt Lake County, 1.5 lanes in each direction. Alternative fuel vehicles, solar technology and clean diesel fuel are just a few of the initiatives in which UTA has shown environmental leadership.
Metro Transit, Minneapolis
Linking Two Downtowns. The METRO Blue and Green lines—together averaging nearly 77,000 weekday rides—work in tandem to expand access to job and educational opportunities, a mix of housing options, health care providers and thousands of local businesses.
Some of the region’s most important destinations, including several colleges and universities, the University of Minnesota, the State Capitol and the downtown cores of Minneapolis and St. Paul, are served by light rail. The Blue Line is also encouraging compact development in suburban Bloomington, where light rail has become an essential option for those traveling to or from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America.
One of the key elements of Metro Transit’s light-rail system is station location. Stations have been strategically placed to do the most good for existing residents while supporting future transit-oriented development that retains a mix of housing, commercial and recreational opportunities that serve all income levels.
In addition to its downtown stations, Green Line stops are centrally located on the University of Minnesota campus and at key neighborhood hubs with existing density and redevelopment potential. While the Green Line has attracted more than $3 billion in private and public investment since its construction began, nearly 2,400 units of affordable housing have been created or preserved along the 11-mile corridor. Several new developments are occurring on urban brownfields that may otherwise have languished. Metro Transit will continue collaborating with public, nonprofit and private partners to build on these successes in the years ahead.
Importantly, light rail stations on both the Blue and Green lines have also been located at sites with strong connecting local and express bus services. A third of Green Line customers and about a quarter of Blue Line customers take a bus when transferring to or from light rail.
In 2016 the Blue and Green lines will be connected by the region’s first arterial BRT line, which will provide faster, more frequent service. Both light-rail services and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line connect in downtown Minneapolis at a transit hub that in the future will be served by light rail extensions, providing even greater access to job and housing opportunities.
In addition to these current and future transit connections, bike and car sharing resources have been expanded along light-rail lines to support last-mile connections. Bike trails and lanes also have been built or enhanced to support transit users who walk or bike to station areas.
Streetcars—often the purview of cities and private developers—are returning to their historic roles as efficient, environmentally friendly public transit modes. Passenger Transport asked industry leaders to explain how by responding to this question:
Public transportation leaders and urban planners say that streetcars are making a resurgence in the U.S. for a variety of reasons, including promoting tourism and economic development, and so often are run by city governments, not public transit agencies. Please share some practical strategies for better integrating streetcar development and operations with public transit systems.
Justin T. Augustine
Chief Executive Officer
New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA)
The Loyola Avenue Streetcar expansion that opened in January 2013 was a project funded by a TIGER grant at a total cost of $60 million. The impact of that line (built in a corridor that was showing signs of blight and was slow to recover post-Katrina), was unprecedented with a return on that federal investment of $2.7 billion of private investment in the neighborhoods surrounding the expansion. Working with the community, the RTA has been able to spur economic growth, revitalize historic neighborhoods and encourage future growth in the community. The streetcar network is the spine of the transit system. Rail expansions are environmentally friendly and provide access, equity and sustainability.
In New Orleans we are uniquely positioned not only to continue to expand rail across the region, but to be caretakers of a piece of American history still in transit service to the people of the community.
Paul P. Skoutelas
Senior Vice President, National Director Transit and Rail
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Well-Defined Partnerships. Streetcars are enjoying a renaissance across the country as a means of public transport and, increasingly, as a key strategy to boost local economic development opportunities. Many of these new investments are initiated and planned outside the traditional public transit agency structure, often by cities or private development groups. This should be viewed as a positive and welcomed trend in that it brings other interests and potential new financial resources to the goal of expanding and improving transit.
However, when planning and implementation are developed outside the public transit organization, there needs to be a well-defined partnership between the project sponsor and the transit agency charged with the broader responsibilities operating the area-wide transit system.
Such effective partnerships will foster a closer working relationship between the sponsor and the agency, greatly increasing the likelihood of a successful investment. So how best do we work together to achieve a successful streetcar operation while benefiting the transit system?
