Passenger Transport - November 13, 2015
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NEWS HEADLINES

Successful Ballot Measures Mean Improved Public Transit Service; 79 Percent of Transit Measures Pass on Nov. 3

The Nov. 3 election brought good news to public transit systems across the U.S., including a comprehensive transportation measure in Seattle funded by a $930 million, nine-year property tax and a 10-year property tax to fund the introduction of Ann Arbor Area (MI) Transportation Authority (TheRide) service into neighboring Scio Township.

One component of the successful “Let’s Move Seattle” measure is targeted capital improvements to support future King County Metro Transit RapidRide BRT lines within the city. The measure also provides for improvements to roadways, including sidewalks and bike lanes that will also help public transit riders.

“Less than one-third of commuters drive alone to Seattle, so making broad transportation improvements that make a difference for buses, biking and sidewalks will really help keep this city moving,” said King County Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. “This vote continues Metro’s strong partnership with Seattle on making necessary transit improvements at a time when transit ridership throughout the county is at an all-time high.”

Scio Township voters approved the property tax of up to 0.36 mills by a two-to-one margin. TheRide will implement service in the township over a three-year period beginning May 1, according to Don Kline, integrated marketing coordinator. New public transit service in the township will serve a diverse group of riders and businesses, he added.

Seventeen counties in Utah, including six that are part of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) service district, placed one-quarter percent sales taxes on the ballot. Among the 10 counties that approved the measures were UTA members Davis, Tooele and Weber; Box Elder and Utah counties were among those that defeated the measure and the vote is still too close to call in Salt Lake County. Forty percent of the money raised by the new tax will go to the agency.

UTA conducted outreach before the ­election, seeking public comments about the service people would want if the measure passed. The consensus was that people wanted more bus connections to the agency’s commuter and light rail systems; UTA planners will begin developing alternatives to present to the public.

In Flint, MI, 72 percent of voters approved a 0.6-mill property tax renewal through 2021 to fund services provided by the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA). “The recent renewal in Flint will support the continuation of fixed-route service seven days per week,” said General ­Manager/Chief Executive Officer Ed Benning.

While the outcome of Proposition 1 in ­Snohomish County, WA, will not be known until the vote is certified Nov. 24, Community Transit is hopeful that the 0.3 percent sales tax increase to expand its service is on the road to success.

“It is time to get excited and turn our focus to providing a new transit legacy for Snohomish County,” said Com­munity Transit Chief Executive Officer Emmett Heath. “Whether you voted for the proposition or not, and whether you use public transit or not, we plan to deliver a better transportation experience for all residents.”

Heath said the agency plans to use reserve funds to begin implementing service improvements in March. Collection of the new sales tax would not begin until April and the agency would not see new revenue until June; the agency plans to implement a “substantial” service increase in the fall that will require the hiring of additional drivers, mechanics and other employees.

Voters in Salem, OR, decisively defeated a .21 percent payroll tax that would have funded weekend and evening bus service. Local businesses would have been able to deduct the tax on their federal tax forms.

“We are very disappointed at this election result,” said Bob Krebs, president of the Salem-Keizer Transit Board of Directors. “After years of citizen requests to reinstate Saturday bus service with extended hours and days, we found there was not strong voter support to pass the measure. This failure means we remain at status quo, with no change in operation.”

Krebs continued, “Salem-Keizer Transit is committed to providing the best bus service possible using available resources. Unfortunately, this means operations will still be restricted to five days a week with service ending at 9 p.m. The board of directors is committed to look for additional funding options to enhance bus service to the community.”

For more information about the elections, click here.

New Flyer to Acquire Motor Coach Industries; Transaction to Close by Year's End

New Flyer Industries Inc., Winnipeg, MB, Canada, announced Nov. 10 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Motor Coach Industries International Inc. (MCI), Des Plaines, IL, from an affiliate of KPS Capital Partners L.P. for $455 million, subject to certain purchase price adjustments.

Manage­ment expects the trans­action to close by the end of 2015.

MCI, founded in 1933 in Winnipeg, has three manufacturing facilities and nine service and parts distribution centers. As of Dec. 31, 2014, the company had the largest installed base of motorcoaches in North America with approximately 28,000 units, nearly twice the installed base of its nearest competitor.

