Passenger Transport - March 4, 2016
FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced her resignation to accept a position as chief planning officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro). McMillan is still scheduled to speak at APTA’s Legislative Conference. (See following story.)
“Therese McMillan was a tremendous collaborator with the public transportation industry and an effective advocate for public transit in the Obama administration,” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, board member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. “Proof of her effectiveness are the budget levels for public transportation that were in the administration’s Grow America proposals, President Obama’s 2017 budget submission and the recently passed FAST Act.”
Representatives of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and its partner, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, held a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony—complete with leis and other garlands—Feb. 25 as part of the ground-breaking event for its first rail station, West Loch in Waipahu. Kahu (minister) Kordell Kekoa performed the rite using ti leaves, water and Hawaiian sea salt meant to cleanse, bless and purify the land as Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City Council Chair Ernie Martin, council members, state legislators and HART board members took part. “This is another significant milestone in our project’s progress,” said HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas, standing behind Kekoa. “We’re building a better Honolulu, providing people a safe and reliable option to driving their cars in one of the most congested cities in the country.”
After more than a decade of planning, construction and testing, the 2.4-mile H/Benning DC Streetcar line opened for passenger service on Feb. 27—the first streetcars operating in Washington, DC, since 1962.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, District DOT Director Leif Dormsjo and other officials hosted ceremonies before the line began operating.
“We are excited to get DC Streetcar up and running. The streetcar expands public transportation options for residents and visitors and connects neighborhoods,” Bowser said. “We thank the businesses and residents along the H Street/Benning corridor for their patience and support leading up this historic day.”
The inaugural streetcar line—operating free during the introductory period—serves eight stops on H Street Northeast, a growing business and residential area, between Washington Union Station and the intersection of Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue, near RFK Stadium. It is the first part of an eight-mile line that, when complete, will span the District from east to west.
DC Streetcars pass each other on opening day of the H/Benning Line.
In anticipation of the March 5 opening of Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line Foothill Extension, agency officials and board members took an advance ride on the extension, which covers 11.5 miles with six new stations from Arcadia to Azusa. From left are Metro board members and Los Angeles County Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe and Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington. The $1 billion extension, funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R half-cent sales tax, begins at the current Metro Gold Line terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station in East Pasadena.
APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall invites APTA members to be part of a delegation to Cuba, May 25-29, with Business Member Board of Governors Chair Patrick Scully, other APTA members and attendees from partnering associations.
Collaboration is one of McCall’s key initiatives, and this trip will explore such opportunities in Cuba. Participants in the trip, which will originate from Miami, will examine how transportation and infrastructure projects are planned and managed in Cuba, establish contacts and build relationships.
APTA is currently working out costs; initial information from several tour agencies suggests costs will be in the range of $5,000-$7,500 per attendee (all-inclusive from Miami). Attendees will participate in preparing a report to APTA on the potential for long-term opportunities for the U.S. transit industry in Cuba.
APTA members interested in participating are asked to contact Cynthia Owens no later than March 11. Additional details will be provided in the near future.
Sessions on planning large events, social media and campaigns for customers were among the highlights of the recent 2016 APTA Marketing & Communications Workshop in Phoenix. Top photo: APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall at the workshop with Marketing & Communications Committee Chair Morgan Lyons, left, and Scott Smith, interim chief executive officer of Valley Metro, host system. Bottom photo: Sky-Marie Simon of York Region Transit, Richmond Hill, ON, second from right, took the top honor at the eighth annual Call Center Challenge held during the workshop.
APTA is among the sponsors of a training seminar on high-speed rail technics, March 21-25 at California State University-Bakersfield, designed to help rail professionals and senior students increase skills that can be applied to design and build high-speed rail lines.
The 25-hour seminar, led by international rail professionals, will cover high-speed rail main concepts, infrastructure and alignment, track components and stations, electrification, traffic control and signaling, specialized tools and modern construction technics.
Other sponsoring organizations are the Mineta Transportation Institute, University of San José, California High-Speed Rail Authority, UIC (International Union of Railways) and CSU Bakersfield.
To register, click here.
The Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE) invites public transit professionals to participate in a free webinar, “Building Support and Combating Critics,” March 8, 2-3 p.m. EST.
Most efforts to build or expand public transit face critics—and some of them are using new strategies and forming new organizations to oppose initiatives. This webinar will look at the evolution of transit critics and their attacks, including ways to combat both local and outside critics while also building support among diverse groups of advocates in the community.
Speakers at the webinar are Tom Shrout of Avvantt Partners, Morgan Lyons of Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Gloria Ohland of Move LA.