A core strategy is to develop a formal working agreement between the streetcar sponsor and the agency to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each party. The agreement should provide for the early and active participation of the transit agency from planning, design and construction through to the ongoing operation and maintenance, irrespective of which party will operate the service.
The transit agency is more likely to possess the requisite professional expertise to support streetcar implementation: planning, marketing, testing, commissioning and operating and maintaining the new streetcar line. While the transit agency may not possess all the expertise in-house, it is most likely equipped with the management capabilities to oversee these essential professional services from third-party providers.
A well-planned, integrated approach will result in coordinated route planning, fare policy integration and marketing cohesion between the streetcar operation and the transit provider. Fully integrating the new streetcar services with the broader transit system will go a long way to building ridership, delivering a successful service and expanding travel choices for riders.
Another key requirement that needs to be addressed in the partnership is funding for the project’s initial capital costs and, critically, for ongoing operations and maintenance. Giving appropriate thought and provision for these financial requirements will ensure a sustainable plan going forward while adding an exciting new mode to the public transit network.
Chief Executive Officer
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART)
Part of the Puzzle. Streetcars have returned to our streets, not as a novelty, but as a necessary piece of the greater transportation puzzle. We have realized that building more roads is not the only answer to address transportation needs. Streetcars, virtually eliminated by 1960 in this country, have returned.
Legacy systems (Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco) have reinvented themselves and new systems have sprung up to replace what disappeared 50 or more years ago (Dallas, Los Angeles, Tampa). Whether the new streetcars are refurbished originals, replica cars of times past or modern light rail vehicles with all of the bells and whistles, streetcars have returned to their niche—environmentally friendly people movers with significant capacity for now and beyond.
Streetcars, powered by electricity, either by overhead wire or battery, are non-polluting and as environmentally friendly as you can get. Each streetcar in service can eliminate one or more buses and 50 or more automobiles. As they are quiet and have no exhaust or other emissions, streetcars are ideal in the urban environment. They are also adaptable for different boarding and platform configurations.
Tampa has low level platforms with traditional boarding but accommodates wheelchair passengers with special “high block” boarding. Dallas has added a low floor section to its cars to add capacity as well as to make the cars more accessible. Los Angeles has a third variant—high-level boarding that’s easily accessible with high capacity.
Tampa’s streetcar, built as both an economic engine and a transportation project, has not only revitalized Ybor City, but has also spurred the construction of the Channelside District, generating many millions of dollars in capital investment for housing, commerce and tourism. Without the streetcar, this would not have happened.
And what is the road ahead? For Tampa, an extension to Tampa International Airport has been proposed, as well as an extension to our Marion Transit Center. Either would provide the connectivity that our streetcar currently lacks—the first with a national and international connection, the second across our entire region.
Tampa and other streetcar systems are looking to expand their services to new markets, bring clean, reliable, environmentally responsible transportation to new places, connect the dots and do what they do best—people moving people.
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA)/Metro
Leverage Strengths. All transit is an economic development tool: Transit supports the movement of people, employment, shopping and other necessary resources that generate economic growth. Cities grew around transit lines, with the traditional hub-and-spoke model efficiently supplying workers and consumers to center city businesses.
Historically, rail transit—including streetcars—has attracted greater infrastructure investment along the alignment than bus routes. Permanent public investment catalyzes private investment.
A perfect example is the Over the Rhine (OTR) district just north of the city’s central business district. OTR had fallen into severe neglect. The city’s strategy was to reinvent OTR, and city leaders in the mid-2000s saw a modern streetcar as a critical component in the renaissance. Federal and local funding was secured, construction is now almost completed and the Cincinnati Streetcar is preparing for a grand opening in September 2016.
A boon in residential and small business growth has occurred in OTR in the past five years in anticipation of the streetcar. Millennials and empty-nesters are rehabbing historic houses; breweries, boutiques and restaurants are flourishing. People are willing to invest because of the tracks in the street, knowing that the streetcar connection is a permanent asset in their newly revitalized community.
The city and the SORTA have forged a true partnership on this project. The Cincinnati Streetcar is owned and funded by the city as an economic driver. Early in the process, SORTA executed an intergovernmental agreement with the city to serve as the administrator of the project’s federal funds, using our transit expertise to ensure that the project would meet all federal requirements.
