Passenger Transport - December 18, 2015
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BREAKING NEWS

House Approves Tax, Spending Bills, Senate to Vote Next; Measure Places Transit Commute Benefit in Parity with Parking, Alternative Fuels Tax Credit Extended

As Passenger Transport went to press, the House voted 318-109 on Dec. 17 to approve the $680 billion tax extenders bill. Early on Friday, Dec. 18, the House voted 316-113 to pass a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through September 2016. The bills were combined in the House and sent to the Senate, which is expected to pass the measure Dec. 18.

The House bill extends the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit through 2016. APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said this measure “will help the many public transportation systems across the country who use alternative fuel to provide safe, reliable and clean public transit services. It will also encourage additional public transit agencies to use alternative fuels.”

If the Senate also approves the combined tax and appropriations measure passed by the House, the commuter benefit for public transportation riders would receive permanent parity with the parking benefit, at a monthly maximum of $255 for both programs beginning in 2016. The maximum monthly amount allowed for the commuter benefit in 2015 was $130, compared with $250 for the parking benefit.

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall called the vote “a terrific moment for the millions of Americans who use public transportation and for the public transportation industry.” She continued, “The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that will ensure that the U.S. tax code will be consistent for both public transit riders and those individuals who use the parking benefit. We look forward to its passage in the Senate.”

Melaniphy said, “Permanent parity with the parking benefit has been a long time coming. Assuming the tax extension legislation also passes in the Senate, federal tax law will no longer favor driving and parking over public transportation. It is sound policy that will promote greater usage of public transit.”

Earlier, both the House and Senate approved a Continuing Resolution that would fund the government at current levels through Dec. 22.

NEWS HEADLINES

L.A. Metro Launches Silver Line Express

In the shadow of the World War II battleship USS Iowa, Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington joined other officials on Dec. 14 to launch the Metro Silver Line Express, which serves both as a weekday, rush-hour express line and an off-peak hours line that makes the same run with a few additional stops.

“The Silver Line Express is a great example of how Metro is exploring new ways to make service better for our customers,” Washington said. “We had two popular lines—the Silver Line and the 450—and we combined them to improve service, convenience and reach for our patrons. The new line is also taking advantage of the speed offered by another of our projects: the Harbor Freeway Express Lanes. We know the Silver Line Express is going to be a great benefit to residents of the San Pedro area.”

Specifically, the new express service operates every 20 minutes during weekday rush hours, saving commuters approximately 15-20 minutes per trip as it travels along freeway express lanes between San Pedro and downtown Los Angeles; as an off-peak hours line, it also operates evenings and weekends, running every 30 minutes, compared with 30-60 minutes for the line it replaces.

The new line provides a direct connection to the USS Iowa war museum. As a special welcome to Metro patrons, the USS Iowa is offering free admission to the museum through Jan. 31 for guests who show their farecard or county employee ID. 

Introducing Los Angeles Metro’s Silver Line Express, with the USS Iowa in the background, are, from left, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, Metro CEO Phillip Washington, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Member Eric Garcetti and Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

JTA Introduces BRT; Receives FTA Grant to Expand

 As the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) introduced service Dec. 7 on the first of five First Coast Flyer BRT corridors, the agency received a $19.1 million Small Starts Grant Agreement (SSGA) from FTA for a future expansion of the service.

The First Coast Flyer Green Line serves the North Corridor with stops at major destinations including FSCJ, VA Clinic, UF Health and Gateway Town Center.

“The signing of this Small Starts Grant Agreement is another significant step in the First Coast Flyer program for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority,” said Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “The First Coast Flyer initiative will transform travel in the Northeast Florida region. It lays the foundation for a regional transportation network that will boost our economy and enhance the quality of life for our citizens. The Flyer connects customers to jobs, education, shopping and healthcare in a heavily transit-dependent region.”

The SSGA will support the $23.8 million Southeast Corridor, the third of five segments in the First Coast Flyer system, along with funds from Florida DOT and JTA. The 11.1-mile project includes seven stations, transit signal priority at 18 intersections and off-board fare collection, along with construction of a park-and-ride lot and procurement of 10 energy-efficient compressed natural gas buses.

When completed in 2019, the Flyer system will cover 57 miles of destination travel and will be the largest BRT system of its kind in the Southeast.

At the launch of JTA’s First Coast Flyer Green Line, from left: Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson, Jacksonville City Council Member Joyce Morgan, JTA Board of Directors Vice Chair Isaiah Rumlin, JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), Jacksonville City Council Members Sam Newby and Katrina Brown and FTA Region 4 Administrator Yvette Taylor.

Moline's MetroLINK Opens 'Mega Stop' at Mall

The Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK) opened a Metro Mega Stop located at SouthPark Mall, Moline, IL, on Dec. 7, created through a community partnership between the agency and Macerich, which operates the mall and is implementing major redevelopment.

“The new SouthPark Mall Mega Stop is an important element of our transportation network that serves as a crucial instrument in connecting people to jobs and shopping experiences,” said MetroLINK General Manager Jeff Nelson. “As we continue to create a cool, creative, connected and prosperous region, transit projects such as these will be critical to regional growth and opportunity in the Quad Cities.”

The core of the Mega Stop is a 3,400-square-foot covered platform just outside the main doors of the mall, designed to accommodate four buses. Amenities include real-time signage, lighting, landscaping and seating, along with additional investment in access roads designed to support bus traffic.

Jennifer Garrity, the system’s manager of administration, added, “The SouthPark Mall Mega Stop is a perfect example of how public transit provides connectivity and better access to jobs and destinations such as SouthPark Mall. The project aligns with our strategic mission to invest in our community with well-thought-out infrastructure that complements private businesses and generates a positive experience with our riders. Thanks to Macerich, we can offer this great transit amenity that supports the employees and riders who access SouthPark Mall on a daily basis.”

Kathy Jurgens, senior property manager for the mall, added, “The opening of the new Metro Mega Stop is the ideal complement to further connect with our local community.”

MetroLINK Board Chairman Larry Lorensen cuts the ribbon at the Metro Mega Stop as General Manager Jeff Nelson and other board members look on.

Photo courtesy of Quad City Times

SORTA Plans 'Reinvention' of Metro Service; APTA's McCall, FTA's Flowers Attend

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), operator of Metro in Cincinnati, described the reinvention of public transit in its community at the 2015 State of Metro annual meeting Dec. 11, with APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall and FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers in attendance.

Agency officials announced that Metro will break ground in 2016 for the Oakley Transit Center, which will serve several eastside routes and provide such customer amenities as real-time information and a ticket vending machine. Also next year, Metro will introduce smaller vehicles for more efficient operation on low-ridership routes that don’t require a full-size bus but need to operate as lifeline service, new commuter-style buses for longer routes serving suburban park-and-rides and mobile ticketing that will allow customers to purchase fares on their smartphones.

Dwight Ferrell, Metro chief executive officer and general manager who will celebrate his one-year anniversary with Metro in January, said the initiatives are the result of community feedback, discussions with business leaders and stakeholders and a study by transportation consultants.

“We have been seeking feedback from a wide range of experts and constituents and will continue to do so as we shape the transit system of the future,” Ferrell said. “I am grateful so many people in this community have shared their ideas and thoughts. People in this region place a high value on transit, especially when it comes to connecting people to jobs.” 

In attendance at the 2015 State of Metro annual meeting in Cincinnati, from left: SORTA Board Vice Chair Kenneth Reed, SORTA Board Chair Jason Dunn, FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers, APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, FTA Region 5 Administrator Marisol Simon, Operator of the Year Orlando King and CEO Dwight A. Ferrell.

Metrolink Dedicates Perris Valley Line; Opens to Passengers in 2016

The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink commuter rail, held dedication ceremonies Dec. 11 at the Downtown Perris Station for the 91/Perris Valley Line, which will be the agency’s first service extension since 1994.

“We could not be more excited about the extension and look forward to servicing the area,” said Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “This line will further connect the people in the Perris Valley with destinations across Southern California and bring more people to discover places they couldn’t access by train before.”

The 24-mile extension of the 91 Line is scheduled to open next year. It will run from the Riverside-Downtown Station to South Perris and will include four new stations. The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) secured funding for the $248 million project.

Participating in dedication ceremonies for Metrolink’s 91/Perris Valley Line extension, from left: Metrolink board member Andrew Kotyuk, California Assembly member Jose Medina, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, Metrolink Director and Perris Mayor Daryl Busch, Metrolink CEO Art Leahy and RCTC Executive Director Anne Mayer.

Blue Water Area Transit Opens Downtown Facility

Blue Water Area Transit (BWAT) in Port Huron, MI, held ribbon-cutting ceremonies Dec. 11 to open the Blue Water Transit Bus Center, a downtown facility designed to improve ease of transfers among the seven routes that travel through the city and neighboring Fort Gratiot Township.

“This new facility will significantly improve our on-time performance while providing amenities for our passengers,” said BWAT General Manager Jim Wilson. “It is in a good central location for serving the community college, the senior center and the McMorran entertainment complex.”

Wilson said BWAT will make the large outdoor public area available for events such as craft fairs and farmers’ markets. “We’ll have tables for board games, like chess and checkers, and a place for performers,” Wilson said. “This will be a place where folks can just hang out and enjoy visiting with each other.”

The new bus center consists of two buildings measuring a total of 7,400 square feet, replacing the agency’s previous transfer point. Amenities at the site include heated waiting areas, ticket vending machines and bus schedule displays. The project also included repaving of adjacent parking areas, widening sidewalks and adding crosswalks.

The project also reflects BWAT’s continued commitment to energy efficient strategies. For example, the boilers that will keep boarding areas warm for passengers will also keep sidewalks free of snow in the winter.

The agency has entered into a partnership with St. Clair County Community Mental Health, which will operate a convenience store at the bus center beginning in the spring. This store will provide retail and training opportunities for clients of the agency.

FTA provided 70 percent of the funding for the project,  the state 17.5 percent and the agency funded the balance.

BWAT General Manager Jim Wilson, second from right, and other dignitaries cut the ribbon at the new Blue Water Transit Bus Center in Port Huron, MI.

LTD Introduces Airport Connector

The Lane Transit District (LTD), Eugene, OR, recently introduced Airport Connector service to the Eugene Airport in partnership with the airport and Lane Community College.

LTD Board President Gary Wildish said, “A public transit connection to the airport has been a topic of discussion in our community for years. We are pleased to be partnering with the Eugene Airport and Lane Community College to fund this pilot project and we are excited to see how students, travelers and airport employees react to this service option.”

Regarding the importance of the new service, Andy Vobora, LTD director of customer services and planning, said, “On the first day, we were thrilled to hear of a businessman from a nearby community who plans to use the new connector service for a flight he takes each week.”

The one-year pilot project will operate free to passengers who pay the fare on the connecting bus.