This webinar is the third part of the Six Stops to Success Webinar Series being presented by CFTA in partnership with the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates.
Numerous U.S. public transit agencies provided free trips to primary voters heading to the polls.
For example, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) and VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio both provided complimentary service to voters who showed valid voter registration cards on their way to the Texas primaries on “Super Tuesday,” March 1.
“Each vote strengthens the fiber of our community,” said METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia, “and the METRO Board of Directors strongly encourages every citizen to get out there and make their collective voices heard. It’s an investment of time for the voter. We want to recognize and award participants with a free ride to exercise that great right to vote.”
VIA used the slogan “Ride VIA to Vote” to promote its free service for municipal, state and federal election days, which included VIAtrans paratransit as well as fixed-route buses.
“Civic involvement is one of our most essential rights and responsibilities. We at VIA are proud to provide the communities we serve vital connections and access to opportunity. By offering complimentary rides on Election Day, we are highlighting the important role public transportation can play in helping people engage in the process and have their voices heard,” said VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey C. Arndt.
The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) joined with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to offer a program that will provide free smart card bus passes for people who need a ride to register to vote or to receive identification documents necessary to vote.
The supervisors and Abele approved funds for the program in the 2016 county budget.
MCTS has developed a grant process to allow community groups and non-profit organizations already engaged in promoting voter registration and voter IDs to obtain MCTS bus passes for distribution through their programs. The agency will not distribute passes directly to individuals through this program.
VIA Metropolitan Transit provided complimentary bus services to San Antonio area riders presenting a valid voter registration card on March 1.
A Super Tuesday primary election voter in Houston rode free on a METRO bus that stops at a voting location, the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced the availability of up to $377.5 million over five years for the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program, including awards of up to $72.5 million for Fiscal Year 2016.
The UTC program supports applied and academic research on national transportation priorities (including safety) at 35 competitively-selected colleges and university grantees across the nation, currently encompassing more than 100 institutions of higher education. This year, for the first time, two-year institutions of higher education are eligible to partner in the UTC consortia.
The work of UTCs will align with the department’s vision to move the U.S. “Beyond Traffic” and toward a 21st-century transportation system that moves people and goods more efficiently.
The two-step application process requires applicants to submit a letter of intent by April 1, with the completed applications due no later than May 13. Awards will be made no later than Dec. 4, when FY16 funds are awarded. Subsequent awards will be made annually.
Leduc, Nova Bus and Prevost
Raymond Leduc has been named president of Nova Bus and Prevost, parts of the Volvo Group, with responsibility for those two brands and Volvo buses in the U.S. and Canada. He will be based in Saint-Eustache, QC.
Leduc has more than 30 years leadership experience with international companies, most recently serving as president of Bell Helicopter Textron Canada. He was a senior location executive of IBM Bromont for many years and is a member of Canada’s National Research Council, the government’s premier research and technology organization.
Luther Wynder, currently chief performance officer for the Delaware Transit Corporation in Dover, will become executive director of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Burnsville, MN, on April 4. He will succeed Jane Kansier, who has served on an interim basis since the retirement of longtime Executive Director Beverley Miller. Kansier will return to her previous position as senior project manager. Wynder joined the Delaware agency in 2005.
Puentes, Eno Center
The Eno Center for Transportation, Washington, DC, has appointed Robert J. Puentes to succeed Joshua Schank as its 13th president and chief executive officer, effective April 11.
Puentes is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who directs the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, established to address pressing transportation and infrastructure challenges facing metropolitan regions in the U.S. and internationally. He joined Brookings as a senior research manager in 2000 and will remain affiliated with the institution as a non-resident senior fellow. He worked for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America from 1996-2000, beginning as a senior planner and later serving as director of the infrastructure program.
Harold S. Buckley Sr., 72, the longest-serving member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors in the agency’s history, died Feb. 23.
Buckley, a real estate agent, represented DeKalb County on the MARTA board since 1985. He was the board’s treasurer and served as either chairman or vice chairman of the Audit Committee since 2010.
Board Chairman Robert L. Ashe III called Buckley “a wonderful man and … an unwavering advocate for MARTA.” General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker said, “Mr. Buckley was a tireless advocate for his community and he had a deep and abiding commitment to public service. We will cherish his profound contributions to MARTA and appreciate his lasting legacy of civic duty that is an example for us to follow.”
Passenger Transport is also available in a hard-copy format that makes it easy to pass along to colleagues, mark up with handwritten notes, display in your reception area or office and annotate with post-its for future reference. Get your own printed copy today.