“We are thrilled to combine North America’s number-one brand in heavy duty transit buses with North America’s number-one brand in motorcoaches,” said New Flyer President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Soubry.

CTA Yellow Line Resumes After Stoppage; Water Dept. Project Disrupted Service

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently restored service on the Yellow Line following an embankment collapse in May resulting from construction on Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) property.

To kick off the return of service, CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr.—joined by Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen and MWRD officials—took a ceremonial first ride on CTA’s two newest 5000-series railcars, the last to be delivered from an order of 714 cars.

“We are pleased to announce the return of Yellow Line service to our riders and the village of Skokie,” said Carter. “This was an unprecedented event, but all parties involved have worked cooperatively to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.”

To thank Yellow Line riders, CTA offered free rides on the line for the first week of service. CTA and Skokie will continue offering free parking at CTA’s park-and-ride facility through the end of 2015.

Van Dusen added, “The community has demonstrated considerable patience with this inconvenience and has shown strong support for the numerous businesses near the Yellow Line stations that rely on commuters as customers. We hope that ridership levels will quickly return to levels attained before the unfortunate service interruption.”

The return of service follows the completion of reconstruction work by MWRD and a local construction firm, including re-fencing of the right-of-way between the tracks and MWRD property; rebuilding and stabilizing the soil embankment; reconstructing tracks atop the embankment including ties, rail plates, fasteners, running rail and third rail; and reconnecting signals and communication lines.

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.

Cleveland RTA Partners with DOL, Education Institutions; Program Supports Skilled Workforce

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.

VRE to Open New Terminus

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.

 

Calabrese: A 'Public Official of Year'

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.

New CEOs Named

Wiedefeld, WMATA

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.

Wiedefeld has 30 years of public and private sector transportation management experience, including tenures as administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration and more recently as chief executive officer of the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. He will succeed Jack Requa, who has been serving as interim general manager since Richard Sarles retired in January.

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.

Hammer is currently assistant commissioner responsible for the department’s Capital Program Management Section. His tenure at N.J. DOT also includes 14 years with the Bureau of Structural Evaluation in the former Division of Bridge Design and 10 years in the Division of Project Management, where he was a program manager overseeing major statewide bridge projects and ultimately division director.

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.

2015 APTA-TRB LIGHT RAIL & STREETCAR CONFERENCE

Blurred Lines: Light Rail, Streetcars Share Features

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.

Streetcars, which provide local circulation in urban areas, can be described as operating smaller, single vehicles in mixed traffic on city streets at street speeds and serving sidewalk stops that are several blocks apart. But consider the exceptions:

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?

Perhaps the best conclusion from this information? The authors say it’s less important for public transportation leaders to label a rail transit project than it is to understand the flexibility they have to make such systems work best in their communities.

The primary authors of this document, published in October 2014, are Thomas B. Furmaniak and John W. Schumann of LTK Engineering Services.


Why Streetcars and Why Now?

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 ... .

Enter, or rather reenter, the streetcar. Almost every U.S. city once had an extensive streetcar system, which extended the pedestrian environment out into neighborhoods, served as a collector for intercity rail systems and stopped at every street corner to stimulate a density and an intensity of uses that made for exemplary and engaging downtowns.

If the high cost of providing parking drives development today, streetcars make it possible for developers to provide less parking and put their money into high-quality design, building materials and community benefits like affordable housing and parks. Streetcars also enable residents to give up a car—freeing up a substantial amount of money for other household expenses.

Streetcars aren’t like light or heavy rail, designed to carry lots of people over long distances at high speeds. The cars are smaller, the average streetcar system is just two to three miles in length, and the average speed is only three to five miles per hour. They’re not like buses—streetcars are easier to get in and out of, don’t lurch in and out of traffic because most run on fixed guideways, they’re less threatening to pedestrians, they’re quieter and they don’t smell of exhaust.But like rail, streetcars channel development and like buses, they’re less expensive to build—about a third the per-mile cost of light rail, or $12 million to $15 million per mile as compared to $30 million to $50 million. [Data from ­Reconnecting ­America.] …

The permanence of the fixed-guideway system, developers and investors say, helps mitigate the risk, and the higher densities and lower parking ratios typically permitted in downtowns make projects more profitable.