In addition to providing service to nearly 1,500 people who work on the airport property, the connector will serve Lane Aviation Academy, a part of Lane Community College with 120 students training to become pilots and maintenance technicians.

A passenger arrives at the Eugene Airport after riding LTD's Airport Connector.

Omnitrans Transports Evacuees in Wake of San Bernardino Shooting

In the aftermath of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San ­Bernardino, CA, where 14 people were killed and more injured, Omnitrans buses helped evacuate more than 460 people from the scene of the incident.

The County of San Bernardino Emergency Operations Center (EOC) called on Omnitrans to help transport people from the Inland Regional Center and surrounding businesses after the shooting. Using three 40-foot and one 60-foot vehicles, the agency initially took people to a local church where they could be interviewed by local law enforcement. Later the evacuees were transported to a community center where they reunited with family and friends. Two law enforcement officers accompanied each bus.

“We played a limited but important role in assisting our first responders during this tragic event,” said Omnitrans Chief Executive Officer P. Scott Graham.

As part of the county emergency communication network, Omnitrans security staff were notified of the active shooter situation at the Inland Regional Center within minutes of initial 911 calls. The agency detoured bus service to the immediate area while working to maintain as much regularly scheduled service as possible.

“We do not shut down service and leave passengers stranded on the street,” said Graham. “We adjust, adapt and provide whatever service is possible as conditions permit until normal operations can resume.”

Omnitrans defers to the county EOC regarding service it can provide relative to an emergency. The agency works to keep as much of its regular service running on schedule as possible during an emergency situation, pulling buses from the routes with highest frequency if they are needed.

Coach operators and other employees were notified of the emergency situation; security guards at the San ­Bernardino Transit Center and Omnitrans headquarters in San Bernardino were placed on heightened alert, but both facilities remained open to the public.

APTA’s Standards Program includes several standards that support this kind of emergency response, available at www.apta.com/resources/standards/security. These include standards regarding emergency management aspects of special event service, transit incident drills and exercises, mutual aid programs and initiatives public transit agencies can implement to reduce the likelihood of an attack from occurring. Additional guidance is available through the ­Public Transportation Information ­Sharing and Analysis Center (PT-ISAC).

Omnitrans buses line up at a staging area to transport evacuees after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

New CEOs Named

Genova, Denver RTD

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors in Denver has entered into contract negotiations with Dave Genova as general manager and chief executive officer and hopes to extend an offer by the end of the year.

Genova, whose most recent title at RTD is assistant general manager of safety, security and facilities, has served as interim general manager and CEO since Phillip A. Washington stepped down to take over the top position at Los Angeles Metro. Genova joined RTD in 1994.

For APTA, Genova is a past chair of the Rail Safety Committee, past vice chair of the Bus Safety Committee and a member of numerous other committees.

Wilson, Louisiana DOTD

Louisiana Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards has named Shawn Wilson as the next secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). Wilson has been the agency's chief of staff for the past 10 years, serving earlier as executive director of the Louisiana Serve Commission and deputy legislative director in the administration of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Leighton, WSTA

Justin D. Leighton has joined the Washington State Transit Association (WSTA), Olympia, WA, as its executive director, effective Jan. 1. Leighton, who succeeds Geri Beardsley, is government relations officer for Pierce Transit in Lakewood, WA, and worked earlier as a high school teacher and an employee of the Washington State House of Representatives.

 





Kaplan, CIRTA

The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority in Indianapolis has named Lori Kaplan executive director on a permanent basis. She has served in the post on an interim basis since April.

Kaplan joined CIRTA in 2011 as vanpool manager and more recently served as manager of the Commuter Connect rideshare program. Andrew McGee, who had served as interim assistant director for Commuter Connect, will take over the job permanently.

Koleber, Interim, CAT, Savannah, GA

The Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT), Savannah, GA, appointed Curtis Koleber, chief operating officer, as interim chief executive officer/executive director. He succeeds Chadwick Reese, who left the agency.

Makinen, Interim, KCATA

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO, has named Robbie Makinen its interim president/chief executive officer. He will succeed Joe Reardon, who is leaving KCATA to lead the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Makinen has chaired the KCATA Board of Commissioners for almost five years
.

Campion Dies; Former Head of Golden Gate District

Carney Campion, 87, head of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District from 1984 until his retirement in 1999, died Dec. 5 at his home in Terra Linda, CA.
 
Campion joined the district as its secretary in 1975 before his promotion to general manager. During his tenure, he helped improve public transit accessibility for older riders and persons with disabilities and supported the introduction of high-speed ferry service. He also helped with acquisition of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad right-of-way, which will be used by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit line when it opens next year.

[APTA file photo]


MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Mark Teschauer!


Mark Teschauer

Program Manager, Environment and Infrastructure
Policy Department

What are the job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?

My primary focus is working on APTA’s sustainability programs and the Sustainability Committee, led by Chair Susannah Kerr Adler. This work includes helping the department conduct and manage the Sustainability Commitment, the Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop and the Sustainability and Urban Design Standards.

Additionally, I have to stay current with member public transit agencies and businesses regarding environmental reviews, the FTA capital investment grant program and state of good repair/transit asset management. I also help schedule educational sessions at APTA conferences.

Recently my colleagues and I supported the APTA and FTA peer exchange on performance based planning and programming. It provided a forum where agencies and businesses can discuss issues and new ideas on the benefits of performance based planning and ways to communicate performance.

Please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.

I’m in contact with APTA members on a daily basis, working on a variety of programs. For example, I recently gave a webinar to a member who had questions about the recognition process in the Sustainability Commitment, which recognizes members for their sustainability achievements, with levels of recognition starting at Entry and going through Bronze, Silver, Gold and finally Platinum. I explained to an entry-level member that participants could apply to receive recognition at any level they wish and not laboriously progress through each level, step by step. The member was very happy to hear this. It’s very rewarding to help members receive the recognition they merit.

I also help conduct outreach to ­members who aren’t currently involved in the commitment and help them think about the benefits of sustainability in ways they didn’t previously consider, such as the potential for reduced operating expenses.

I enjoy contributing to efforts that bring members together so they can learn from each other—a member-driven way of sharing best practices.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

I’ve worked for APTA for six months, having joined two months before the 2015 Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop. It was baptism by fire but I loved it; it gave me an opportunity to see how APTA works, meet industry leaders and get first-hand exposure to the issues we face as an industry. At the Annual Meeting, I helped organize a session devoted to the benefits of sustainability beyond the purely environmental components of the program. People in the public transit industry have a strong interest in sustainability, and the session presented information on other benefits that derive from sustainability actions.

I also enjoy collecting feedback from members on topics such as a federal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on transit asset management. It enables me to keep my fingers on the pulse of our membership.

How did you land at APTA? Have you held other jobs in the industry?

I’m new to public transit as a profession, but even before coming to APTA I had an interest in transit and collected farecards wherever I went. I met Rich Weaver, APTA’s director of planning, policy and sustainability, at a conference. We started talking about our mutual interests, including transit’s role in creating sustainable communities. When a position opened up here, he encouraged me to apply. I jumped at the opportunity, and here I am today working for him.

Before APTA, I attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin and received two master of science degrees, one in community and regional planning and the other in sustainable design, and helped Austin with its successful application for 4-STAR recognition under STAR Communities.

My first job was here in DC at NeighborWorks America, a national affordable housing and community development nonprofit organization, where I worked on green strategies. They have member organizations like APTA, and it was an honor to help these members advance sustainability in ways that improve the lives of residents in low- to moderate-income communities. Sometimes this took the form of transit-oriented development and complete streets!

What are your professional affiliations?

I’m a member of the American Planning Association and helped establish the APA’s Sustainable Communities Division, of which I was secretary-treasurer. I’m still a member and also a member of the Transportation Division. For the last two years I’ve volunteered with DC government by conducting community outreach for the district’s sustainability plan, Sustainable DC.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

I earned a bachelor of music degree in music history from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 or 6 and especially like contemporary classical music. I also enjoy food and cooking a lot, and I brew my own beer.

2015: THE YEAR IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Following Public Transportation in 2015: Openings, Ground Breakings, Improvements and Acquisitions

Public transportation agencies and businesses achieved numerous milestones during the past year, from the openings of new rail, bus and BRT lines to the beginning of high-speed rail construction in California and top-to-bottom overhauls of entire bus route systems.Here’s a month-by-month look at these events as they appeared in Passenger Transport.

December 2014

Los Angeles Metro launched Valley-Westside Express bus service, which provides nonstop service between Van Nuys and Westwood operating in carpool lanes.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) opened its second BRT line, the Cleveland State Line, using specially designed 60-foot articulated buses on a route with 19 new stations.

The Atlanta Streetcar entered service, serving 12 stops with vehicles manufactured by Siemens. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) was among the partners that created the system.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) reopened its Damen Station, one of 13 stations on the O’Hare branch of the CTA Blue Line undergoing renovations and improvements. The renovation preserves historic features that date to 1895 while upgrading customer facilities and service capabilities.

The city of Dearborn, MI, opened an intermodal passenger rail station named in honor of former Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), a longtime transportation advocate and the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history—59 years.

The Ventura County (CA) Transportation Commission (VCTC) welcomed 14 new intercity buses from Motor Coach Industries at ceremonies that also rebranded the service as “VCTC Intercity Bus.”

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the city of Anaheim, CA, jointly opened the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, which provides connections to OCTA buses, Metrolink commuter rail, Amtrak, taxis, bikes, shuttles and tour buses.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) introduced the Love Link shuttle, offering an eight-minute, curb-to-curb ride between DART’s Inwood/Love Field Station and Dallas Love Field airport.

January

The California High-Speed Rail Authority broke ground for the state’s high-speed rail line at the site of a future station in downtown Fresno.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan visited Boston to present the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) with a $996 million Full Funding Grant Agreement to help finance a 4.7-mile extension of Green Line light rail.

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) introduced the first six of 39 new light rail vehicles from CAF USA.

Sound Transit in Seattle received a $1.3 billion federal loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA)—the largest single TIFIA loan to a public transit agency in the nation and the second largest loan overall—that was expected to help the agency restore some voter-approved projects that had been suspended as a result of the recession.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) reopened Kennedy Plaza, its 15-bay hub in downtown Providence, followed by formal dedication ceremonies.

The Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, upgraded its free ZeroBus downtown shuttle service by replacing its diesel-powered trolley-replica buses with all-electric, zero-emission buses from Proterra.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL, opened its first new customer service center in 13 years, the Pinellas Park Transit Center.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO, entered into a two-year Interlocal Cooperation Agreement for Transit Management and Administration with neighboring Johnson County, KS.

Milwaukee County Transit Services launched two new MetroEXpress limited-stop bus routes, the GoldLine and the PurpleLine, while reconfiguring two existing regular bus routes.