A later agreement stipulates that SORTA will manage the streetcar’s operations on behalf of the city, which allows us to integrate more closely with current bus service to maximize shared assets like ticket vending machines and communications systems. SORTA, in turn, retained Transdev to handle the system’s daily operations and maintenance, since the agency does not currently operate rail transit.
It’s all about leveraging our strengths: the city as a developer, SORTA as a transit authority and Transdev as the operator to run the system safely and efficiently.
Streetcar Program Director
Mobility Benefits. It is frustrating that streetcar advocates and doubters often overlook the significant mobility benefits of U.S. modern streetcar systems and instead rely on economic development as the sole or primary justification for the investment.
The Community Streetcar Coalition recently released “The Mobility Benefits of the Streetcar” addressing this issue. Modern streetcars serve as urban circulators connecting downtown with surrounding neighborhoods and provide significant service integration with regional system bus and rail transit stations/stops. Streetcars can effectively serve the first/last mile connection with major rail and bus transit hubs.
Existing streetcar systems provide great examples. Portland Streetcar is operated by TriMet staff and coordinates with transit operations, including joint use of stops and transfers. Seattle Streetcar serves Link Light Rail and Metro at major intermodal hubs and is planned as a substitute for electric bus services through downtown. Salt Lake City Sugar House Streetcar, operated by UTA, is integrated with three light rail lines and a number of UTA bus routes. Tucson Sun Link is integrated with the bus system at the downtown hub and supports the University of Arizona. Charlotte Streetcar unifies two of the CATS highest-ridership bus routes, adding capacity for future ridership growth in the corridor.
Streetcar systems opening within the next couple of years will be increasingly integrated with existing transit system networks. Detroit M-1 Rail will serve more than 6,000 daily riders using a coordinated fare system with local and regional transit providers. Kansas City Streetcar is coordinated with regional bus and BRT routes and serves Union Station. Cincinnati Streetcar is in a close partnership with SORTA, the regional bus system operator. Fort Lauderdale Wave Streetcar will directly serve the major downtown bus transit hub and the All Aboard Florida intercity rail station, circulating transit riders throughout downtown.
Practical strategies to integrate streetcar development and operations with the rest of the transit system include early coordination of route and station planning, special focus on serving key local and regional transit hubs, partnership on fare structure and collection, integrated operations scheduling and supervision and joint safety and security training and incident management.
Paul D. Elman
Regional Transit Director
Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Governance Structure. With the desire to promote economic investment in urban, mixed-use developments and attract tourism and knowledge-class millennials, many communities have seen non-traditional entities such as city governments, private development/business groups and universities become the champions (and in some cases, sponsors and implementers) of modern streetcar systems in the U.S.
As these entities face significant challenges of planning, designing and constructing streetcar systems in urban environments, they often face even larger hurdles in governance, operations and maintenance. Many city government DOTs often have experience building, operating and maintaining roads, bridges, utilities and traffic signal systems (particularly relevant for streetcar) but often lack experience or technical capacity to construct transit facilities or run transit operations or maintenance.
One benefit of having city governments or private business entities (particularly if they are landowners/developers) implement these projects is that it allows streetcar alignments and stops to be integrated in local land-use planning, which may already be under their purview. Conversely, transit agencies do not directly control local land use but often have board representatives from the local jurisdictions that do.
The local or regional transit agency may be currently operating bus or heavy or light rail systems, focusing on mobility in transporting people quickly and efficiently while operating and maintaining the system cost-effectively. The transit agency interfaces with local jurisdictions that can plan transit-oriented land uses to reap the investment’s benefits. Conversely, the champions of streetcar systems often focus primarily on the economic development benefits, with operations, maintenance and travel time savings considerations sometimes being secondary, particularly in mixed-flow conditions where dedicated lanes are not feasible.
Regardless of the type of project sponsor, it is crucial during planning and prior to design and construction to have established a governance structure and ideally identify the streetcar operator early in the process. This will help define the transit provider’s operations and maintenance requirements into the system prior to implementation.
A critical best practice is to establish key parameters for vehicle characteristics, storage/maintenance requirements and provisions for safety and security certification for startup and testing, which can allow for conflicts and long-term operations and maintenance challenges to be minimized or avoided.