Moreover … a streetcar will increase property values and stimulate business because more customers will be walking down the street [and] the impetus for streetcar projects and at least some of the funding often comes from the business sector, with operations funding raised through business-improvement districts.

This is not to contend that streetcars cause development to happen. Rather, in the words of Rick Gustafson, [then] chief executive officer of Portland Streetcar, they “create the right decision-making environment” for policy and investments that will support compact, walkable, high-density, sustainable development. And developers and investors are far more willing to take a risk and build at higher densities with lower parking requirements.

Streetcar critics will argue that this development probably would have happened anyway somewhere else in the region—that a streetcar isn’t going to lead to a net increase in development. But that’s missing the point, which is that the development is happening at higher densities and with a mix of uses and less parking in those very neighborhoods where residents are most likely to walk or take transit—and streetcar systems typically connect with a regional transit system and therefore promote overall transit ridership—instead of in neighborhoods that don’t have density or transit. ...

In other words, this is the most sustainable kind of development and can yield increased tax and sales revenues for local governments and local businesses.

Moreover, streetcar projects are relatively easy to construct in already built-up environments.

* Systems can be easily integrated into a built environment;

* Streetcars stop so often that they serve and promote an intensity of uses;

* Streetcars are slow and integrate seamlessly into the environment and are nonthreatening to pedestrians; [and]

* Streetcar systems don’t require the massive infrastructure ... that make bigger rail systems so expensive and difficult to build.

Streetcar projects have typically been championed by cities and not transit agencies—which tend to view them as competition for long-planned light-rail and commuter-rail projects that have already been waiting in the long queues for oversubscribed funding programs.

But in fact streetcars are the very investment that can help promote transit ridership because they provide that “last mile” connection that makes the rest of the transit system work better by getting people to their final destinations, be it work or home: If regional rail systems are like the highways and arterials of our road system, streetcars are like the local roads.

Moreover, streetcars utilize a domestic energy source. And the higher-density development that they promote is also the most efficient in terms of infrastructure cost and energy use. ... For all these reasons, we believe that it’s time for a streetcar renaissance in the United States.

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.

Driving Purpose: U.S. Research: Streetcars Leverage Development, City Identity, Public Transit

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.”


Recommendations

What should other cities take away from this study? The authors suggest a few lessons.

Focus on Purpose.
The authors urge planners and policymakers to carefully consider the fundamental purpose of any proposed streetcar initiative and to make all decisions with that purpose clearly in mind.The authors strongly believe that a transportation investment should be primarily about providing public transit service and suggest first evaluating streetcars versus other transportation services on transportation criteria. ­However, even if the planners and policymakers have another approach in mind, “they should proceed carefully, clearly and cautiously,” the authors stated.

Concentrate on Local Issues.
The authors urge other city leaders to consider replicating the Portland model with caution.Portland’s streetcar experience is the result of a unique combination of external factors (local population, employment patterns and the health of the real estate market, to cite a few) and local decisions regarding land development policy, finances and other public investments, streetcar alignment location and length, operations and fares, among other considerations. Consequently, the Portland model might not be easily transferred to other locations.

Think Long-Term.
The authors also encourage planners and advocates to be aware of unintended consequences. They advise community leaders to “think much more carefully about the wisdom of a streetcar investment given the state of their local transit finances,” especially when budgets tighten, potentially requiring service cutbacks in other modes, thus defeating the “transportation rationale” for such investments in the first place.Additionally, decisions made early on about seemingly trivial things, such as the type of vehicle to operate (modern, replica or vintage), can have significant consequences for operations and finances later on.

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.

UITP: 13.6 Billion Trips Worldwide on Light Rail; International Research: U.S. Activity 'Extensive'

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.

The Power of Traveling Light: Agency Leaders Share Insight into Light Rail's Impact

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.

Paul Comfort
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
President/Executive Director
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.

John Nations
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.

