Passenger Transport - November 25, 2015
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NEWS HEADLINES

SEPTA Opens New Station, Celebrates Reconstruction of Another

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia cele­brated the opening of its first new regional rail station in almost 20 years, the 9th Street Regional Rail Station in Lansdale, on Nov. 16—three days after the agency marked the completed reconstruction of the historic Wayne Junction Station in the city’s Nicetown neighborhood.

The 9th Street Station, which opened to the public Nov. 15, was developed through a public-private partnership among SEPTA, Lansdale Borough, Lansdale Parking Authority and a local property management company to promote ­revitalization of a large industrial site and mixed use, transit-oriented development.

“This is a true public-private partnership,” SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel said. “Cooperation on this initiative has been extraordinary and the new station facilities will be a catalyst for smart growth opportunities in Lansdale.”

The station is situated on an industrial site acquired in the 1990s for new residential development and a SEPTA train station and parking lot. That project was not completed in large part because of the economic downturn late in that decade. When the developer returned to ideas for the site almost a decade later, Lansdale Borough brought SEPTA into the process.

The station, which opened to the ­public Nov. 15, is fully ADA accessible with a high-level platform capable of expansion to meet future demand, galvanized steel entrance structure, weather-protected waiting shelter, modernized grade crossing and signal system, landscaping and stormwater management system. The site also offers 78 spaces of permanent parking and a 125-space temporary parking lot.

The Wayne Junction Station, originally designed by renowned architect Frank Furness, has been a regionally significant transportation hub since it opened in 1881. The station building is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, but it had fallen into a state of disrepair.

SEPTA had deferred the $31.5 million project because of funding constraints until 2011, when it received a $4 million FTA Livability Grant. This reconstruction comes on the heels of SEPTA’s ground breaking for several ADA improvements at its 40th Street Station, featured in the Nov. 16 Passenger Transport.

“The modernization of the Wayne Junction rail station makes it more inviting for people to take the train, and that will make these neighborhoods, and others throughout metro Philadelphia, more livable and more sustainable,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan, who attended the event. “For residents and businesses in Nicetown, the completion of this project means they will benefit from safer, more accessible and environmentally friendly access to SEPTA transportation services.”

Knueppel said, “Wayne Junction Station is a critical part of the SEPTA system, and we’re thrilled to be able to deliver these improvements to our riders and the community. The reconstruction delivers full ADA accessibility and long-needed modern amenities for our riders while preserving the station’s rich history.”

The station—a multimodal transfer point that serves six regional rail lines, a trackless trolley route and two bus routes—remained open during construction. It features new or upgraded station platforms and elevators; power, signal and track infrastructure; passenger tunnels and stairways; and signage, lighting, Audio Visual Public Announcement and HVAC systems, shelters, canopies and benches.

SEPTA worked closely with the community to retain the station’s historic significance while positioning it as a center of economic growth in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The project received the 2015 Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

The project is already helping spur transit-oriented development in the growing communities surrounding the station.

“This station is the gateway to the growing Nicetown neighborhood,” said Majeedah Rashid, chief operating officer of the Nicetown Community Development Corporation.

Preparing to cut the ribbon at the reconstructed Wayne Junction Station, from left: Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cindy Bass; SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel; Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA); SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. "Pat" Deon Sr.; and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan with community leaders.
 

Safe and Secure; Public Transit Agencies Step Up Precautions

BY BILL MARONI, APTA Senior Program Manager-Communications

It is no surprise that public transportation agencies across the U.S. are implementing heightened security measures following the recent terror attacks in France and Mali. What is noteworthy, however, is the efficiency, professionalism and breadth of effort that is on display—and in some cases purposely concealed—in so many public transit systems and communities.

While no specific threat warning has been issued against any transportation agency in the U.S., members of the public transportation industry have been quick to strengthen security during the past three weeks. Major urban areas, such as New York and Washington, DC (both of which were targeted in some of the latest ISIS videos), are taking precautions, but so too are agencies in many other U.S. cities. Public transit systems of all sizes from ­Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and San Francisco are intensifying security procedures and reviewing their policies.

For example, public transportation agencies have increased the use of police patrols, K9 units, surveillance cameras, random searches and inspections. There is also a renewed focus on sharing more information among public transit officials, state and local law enforcement officers, the Department of Homeland Security’s TSA, the FBI and through the Public Transit-Information Sharing and Analysis Centers PT-ISAC), of which APTA is a co-sponsor. PT-ISAC provides to its constituency a 24/7 security operating capability that established the sector’s critical information and intelligence requirements for incidences, threats and vulnerabilities. Find details here.

In Washington, DC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is conducting random screenings at its Metrorail stations and increasing the number of uniformed and plainclothes police patrols. Since the public transit authority provides service to Reagan National and Dulles International airports as well as transportation connections through the Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC trains to Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, officials are taking additional steps to coordinate with the aviation community.

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to step up security throughout the state’s transportation infrastructure, including the New York subway system. Last week, the transit police, NYPD and FDNY staged a simulated attack on a Manhattan subway line in a dress rehearsal involving hundreds of first responders.