Two public transportation business leaders--Thomas B. Furmaniak of LTK Engineering Services and Joel McNeil of Brookville Equipment Corporation--comment on new developments in streetcar technology.
Thomas B. Furmaniak
LTK Engineering Services
Low Floors; Energy Storage. A number of significant advancements in technology have benefited transit operators, including designs to incorporate low floors and the evolution of onboard energy storage systems to enable off-wire operation.
Low platforms and level boarding in the car’s low floor section have simplified passenger boarding, especially for those with special needs, and reduced stop dwell times. Portland’s TriMet was the first in North America to adopt this design in the mid-1990s. Since then we have seen it repeated on most new LRT projects and the first modern streetcar project here, also in Portland, in 2001.
Over time, vehicle manufacturers have developed unique truck assemblies and propulsion and braking configurations, along with structural designs, that have allowed a continuous low floor throughout the entire car.
Toronto has adopted this approach for its streetcar fleet while Cincinnati, which just received the first of five cars for its downtown streetcar project, is leading with this design in the U.S. The added benefits of a 100 percent low floor design are level boarding at every door, the avoidance of steps inside the vehicle and a more even distribution of passengers throughout the vehicle.
A newer advancement is the adoption of onboard energy storage systems, including batteries, supercapacitors and even flywheel devices. The rapid development of these technologies in the automotive industry has helped rail vehicle manufacturers introduce such systems without incurring all of the R&D costs. The benefits are the elimination of overhead wire for aesthetic reasons, such as through areas of historic and architectural significance, along parade routes and places with low clearances or other obstructions.
Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar, soon to open, was the first in North America to opt for this capability, primarily to avoid overhead trolleybus wires on the same route. Dallas was the first in service with its streetcar operation on the historic Houston Street viaduct. Both systems employ onboard battery systems for energy storage. Next up are Detroit, Oklahoma City, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte and Washington, DC. Others are incorporating wire-free zones in their planning.
By virtue of the foregoing two technological advancements, municipalities and transit operators are able to introduce fully accessible streetcars into urban areas.
Vice President, Business Development
Brookville Equipment Corporation
Off-wire; Onboard Energy. Off-wire technologies are affording cities the opportunity to develop systems and route extensions that were previously inconceivable due to low clearances and restrictions on overhead wire. This not only allows cities to preserve clean aesthetics, but also gives them the opportunity to provide stops at the doorsteps of where riders want to go in the most efficient ways possible.
With our Liberty Modern Streetcars, we refer to these off-wire technologies as onboard energy storage systems (OESS), and there are options that can be selected to best meet each customer’s alignment and specific challenges. By having knowledge of the available OESS types and forthcoming development plans, cities can put themselves in a position to employ the off-wire technology that will best suit their specific needs.
For example, the Dallas streetcar features a lithium-ion battery solution and provides power to cross the Houston Street Viaduct over the Trinity River. The one-mile off-wire segment represents the majority of the route on a 1.6-mile starter line (which will soon be expanding). A similar OESS system will be used for M-1 RAIL’s Woodward Avenue line in Detroit.
Induction charging is another type of system Brookville has utilized, which is ideal for incremental charging at station stops along a wireless segment. In this case, induction power transfer units are positioned in the ground at station stops and pick-ups are located on the vehicle. Power can be transferred to the vehicle without a physical connection, providing additional charge for the OESS to continue on the wireless segment.
Each system needs to be analyzed individually to understand the operational conditions and determine the optimal OESS. In addition to distance of off-wire runs, other factors must be taken into account, including stops, grades, speed and traffic patterns, among others. It is not until all of these factors have been simulated and analyzed that the proper OESS can be identified.
As the technology behind the modern OESS evolves, completely wire-free systems may become a possibility in the future, potentially reducing startup time and overall costs for streetcar operators.