After operating out of trailers for the past 30 years, the SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, opened its first permanent administration building.

The Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans broke ground for the 1.6-mile North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar Project, which will connect the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods to Canal Street and Loyola Avenue when it opens in 2016.

Prevost, a division of the Volvo group specializing in touring coach and bus assembly, opened its first U.S. production line in Plattsburgh, NY, in the expanded facility of its sister company Nova Bus.

Alstom and other partners entered into a contract worth $372 million with MTR Corporation, operator of Hong Kong’s metro network, to resignal and upgrade the signaling systems of seven metro lines in Hong Kong.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the San Diego Association of Governments introduced new low floor trolley cars on MTS’ Blue Line, which connects the U.S.-Mexico border with downtown San Diego.

Detroit DOT received the first of 80 buses from New Flyer, part of an order consisting of 70 40-foot vehicles and 10 60-foot articulated buses.

February

Houston METRO opened its 25th and newest station on the METRORail Red Line, Central Station Main. This station also began providing service to the Green (East End) and Purple (Southeast) lines when they opened in May.

CTA opened its newly constructed Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station on the city’s Near South Side, filling a 2.5-mile gap between stations that has existed since 1977.

Wabtec Corporation, Wilmerding, PA, acquired Railroad Controls L.P., ­Benbrook, TX.

Irwin Transportation Products, Irwin, PA, acquired VECOM USA LLC, based in Tampa.

VHB, based in Watertown, MA, acquired GMB Engineers & Planners Inc., a transportation firm with offices in Florida and Atlanta.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel participated in ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the new office space for Freedman Seating Company, located on the city’s West Side.

March

VCTC, Ventura, CA, introduced service on its new fixed route bus system, Valley Express. This service, comprising four lines in three communities, replaced VISTA, the agency’s dial-a-ride service, which previously was its only offering except for a regional intercity route that remains in operation.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, opened an Innovation Center at its River Oaks headquarters as a space where agency teams, companies, startups and students can develop, test and showcase new transportation technologies.

Safe Fleet, headquartered in Belton, MO, acquired Elkhart Brass, Elkhart, IN.

AC Transit, Oakland, CA, began operating a 42-foot double-decker bus from Alexander Dennis on a pilot basis. The agency first deployed the 80-seat coach on a route between Fremont and Stanford University, then moved it to other daily routes crossing San Francisco Bay and operating on city streets.

Greater Cleveland RTA began testing four prototype “NexGen” dual-mode electric trolleybuses that can operate either on or off the agency’s overhead electric system. Gillig built the buses, with conversion by Complete Coach Works and Vossloh-Kiepe.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) introduced the Free Muni program for low-to-moderate-income older riders and persons with disabilities.

MARTA marked the first jurisdictional expansion in its history with a ribbon-cutting event in Clayton County, where residents voted by three to one in 2014 to join the agency and increased the county sales tax by 1 percent to finance the service.

Lee County Transit, Fort Myers, FL, dedicated its $42.9 million headquarters facility at ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Houston METRO broke ground for the Harrisburg Overpass, the last component of the Green (East End) METRORail light rail line.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), Las Vegas, launched a $40.3 million project to improve the Flamingo Road corridor, which connects to 15 RTC routes.

SEKISUI Polymer Innovations LLC recently purchased a third manufacturing facility two miles from its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bloomsburg, PA.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. ­Malloy, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker participated in ceremonies to launch CTfastrak, the state’s first BRT system. A 9.4-mile bus-only guideway with 10 stations connects Hartford, West Hartford, Newington and New Britain.

The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) introduced service on its third “BRT Lite” corridor, Charlotte Pike. The service operates faster than standard fixed-route service but MTA uses the term “BRT Lite” because the routes operate in traffic rather than using dedicated lanes.

Chicago DOT and CTA broke ground for the Loop Link project, designed to ease bus travel through the Loop (the city’s central business district) with dedicated bus lanes, stations with bus-level boarding, protected bike lanes, two traffic lanes and additional sidewalk space.

The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) broke ground for a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility, which will include a public access station where other CNG customers can refuel their vehicles.

Metrolink commuter rail in southern California introduced PTC technology as a revenue service demonstration along the San Bernardino Line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

VIA Metropolitan Transit introduced “The E,” a new free circulator service in downtown San Antonio, in a six-month pilot program in partnership with the city and Centro San Antonio, the downtown public improvement district.

April

More than 360 entities from across the U.S. participated in APTA’s Stand Up for Transportation Day (SU4T) on April 9. The nationwide grassroots advocacy effort in support of long-term federal funding for public transportation brought together public transit passengers and elected officials as well as business, community and transportation leaders at more than 150 events and on social media.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) in Pompano Beach, operator of Tri-Rail commuter rail, joined Miami-Dade Transit—in conjunction with SU4T Day—at the formal opening of the Miami Airport Station, part of the Miami Central Station at the Miami Intermodal Center.

As part of its SU4T activities, the Greater Cleveland RTA broke ground for an $11.3 million reconstruction of the Brookpark Rapid Station, the last station on the Red Line before Hopkins International Airport.

Los Angeles Metro and Los Angeles DOT opened five miles of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard, reducing travel times by up to 15 minutes for the entire 6.8-mile corridor.

For the first time in almost 50 years, streetcars again connect downtown Dallas with Oak Cliff. DART oversees the city’s first modern streetcar line, which operates free on a 1.6-mile dedicated track.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority introduced its newest railcars, the 7000 series manufactured by Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in Lincoln, NE, on the Metrorail Blue Line.

Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) kicked off the West Terminal Improvements Project at its 69th Street Transportation Center.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority in Tampa, FL, welcomed 22 40-foot CNG buses from Gillig.

Metro in St. Louis began testing a 40-foot electric bus from BYD Co. Ltd. on its Downtown Trolley route.

The Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation (CityBus), Lafayette, IN, opened a fast-full CNG fueling station from TruStar Energy in conjunction with Energy Systems Group.

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Lancaster, CA, became the first public transit agency in California to display digital advertising on the side of a public transit bus as part of a five-year pilot program to determine if such advertising is a distraction to drivers.

During a visit to the Nova Bus/Prevost plant in Plattsburgh, NY, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) met with senior executives, toured the plant and held a press conference at which she announced the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015, which she co-sponsored. The legislation would designate 25 universities as “Manufacturing Universities” that would receive federal funds to prepare engineers for careers in innovation and advanced manufacturing.

The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, welcomed four new paratransit shuttles from Roush CleanTech, powered with propane autogas.

SFMTA took delivery of its first new electric trolleybus and biodiesel-electric hybrid buses, all from New Flyer, at an event that also commemorated Earth Day.

May

At ground-breaking ceremonies for its intermodal center in Greensboro, NC, the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation announced that it would name the facility in honor of former Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC).

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation opened its second new platform at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan.

LYNX in Orlando broke ground on its third BRT line, the LYMMO Lime Line, with nine stops and 2.3 miles of service to the city’s core.

Athletic shoe manufacturer New Balance is funding construction of MBTA’s Boston Landing Station on the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line through a public-private partnership and participated in ground-breaking ceremonies at the station site near the company’s headquarters. When the station opens in 2016, it will be the first in the neighborhood in more than half a century.

Houston METRO opened two new light rail lines, the Green (East End) and Purple (Southeast) lines,with events including community pep rallies, a free concert and fireworks.

The Port Authority Transit Corporation introduced the first six of its long-awaited rebuilt railcars to service on the High-Speed Line at ceremonies in Cherry Hill, NJ.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority held a community open house and dedication ceremony—months ahead of schedule—for its state-of-the-art Foothill Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia, CA, which also includes maintenance facilities.

The Greater Cleveland RTA unveiled 90 new CNG buses from Gillig at a ceremony at the city’s Great Lakes Science Center.

IndyGo in Indianapolis received the first of 21 electric buses built by ­Gillig and fully refurbished by Complete Coach Works.

June

Days before the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes, MTA Long Island Rail Road officially reopened its Belmont Park Station with more than $5 million in infrastructure improvements.

Metrolinx in Toronto introduced Union Pearson Express rail service between Toronto Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The KCATA Board of Commissioners voted to begin managing public transit services for Independence, MO, for the first time since 2012.

The Greater Lynchburg (VA) Transit Company’s multimodal Kemper Street Transfer Station received LEED Platinum certification.

The Greater Hartford (CT) Transit District commemorated the centennial of Hartford Union Station—owned by the district—and opened a new downtown Transit Center on the east side of the historic station.

July

SouthWest Transit in Eden Prairie, MN, introduced SouthWest Prime, a shared ride service designed to improve connectivity throughout the area served by the agency. The agency expanded Prime service to neighboring communities in September.

The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) in Española, NM, took over operation of the Chile Line from the city of Taos. Through an agreement between the transit district and the town, NCRTD assumed all of the town’s public transit assets for the renamed “RTD Chile Line.” The service includes two fixed routes, seasonal premium service to ski resorts and paratransit.

Link Transit, Wenatchee, WA, initiated Current service, a fare-free service that operates on three routes with battery-electric trolleys and propane-powered cutaway buses.

Officials of Metra and Flossmoor, IL, dedicated the newly completed $4 million reconstruction of the platform and related facilities at the Flossmoor Station on Metra’s Electric District Line.

SEPTA invited members of Congress, other officials and media to its Frazer Maintenance Facility for a demonstration and update on the agency’s PTC implementation progress.

SFRTA began construction on its first LEED-certified station, adjacent to the agency’s new headquarters site in Pompano Beach, FL.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, operator of Cincinnati Metro, partnered with Transdev Services in a $38 million contract agreement regarding operations and maintenance for Cincinnati’s streetcar service, scheduled to open in September 2016.

The Gold Coast Transit District, Oxnard, CA, unveiled its new fixed-route and paratransit vehicles and branding.

MBTA and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker proposed an $83.7 million Winter Resiliency Plan, which includes purchasing additional snow removal equipment, upgrading infrastructure and bolstering operations during harsh weather—all recommendations from an APTA peer review regarding system disruptions during the previous winter.

Colorado DOT introduced Bustang, the state’s first-ever state-owned and operated bus system. The system runs on three routes connecting Denver with Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Glenwood Springs.

The Charlotte Area Transit System opened its CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar line—the first streetcar in Charlotte, NC, in 77 years—at ceremonies attended by DOT Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan.

Los Angeles Metro commemorated the 25th anniversary of the opening of Metro Blue Line light rail with an event at the original site.

The Midland Odessa Urban Transit District, Odessa, TX, opened an 8,000-square-foot administration building adjacent to the Midland International Air and Space Port.

San Diego MTS entered into a 30-year agreement with UC San Diego to rename the system’s light rail Blue Line the “UC San Diego Blue Line.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) toured Los Angeles Metro’s under-construction Downtown Santa Monica Expo Line Station, which will also be served by Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) welcomed Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State and former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to its LEED Platinum-certified DART Central Station.