“Lessons learned here will certainly be quickly spread throughout the NYPD and fire department of New York City, but also then through Homeland Security across the country,” said the city’s police commissioner William Bratton.

In smaller cities, where public transportation agencies do not have their own dedicated police force but rather rely on local law enforcement personnel, everyone is more attentive. Even before TSA circulated a Security Awareness ­Message, many public transit leaders took the initiative to enhance the frequency and visibility of their “See Something, Say Something” campaigns in an effort to increase awareness among employees and the public.

Working partnerships among small and mid-size transit agencies and local police departments is especially critical today. “In the Denver area, we benefit from having built wonderful relationships with every law enforcement agency in eight counties and 40 ­cities covering 2,400 square miles,” said Transit Police Chief John F. Tarbert of Denver’s Regional Transportation District and chair of APTA’s Committee on Public Safety. “On a regular basis, I share whatever information I can from our region and from security briefings.”

The appearance of more police patrols is an obvious sign of the industry’s vigilance, but just as important are the measures that are not visible to users of public transportation. As the types of safety protocols that are often associated with holidays and special events become more commonplace—and indefinite—public transportation is helping to reassure, protect and prepare millions of people every day. That may be a small consolation during these uncertain times, but it’s our industry’s valuable contribution to public service as we enter the holiday season. As members of the public transportation community and as neighbors, we can be reassured of the efforts being made to keep America safe.

RIPTA Starts Program in Hope Valley Region; New Bus Service Reaches First-Time Riders

Since launching its ­latest route on Nov. 13, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has reported “a really warm and welcoming response” from local officials and residents alike for beginning to cover previously unserved regions of Rhode Island, according to Barbara Polichetti, director of public affairs.

The pilot program currently operates only on Fridays between 9 a.m.-2 p.m., running on a loop with approximately 20 stops, including local stores and a health services center in the Westerly-Hope Valley area. Riders also can request in advance custom stops within three-quarters of a mile of designated stops.

The route uses a 16-­passenger van from RIPTA’s RIde paratransit program during a time when the vehicle is not in use for that service.

Polichetti explained that the route connects villages separated by rural land and that local governments reached out to RIPTA for a way to meet the transportation needs of their residents.

“Since we’re using a vehicle already located in the area, this program is a cost-effective way for RIPTA to offer these residents a new transportation option and we’re very excited about it,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to assist people who live in areas that are not populated enough to have regular fixed-route service or even our Flex Service. Based on the reception this pilot program receives, it could serve as a template that RIPTA can use to offer options like this elsewhere in Rhode Island."

On opening day, residents of the rural Westerly-Hope Valley region of Rhode Island try out RIPTA's newest service, which uses a paratransit vehicle.
 

FRA Releases PTC Guidance for Railroads

FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg released guidance Nov. 19 regarding compliance with the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, which requires that covered railroads submit a revised PTC implementation plan (PTCIP) to FRA no later than Jan. 27.

Revised PTCIPs must provide the following:

* A detailed schedule and sequence for implementing a PTC system by Dec. 31, 2018, including a justification for the schedule and sequence;

* The calendar year(s) in which spectrum will be acquired and available for use in each area as needed for PTC implementation, if such spectrum is not already acquired and available for use;

* The total amount of PTC system hardware that will be installed by the end of each calendar year, with totals separated by each major hardware category;

* The total number of employees required to receive training under the applicable PTC regulations and the total number of employees that will be trained by the end of each calendar year;

* A summary of any remaining technical, programmatic, operational or other challenges to PTC implementation (including challenges with public funding availability, interoperability, spectrum, software, permitting, and testing, demonstration and certification);

* A description of how the PTC system will provide for interoperability of the system with the movements of trains of other railroad carriers over its lines; and

* A description of how, to the extent practical, the PTC system will be implemented in a manner that addresses areas of greater risk before areas of lesser risk.

Additionally, in the updated implementation plans, FRA expects to see the same sequence of track segments that was laid out previously in existing PTCIPs, just rescheduled to meet the new Dec. 31, 2018, implementation deadline.

FRA has posted a submission template accessible here.

Following submittal of the revised PTCIP, and within 90 days, FRA will review and notify each railroad, in writing, of its decision to approve or disapprove each revised PTCIP submitted. If FRA disapproves a revised PTCIP, FRA will explain the reasons in writing and the railroad will have 30 days from receipt of FRA’s notification to correct the deficiencies and resubmit its revised PTCIP.

FRA intends to aggressively enforce the deadlines and requirements of the act, officials say. For example, if a railroad fails to timely file or resubmit a revised PTCIP as required, FRA may, among other enforcement actions, assess a civil penalty of at least $5,000 per day.

For questions about this guidance, contact Jason Schlosberg. For t­echnical questions about preparing a revised PTCIP, contact Devin Rouse.

APTA is arranging a conference call in mid-December so officials of APTA member commuter railroads can obtain further guidance.

Hatch, Mott MacDonald to Split

Hatch and Mott MacDonald have announced that the Hatch Mott ­MacDonald (HMM) joint venture will separate into two distinct businesses, with the arrangements expected to be finalized by early 2016.