Light rail was a central point of discussion during the recent Rail~Volution conference in Dallas. Dallas Area Rapid Transit and APTA were among many partners presenting at the conference. Rail~Volution considers rail investments in a holistic way, including community-building factors, ladders of opportunity and access to health, education and jobs. Panelists at a plenary session were, from left, Justin Holmes, director, corporate communications and public policy, Zipcar; Sean Walcott, associate, enterprise solutions, RideScout; Emily Castor, director of transportation policy, Lyft; APTA Vice President-Policy Art Guzzetti; Carniesha Kwashie, grant manager, Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia; and Shelley Poticha, director, urban solutions, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Washington, DC, board member, Rail~Volution.
Photo by Lupe Hernandez, DART
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City, including its streetcars. KC Streetcar #801, the first new streetcar in Kansas City, MO, in more than 50 years, arrived Nov. 2 from the CAF USA manufacturing plant in Elmira, NY. The Kansas City Streetcar Authority began testing the track, facilities, power infrastructure and communication systems in anticipation of integrated testing once the vehicle arrived. The modern, bi-directional streetcar vehicle is approximately 77 feet long, weighs 78,000 pounds and has a maximum rider capacity of 150. When service begins next year, four streetcars will operate on a two-mile route with 16 stops. The streetcar authority will operate and maintain the line with the Herzog Transit Group and has entered into a partnership with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the city of Kansas City, MO.
North Carolina’s Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is expanding with multiple rail lines and infrastructure projects that support growth and spur private development along numerous corridors. CATS launched the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar in July 2015; ridership has surpassed projections by more than 60 percent. Phase I provides a direct link to uptown Charlotte and connects customers to universities, jobs, entertainment venues and 70-plus CATS bus routes. Read more in an article by CATS General Manager John Lewis in the next Passenger Transport.
More than 250 supporters welcomed the first Cincinnati Streetcar when it arrived Oct. 30 at Cincinnati Metro’s maintenance and operations facility from the CAF USA assembly plant in Elmira, NY. The 77-foot-long, double-articulated vehicle seats 38 and provides standing room for another 116 passengers. Service on a 3.6-mile route with 18 stations will begin in 2016 with five vehicles, each priced at $2.9 million.
David M. Stackrow, CPA
Board chair, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY, 2009 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member; member, APTA Board of Directors; chair, Transit Board Members and Audit committees; co-chair, APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration; member, Legislative, Finance, Procurement Steering committees.
Please describe your agency’s scope.
What attracted your interest in the industry?
I was appointed to the CDTA board in October 1995 by then-Gov. George Pataki. I was asked to be on the board because of my business background and because of my volunteer efforts assisting other organizations in our community. At the time, I had reservations because I knew nothing about the business of public transportation. I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a quick study because 20 years later, I’m still learning.
I was attracted to the industry because of the challenges. The need for advocacy is constantly present. For many of our customers, we are a lifeline service. We provide their only available means of transportation to work, medical, play, family and so on. For many others, we are a mode of choice. Protecting service for all of our riders has become ever more challenging with the shortages of available funding at federal, state and local levels.
Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.
I attended my first APTA Legislative Conference in 2003. Our CEO at that time was Steve Bland, and he encouraged me to become more involved in transit at the national level. After that, I began to attend annual conferences.
In 2010, Lynne Morsen literally tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You should consider becoming more involved in the Transit Board Members Committee.” She introduced me to the committee chair who subsequently appointed me to an open regional representative seat. That appointment put me on the executive council for the Transit Board Members Committee. Due to conflict with a family vacation, it wasn’t until 2012 that I was able to attend a Transit Board Member/Board Support seminar.
The experience of attending a seminar with my peers was incredible. I met a lot of new people and we all shared the same goal. Everyone was so open and willing to help and share experiences. That conference energized me to do more, and I’ve been very fortunate to have come into contact with many APTA members and staff who have been willing to promote me so that I can do more.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
There are four resources in APTA’s library that I rely on regularly as a board member, and I would encourage all board members to use these resources: the Transit Board Member’s Handbook, ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members, Transit Procurement: A Guide for Transit Board Members and Assessment of the General Manager.
More valuable than this, however, are the people. Everyone I encounter is open to discussing problems and issues and offering a solution or opinion on how to resolve the matter. There is a depth of knowledge that is invaluable as a resource.
Sharing data and best practices is very helpful to me in doing my job as a transit board member. Attending conference sessions provides an educational tool that assists me in being a better board member.