August

SFMTA launched its second historic streetcar line, the E Embarcadero Line. The line operates weekends only, connecting AT&T Park with Fisherman’s Wharf.

Wabtec Corporation, Wilmerding, PA, announced its plans to acquire Faiveley Transport S.A., headquartered in Gennevilliers, France.

Hallcon, based in Toronto, acquired Loop Transportation Inc. and SFO Shuttle Inc. of San Francisco, which operate as Loop.

GlobeSherpa has become part of RideScout LLC, which is part of Daimler AG.

New Jersey Transit Corporation purchased 772 45-foot buses from Motor Coach Industries for $395 million, with delivery spread over six years beginning in 2016.

Houston METRO launched a substantially new bus network—78 updated routes, including 22 scheduled to run every 15 minutes or more often at least 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

Greater Cleveland RTA opened its first new Red Line rail station in 46 years, Little Italy-University Circle, which replaced a functionally obsolete station nearby.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority in Los Angeles held a series of ceremonies to mark the substantial completion of the six stations along the 11.5-mile light rail project that ultimately will link Pasadena and Azusa.

The Sacramento Regional Transit District marked the grand opening of its Blue Line light rail extension to Cosumnes River College—a month ahead of schedule..

Omnitrans dedicated its San Bernardino Transit Center in ceremonies that included the release of 200 butterflies as a symbol of the multimodal hub’s transformational role in the city, connecting 10 local and two freeway express bus routes, a BRT line and bus routes operating by neighboring agencies.

Valley Metro in Phoenix opened the 3.1-mile Central Mesa Light Rail Extension.

The Clark County Public Transit Benefit Area Authority (C-TRAN) began construction of the Vine, the region’s first BRT project, with ceremonies at the site of the future Turtle Place Station in downtown Vancouver, WA.

King County Metro Transit in Seattle introduced the first of 174 replacement trolleybuses from New Flyer—the agency’s first new electric trolleybuses in almost three decades—with the rest of the order being phased in over the next two years.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) attended a ground-breaking event for a rail station in Dwight, IL, about 70 miles southwest of Chicago, that will be part of a future high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis.

September

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced 19 Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Grants totaling $9.5 million during a visit to the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.

TriMet in Portland celebrated the opening of its newest light rail service, the MAX Orange Line, a 7.3-mile extension that crosses the Willamette River via Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People—the first bridge in the U.S. to carry public transit, bicycles and pedestrians but not private vehicles.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) opened the 34 St.-Hudson Yards station, the 469th station in the MTA New York City Transit subway system. The new station, MTA’s first to open since 1989, is the terminus of a 1.5-mile extension of the 7 line that brings the subway to the far west side of Manhattan.

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

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

Clever Devices, Woodbury, NY, acquired Houston-based RSM Services Corporation.

Public transportation agencies in Washington, DC, New York City and Philadelphia rose to the challenge when crowds flooded the cities during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority celebrated the purchase of 23 new buses valued at $16.3 million, which will add capacity to several public transit fleets in Northern Virginia.

SPX Genfare announced that it is rebranding its corporate name to Genfare while expanding its product line.

Volvo broke ground in Plattsburgh, NY, for a customer delivery center serving Nova Bus and Prevost, members of the Volvo Group.

The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Allentown, PA, dedicated its new Fred A. Williams Transit Station in downtown Easton.

Wabtec Corporation, Wilmerding, PA, has acquired the assets of Track IQ, based in Australia.
 

October

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and FTA Region 3 Administrator Terry Garcia Crews were among the participants to relaunch the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s rebuilt East Liberty Station.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District celebrated the grand opening of its $51.1 million Regional Transportation Center in Stockton, CA, with an event that featured explosions of ribbons from nearby cannons.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus joined representatives from two neighboring communities to introduce the Groveport Rickenbacker Employee Access Transit shuttle service.

Solano County Transit in Vallejo, CA, held ribbon-cutting ceremonies to mark the completion of the renovated Curtola Park & Ride Hub.

More than 250 supporters welcomed the first Cincinnati Streetcar when it arrived at Cincinnati Metro’s maintenance and operations facility from the CAF USA assembly plant in Elmira, NY. Service on a 3.6-mile route with 18 stations will begin in 2016.

November

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority welcomed KC Streetcar #801, the first new streetcar in Kansas City, MO, in more than 50 years, upon its arrival from the CAF USA manufacturing plant. Service begins next year on a two-mile route, operated by the streetcar authority with the Herzog Transit Group and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the city of Kansas City, MO.

New Flyer Industries Inc., Manitoba, MB, Canada, announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire  Motor Coach Industries International Inc., Des Plaines, IL, from an affiliate of KPS Capital Partners L.P., subject to certain purchase price adjustments.

Virginia Railway Express (VRE) extended its service area for the first time since its launch in 1992 with the opening of the new Spotsylvania Station. The commuter rail station, located near Fredericksburg, is the new southern terminus for VRE service.

SEPTA celebrated the opening of its first new regional rail station in almost 20 years, the 9th Street Regional Rail Station in Lansdale, three days after the agency marked the completed reconstruction of the historic Wayne Junction Station in the city’s Nicetown neighborhood. Earlier, the agency broke ground for ADA accessibility improvements at its 40th Street Station.

RIPTA launched its newest route in a pilot program, which operates only on Fridays between 9 a.m.-2 p.m., that ­provides connections to residents of previously unserved regions of the state.

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio dedicated its newest hub, ­Centro Plaza at VIA Villa.

Metra kicked off new evening rush hour express service to the Tinley Park/80th Avenue Station on the Rock Island Line.

December

Public transit agencies across the U.S. commemorated the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL.

Metro in St. Louis tested a 40-foot electric bus from BYD on its Downtown Trolley routes.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, second from right, at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC) where he announced workforce development program grants in September. Joining Foxx were Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer and APTA Chair Phillip Washington, left, and LATTC officials.

 

Peter Varga, chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, and a past APTA chair, introduced the system’s four new propane autogas paratransit shuttles from Roush CleanTech on April 21.

LYNX, Orlando, FL, broke ground in May on its third BRT line, the LYMMO Lime Line. This artist’s rendering shows a 68-acre mixed-use, transit-oriented urban infill neighborhood.
Art courtesy of Baker Barrios, Architects


Hundreds braved the heat at the Duarte/City of Hope Station to celebrate the substantial completion of the six-station, 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line.

COTA and regional officials cut the ribbon to launch GREAT shuttle service in the Columbus area.
Shellee Fisher Photography


FTA’s 2015 ADA Circular Clarifies, Simplifies Rules

FTA issued its ADA Circular in October, which clarifies the regulation and its rules, making it easier for public transportation agencies to find definitive answers to complex questions.

“The new 200-plus-page circular provides enhanced guidance for agencies as well as riders in a one-stop shop for ADA requirements,” said Acting Administrator Therese ­McMillan in “Fast Lane,” DOT’s blog. The guide, she stated, “provides a wealth of great information as well as compliance checklists such as the template for rail station construction and renovations.”

She added, “Let me tell you what the circular doesn’t do. The guidance does not amend or supersede the DOT ADA regulation nor is FTA creating any new rules. Instead, the circular offers scenarios in a user-friendly volume to increase understanding about how to comply.”

McMillan said nearly all public transit buses and two-thirds of railcars are ADA accessible, which she called “a great start, although we know there’s more to be done to improve station accessibility and pedestrian access to stations and bus stops.”

McMillan added that the circular helps FTA and the industry ensure access to transportation for everyone, saying, “We know that public transportation provides a lifeline to jobs, education, medical care and other critical services. And we want to be sure that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has an opportunity to ride.”

Find details here, search on FTA Circulars and Americans with Disabilities Act: Guidance. FTA’s Office of Civil Rights is planning a series of webinars to discuss the Circular in more depth.

Public Transit Gets First Long-Term Bill in 10 Years

BY MICHAEL FIMMANO
Legislative Analyst, Government Affairs Department

A year of APTA member advocacy to Congress on behalf of a long-term surface transportation bill bore fruit with the December enactment of the five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Here are some highlights of APTA’s government affairs activities during 2015.

The 114th Congress began Jan. 3 with a returning Republican majority in the House of ­Representatives and a new Republican majority in the Senate. This shift of control in the Senate meant that committee chairmanships would change, elevating Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK) to chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) to chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Additionally in the House of Representatives, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) became the new ranking member for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In March, APTA held its annual Legislative Conference at the J.W. Marriott in Washington, DC. Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), among other speakers, brought unique perspectives regarding a possible long-term surface transportation authorization, highlighting the importance of this goal but also noting the ­difficult task of financing the proposals.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese W. McMillan and FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, who received Senate confirmation as administrator later in the year, also gave speeches at the conference. Capping off the busy week, the Senate Banking Committee held two roundtables with APTA members.

On April 9, more than 360 APTA members, partners and public transit advocates nationwide conducted activities on Stand Up for Transportation Day, which then-Chair Phillip Washington created to bring attention to the urgent need for a long-term, fully funded surface transportation authorization bill. Many of these events featured members of the House and Senate, governors, mayors and other elected officials.

SU4T was a major element of APTA’s yearlong advocacy and communications initiative to strengthen support for a long-term surface transportation bill organized about the central theme “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows.”

Other efforts in the initiative included a national grassroots advocacy movement, “Voices for Public Transit,” which enlists private citizens as public transportation advocates and is 180,000-plus members strong; a social media campaign that has attracted nearly 250,000 Facebook and Twitter followers; and a national print, radio and online advertising campaign that generated more than 25 million individual views.

Throughout the year, tax reform remained a relevant topic as many in Congress looked to that legislation as an opportunity to create revenues for a transportation bill. APTA also sought to advance tax provisions such as transit benefits and alternative fuels.

Various committees of jurisdiction held hearings throughout the year on transportation issues. APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy testified before the Senate Banking Committee in April, highlighting industry priorities. APTA continued to fight for growth of the federal transit program, while restoration of bus funding remained front and center in the debate.

As the Dec. 31 deadline for implementation of PTC neared, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings on a possible extension as agencies reiterated the fact that it was an unfeasible goal. Melaniphy, the APTA staff and commuter rail CEOs worked closely with freight railroads to make the case for the extension. Ultimately, Congress approved a three-year extension, with the option for an additional two years on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the DOT secretary.

As tensions mounted within the House Republican conference, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would be retiring from his seat in Congress and his post as Speaker of the House. Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) was elected the new speaker.

Before the August recess, the Senate EPW Committee reported out and the full Senate later passed the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. This six-year authorization was funded for half of the life of the bill, and the House of Representatives continued the momentum by writing an authorization bill. By November, the House had passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015 and the House and Senate moved to reconcile the bill in conference.