HMM’s Canada business will become part of Hatch while HMM’s U.S. business will become part of Mott MacDonald. HMM’s Pipelines business, which operates in both Canada and the U.S., will also join Mott MacDonald.

Hatch Mott MacDonald was created 20 years ago as a joint venture providing engineering and professional services to the North American infrastructure market. HMM currently serves the transportation, water/wastewater, tunneling and oil and gas pipelines markets, currently operating with 3,000 staff and 77 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to the HMM joint venture, both Mott MacDonald and Hatch provide services in various North American sectors outside HMM’s infrastructure markets. With the joint venture having more than fulfilled its original intent, Mott MacDonald and Hatch agree that the route to achieving their respective global growth ambitions is that they should now move forward as two separate businesses across North America.

Mott MacDonald and Hatch will continue to operate in all sectors throughout North America. Keith Howells and John Bianchini, the respective chief executive officers of Mott ­MacDonald and Hatch, made the following statement: “At a time of significant renewal in North American infrastructure, this change allows Hatch and Mott MacDonald and the staff of HMM to build and invest in new ways.”

Nick DeNichilo, Hatch Mott MacDonald’s CEO, will continue to lead the Hatch Mott MacDonald business until the company separation is concluded. At that point, DeNichilo will become president and CEO of Mott MacDonald in North America. Hatch Infrastructure in North America will be led by Michael Schatz, managing director of infrastructure.

New CEOs Named

Rogoff, Sound Transit

Peter Rogoff, DOT undersecretary for policy and former FTA administrator, is joining Sound Transit in Seattle as its new chief executive officer, effective in January.

Current Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl has been on medical leave since 2014 and will retire in March following the opening of the University Link light rail line. Deputy CEO Mike Harbour, who did not apply for the CEO position, will continue to serve as acting CEO until Rogoff’s arrival.

In his current post, Rogoff is the third highest ranking official at DOT. Before his appointment to FTA in 2009, he served for 22 years on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as the Democratic staff director of the Transportation Subcommittee, led by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)..

Hakim, MTA New York City Transit
Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, executive director of New Jersey Transit Corporation, has been named president of New York City Transit (NYC Transit), effective Dec. 28. NYC Transit, a division of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), is the largest public transit network in the U.S.

Hakim previously was a 23-year employee of MTA as special counsel to NYC Transit and executive vice president and general counsel at MTA Capital Construction. She also served as executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Hakim succeeds James L. ­Ferrara, president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, who has been serving as the interim president of NYC Transit since the August retirement of ­Carmen Bianco.

NYC Transit moves more than eight million daily customers on subways, buses, the Staten Island Railway and paratransit service.

McKenna, Missouri DOT
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has named Patrick K. McKenna director of Missouri DOT.

McKenna previously served as deputy commissioner of New Hampshire DOT; he has held leadership positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors and worked several years as the sole proprietor of a real estate holdings company.

He succeeds Interim Director Roberta Broeker, who will return to her previous position as Mo. DOT’s chief financial officer. ­Former Director Dave Nichols retired in spring 2015.

VIA Opens Centro Plaza at VIA Villa


VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio dedicated its newest hub, Centro Plaza at VIA Villa, at ceremonies Nov. 30 that included the recitation of an original poem by 2015 Texas State Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla. Centro Plaza provides a comfortable area for transfers, free Wi-Fi, digital next-bus arrival signs, an air-conditioned waiting area and a customer service center. An 85-foot-tall sculpture with multi-colored LED lights, “Centro Chroma Tower” by artist Bill FitzGibbons, stands on the plaza.

Snohomish Measure Passes; Community Transit Announces Service Additions

Following the approval of Proposition 1 in Snohomish County, WA, to increase sales tax revenue for public transportation in the Community Transit service district by 0.3 percent, the agency has announced additions to its service beginning in March.

The vote on the Nov. 3 ballot was too close to call, but official election results released by the county show the measure winning by 51 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.

In anticipation of the county beginning to collect the new tax on April 1, Community Transit will use reserve funds to pay for about 3,300 hours of new service beginning March 13. The service additions include 15 new bus trips, six extended trips and earlier/later travel times. The agency will begin receiving revenues from the tax measure in June.

“We promised to take immediate steps to increase service,” said Community Transit Chief Executive Officer Emmett Heath. “These modest changes are the first step toward delivering on that promise, with more service to follow in September 2016 and beyond.”

Salt Lake County Sales Tax Fails

The one-quarter percent sales tax in Salt Lake County, UT, to benefit transportation including the Utah Transit Authority (UTA)—which was too close to call on the Nov. 3 ballot—has been defeated, according to official election results released Nov. 17. (See the Nov. 16 issue of Passenger Transport for previous election coverage.)

The measure, Proposition 1, lost in the county by a margin of 51 percent opposed to 49 percent in favor.

Salt Lake County is one of 17 counties in Utah, and one of six that are part of the UTA service district, that placed the tax measure on the ballot. Among the UTA member counties, Davis, Tooele and Weber approved the new tax and Box Elder and Utah also defeated it. Forty percent of the money raised by the new tax in UTA member counties will go to the agency.