What is your committee’s role for APTA and the industry as a whole?
The Legislative Committee works to develop consensus on legislative and regulatory issues impacting our industry—whether it’s bus, rail, paratransit or private businesses providing services to public transportation.
We have seven subcommittees covering specific focus areas to help identify issues: Business Member Government Affairs; Commuter Rail and Intercity; Federal Procedures and Regulations; Funding, Finance and Tax Policy; Intergovernmental Issues; Small Operations; and Transit Board Members. Legislative policies are developed from the subcommittees and the full committee before being recommended to the APTA Executive Committee and Board of Directors.
What are the committee’s top priorities for the year?
With the passage last year of a five-year, fully-funded federal transportation bill, the FAST Act, a huge goal was accomplished. Now the priority shifts to maximizing the benefits of the legislation for the public transportation community as the annual appropriation bills begin to play out. We will make sure APTA is heard during the decision-making process.
We’ll also be taking a look at how we can be even more effective. We’ve assembled an Advocacy Guidelines Task Force to examine how we define and present our legislative agenda to Congress and the administration. This task force will meet at upcoming APTA conferences and we invite everyone to be engaged in this important work.
How does the committee engage members in those priorities?
The committee has a variety of ways to engage members—information exchanges, networking, sharing of best practices and through APTA’s conferences and communications channels. We provide updates and information and encourage members to be knowledgeable and advocate in their communities and with their elected leadership at all levels.
APTA’s committees play an important role in fulfilling the association’s commitment to developing industry leaders, especially young professionals. Please share how your committee encourages young professionals to participate in its work. We encourage everyone to get involved and are open to new people and fresh ideas. If you are attending an APTA conference, try to show up for the committee meetings, which are typically held Saturday or Sunday at the start of a conference.
Those meetings are the lifeblood behind the scenes. Get to know committee members, understand the process and learn about the issues and how they impact your organization and the services provided. It’s easy to learn about legislative issues, and opportunities are there for all voices to be heard. The door is open.
Please share how an individual’s service on this committee can add value to his or her career.
Being part of the Legislative Committee can open doors to career advancement because of the knowledge you will gain and the people you will meet. You can become knowledgeable in the workings of the federal funding process, gaining invaluable information for maximizing the return on investment to your transit authority.
You can learn from your peers and establish a network of resources, a sounding board for best practices and lessons learned as you pursue your career goals. You are exposed to a variety of challenges, opportunities, practices and people with new ideas and a variety of perspectives. It’s a great learning experience.
Please describe the committee’s work to advance the goals in APTA’s strategic plan (safety and security first, resource advocacy, workforce development, demographic shifts and technological innovation).
The goals in APTA’s strategic plan are linked to the legislative and regulatory process. Everything we do reinforces APTA’s strategic plan initiatives. For example, our work on the long-term federal transportation legislation resulted in a win to advance APTA goals and a brighter future for public transportation in communities throughout the country.
There is much more to the story, and important elements are often in the fine print. Research funding (for example, the Transportation Cooperative Research Program) was increased but not fully restored. APTA members on a variety of committees are examining the details and we look ahead to continued work and advocacy.
What are your primary responsibilities—the job elements you focus on the most?
I devote the majority of my time to the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), a technical assistance center operated by a consortium of APTA, the Community Transportation Association of America and Easter Seals. The goal of NCMM is to help communities deliver a customer-centered mobility strategy that empowers people to live independently and advance health, economic vitality, self-sufficiency and community.
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, FTA senior officials and five members of Congress are among the speakers who will address the APTA Legislative Conference, March 13-15.
Foxx joins FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan for the “Update from DOT” afternoon General Session on March 14, which will be followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer discussion with McMillan and FTA officials Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers, Acting Chief Counsel Ellen Partridge and three associate administrators: Henrika Buchanan-Smith, program management; Vincent Valdes, research, demonstration and innovation; and Thomas Littleton, safety and oversight.
“Get Started with Members of Congress,” the Tuesday breakfast General Session, includes remarks from five members of Congress (one senator and four members of the House): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member, Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee; and Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), both members, Ways and Means Committee; Peter DeFazio, ranking member, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; and Jeff Denham, member, T&I Committee.