In December, the committee reported out their five-year, fully-funded FAST Act, which President Obama signed into law on Dec. 4. After a year of hard work with consistent progress toward passage of a bill, the transportation community celebrated a significant achievement.

Find details here.

Bay Area agencies held three SU4T events in California.

Trend Spotting: APTA's Committees Address Industry Issues, Opportunities

What were the public transportation industry’s hottest trends, major accomplishments and biggest opportunities in 2015?

For answers, APTA turns to its nearly 150 committees, technical forums and task forces. Passenger Transport asked the chairs of a few APTA committees to report on their initiatives.

Legislative Committee

J. Barry Barker
Executive Director, Transit ­Authority of River City
Louisville, KY


A year ago, it wasn’t a safe bet that 2015 would end with a long-term, fully funded federal transportation bill—let alone one that includes a 10 percent funding increase for public transportation in the next year alone.


Congress hadn’t passed a long-term bill since 2005. Partisan gridlock and other competing interests for limited funding also stood in the way. Despite those challenges, the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act made it through Congress with strong bipartisan support.

While not providing everything public transportation wants, the legislation goes a long way to meet our needs now and in the future. This success required a consistent, cohesive, comprehensive and collaborative focus in articulating the diverse needs of the public transit industry. Our ­big-tent approach dates several years to an APTA task force focused on long-term, fully funded transportation legislation. We persevered, welcoming all voices.

Now we can plan with some level of certainty; the FAST Act includes five years of available funding, though September 2020.

Over the life of the bill, the total authorized for FTA programs is $61.1 billion, representing a nearly 18 percent increase. The bill provides both stable formula funding and a competitive grant program to address bus and bus facility needs. Bus and Bus Facilities Program funding for the first year is $696 million, a 62.5 percent increase over current funding, but still less than the level of funding ($984 million) prior to MAP-21. Significant increases are also contained in the State of Good Repair Program—15.7 percent in the first year and 23.9 percent over the life of the bill. The New Starts Program increases 21 percent. Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) increases and the growing states/high density formula programs are preserved.

Please thank your representatives in Congress who supported this monumental effort. As congressional leaders on the legislation said in a statement, the FAST Act is “a vital investment in our country.” Thanks also to tireless efforts of so many at APTA and public transportation organizations everywhere.

The FAST Act puts us on track to building a brighter future for our organizations and the communities we serve. It’s a great way to celebrate a New Year!

Diversity Council

Doran Barnes
Executive Director, Foothill Transit
West Covina, CA
APTA Vice Chair


Over the past year, the Diversity Council has focused on promoting and valuing diversity as a strength of the industry and APTA. The council serves to encourage, promote and celebrate diversity—in all its variations—throughout all levels of the association during the normal course of its business and programs.

There is a great deal of positive news to report. To ensure that APTA career development programs are available to persons with diverse backgrounds and capabilities, APTA has expanded its range of opportunities into multiple levels of positions, from the frontline to the “C” Suite, with broad-based recruitment to diverse populations.

For our premier leadership training program, the recently selected Leadership APTA class includes 17 men and 9 women, with 50 percent representing minorities. Looking to our future, through the APTF scholarship program, young professionals of diverse backgrounds were encouraged to choose careers in public transportation. The 2015 APTF scholarship recipients include 18 men and 14 women, and 50 percent of the recipients are minorities.

To communicate diversity as an industry value, Passenger Transport published more than 200 articles featuring the achievements of minority and women leaders. Further, to enhance opportunities for substantive contributions and participation in APTA leadership roles, APTA has established a goal of a minimum of 30 percent participation of women and minority speakers at our major conferences, including a minimum of 10 percent women and 10 percent minority participation within the 30 percent goal. During FY 2015, the number of women and minority speakers well exceeded these minimum goals: (Annual Meeting/EXPO, 52 percent; Bus & Paratransit Conference, 58 percent; and Rail Conference, 56 percent).


APTA has established a goal of 30 percent participation by minorities and women in its committees. Of the 50 committees surveyed, 88 percent met or exceeded the goal, 12 percent had participation between 20 percent and 29 percent, and for the first time no committees had fewer than 20 percent participation.
APTA strives to ensure that its workforce reflects that of the Washington, DC, region. For FY 2015, the staff was composed of 46 percent women and 47 percent minorities, compared to regional data of 53 percent and 67 percent respectively.

To advance APTA’s goal of providing opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, the Business Member Board of Governors’ Small Business Committee held networking breakfasts at the bus and rail conferences, and we partnered with COMTO for a “Small Business to Small Business” reception at the Rail Conference.

The Diversity Council has also placed an emphasis on developing activities and resources that member organizations can use to enhance inclusiveness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the APTA organization and throughout our industry. Consequently, the council created an LGBT Task Force, led by co-chairs Paul Larrousse, Celia Kupersmith and J. Barry Barker.

As one of its first activities, the task force held a listening session at the Annual Meeting. Attendance was strong and the conversation was robust and insightful. Feedback focused on three areas: legal and regulatory guidance, creating a welcoming work environment and providing excellent customer service. Based on this first listening session, the task force has developed an ambitious work plan for 2016, which will feature a webinar, video testimonials and additional interactive sessions at APTA conferences and seminars.

The Diversity Council meets during the APTA Annual Meeting and the Bus & Paratransit Conference. While members of the Diversity Council are appointed or designated, all members are invited and encouraged to attend meetings. We need your energy and insights!

Mobility Management Committee

Marlene Connor
Principal/Manager
Marlene Connor Associates, LLC


Historically, the Mobility Management Committee has been working to expand the frame of reference of mobility management to include the complete family of services in a community, with a focus on the customer.

During the past year, the evolving concept of integrated mobility, coupled with the emergence of transportation network companies, microtransit and technology, has been a prominent trend for the industry. In addition, we have noted that our market growth potential for public transit is in sync with the desires of millennials who are choosing with higher frequency to live in areas with greater choices for mobility than driving a car as their primary mode, and who are making more active choices for mobility that include walking, biking and transit—and not necessarily even owning a car.

Similarly, many baby boomers are moving to locales with greater mobility options. These trends are consistent with the shift to a sharing economy. At the Annual Meeting, for example, we were pleased to be a part of the number of sessions that included input from our more “nontraditional” mobility services and technology providers.

Recognizing the emergence of these trends, we reframed the committee structure to incorporate the APTA strategic plan, particularly to pay attention to changing demographics and evolving technologies. In addition, we have worked within APTA to establish a collaborative multi-committee working group that has reached out to stakeholders, gathering their input and engagement, including the Transportation Research Board, National League of Cities, ITS America and AARP, among others, to create a dialogue with APTA as a thought leader in this arena.

Also, in an effort to sustain and increase the level of engagement in these emerging trends, we have connected with agencies such as DART and MARTA, which are active in these new mobility concepts, so we can share and learn best practices, and we are working with the Member Services Committee to understand how these new mobility entities might become APTA members and assist in improving input and ideas to the industry.

Business Member Board of Governors


Patrick Scully
Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Motor Coach Industries


2015 was an awesome year for transit in the U.S. With the new transportation bill, our advocacy efforts have paid off big time. APTA’s business members continue to be a strong partner for the industry and the association.

The BMBG is organized to be in alignment with the APTA strategic plan, and all of our work is closely tied to that plan and has been for a number of years.

Further, we also work closely with and implement the initiatives of the APTA chairs—this year with Phil Washington’s Stand Up for Transportation Day, which was hugely supported by business members, and now Valarie J. McCall’s initiative on collaboration and task force led by three co-chairs—myself, Ann August and David Stackrow. The task force also includes five business members so our efforts in 2016 will be to implement the task force’s action items, with the view of improving the industry and APTA.

The BMBG also provides support for APTF. In 2015, we took an active role in supporting a new event at the Annual Meeting to celebrate Valarie J. McCall’s new term, which raised significant funds for APTF.

The BMBG’s prime focus in 2015 was to actively advocate for reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, including organizing and participating in efforts for SU4T; participating in a fly-in in June during which a number of business members met with members of Congress; and supporting the grassroots effort “Voices for Public Transit” by placing op-ed pieces in local newspapers. For example, Genfare’s Kim Green and I recently wrote a column for a Chicago newspaper calling for greater investment in Illinois infrastructure.

Business members hosted many visits by elected officials in offices and facilities during SU4T and throughout the year, demonstrating the positive impact the transit supply chain has on local economies. Many of these visits also included discussions regarding Buy America provisions for rolling stock procurements.

We also focused on workforce development as an initiative and as part of our support for APTA’s strategic plan. To advance this goal, we formed a new subcommittee, and we conducted the first Passenger Rail Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES) encouraging colleges to include rail transit education in their academic programs.

We look forward to an equally productive 2016, working closely with ­Valarie J. McCall and the APTA staff.

Research & Technology

Jonathan McDonald
Vice President, Americas Rail & Transit Practice Leader-Systems
CH2M

Since 2007, the committee has been tracking changes in urbanization, demographics, aging, congestion and household income to better understand how they affect public transportation and how we can take advantage of these trends.

This year the committee started to see a tipping point with the rise in private mobility providers such as Uber, Lyft, Bridj and Google; increased use and acceptability of P3s; and the unfortunate increase in safety issues.

What changed so much that companies like Uber could be worth $50 billion? Public transit, after all, doesn’t make money. The tipping point is the change in demographics of urban dwellers (millennials and immigrants) who spend $6,600 a year or more owning a car they use less than 5 percent of the time and causes them to sit in hours of traffic. For the 250 million urban dwellers, this is a $1.7 trillion market (or more) a year, which has recently been made available through new technology.

The new private providers are betting that they can leverage technology to provide better, cheaper and more valued transportation experiences to their customers for a reasonable percentage of their trips by aggregating users via social media or optimizing a car that goes mostly unused.

If this seems like a lot of money for what amounts to public transit, it is. The difference? The new providers are trying to build a system that allows customers to dump their car and spend that money on different services. How does public transit take advantage of this?

One way is through the use of P3s. To build and operate a network capable of serving more than 2 percent of all trips, as public transit now does, we will need a lot more money than either the federal government or local taxpayers will support. Private money can play this role. If there is profit in increasing ridership and getting people out of cars—as the new providers believe—the P3 model can work if we provide the flexibility to make money proportional to investors’ risk while minimizing risk to agencies and the public. This is one of our challenges.

But first we need to address the rise in safety issues, due in part to aging infrastructure and a workforce that is retiring at record rates. This must be addressed both quickly and thoroughly. If we fall short, the private operators could go from partner to competitor quickly.

The committee has been active in these areas, chiefly by exploring integrated mobility/transformative technology with APTA’s new task force and exploring emerging and innovative technologies with our subcommittee. We have also advanced the development of standards in technology and performance delivery and promoting refocusing the TransITech conference as the training and technology innovation conference.