King Dies; Former AC Transit Interim GM, BART Board Member

Mary V. King, 69, interim general manager of AC Transit in Oakland, CA from 2009-2012, died Nov. 15.

King joined AC Transit in 2004 as assistant general manager for communications and external affairs. She retired in early 2012 and later that year was appointed to fill a vacancy on the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Board of Directors.

In 1988, she was the first African-American woman to be elected an Alameda County supervisor. She was re-elected twice and served as board president for two years. Earlier she led the drive for a successful county tax initiative campaign (Measure B) that created new sources of funding for public transit and other transportation projects. After leaving office in 2001, she became a private consultant specializing in transportation issues, among others.

King served on the APTA Board of Directors from 2011-2012 and as a member of the Legislative Committee from 2006-2012. Among other honors, she received the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2014 Metropolitan Transportation Commission Grand Award as chair of the Bay Bridge Design Task Force.

Bonds Dies; Founder of Amtrak Substance Prevention Program

Robert “Bobby” Bonds, 61, founder of ­Operation RedBlock, Amtrak’s internationally recognized substance prevention and inter­vention program, died Oct. 29 at his home in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

Bonds had a 39-year career with railroads, most of which he spent developing and administering assistance programs for Amtrak as their national director. He directed 155 union-led prevention committees across the U.S. to carry out drug and alcohol prevention and intervention training programs and cultural intervention strategies and served as the liaison between Amtrak’s management and 16 rail labor organizations.

He led Operation RedBlock for nearly 25 years, receiving presidential achievement awards from three administrations for his work with the program.


APTA NEWS

APTA Welcomes New WMATA GM


APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy officially welcomes Paul Wiedefeld, newly named general manager and chief executive officer, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, back to the public transit community. Wiedefeld was most recently CEO of the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. He previously served as administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration, among other management positions during his 30-year career in public and private transportation.

Calling All Ideas: APTA Seeks Annual Meeting Abstracts

Have a best practice to share, an innovative partnership to highlight, service improvement to cele­brate or technological improvement to present to your industry colleagues?

It’s time to submit a presentation abstract for the 2016 APTA Annual Meeting, Sept. 11-14 in Los Angeles. The submission deadline is Jan. 29.

Visit the APTA website to learn about the presentation process and submission guidelines. Submissions must come from employees of an APTA member organization and applicants must attach an updated bio to their MyAPTA profile. Notification of selected authors will begin in April.

For questions about the call for papers process, contact Cheryl Pyatt.

APTA Members in the Spotlight

Click here to see photos of APTA member public transit systems and businesses in the spotlight: hosting special events, giving back to their communities, making new connections for their passengers and unveiling new and improved vehicles.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Hugh A. Mose!

Hugh A. Mose
Principal, Hugh A. Mose, P.E., Transportation Consultant
State College, PA
Chair, Member Services Committee; vice chair, American Public Transportation Foundation; designated committee chair director, APTA Board of Directors; member, Legislative, Mobility Management and Small Operations committees; Past APTA vice chair-small operations; Recipient of the 2010 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award

Please describe your organization's scope.
I operate a one-person consulting shop that focuses on business development, legislative affairs, transit planning and alternative fuels issues. I primarily work with smaller systems and vendors who serve them, because that’s where most of my experience has been.

Before starting my consulting practice, I was a transit system general manager for 37 years. I spent 19 years heading the Centre Area Transportation Authority. I started my career in Iowa City, IA, then I went to Fresno, CA, and then to Olympia, WA. When my wife and I first came to State College, I figured we’d stay for three or four years, but 20 years have passed and we’re still here.

What attracted you to the industry?

I was working as a civil engineer and realized that I couldn’t see myself doing that for my entire career, so I took a leave of absence from my employer and went back to school. I enrolled in a master’s program at the University of Maryland for transportation and urban systems, a combination of transportation planning and traffic engineering.

I was also a graduate research assistant for a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertation was on planning for small public transit systems. I helped him gather data, visiting small fixed-route transit agencies in Maryland and Virginia and meeting their managers. I said to myself, “That’s what I want to do!”

As I got ready to graduate, I sent resumes to transit systems all over the country. Iowa City hired me right out of college—and when I started, I literally didn’t know which end of the bus the engine was in! But within three weeks I knew I had found my calling.

When I was about 60 I decided I would retire from CATA when I turned 65, but I knew I wanted to stay engaged with the industry. The CATA board and I developed a succession plan that involved hiring an assistant general manager who could then move into the top job. I planned ahead for my work life after retirement.

I’m staying very active in the local community and within the transit industry, doing some traveling, playing a little golf and just enjoying the fact that I don’t have to work 60-70 hours a week anymore.

Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.
I chair the Member Services Committee, which provides guidance and support to APTA’s professional staff. We work to recruit new members, make sure “at risk” members stay with APTA, look at members who have dropped out and try to encourage them to return. Our committee is also reaching out for new and younger members and increased diversity.

For the past couple of years, the chair of our committee has addressed Leadership APTA, sharing what we do and encouraging class members to get involved. They’re the wave of the future. If our committee is going to remain an important player within the APTA family, we have to get the next generation involved.