We leverage these benefits by making MetroLink easy to use. We have 21 free park-and-ride lots at our MetroLink stations, we invite cyclists to bring their bikes onboard MetroLink and MetroBus and several of our MetroLink stations connect with trails and bike paths that crisscross the region.

By providing options to accommodate every type of passenger, we can ensure everyone in the region can take advantage of MetroLink to get to where they need to go.

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.



Brian Lamb
General Manager
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.

A Streetcar Named Resurgence: Streetcars Are Reclaiming Their Public Transit Niche

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)

Past Meets Present. In New Orleans, streetcars have been an important element of transit for 180 years and have remained an integral part of providing a multimodal system to residents of the city. New Orleans is one of the only cities to successfully maintain its original streetcars and resources to keep the light rail system operating.

As a result of the St. Charles Streetcar line remaining in service, seamless integration of rail into our planning and design efforts has been possible. The RTA in New Orleans operates 33 bus routes and five rail lines currently, with an additional rail line under construction today. Four of those five rail lines directly connect to multiple bus routes, ensuring connectivity between modes of transportation. Streetcars transport 48 percent of all transit riders in the city.

In New Orleans, the community continues to recognize and benefit from urban rail expansions that serve as a catalyst for economic growth. Recent rail expansions have proven to appreciate land values and create construction boons, jobs and access to employment opportunities.

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.

Katharine Eagan
Chief Executive Officer
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART)
Tampa

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.

Dwight Ferrell
General Manager/CEO
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA)/Metro
Cincinnati

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.

David Vozzolo
Streetcar Program Director
HDR


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.

Streetcars: A Modern Mode

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
Senior Director
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.


Joel McNeil
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.

Rail-Volution: A Focus on Light Rail


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

Kansas City's First Streetcar in 50 Years Arrives


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.

CATS on the Move


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.

Welcoming the Cincinnati Streetcar


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.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet David Stackrow!

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.

CDTA operates a four-county system in the Capital Region of New York State, ­servicing a 2,300-square-mile area. We operate fixed route, paratransit and ­commuter bus service. We also own and operate the Rensselaer and Saratoga Springs Amtrak stations. We employ 650 people and have a fleet of 300 revenue vehicles. Our annual operating budget is $79.9 million and annual ridership is 17.2 million.

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 THE APTA STAFF

Meet Joyce Gartrell!

Meet Joyce Gartrell!
Staff Accountant-Payroll
Finance Department

What are the ­primary responsibilities of your job?

My job involves overseeing all the aspects of payroll for the APTA staff and everything that goes with it.

I have to keep track of time cards, make sure they’re entered properly and approved by each employee’s supervisor. I am also responsible for completing payroll journal entries on a monthly basis.

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 NEWS

APTA to Hold Passenger Rail Forum

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.

Register for Call Center Challenge

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.

Before a live audience, the finalists will be presented with three randomly selected customer service scenarios and will be judged on their ability to handle each inquiry. The contestant with the highest score, as determined by a panel of APTA member judges, will be named public transportation’s best telephone customer information agent.

For more information, contact ­Stephen Kendrick.

APTA Issues Ridership Report for First Half of 2015

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.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

FTA, RTAP Webinar Focuses on Small Bus System Safety Issues

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.

SEPTA Breaks Ground on ADA Accessibility Project at Station

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 Announces Two NEC Projects

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.

Draft EIS
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.


Maglev Grant

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.

Lewis Receives Sharon Banks Award

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.

The award—named for the late Sharon D. Banks, chair of the TRB Executive Committee in 1998 and general manager of AC Transit, Oakland, CA, from 1991 until her death in 1999—honors individuals whose accomplishments exemplify Banks’ ideals of humanity and service by making a significant difference in the lives of those who use, deliver or support transportation services.

Public Transportation Agencies Salute Vets, Active Duty Personnel

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.

Railroad Hall of Fame Honors Budd

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.”

KCATA Celebrates 'Royal' Record Ridership

 
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.

COMMENTARY

Defining Our Role in the New Mobility Paradigm

BY MICHAEL P. MELANIPHY
APTA President & CEO

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.