 

Marketing & Communications

Morgan Lyons
Assistant Vice President, External Relations
Dallas Area Rapid Transit


Supporting APTA’s efforts to secure a new federal transportation funding bill was the primary challenge for our committee in 2015. One of the highlights was bringing Chair Phillip Washington’s vision for Stand Up for Transportation to life.

More than 360 organizations collaborated to host more than 150 events in nearly every state to engage our customers and stakeholders in making the case for a new bill. The wide variety of events reflected the diversity of our committee and our association. The events were festive, fun and effectively communicated our message.

We remain actively involved in recruiting new members for Voices for Public Transit (VPT), APTA’s digital grassroots advocacy group. We’ve added more than 80,000 new advocates in the past year, bringing the advocate community to more than 180,000 committed members working to support our industry. The VPT social media footprint was expanded through content re-shared by committee members on their social media channels throughout the year, but especially during key points on the legislative calendar. These actions helped present a unified voice to Congress and created opportunities for members from throughout the association to play a critical role in passing a bill.

The APTA brand message, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” is a strong call to action for members and advocates. It’s been tested and proven to change opinions about the broad economic benefits of public transportation. Talking about public transportation in terms of how it builds communities—increasing property values, creating desirable places to live and locating businesses—in turn changes the perception of those who otherwise would be less inclined to support increasing investment in our systems.

Our customers and those who make decisions important to our systems and to strengthening our communities saw this message presented in key markets through the year as part of our ongoing advertising and advocacy campaign. But our work is not over with passage of a long-term bill. Committee members remain creative and will continue presenting that message in their own markets. Continuing to use these messages and getting more of our systems to embrace and elevate this brand message to benefit their systems and their communities will remain the top priority of the committee in the year ahead.


Sustainability Committee

Susannah Kerr Adler
General Manager-Regional Operations
SYSTRA Consulting Inc.


This past year, the Sustainability Committee held its 11th workshop to resounding success in Portland, OR, with the theme, “Growing Places.” We also celebrated eight new signatories to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, bringing the number of signatories to 132, and welcomed three agencies who rose to Platinum-Level recognition: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Sound Transit and TransLink, the first Canadian agency to achieve platinum status.

Over the past year we have noted several trends that seem to be picking up momentum and will continue to influence and inform the discussion around sustainability.

First is mobility, which is getting defined as multimodal. No more can we look at public transit as a stand-alone mobility provider with independent connections.

Instead we are looking at transit and its role as part of a network with other mobility providers (Uber, Lyft, and so on, in addition to traditional elements like bike and pedestrian forms of transportation).

We are actively collaborating with APTA’s Mobility Management Committee to engage and address the challenges and solutions around a redefined mobility framework.

Enabling the mobility discussion, and defining the second trend, is technology. With the advent of alternative mobility providers, the continued growth in web-based applications and the impending driverless vehicles, our challenge is to explore how transit can become a leader in the area and help shape the broader discussion.

Focusing on technology, or “disruptive technology,” as part of our Sustainability Workshop and at the APTA Annual Meeting this year has help to bring this topic into focus for us as an industry.

Resiliency continues to be a major focus area—both at the policy level as well as tactical level of how one “hardens” or plans for events. We are updating our standards and measurement practices on climate change and measuring greenhouse gases to help agencies address the continuing challenges.

Understanding how social sustainability can be defined and incorporated into the program also continues to be a priority. The Sustainability Committee will take on this particular topic in the year to come.


High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee

Peter Gertler
Vice President, Global Strategic Consulting
HDR


From 2008-2010, the industry was in a period where there was funding, attention, excitement and opportunities for high-speed rail (HSR). There was widespread support, starting with the administration. The president mentioned HSR in his State of the Union speech, a real first. But the world has moved on.

We’re at a different place now, with changes in Congress, the economy, the conversation and focus. HSR has become a toxic and polarizing issue in some quarters. Today, there is limited potential for long-term, sustainable sources of funding and no real progress on a national plan or program for the development of HSR.

That said, there are reasons to be positive and much to be proud about regarding progress. In California, construction has begun on the first sections of the state’s HSR program, and there are significant developments in the Northeast Corridor, Texas, Florida, Texas and the Midwest.

And we reached a major milestone with the FAST Act, which includes a five-year rail title with some discretionary grants for intercity rail. It’s far short of what we need, but an important first step from which to build future progress, and we’re excited about that.

Almost exactly one year ago, the committee met for a strategic planning session to identify goals and objectives to adjust to our new reality.

We came up with three key areas: thought leadership, membership and strategic alliances, and stronger communications and public relations. We also updated our vision and mission statements. We’ve made progress in all three areas.

For thought leadership, we developed a plan for a return on investment study for HSR. We’ve selected a consultant and signed a contract so we’re underway. In addition, the recent high-speed rail policy forum was very well attended and well received with a strong lineup of speakers and a substantive agenda.

We also made solid progress on developing membership and strategic alliances with AASHTO and its Standing Committee on Rail Transportation, AREMA and the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, and we have aligned ourselves with Leadership APTA to build in a succession plan for future leadership.

As for communications and public relations, we’re working to improve the distribution of our newsletter, Speedlines, and to include more electronic options and links.

We’ve made progress and seen some solid accomplishments. While there are many challenges ahead, we are like the little high-speed train that can, and remain positive that there will be HSR in the U.S.


Rail Transit

Keith Parker
General Manager/CEO
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority


The committee has been addressing three trends and challenges.

First is state of good repair (SOGR) for legacy systems like New York’s MTA, SEPTA in Philadelphia and CTA in Chicago, and for newer systems like BART, WMATA and MARTA here in Atlanta. Second is safety in terms of infrastructure investment in components like tunnel ventilation, tracks and signal systems. We’ve all seen public transit systems go from being well-regarded to facing significant issues, and the committee has been placing a very high emphasis on infrastructure safety. Our third area of focus is security as it relates to potential terrorist attacks and people putting themselves in harm’s way.

As for SOGR, we have been making our case to Congress and state legislatures to secure the funding we need to keep our systems in good working order. The FAST Act will help and we’ve seen some major successes, like the state of Pennsylvania, which is making an unprecedented commitment to this investment. Also, the MTA and WMATA are making massive railcar purchases and BART has made a railcar purchase amounting to hundreds of vehicles.

In terms of strengthening the safety of infrastructure, the committee is looking for ways to help members and the industry upgrade aging fleets not only by finding new funds, but also by making our systems more efficient, using existing funds more effectively and undertaking significant rehabilitation efforts. We’ve been working with FTA and state DOTs and sharing best practices and information.

Finally, we’ve put a lot of attention on security issues. Most subway systems represented on the committee are Tier 1 systems, which means they are potential targets of terrorist activity. Systems are stepping up their efforts—making canine units more visible on platforms, for example—to deter threats. Committee members have also been looking at cyber security threats, discussing ways to strengthen those areas and sharing ideas and improvements.

Bus & Paratransit CEOs

Carl Sedoryk
General Manager/CEO
Monterey-Salinas Transit


The Bus and CEOs Committee has been working on several initiatives, which will continue in the coming year.

The committee is focused on improving transparency and consistency in the area of new regulations that impact our operations and how FTA and its contractors enforce those regulations through the triennial review process.

Related to this issue, committee members continue to be very interested in revisiting the spare vehicle ratio guidelines in order to update them. Our goal is to provide a reasonable spare ratio that recognizes the challenges of implementing the new low/no emission technologies supported by the administration while also maintaining a predictable level of service to our communities.

Finally, as for the coming year, the committee will develop a new work plan that aligns itself with the goals and objectives identified in the most recently adopted APTA strategic plan and its five key goals: safety and security, resource advocacy, workforce development, demographic shifts and technological innovation.


Public-Private Partnerships Committee

Jeffrey Ensor
Director, Project Delivery and Finance
Maryland Transit Administration


APTA’s Committee on Public-Private Partnerships has worked closely with the Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) as it evolved over the second half of 2015.

BATIC Executive Director Andrew Right, appointed by President Obama as part of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx’s team and a former vice president in the infrastructure investment group at ­Goldman Sachs, made one of his first public appearances as BATIC head at the 2015 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

BATIC, established by Obama to encourage awareness and understanding of federal infrastructure financing programs, is facilitating greater public and private cooperation in financing infrastructure and offering various forms of technical assistance in its push to move projects forward in the coming year.

In partnership with AASHTO and the National Conference of State Legislatures, APTA is part of the BATIC Institute, launched in the fall to work closely with BATIC and help increase the capacity of policymakers and project sponsors, including state DOTs and ­public transit agencies.

BATIC and the BATIC Institute are looking to provide information, technical assistance and expertise to help worthy transportation projects advance. APTA and the committee are proud to be a partner. Our 2016 work program will further the awareness of funding, finance and project delivery best-practices.


Join an APTA Committee

APTA committees are active in all areas of the industry and are structured to strengthen interaction among members in a wide range of transit disciplines. Membership is open to all employees of APTA members in good standing, except for committees with membership by appointment only. Submit the online Committee Interest Form or contact the advisor listed beside each committee description at the APTA website in the About APTA section.

APTA Rallied Its Members to Promote Public Transit

Here’s a brief review of some of APTA’s 2015 initiatives and programs as they were covered in Passenger Transport.

January
APTA called on its members to advocate for passage of a long-term surface transportation bill following the November 2014 election that brought Republican majorities to both the House and Senate, and the subsequent extension of MAP-21 through May 31. (Congress additionally extended MAP-21 to July 31.)

APTA Chair Phillip Washington called for Stand Up for Transportation Day (SU4T) on April 9, a national event to highlight the urgent need for long-term funding.

Members of the APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) reported on BMBG’s support for advocacy efforts, including SU4T, during their Annual Business Meeting.

February
In response to the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which included $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for DOT, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “I applaud President Obama for highlighting the importance of investing in our country’s transportation so that economic prosperity and global competitiveness continue.”

Washington reported on SU4T efforts at the 2015 Transit CEOs Seminar, saying, “This growing movement is about getting the [transportation authorization] bill that the nation needs.”

March
In a Passenger Transport commentary distributed at the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, APTA Legislative Committee Chair J. Barry Barker called on members to “make a strong, effective case for a long-term, fully funded transportation bill that will put public transportation on solid ground and help our communities grow and thrive.”

Speakers at the three-day conference included FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, FRA then-Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dean Heller (R-NV), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and the mayors of Mesa, AZ, Fort Worth, TX, and Riverton, UT. Representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association joined Washington and Melaniphy at the Opening General Session to support SU4T.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and John Cox, director of Wyoming DOT, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that they foresaw significant disruption in long-range transportation infrastructure projects if Congress did not pass a long-term surface transportation bill.