Recently the Member Services Committee has provided some recommendations to the APTA Executive Committee and staff regarding the role of shared-use mobility providers. We have to figure out how they fit into our association. I’m certain there’s a place for them, but it’s a delicate situation. This mode is here to stay and I think we need them in the public transit tent rather than on the outside.

When I first joined the American Public Transportation Foundation, I became part of a group developing a scholarship to commemorate this year’s 25th anniversary of the ADA. We put together a great steering committee and, working closely with Pam Boswell and her staff, we were successful. Our goal was $100,000 and we raised $115,000! I believe in the foundation and its mission, and I want to help it become all it can be.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?
For me, it’s all about the networking. I really value the opportunity to interact with my peers, whether it’s to brag about successes or cry on someone’s shoulder, and APTA is the best place I’ve ever found to do that.

What do you like most about your industry involvement?
The people. I always had an interest in transportation, but I think what allowed me to be successful in this industry for almost four decades is that I like working with people. After years of involvement in APTA, I know that the folks in our industry are quality people committed to doing the best they can to serve their customers and their communities.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Because I’ve been in the industry a long time, working in various parts of the country, I know a lot of people and they know me. I’ve discovered that that has value in the marketplace.

This is not a “surprise,” but it’s important to be said nonetheless: I want to acknowledge the APTA staff. I can’t think of a staff member I have had the opportunity to work with who hasn’t tried really hard to be responsive to my interests as a member.

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Michael Hemsley!

Michael Hemsley
Senior Membership Specialist
Member Services Department

What are the job elements you focus on the most?

I am the senior membership ­specialist, which is a newly created title that reflects my focus on the technical side of membership as well as the people side. A large part of my background is in data management and, with the exception of APTA’s database administrator, I probably use the membership database (NetForum) more than any other staff member.

I retrieve data from the database for a variety of projects—everything from developing lists of people to assisting APTA’s staff in growing our committees to pulling data that help build ­audiences for our various programs.

I immerse myself in the database as much as possible to become as proficient as possible in its usage and content so I can be a good resource to colleagues who often know what outcomes they want from the data but not necessarily the “language” of the database.

I also have to have a basic familiarity with all of APTA’s programs, products and services so when a member or a prospect asks questions, I can respond myself or guide the person to the right staff member. Most calls requesting general information about APTA are routed to me so a part of what I do is talk to my colleagues about what they’re working on so I can be sure to help answer those calls.

I also help with APTA’s recruiting efforts to make sure the messages are “heard” by a wide variety of prospective members and align with prospects’ needs and interests.

Like all APTA staff, I make sure our members are satisfied and getting more than they expect from their APTA membership. Quite often, I’m the first line of contact, and my goal is to guide members or prospective members in the right direction for information and support. What we do here at APTA is extremely important to the industry, and I help serve as a gatekeeper in both directions—from members to APTA and from APTA to members. It’s definitely a collaborative effort.

At APTA conferences when I work at the registration desk, my role is twofold: to talk about membership to any nonmember who has registered for the conference and to be knowledgeable about what we do, not just at the conference but at APTA overall.

Obviously, you have a lot of interaction with ­members. Please share a ­specific time when you recently helped a member.

At the 2015 Annual Meeting, I was talking with a panelist for the “This Is APTA” session and discovered that she was very interested in behind-the-scenes conference planning. I was able to introduce her to the right APTA staff person and now that member is on the Bus and Paratransit Conference planning committee. A very engaged member became even more involved in our work in an area that really interested her. That’s a win for everyone.

At the same conference, I talked with an attendee—a woman with a one-person consultancy—and she wasn’t sure that an APTA membership was a good fit for her. I talked with her for about 10 minutes and she joined right there.

What projects have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

Two years ago, I worked on a ­project to create our Online ­Buyers Guide as an add-on to the website. I had to figure out how to extract the data from NetForum and hand it off to the vendors so they could parse the data and create the guide.

The guide has become a really ­valuable service to APTA, the industry and members—especially smaller business members who use the guide for growing their business and networking.

I also really enjoy helping select panelists for the “This Is APTA” session at our conferences, which I began doing about four years ago when Michael Melaniphy started as president and chief executive officer. One of his priorities is a commitment to featuring diverse members in this session. I enjoy helping make that happen.

How did you land at APTA?

I responded to an ad placed with the American Society of Association Executives. I’ll be at APTA nine years in January.

I have a variety of experience in nonprofit organizations, going back 25 years when I worked for the Teamsters Union at its international headquarters. Every place I’ve worked has been a nonprofit. I really appreciate their focus on mission and members.

Please share something about yourself that might surprise us.

I’m an avid bowler and a true native Washingtonian—the city itself, not suburban Maryland or ­suburban Virginia. I still live in DC and always will.