Evolving customer demands caused by demographic shifts, the emergence of new technologies and an abundance of travel options are changing the way people think about getting from point A to point B. To be sure, a new mobility paradigm is inevitable. What it will look like and who will shape it are not.

APTA’s Integrated Mobility Principles

This is why APTA established a cross-committee working group to examine how pivotal trends are disrupting traditional notions about transportation. Through this effort, APTA’s Board of Directors adopted a 12-point policy statement titled “Principles on Integrated Mobility and Transformative Technologies” in October 2015. The principles emphasize themes that are central to our industry’s future: inclusion, collaboration, coordination, cross-industry dialogue, expanded customer service and innovation. One principle—promoting integration and coordination—has particular relevance to all we do. It underscores public transit’s need to function as the hub of a multi-spoked wheel, integrating a wide variety of public and private mobility services and modeling collaborative behaviors.


Leading by Example

APTA members are already putting this principle into practice—and thinking more like technology companies.

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.
Transit systems in Minneapolis and Boise have partnered with bike-sharing businesses, empowering riders to plan and purchase an integrated trip with mobile ticketing.

TriMet in Portland has partnered with Google to provide customers with real-time transit information from Google’s Bluetooth low-energy beacons across the area’s MAX light rail line stations.

Santa Clara’s VTA is rethinking every phase of a rider’s experience, resulting in an improved open-source trip planner that uses real-time data and incorporates multiple modes and services. The agency has also experimented with on-demand services using a subscription-based flexible model.

APTA’s 2015 Annual Meeting in San Francisco helped advance the dialogue about a new mobility landscape. Sessions included complementary panels on “Creating a GREAT Rider Experience” and “Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology: Internal Use within Organizations” and a major presentation titled “Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology: Positioning Public Transportation in a World of Game-Changing Innovation” featuring speakers from Uber, Google and FTA.

Right now at the city and state levels, APTA is playing an important role in the multimodal decision-making process. In metropolitan areas across the country, we are providing guidance to transportation providers on new ways to offer the public safe, reliable and affordable access to health care, education, employment and other opportunities. Under a cooperative agreement with FTA, APTA also has partnered with the National Center for Mobility Management, Easter Seals and the Community Transportation Association of America to promote more shared mobility options by coordinating transportation, health care and other essential services.

Moving forward, APTA’s Integrated Mobility/Transformative Technology Cross-Committee Working Group will continue to develop content for our members, invite other stakeholders to participate in the conversation, build new partnerships, sponsor research and provide support to transit agencies that are using APTA’s policy framework to define the future.

Total Customer Journey

Today, organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, are using Big Data to connect with their customers and supporters. Public transit agencies are in the enviable position of possessing high-value information about the who, what, where and when of its riders. This can create an array of opportunities for our industry when the information is shared strategically and within the boundaries of privacy and ethics policy.

This is where APTA’s leadership and influence are crucial. Public transit systems must make it their goal not only to improve the existing customer journey, but to expand it, adding useful steps or features. By engaging customers at every stage of their trip and becoming the central point for planning and purchasing, we increase the value of each rider’s journey. And when the value of a rider’s experience increases, the relationship between public transportation providers and users becomes stronger, more appealing and preferential. That’s the power of connectedness.

Our Unique Role and Duty
APTA and the industry we represent are doing more than predicting the brave, new world of integrated, collaborative mobility; we are defining it, delivering it and making it work for users and service providers—those that exist today and those still to be imagined.

We are the only stakeholders with a legal, ethical and fiduciary responsibility to provide affordable, safe, efficient, reliable and accessible services to all. Our public orientation makes us an experienced and effective honest broker among competing interests … an experienced partner with broad expertise … and a collaborator in both the private and public sectors. All of this makes our industry uniquely suited to be the leading catalyst for integrated mobility.

At the same time, public transportation must continue to foster a culture that values innovative partnerships, experimentation and a focus on delivering a total journey experience.

Interdependence is the essential element for our future success. Our ability to connect people and collaborate with diverse organizations is our competitive advantage. With our bold leadership, integrated mobility will be public transportation’s greatest legacy.

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

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

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.