Senior leaders from public transportation agencies participated in two invitation-only special roundtables on Capitol Hill, one for bus and one for rail, hosted by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee regarding issues that must be addressed in transportation authorization legislation.

Jeff Morales, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, reported on the positive impact of the project on the state’s future at a meeting for rail industry representatives in APTA’s Washington, DC, offices.

April
SU4T Day brought together more than 360 entities from across the country, representing small, medium and large communities. Public transit passengers and elected officials joined business, community and transportation leaders at more than 150 events from rallies at public transit stations and educational programs for students to tours of facilities and manufacturing plants. In addition, #standup4publictransportation was the third highest trending topic on social media that day.

Fifteen APTA members participated in a study mission that included stops in London, Stockholm and Munich. They met with city and regional representatives, public transit professionals, elected leaders and real estate developers to discuss financial solutions that can maximize the benefit of public transit to both individuals and the community. The mission was an outgrowth of APTA’s first International Practicum on Innovative Transit Funding and Financing, held immediately before the 2014 Rail Conference in Montréal.

Melaniphy testified before the Senate Banking Committee to encourage Congress to enact a six-year, $100 billion authorization for the federal public transit program that would allow funding to grow from $10.7 billion in the current year to $22.2 billion in 2021.

APTA and the Environment and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a joint briefing about the looming expiration of the transportation bill and the need to ensure stable, long-term federal investment in infrastructure.

May
In remarks at the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, Washington (who identified himself as APTA members’ “chief transportation advocate” when he took the reins as chair in October 2014) called SU4T “one of the most impressive events in APTA’s 100-year history.” He credited APTA and its members for starting a movement in support of public transportation.

The conference also included a Veterans Job Fair, a Products & Services Showcase with more than 150 vendors, the International Bus Roadeo with almost 200 participants and graduation ceremonies for the 2015 class of the Early Career Program, among dozens of educational sessions.

During Infrastructure Week, APTA joined the National League of Cities and the National Association of Regional Councils in presenting a Capitol Hill briefing on public transportation’s impact on the nation’s competitiveness, its contributions to economies based on knowledge and information and its ability to help attract high-tech employers and a skilled workforce to communities across the nation.

APTA hosted its annual National ­Public Transportation Career Day.

APTA was an endorsing organization for the Alliance to Save Energy’s Energy Efficiency Global Forum (EE Global) in Washington, DC, held for energy officials, business executives, efficiency advocates and academic experts.

June
APTA celebrated the 10th anniversary of Dump the Pump Day, during which a record 176 public transit agencies and 46 other groups participated to promote public transit in lieu of driving cars.

More than 1,200 passenger rail professionals attended the 2015 Rail Conference in Salt Lake City. Washington again cited the success of SU4T but emphasized that the push for a long-term bill was not over. “Too many of us are operating 21st-century vehicles on 19th-century infrastructure,” he said.

During the conference, Melaniphy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Eduardo Romo, president, Fundación Caminos de Hierro, a Spanish nonprofit dedicated to research into the field of engineering and railway technology.

Melaniphy spoke about the health benefits of public transportation on a panel discussion during the UITP World Congress and Exhibition in Milan, Italy.

At a hearing before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, Feinberg testified that FRA would enforce the Dec. 31 deadline for PTC implementation and would impose penalties on railroads that had not fully implemented the technology, beginning Jan. 1, 2016. FRA could not extend the deadline, she explained; Congress would have to pass legislation to do so.

APTA received top awards for its publications and marketing efforts, including articles in Passenger Transport, a special safety and security publication, a direct mail catalog and an advocacy video.

Melaniphy met with Mioshi Moses, new president and chief executive officer, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, to discuss the organizations’ long-standing partnership following an APTA-COMTO DBE Assembly at the Rail Conference.

Fifty high school juniors and seniors from around the country converged in Washington, DC, to participate in the APTA Youth Summit.

More than half of Americans who planned to vacation in a U.S. city in the summer of 2015—almost 89 million people—said they would use public transportation for at least one activity, according to APTA’s annual “Travel Like a Local” Summer Travel Survey.

July
APTA released its strategic plan for 2015-2019, The Way Forward, which emphasizes five key challenges and opportunities facing the industry: safety and security first, resource advocacy, workforce development, demographic shifts and technological innovation.

Melaniphy participated in the White House Conference on Aging, which examined issues important to older Americans, including mobility options.

APTA commemorated the 25th anniversary of ADA (signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990) with a special publication, “Celebrating 25 Years of Access and Mobility,” which looked back on the achievements of the past quarter century and forward to innovations in mobility management. Also, APTA Vice President of Workforce Development and Educational Services Pam Boswell attended an event in the East Room to honor the anniversary of ADA.

APTA’s business members hosted the first Passenger Rail Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES), co-sponsored by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. More than 50 industry professionals and college and university professors participated in the event in Philadelphia, which encouraged colleges and universities to include public transportation in their curricula.

August
APTA urged all of its members to reach out to their congressional representatives during the August recess to thank them for taking action to approve short-term funding for MAP-21 (which had been set to expire on July 31). APTA developed the “August Recess Outreach Toolkit,” which included sample letters to members of Congress, a list of local town hall meetings and model op-eds and letters to the editor.

September
Kathy Waters, APTA executive vice president for member services, announced that she will retire effective Jan. 8, 2016, following a distinguished career in public transportation. Former APTA chair and longtime industry executive Richard White joined APTA as vice president for member services and will succeed Waters upon her retirement.

October
The APTA Diversity Council launched an initiative to address inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the industry with a listening session during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Valarie J. McCall, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, succeeded Washington as APTA chair at the Annual Meeting. McCall’s initiatives include a focus on collaboration within the association and with other organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and the National Council of Regional Councils. She appointed the Task Force on Member Collaboration, three co-chairs (one from each sector of APTA membership: agencies, businesses and transit board members) and 15 individuals.

Doran Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, moved from secretary-treasurer to vice chair, and Kim Green, executive director of business development, Genfare, became ­secretary-treasurer.

Among other highlights were remarks by DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, a conversation with FTA officials including Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, a multi-part examination of integrated mobility and how new technologies will affect public transit and a panel discussion on ADA 25 years after its enactment.

APTA welcomed the two newest members of its Hall of Fame: Jerome “Jerry” Premo, principal, Premo Partnerships, Orange, CA, a public transit professional for almost 50 years, and the late Elonzo “Lonnie” Hill, a 35-year employee of the Chicago Transit Authority.

APTA moved into its new offices at 1300 I St. NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005.

November
APTA partnered with the Transportation Research Board to host the 2015 National Light Rail & Streetcar Conference in Minneapolis. The conference, held every three years, features sessions that showcase the positive results evident in metropolitan areas that have embraced light rail and streetcars and explore new ways to plan, design, construct, maintain and operate these systems.

APTA released a survey showing that 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.

December
The House and Senate approved, and President Obama signed, a five-year, $281 billion fully-funded surface transportation authorization bill titled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act. Melaniphy said, “As the first long-term surface transportation bill in 10 years, the significance of this legislation cannot be overstated.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a longtime supporter of high-speed rail and other public transit and sustainability initiatives, addressed an APTA High-Speed Rail Policy Forum, “Getting to the Tipping Point for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.: The Role of Federal Government in High-Speed and Intercity Rail Development,” at APTA’s offices in Washington.

The APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration, created by McCall at the Annual Meeting, convened for the first time to prepare its agenda, explore new opportunities and plan specific activities.

ADA panelists at the 2015 Annual Meeting, from left, Ron Brooks, Lauren Skiver, Valarie J. McCall, Brian Kibby, moderator Michael Melaniphy, J. Barry Barker, Crystal Lyons and Donna McNamee.

DOT officials shared priorities and initiatives during a Legislative Conference General Session moderated by Diana Mendes of AECOM, far left. Speakers were APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, APTA Chair Phillip Washington and FRA then-Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

APTA members visited London, Stockholm and Munich during a study mission.

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, center, convened the Task Force on Member Collaboration.

Phillip Washington passes the chair’s gavel to Valarie J. McCall at the Annual Meeting.


APTF 2015 - Year in Review

The year now ending was a particularly good one for the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF).

The foundation awarded the highest single-year amount in its history, $110,000, in 2015 to 32 deserving scholars, allowing them the opportunity to advance their careers in public transit. These scholarships brought the total number awarded since the foundation began in 1988 up to 250, for a combined total of more than $800,000 invested in qualified young leaders. The cumulative impact of nurturing a new generation of transit professionals has been immeasurable.

APTF established two new named scholarships this year, one to honor longtime APTA staffer Fran Hooper and the other to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ADA, funded at $58,000 and $112,000 respectively. Preparations have been made for the inaugural Bombardier Transportation Scholarship, which will be awarded in 2016.

The foundation conducted several successful funding activities this year. An event in honor of new APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, held at the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, brought in more than $33,000. The annual Golf Tournament, also in San Francisco, raised another $14,000 for the foundation.

Though APTF has made great strides in this calendar year, much more remains to do. If we are to develop the transit workforce of the future, we need to expand our outreach, to ensure that the most qualified scholars are aware of the program; grow our asset base so we can grant more scholarships and make larger awards; and increase our visibility in the industry so there is a greater understanding of our mission.

Please consider participating in the APTF Holiday Drive. Click here to either donate online or download a brochure to send in with your check or credit card information. Help us continue fulfilling our mission of increasing and retaining the public transit workforce through scholarships.

2015: A Year of New Public Transit Service and Legislative Advocacy

Click here to see examples of APTA members' activities and advocacy efforts during 2015.

Trends in Public Transportation Vehicle Fleets; APTA's Vehicle Database Tracks Innovations

Click here to see what innovations and changes are coming to public transportation, as reported in the APTA Vehicle Database.

APTA NEWS

APTA's December Transit Report: Transit Riders Save $9K Annually

Individuals who take public transportation instead of owning a car and driving to work can save an average of $9,247 annually, or more than $770 a month, states APTA’s December Transit Savings Report.

The savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle. The car-based costs include the Dec. 14 average national gas price of $2.01 per gallon, as reported by AAA, and the national unreserved monthly parking rate in a downtown business district of $166, according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, the most recent report available.

APTA releases this monthly report to track how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

Click here and search on Transit Savings Report for details.

Save the Date for APTA Conferences

APTA has announced information for the 2016 Transit CEOs Seminar, Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in Orlando, FL, and the Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 15-18 in Charlotte, NC.

The seminar is a unique leadership forum designed for public transit agency chief executive officers, providing opportunities for an exchange of ideas among colleagues and information from other industry leaders. This year’s program focuses on leadership topics relevant to a CEO’s vision for overseeing a public transit organization.

APTA invites first-time CEOs named to the job within the past year to join APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy for a breakfast meeting Jan. 31. APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall will speak at the opening session and preside at the Chair and President’s Roundtable.