But I’m a fan of the Oakland Raiders and have been since I was 8. I was watching them play on television and saw a defensive player tackle and hold a receiver on the ground. When the ref threw a flag for holding, the defender reacted by throwing his hands in the air—just like a kid who got caught doing something he shouldn’t. As an 8-year-old boy, that really made an impression on me, because I could see myself doing the same thing. I’ve been a fan ever since.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

7 of 10 Support More Funding for Public Transportation

More than seven in 10 people across all age groups and political affiliations support increased federal funding for public transportation systems that serve communities of all sizes, reports a recent APTA survey.

Some of the strongest support comes from millennials (ages 18-34) at 77 percent and older people (65 and older) at 76 percent.

“No matter where you live and work—and what age you are—public transit provides vital access to jobs and everything a community has to offer,” said APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy. “As Congress finalizes its work on the surface transportation bill, we must ensure we provide for both large and smaller communities through growth of the federal transit program.”

The study also reports that owning or having access to a private vehicle does not diminish public transit support, with about 71 percent of car owners saying they want to see more federal investment in public transportation in both large and small communities. Further, 56 percent said public transit is important in attracting and retaining employers to their community.

The national online study was conducted for APTA by ORC International. For details, click here.

Laketran Restores Final Service Cuts

With the approval of its 2016 operating budget, ­Lake­tran in Lake County, OH, has restored the last of the service cuts necessitated in 2009 in response to the economic recession’s ­dramatic decrease in local sales tax ­revenues and the uncertainty of state and federal funding.

The agency gradually restored service through a Financial Recovery Plan to offset projected operating deficits. With a balanced 2016 budget of $14.4 million for operations and a $4.3 million capital budget that does not require a fare increase, the agency will restore service on three federal holidays for local bus routes, dial-a-ride and park-and-ride.

“We are very pleased that our Financial Recovery Plan has allowed Laketran to bring back many vital services for the residents of Lake County who depend on public transit to access work, shopping, health care and higher education,” said General Manager Raymond Jurkowski.

The recovery plan centered around two main strategies: reducing and containing operating costs and developing new, non-traditional revenue streams.

For the first, Laketran froze salaries and wages, reduced the size of the workforce, engaged in creative and innovative ways to purchase fuel and contain insurance and healthcare costs by participating in larger groups to achieve economies of scale and cut 11 percent of service.

For the other, the system has secured 15 new revenue streams since 2009—four on a one-time basis, others recurring annually—by becoming a state Medicaid provider and securing federal grants. Fares have remained stable since 2009.

CATS Light Rail, Streetcars Aid Future Development

BY JOHN LEWIS
Executive Director, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS)

Charlotte, NC, has experienced a 10 percent expansion in population since April 2010 and is now ranked as having the third highest population growth rate among major U.S. cities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is also in the midst of an expansion, with multiple rail lines and rail infrastructure expansion projects underway supporting regional growth and spurring private economic development along multiple rail corridors.

Most recently, CATS launched the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar in July 2015, and ridership has already surpassed projections by more than 60 percent. Providing a direct link to uptown Charlotte, Phase 1 connects customers to universities, employment, sporting and entertainment venues and to more than 70 CATS bus routes and the LYNX Blue Line light rail service.

Phase 2 of the ­City­LYNX Gold Line is currently advancing through the 90 percent level of engineering design, with construction scheduled to begin in fall 2016. Phase 2 will extend the existing line by an additional 2.5 miles in the east and west directions of the city, providing an additional 11 stops and creating a four-mile streetcar service. The line is already attracting new transit-oriented development (TOD) and projections anticipate the Gold Line will attract nearly $4.5 billion in new TOD adjacent to the streetcar corridor by 2035.

In addition to advancing the streetcar project, CATS is currently midway through construction of the $1.16 billion LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE). This project is extending the existing LYNX Blue Line light rail line an additional 9.3 miles north, from uptown Charlotte to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus, creating an 18-mile cross-county, congestion-free service.

The BLE is also attracting new private development along the line with more than $200 million in planned or under ­construction projects, with an estimated new development of $4.4 billion by 2035. The BLE is scheduled to open in August 2017 with an estimated 25,000 in daily ridership.

The existing LYNX Blue Line, which opened in 2007, exceeded ridership projections in the first year by more than 50 percent and has continued to grow. To accommodate this growth, CATS is currently in Phase 1 of a multi-phase project to expand the existing Blue Line platforms to accommodate three-car trains.

The LYNX Blue Line has also been a catalyst to transform the south corridor, attracting more than $1.3 billion in development, $900 million in private development and another $400 million planned or under construction. These new developments with business, retail and residential components have created a vibrant mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment that is attracting both people and businesses to the corridor.

The investments the Charlotte region has made into a robust transit system are being embraced by the citizens and have become a critical transportation choice and economic development engine that will continue to provide ­sustainable benefits to the region for the next 50 years.

CATS crew distressing the rail, with the 9th Street Station in the background.

 

Portland Streetcar and TriMet: Partners for Greater Mobility and Community Development

BY NEIL McFARLANE
General Manager, TriMet
Portland, OR

When the first modern streetcar line opened in May 2001, it wasn’t obvious that TriMet would be a partner.

The Portland Streetcar was started by downtown Portland interests and the city of Portland. TriMet reacted with skepticism as we were focused on securing federal funding for its 18 mile Westside MAX light rail expansion and were concerned about the streetcar competing for funding.