What do you like most about your industry involvement?
Our industry faces a variety of challenges, and those challenges keep things interesting. We can never sit back and be content with where we are. I enjoy the networking and the education that comes with being a transit board member.
At CDTA, we embrace challenges head-on. We have a great board and staff who work together to provide the best service to our riders. The same is true at APTA. We’re all rowing our boats in the same direction.
What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
CDTA just celebrated its 45th anniversary and has completed the past two years with record ridership.
We have begun testing of CDTA’s Navigator, our new fare collection system that will be the country’s first simultaneous rollout of smart card and mobile payment platforms. CDTA’s Navigator will offer two easy choices for customers when paying their fares—a durable plastic smartcard or the ability to load fares directly onto their smartphone through our free iride application.
Meet Joyce Gartrell!
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Now that I work in payroll, I don’t have direct contact with the membership. Earlier when I worked in accounts receivable, I went to APTA meetings and worked at the registration desk.
I used to say that going to meetings was like a vacation because it gave me a chance to do something different from my day-to-day job. I enjoyed working registration because it gave me an opportunity to meet and help members face-to-face.
What initiatives, projects or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I’m proud of my work in converting the APTA payroll process from paper time cards to electronic cards. Also, a few years ago APTA overhauled its annual leave and sick leave program, converting to a paid time off system. The change was very time-consuming; I had to make sure each employee’s leave was updated correctly.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I’ve been with APTA for 21 years. I was looking for a better job than the one I had and I saw a newspaper ad for the position at APTA. I’ve worked in accounting-related jobs with a variety of companies and organizations since I graduated from high school.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I have two children, seven grandchildren and I’m a great-grandmother twice—a third will be born in January.
I have a sizable commute each day. When I joined APTA, I lived in Crofton, Maryland, and took MARC commuter rail to work. I was one of several people who looked after a colony of feral cats near the train station, but the colony dissolved over time.
Now I live in Kent Island, Maryland, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, and I commute by express bus.
It’s a 50-mile trip each way and takes about an hour and 10 minutes in the morning. The trip home takes longer, from an hour and 20 minutes to two hours. I think that’s because of how the traffic patterns differ through the day. People traveling into D.C. leave at different times in the morning but the afternoon rush hour is always rush hour.
APTA members, federal officials, congressional staff and other passenger rail stakeholders will convene at the new APTA offices on Wednesday, Dec. 2 for a Policy Forum, “Getting to the Tipping Point for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.: The Role of the Federal Government in High-Speed and Intercity Rail Development.”
Scheduled from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., the forum is an opportunity to learn about the current state of practice in planning, environmental clearance and leadership and governance.
To register, please contact Cynthia Owens.
APTA invites call center personnel at member public transportation agencies—employees who handle incoming calls related to customer service issues and/or trip planning—to compete in the ninth annual Call Center Challenge.
Applicants must complete the online application by Dec. 1 by visiting the APTA website and clicking on “Call Center Challenge.” They will be contacted (via contestant and supervisor email addresses submitted online) no later than Dec. 11. Please note that only one call center operator for a public transit system may participate in this process.All candidates who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a time for a pre-selection phone test where they will respond to various customer service scenarios, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 16-17.
During the phone test, contestants will be asked a series of general questions and will be required to resolve two common customer call center inquiries.
At the conclusion of the preliminary round, a panel of APTA member judges will select seven finalists for the final competition, which will be held March 1 in Phoenix during the 2016 APTA Marketing and Communications Workshop.
Nearly 5.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first six months of 2015, according to APTA.
This represents a 0.9 percent decrease over the same period last year, but several systems reported the highest ridership in their history: Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, NY), Caltrain (San Carlos, CA), EMBARK (Oklahoma City, OK), Metro Transit (Minneapolis), Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (Greensboro, NC) and Sound Transit (Seattle).
Noting that the average price of gas during the first six months dropped by 29 percent, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “With a significant drop in gas prices, some people may have returned to driving, but still, most people continued their trips on public transportation. Considering the cost of owning and maintaining a car, public transit still offers a great way to save money.”
Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 0.5 percent with nine of 15 systems reporting increases. Ridership on commuter rail systems increased by 0.3 percent with 16 of 28 systems reporting increases. Light rail ridership decreased by 0.4 percent with 12 of 28 systems reporting increases. Bus ridership decreased by 2.3 percent and paratransit increased by 1.2 percent. Trolleybus ridership decreased by 5.3 percent.
FTA and its National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) will jointly host an hour-long webinar for small and rural bus agencies Tuesday, Dec. 1, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, focusing on the FTA Bus Safety Program and Safety Management Systems (SMS).
Joseph Powell, FTA’s Bus Safety Program manager, will moderate the webinar. Erik Larson, contractor lead in support of the program, will discuss how initiatives of the FTA Bus Safety Program support the small bus transit agency safety mission. Ream Lazaro, a 38-year professional in bus transit safety, security and training professional, will discuss the benefits of SMS, its major components and how it can be implemented by small bus agencies without undue burden. The webinar also will include a Q&A period.
Participants can register for the webinar here. Space is limited. Interested people who are unable to attend will be able to access a recording on FTA’s safety program page and the National RTAP site.
Leaders from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia joined state and city elected officials, disability advocates and community and business leaders recently to break ground for ADA accessibility improvements at its 40th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line.
SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel called 40th Street Station “a critical transit hub in West Philadelphia, providing important links for SEPTA’s customers to the growing residential, educational and medical campuses of University City.” He added, “In addition to the accessibility enhancements, all users will benefit from the improvements to be made at this station.”
Major components of this project include two new elevators, four modern street entrances and overall station improvements. The stainless steel and glass elevators will provide direct access from the street to the subway-level fare line, streamlining service to and from the station. The elevator installation project will cost $7.4 million.
During installation of the new elevators and entrances, SEPTA’s in-house construction forces will work on the station’s platforms. The project includes structural and concrete repairs, upgrades to the station’s mechanical and electrical systems and improvements to employee facilities. The total project cost is $9.23 million.
FRA recently released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for future development of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington, DC, and Boston, and the agency awarded a $27.8 million grant for a magnetic levitation project that would connect Baltimore and Washington.
FRA is accepting public comment through Jan. 30 on its Tier 1 Draft EIS for NEC FUTURE, the long-term investment framework for the NEC between Washington and Boston.
This document assesses the broad impacts of an investment program to improve passenger rail service within the NEC FUTURE study area. It evaluates three action alternatives for the corridor against a no-action alternative and considers impacts to transportation, the economy, the built environment and natural resources.
“Over the next 30 years, an additional six million people will live along this corridor. To keep everyone moving safely, quickly and efficiently, we need smart planning and significant investment in the Northeast Corridor,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The NEC is the nation’s busiest rail corridor, with more than 700,000 passengers traveling each weekday through eight states and the District of Columbia. The corridor contributes more than $100 million every day to the Northeast’s economy, but it currently operates on outdated infrastructure, much of it built more than 100 years ago. FRA has also scheduled 11 public hearings throughout the study area during the comment period.
The text of the EIS is available for download here. Comments may be submitted verbally or in writing at the public hearings, online or by email.
FRA recently awarded a $27.8 million grant under SAFETEA-LU to Maryland for the potential development of a maglev train between Washington, DC, and Baltimore.
In 2005, Congress authorized $90 million for maglev projects that would be capable of safely transporting passengers faster than 240 miles per hour. Maglev trains operating in Japan routinely travel at speeds in excess of 300 mph and have been tested at speeds approaching 400 mph, FRA reported.
More information is available here.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has named Carol A. Lewis, professor in the Department of Transportation Studies and director of the Center for Transportation Training and Research at Texas Southern University, as the recipient of the 2016 Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation.
TRB recognized Lewis for her transportation accomplishments, successes in the mentoring and nurturing of young people and tireless promotion of responsible growth and protection of neighborhoods. She will receive the honor Jan. 13, 2016, in Washington, DC, during the Chairman’s Luncheon at the TRB 95th Annual Meeting.
As Passenger Transport went to press, U.S. public transportation agencies commemorated Veterans Day, Nov. 11, with special programs for veterans and active duty military personnel who are riders and employees. Here are a few examples.
In Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) invited veterans and active military service members to ride free on all fixed-route services throughout the day by showing a military or veteran ID card from any state. Eligible veterans in the RTC service area can receive a 50 percent discount on fixed-route service throughout the year.
Los Angeles Metro hosted a workshop, “How to Do Business with Metro,” on Nov. 10 to highlight the agency’s certification programs, emphasizing its Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises Program.
The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority issued a proclamation to honor the 126 agency employees, 15 percent of its total workforce, who have served in the U.S. armed forces. In addition, the authority partnered with the Home Builders Institute on its Back-2-Work program to assist veterans with job training and placement in the industry.
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, shared information about how veterans can ride free on local buses and with discounted fares for commuter buses. AVTA participated in a Nov. 9 Veterans Resource Fair presented by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and planned to participate in the “Welcome Home! Veterans Outreach” event presented by the local Veterans Outreach Committee.
Free rides for active military and veterans on Nov. 11 were only part of the Greater Dayton (OH) Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) outreach. RTA recognized its veteran employees with a flag-raising ceremony on Veterans Day and, throughout the week of Nov. 9-15, RTA illuminated its downtown facility with green light as part of the “Greenlight a Vet” initiative promoted by several veterans’ organizations to recognize the 250,000 military members who return to civilian life each year.
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa also invited all veterans and active-duty military to ride free on Veterans Day, as did many other agencies.
|Omnitrans introduced its new trip planner tool for veterans, “211 VetLink Trip Planner,” during a ceremony at the agency’s San Bernardino (CA) Transit Center. The tool provides information on area transportation services and programs. Also, military veterans rode free throughout the Omnitrans fixed-route system. Osvaldo Maysonet, pictured, represented VetLink, a community resource for veterans that worked on the trip planner project. Omnitrans Chief Executive Officer/General Manager P. Scott Graham is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.|
|Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), at podium, a colonel in the Ohio Army National Guard with 30 years service, addressed the first-ever Veterans Ceremony at the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus. The Nov. 6 event honored the more than 100 veterans who work for the authority. COTA President/Chief Executive Officer W. Curtis Stitt and Ron Dreyfus, president of Transport Workers Union Local 208, signed a Statement of Support for the Guard and Reserve through a program with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense office.|
The National Railroad Hall of Fame inducted Edward Gowen Budd (1870-1946), founder in 1912 of the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co. in Philadelphia, during recent ceremonies at St. Louis Union Station.
The Budd Co. made history in 1934 when it introduced the nation’s first stainless steel, diesel-powered streamliner, the Pioneer Zephyr.
Robert Furniss, vice president, business development and sales, U.S., for Bombardier Transportation, which acquired the Budd Co.’s passenger railcar designs and related assets, acknowledged the honor.
“We are honored to accept this award on Edward Budd’s behalf,” Furniss said. “Bombardier appreciates his significant contributions to the passenger railcar industry and is proud to be carrying on his legacy as an innovator and leader in modern mobility.”
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) deployed its entire 256-bus fleet into shuttle service—assisted by school buses and buses from Johnson County, KS—for the Nov. 3 celebration of the Kansas City Royals’ win in the 2015 World Series. A quarter of the region’s population, some 800,000 people, gathered in downtown Kansas City, MO, for the event and KCATA provided almost 200,000 rides that day on the free shuttles and regular routes, shattering previous ridership records.
BY MICHAEL P. MELANIPHY
The history of public transportation is the story of connectedness—to jobs, family, friends, opportunities and a better way of life.
Riders’ dreams and destinations may have changed since the days of horse-drawn trolleys, but our mission remains steadfast: connecting people to what they need, what they want and what they aspire to become.Connectedness is also public transportation’s future, but in ways we never imagined.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is enhancing its first mile/last mile connectivity by partnering with on-demand ride firms and the world’s largest car-sharing network. Users of DART’s GoPass mobile ticketing app can access trip options, purchase transit passes and connect to Uber, Lyft and Zipcar services to create their own total journey experience.
Leading by Example
APTA members are already putting this principle into practice—and thinking more like technology companies.
Click here to see the latest hirings and promotions in public transportation agencies and business members. Items appear in People on the Move in the order in which they are received.