Deputy CEOs can participate in a dedicated track of study Feb. 1 that includes a breakfast meeting and a session conducted by members of the 2015 Leadership APTA class on transformative leadership and creating positive change.
Technology will be a major focus on this year’s Bus & Paratransit Conference, including sessions on software and data advances, Intelligent Transportation Systems and mobile apps. Again this year, Maintenance Monday and BRT Tuesday will feature specialized, dedicated presentations and best practices.

The APTA International Bus Roadeo will coincide with the conference, which also features the bus display, products and services showcase and National Transit Institute training. Registration opens Jan. 11.

For information, click here.

APTA Welcomes New Members

APTA welcomes its newest members who joined between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2015. Click here to see the complete list.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Public Transit Employees Go the Extra Mile

Employees of APTA member public transit systems have saved lives, helped reunite lost children with their parents, supported the homeless, and set examples of safe driving over a career. Learn more here.

Sharing Joy, Helping Others During the Holiday Season

From food and clothing drives to festively decorated vehicles and visits from Santa Claus, public transit agencies bring the holiday spirit to their communities. See some examples here.

Capital Metro Encourages Commuters to 'Cheat on Their Cars'

To help combat the region’s increasingly congested streets, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, has launched a creative new initiative urging commuters to skip the traffic drama and become “Two-Timers” by taking public transportation twice a week.

Capital Metro invites drivers who use public transit infrequently—or not at all—to give it a try, which helps remove cars from the road and gives riders their time back instead of being stuck in traffic.

A recent report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Scorecard showed that in 2014 a peak-hour trip in the Austin area took 33 percent longer than that same trip would take in less congested traffic.

People who have never used public transit can learn to navigate the system with videos available on YouTube, hosted by local comedian Ted Meredith and featuring other Austin talent, that show people how to plan a trip, locate a bus using real-time information and pay for a ticket in advance or on the spot with the CapMetro app. Find the videos here.

The agency also invites riders who want to move beyond the daily commute to explore five Urban Adventures in some of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods.

First BRT Bus Arrives for Metro Transit


Guests tour the first of 12 new buses that Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul will operate on the A Line, the region’s first BRT service, when it opens next year. The new vehicles are similar to other 40-foot Gillig buses already in service, but include several new features to- make boarding more efficient. Ultimately the agency plans to operate 11 BRT lines.

 

N.Y. Subway Ridership at Record Levels

MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) announced in early December that a record number of customers, 6.2 million, entered the New York subway system on Oct. 29—50,000 more than the previous one-day record, set Oct. 30, 2014.

Both record-setting days occurred on the last Thursday in October, which according to NYC Transit is traditionally one of the system’s busiest days with school visitors and heavy tourist presence in the city. The month’s figures report five days when ridership exceeded the prior year’s record and 15 weekdays with ridership above 6 million.

“The relentless growth in subway ridership shows how this century-old network is critical to New York’s future,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, chairman and chief executive officer, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Our challenge is to maintain and improve the subways even as growing ridership puts more demands on the system. We are doing it thanks to the MTA Capital Program, which will allow us to bring meaningful improvements to our customers, such as real-time arrival information on the lettered subway lines, cleaner and brighter stations with new technology like Help Points, modern signal systems and almost 1,000 new subway cars.”

Daily subway ridership records have been kept since 1985. Agency officials said the new record is the highest since the late 1940s.

Average weekday subway ridership during October, just below 6 million, was the highest of any month in more than 45 years. Approximately 80,000 more customers rode the subway on an average October 2015 weekday than just a year earlier—enough to fill more than 50 fully loaded subway trains.

Ridership surged on the weekends as well, with the average weekend ridership higher than any October in more than 45 years. On Saturday, Oct. 31, the day of the Village Halloween Parade and a Mets World Series game, 3.7 million customers rode the subway, making it the fifth busiest Saturday on recent record.

CASE STUDY

Carefree, Car-free: How Nashville's MTA worked with a neighborhood group to give up cars in favor of public transit for a week

Residents of the Nations neighborhood near downtown Nashville created the "We Don't Car" campaign, went carless for a week and tried public transportation and alternate travel modes (including walking and biking) to see what would be the most effective ways of getting around and how that might impact their lives. Read the whole story here.

COMMENTARY

The Silver Tsunami Is Making a Splash in Public Transit; Succession Planning Can Help Manage the Shift

BY DAVE FULTON
Industry Solutions Manager-Planning, Scheduling and Operations
Trapeze Group

Around 10,000 baby boomers in the United States will turn 65 every day until the year 2030, according to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

To put this into perspective, imagine filling Michigan Stadium, the largest American football stadium, almost two-and-a-half times. That is how many American workers are becoming eligible to retire each month.

This emerging demographic, known as the Silver Tsunami, will present many challenges. But can it also offer opportunities for the transit industry?

The Epidemic
By the year 2029, when the last boomers reach retirement age, one in five Americans will be over 65. (Source: Project for Public Spaces) “For a long time, there have been warnings of a ‘Silver Tsunami’ among public employees—a sudden wave of baby boomer retirements that could cripple the workforce.” (Source: Governing magazine) Agencies across the country expect retirement paperwork to begin ­piling up soon. In fact, some have already experienced signs that the tide is rising. (Source: ICMA)

As a result of the poor economy, a typical boomer has worked past retirement age. But as the economy improves, exiting the workforce is becoming attractive to older employees, particularly if pay freezes or federal sequestration are evident in the workplace. (Source: Governing)

The retirement of this generation, which spans nearly two decades, poses problems for transit agencies. Retiree pension obligations are an obvious concern. As retirees begin to collect their pensions, there will be a strain on the support system. “By the year 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the American workforce.” (Source: ICMA)

When workers retire on a large scale, there is the risk of a huge loss of institutional knowledge. This loss has the potential to erode their ability to serve the public for years to come. (Source: ICMA)

“Complicating this situation further is the fact that baby boomers around the same age often make up a department’s entire management staff, creating the possibility of many decimating departures within a relatively short time.” (Source: Governing)

Our industry solutions manager for demand response, Jeff Zarr, weighs in, saying that, “for the most part, transit agencies struggle with succession planning. It’s just not in their budget.”

A Tidal Wave for Transit
Overall, government employees tend to be older than other segments of the labor force. (Source: Governing)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled median ages for 227 industries for its 2012 Current Population Survey. They found that the Bus Service and Urban Transit Industry had a median age of 51.2, with 66.1 percent of workers age 45-plus. (Source: Governing)

Organizations such as the American Public Transportation Association are trying to change this trend by inspiring youth to take an interest in the public transit industry. APTA hosts the APTA National Public Transportation Career Day annually, as well as the Youth Summit to inspire youth to take up an interest, and potentially choose a career path in transit.

“While workers across all sectors are closing in on retirement age, it’s in the public sector that occupations with some of the oldest workers can be found, which means that a new crop of public servants will soon need to step up and take the helm of government.” (Source: Governing)

How to Manage the Shift

For transit agencies, the shift has been visible for some time. This visibility allows for prompt action to help and mitigate the losses when these assets retire. Knowing this, agencies should develop a plan to weather the Silver Tsunami:

* Knowledge Transfer: One of the most integral aspects of succession planning is the transfer of knowledge. By implementing a formal plan, agencies can avoid decades of experience being lost. Implementing mentors or one-on-one learning arrangements are examples of how to foster this transfer.

* Build a Road Map: This will help to deal with the difficulties of knowledge transfer and succession planning. Mapping out your agencies’ current and future state can help identify where upcoming gaps may be in your staff.

* Develop a Plan: A plan is instrumental in curtailing the effects of the Silver Tsunami. Whether this is an in-house or purchased program, it should aim to grow professionals via learning from the cumulative years of experience already on staff.

* Think Long-Term: It is important to remember that these processes take a long time. Sharing and training new staff with years or decades of knowledge takes time. For example, Sarasota County, FL, administers a yearlong program to groom its leaders. They fill many roles on an interim basis, allowing departments to better train managers. (Source: ICMA)

* Communicate Your Program: Communication is key when it comes to implementing any program in the workplace. Keeping your employees in the loop will help the team to accept any changes and aid in a smooth transition.

The Youthful Future
As the aging population grows, many see the Silver Tsunami as a looming crisis. But rather than resisting change, this shift could present an opportunity for transit.

“This economic phenomenon is an opportunity for millennials and baby boomers to bridge their generational differences and work together to help their local communities become a better and safer place to live, work and play.” (Source: ICMA)

This “Commentary” was originally ­published as a blog entry on Trapeze Group’s website. Reprinted with permission.

Fulton has 30 years of experience in building, designing and implementing planning, scheduling and operations management solutions for the public transit industry. He has served in leadership roles at Trapeze Group for nearly 19 years, and has managed many aspects of the software for the public transit industry.

“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

Amtrak's Boardman to Retire

WASHINGTON—Joseph H. ­Boardman, president and chief executive officer of Amtrak, has announced his plans to retire in September after almost eight years.

Before taking the top job at Amtrak, Boardman was a member of the railroad’s board of directors and served as FRA administrator from 2005-2008. Earlier he was commissioner of New York State DOT. He worked in the transportation industry for more than 30 years with experience in city, county, state and federal government and owned his own transportation management company.

Boardman is a former chairman of both the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Standing Committee on Rail Transportation.

Henry Rosen

NEWARK, NJ—Henry Rosen has been named a principal consultant in the transit and rail technical excellence center of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, based in the Newark office.

Rosen joins the firm after a 30-year career with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, most recently serving as the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation’s manager of the system technology and fare collection division. He is first vice chair of the APTA Fare Collection Systems Committee and a member of several other committees.



Frederick C. Gilliam

ALBANY, NY—The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) named Frederick C. Gilliam to head its Transportation Department.

Before joining CDTA, Gilliam was director of road and bus terminal operations for New Jersey Transit Corporation, where he held numerous roles with increasing responsibility over his 25 years in the public transit industry.





Jarod Varner

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR—Jarod Varner, executive director of Rock Region Metro, is one of eight Arkansans of the Year honored by Arkansas Life magazine.

The honor cites Varner’s oversight of a new bus fleet powered by natural gas and the rebranding of the agency (formerly Central Arkansas Transit Authority) as the first steps in an effort to build public transit in the region to encourage competition for employers and economic investment, attract young professionals, provide mobility for older riders and reconnect neighborhoods.

Varner is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2009, an at-large director on the APTA Board of Directors and a member of numerous other committees.


Peter Burrus
RICHMOND, VA—Peter Burrus has joined the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) in the newly created position of chief of rail transportation, overseeing all DRPT passenger and freight rail transportation initiatives. He worked for CSX Transportation for more than 25 years, serving most recently as assistant vice president, network operations locomotive management.