TriMet was drawn in at first by its own union, which wanted to be the operator, and by the city, which wanted to utilize TriMet’s experience as the transit operator. The city funded transit signal priority to improve our bus operations in exchange for funding part of the streetcar operations. Over the years, TriMet and the city agreed to a funding agreement that capped TriMet’s contribution to about 50 percent.

By the time the eastside streetcar line was opened in 2011, making a system rather than just a line, TriMet and the city recognized the need for a more permanent, strategic partnership, rather than just the Operating Agreement that had been amended again and again over the course of more than a dozen years.

In 2012, TriMet and the city signed a Master Agreement. It guides future annual Operating Agreements and sets up a ­Permanent Executive Group to ensure coordination in planning, prioritizing and budgeting among TriMet, the city and the operating assistance organization, Portland Streetcar Inc. It also created a streetcar planning group with representatives from all three partners, who meet monthly to ensure coordination among the parties.

Fundamentally, the ­Master Agreement recognizes the complementary goals of the partners: development and mobility. It also recognizes the maturation of the streetcar system and the service. In service for 14 years now, the system’s long-term asset management becomes more significant, stressing the need for complete and well-coordinated capital and operations planning.

With the agreement, the city takes on long-term responsibility for capital and maintenance. As each line matures in development and ridership, TriMet takes on a larger share of the operating cost (starting at 50 percent and ending at 85 percent as ridership and development targets are reached).

The creation and expansion of the streetcar has helped transform the community it serves, allowing more economically vibrant development and more vital neighborhoods.

And the transportation benefits go beyond mobility with development changes and more public transit options, many more trips are now made on foot or by bike, meaning more people can travel with less congestion on the roads.

There has been more than $4.5 billion in development along the streetcar system, and just this year it has helped prompt more than 7,000 residential units opening or under construction.

Ridership is about 15,000 per weekday, with cost-effectiveness per passenger comparable to some of TriMet’s best bus lines. The Master Agreement sets the stage for continued success of this first modern streetcar line in the U.S.

L.A. Metro's New Safety Technologies

Los Angeles Metro and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) recently announced three major safety technologies and patrol innovations.

First, Metro is in the process of deploying elevated security towers called SkyWatch that will provide an “eye in the sky” at parking lots on the Metro Rail system. Paid for with a California Transit Security Grant, the towable SkyWatch towers will provide real-time video surveillance at four rail stations and can be moved as needs arise.

“Every year, commuters park about four million vehicles in Metro parking lots before boarding our buses and trains,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Tightening security in these parking lots is an important part of making their commute safe and convenient.”

Metro has also begun installing security kiosks at nine locations to help sheriff’s deputies and other security ­personnel access enforcement tools such as closed circuit television displays, landline telephones, two-way radios and computer workstations. Funding for the kiosks came from a $5.1 million ­California Transit Security Grant.

Metro and LASD are also expanding implementation of the LexRay mobile application technology, which brings key information from video and data directly to the user’s smartphone or tablet, working with Wi-Fi, cellular and satellite communications.

These technologies are part of ­Metro’s safety enhancement program called “The Three Es: Engineering, ­Education and Enforcement.”

RTA Participates in Anniversary of Dayton Peace Accords

Dayton, OH, played host to history 20 years ago and the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) helped to do so Nov. 18-21, when current and former world leaders gathered in the city to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords.

RTA was a sponsor for the celebration, which brought together heads of state to remember the 1995 conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that marked the end of the Bosnia-­Herzegovina War. The agency transported attendees—including foreign affairs ministers, mayors and ambassadors from ­Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia as well as local dignitaries—to ­luncheons (one of which featured a keynote speech by former President Bill Clinton), conferences and meetings on the University of Dayton’s River Campus.

“This is our chance to help roll out the red carpet for the world and show off our unique public transportation ­system,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Mark Donaghy. “We’re proud of our ­people and the good work they do, day in and day out, to transport our ­citizens wherever they need to go.”

Donaghy continued: “It’s not every day we welcome world leaders onto our fleet, but I like to think we treat all of our passengers as the most important people in our world.”

Participants in the Dayton Peace Accords’ 20th Anniversary Celebration travel on an RTA bus.
 

Industry Briefs

BART’s First Anniversary of ­Oakland Airport Service — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) marked the first anniversary of its automated service between Oakland International Airport and Coliseum Station on Nov. 21, with the millionth trip on the route expected to occur during that weekend. Ridership on the service is 36.5 percent higher than the AirBART shuttle bus that previously connected BART with the airport.

Ventra App Serves Chicago Area Systems — The free Ventra App, now available from the App Store or Google Play, provides convenient fare access to passengers of the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace Suburban Bus and Metra. In addition to offering account management on the go and the ability to purchase tickets and passes, the app features public transit trackers for all three agencies.

INIT Expands Headquarters — INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc. has announced plans to expand its presence in Chesapeake, VA, by consolidating its administrative offices, two manufacturing firms and warehouse operations into a single 70,000-square-foot facility. The new offices will house engineering, development, sales, customer support, information technology, project management and administrative departments.

Website Connects Transit Info for Kansas City — The recently launched RideKC website provides information about all public transportation providers throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. The site is part of a regional effort to create a seamless public transit system that easily connects people to opportunity, regardless of where they live.

MBTA Provides Wireless in All Subways — The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) recently expanded its wireless network to the Silver Line subway route, completing full wireless coverage into all MBTA underground subway lines and stations. The wireless system uses infrastructure from SOLiD.

COMMENTARY

Autonomous Vehicles and the VMT Problem

BY RON KILCOYNE

The flurry of speculation about the future of autonomous vehicles is mostly ignoring a significant downside: the impact on vehicle miles travelled (VMT). Safety and congestion resonate with people while VMT doesn’t. Yet reducing per capita VMT is also essential for combating climate change. The potential increase in VMT when self-driving cars become prevalent could negate any congestion reduction benefit. Indeed, it could be far worse than today.

Reducing VMT or per capita VMT is usually viewed as restricting individual freedom. But is it? If high quality pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and high quality transit service is provided, individuals have attractive choices to driving and many use them. Add to this mix car sharing, bike sharing and transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft and many households are choosing to go car free or reduce the numbers of autos owned without sacrificing mobility and accessibility. …

Countless predictions on the impact autonomous vehicles have been voiced—and they are probably all wrong. … Autonomous vehicles will not eliminate the need for high capacity transit and Jarrett makes this case here [“no, autonomous cars will not ‘abolish transit’ in dense cities"] and we should be concerned that opponents of transit investment will use the prospect of autonomous vehicles as a reason not to invest in transit.

But the real concern is on the impact on society and the communities in which we live. … [L]et’s focus on two of the most discussed impacts of the growth in autonomous vehicle penetration in urban areas:

* reducing the amount of land devoted exclusively to the movement and storage of automobiles (a benefit) and

* the increase of VMT, causing inevitable pressure to pave more of the earth (a negative).

The former will only occur, and the latter will only be tamed, if we price the movement and storage of vehicles correctly.

Improper pricing of automobile use and storage has put public transportation at a disadvantage since the end of WWII and maybe even longer than that. There is plenty of literature that makes the case for proper pricing of road space, but as impressive as these arguments are there is little public support to increase the cost of driving or storing a car. Without public support there will not be political support.

Car sharing and bike sharing have been growing over the past few years. The prevalence of these options results in some households shedding a car and using alternatives, including using transit more frequently. Indeed the two are mutually supportive. …If car ownership declines, and trips using shared cars are accurately priced, then individuals are more inclined to walk, bike or use transit when those modes are attractive alternatives. High-ridership transit in particular will still be cheaper than shared cars. Therefore it is in the transit industry’s interest to partner, promote and facilitate growth of the sharing economy, but also to ensure that these services are priced fairly. If so, the sharing economy and high-ridership transit should be the best of friends …

If VMT grows dramatically we may find that the promises of freeing our cities of parking craters an illusion. And for the same reason widening roads doesn’t end congestion—induced demand—the promises that autonomous vehicles will end congestion could be just as fleeting. Therefore the need to properly price road usage and parking spaces and to include externalities such as greenhouse gas emissions (tailpipe for liquid fuels or at the source for electricity) becomes more imperative.

Any combination of greenhouse gas tax, vehicle mile traveled tax, weight–distance tax, congestion pricing or variable tolls can accomplish this if priced properly. However getting any of these fees enacted is daunting. Opponents of ending auto subsidies are much more effective in framing the issue in ways that appeal to the average citizen. …

Individuals and organizations that care about climate change, the quality of our urban spaces and protecting open space need to brainstorm on how to frame this issue to build the needed political support to accurately price road and parking space usage. …

To keep our cities moving and not overrun with vehicles, we need high quality transit in an autonomous vehicle world. Most modeling relating to the impact of autonomous vehicles indicates an increase in VMT even in scenarios that assume the availability of high quality, high capacity transit. Unless the number of people arriving at a destination equals the number of people leaving at the same time, there will be a lot of empty autonomous vehicles moving about going to their next trip. If we can call up a vehicle wherever we are and if use of street space is heavily subsidized, enabling these services to be inexpensive, induced demand will overwhelm our road network even with these vehicles travelling closer together.

With parking taking up to 25 percent of the space in our communities large and small and road space another 25 percent or more, the prospect of reducing this is very appealing. One futurist claims we can reduce the need for parking by 80 percent. That may seem fantastical but even a 10 percent reduction in land devoted to parking can result in more green space, housing and employment opportunities in our cities without destroying the character of existing neighborhoods and allowing cities and small communities to grow preventing sprawl.

This can only happen if road space is properly priced and if we invest in high quality pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and high quality transit service. The question we need to think about and answer is, [H]ow do we succeed in getting pricing and investment decisions right?

This Commentary originally appeared on humantransit.org, a blog by transportation planning consultant Jarrett Walker. Reprinted and excerpted for length with permission.

Kilcoyne is general manager of Lane Transit District in Eugene, OR.

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

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