In addition, the conference includes the Opening General Session with APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy and the “APTA National Partners Roundtable” moderated by APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall with panelists Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County (MN) commissioner and chair, Transportation Steering Committee and Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority; College Park (MD) Mayor Patrick Wojahn, chair, Transportation & Infrastructure Services Committee, National League of Cities; and Grace Gallucci, member, National Association of Regional Council, and executive director, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
Other conference sessions include “The ‘Insider’ Perspective for the Transit Industry” sponsored by APTA’s BMBG; “the View from the Hill” with congressional committee staff; “Welcome to Washington” with David Wasserman, election analyst, Cook Political Report, and Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher, Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report; a presentation by the Capitol Steps, several committee meetings, receptions, an FTA workshop on the Capital Investment Program and FTA listening session on the proposed National Public Transportation Safety Plan and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (separate registrations required).
This year’s conference also includes COMTO’s Awards Ceremony, “Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation,” which will honor several APTA members. (Tickets are required for this event.)
Rep. Jeff Denham
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
Every passenger who takes public transportation should feel safe when riding any transit system, whether bus or rail.
Ensuring that our nation’s public transportation systems are safe is the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) top priority and one reason why FTA has issued a proposed plan for the future of public transportation safety. FTA has also initiated several rulemakings intended to ensure that public transportation remains one of the safest modes of travel available.
In the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, Congress directed the secretary of transportation, among other things, to both develop and implement a national plan to improve transit safety and issue a rule which would require FTA’s recipients to develop and implement agency safety plans. In response to the congressional mandates, on Feb. 5 FTA issued a proposed rule for the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (Agency Safety Plan) and a notice of availability for the proposed National Public Transportation Safety Plan (National Safety Plan).
The proposed National Safety Plan is not a regulation, but would provide guidance on FTA’s approach to improving the safety performance of the nation’s transit systems. This plan also would be FTA’s primary tool to disseminate guidance, technical assistance, templates and other resources related to transit safety.
For example, FTA’s proposed National Safety Plan includes guidance for implementing a Safety Management System (SMS), including SMS development phases and sample tasks. The proposed plan also includes a sample safety register, a tool that transit agencies could use to evaluate safety risks within their systems and record the results of their safety risk management activities.
FTA intends to incorporate additional guidance, templates and tools into the National Safety Plan as they become available. As the transit industry grows and evolves, this proposed plan would be updated periodically to meet the needs of the industry and communicate new regulatory programs and criteria to help agencies mitigate their safety risks.
The proposed plan also includes performance management requirements intended to facilitate more effective investment of federal, state and local funds and increase accountability and transparency in decision-making. Among these are four proposed safety performance criteria: fatalities, injuries, safety events and system reliability.
The Agency Safety Plan proposed rule would require any public transportation system that receives federal financial assistance to implement a comprehensive safety plan based on SMS principles. SMS incorporates safety into all aspects of a transit agency, from planning and construction to maintenance and operations.
SMS was first recommended to FTA through the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a committee comprised of transit industry professionals that provides information and recommendations to FTA on transit safety.
SMS is also used in other industries including aviation, trucking and mining. FTA believes that SMS is the most effective way of preventing and mitigating safety events because it offers a comprehensive, proactive approach to improving the safety performance of an already safe industry and because it is scalable and flexible. FTA has developed resources to help agencies implement SMS in their systems through its SMS Framework and available training for safety personnel.
FTA’s proposed Agency Safety Plan requirements are scalable and flexible. Although all transit operators that receive FTA financial assistance would have to develop and implement a plan, small, rural and tribal operators would have the option of participating in a state-drafted plan. This state plan option would significantly reduce the burden on small operators of developing a plan. Large operators would be required to develop and implement their own plans.
FTA does not intend to collect or approve each agency’s plan. Instead, it has proposed that agencies or states would self-certify their compliance with the proposed rule.
FTA also is working to finalize other rules that will help provide the framework for an overall Public Transportation Safety Program.
The agency expects to publish a final State Safety Oversight (SSO) Rule in early 2016. This rule would strengthen the states’ authority to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents within the rail transit systems they oversee. Later in the year, FTA anticipates publishing final rules for the Public Transportation Certification Training Program, which sets mandatory training requirements for federal and State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) personnel responsible for safety oversight, and the Public Transportation Program, which formally adopts SMS as the foundation for FTA’s approach to safety and establishes procedures to support FTA’s exercise of its enforcement and other authorities under the Safety Program.
In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which directs the secretary of transportation to conduct a study and evaluation of transit safety standards and protocols and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding operator assaults. In late 2015, FTA accepted a report from TRACS that included recommendations to FTA on preventing and mitigating operator assaults, to which we will refer as we develop an NPRM.
Both the proposed National Safety Plan and the Agency Safety Plan NPRM are open for comment through April 5. FTA is offering an informational session March 16 during the APTA Legislative Conference, so members of the industry can learn more about the documents and ask clarifying questions. Please visit the Calendar of Events on FTA’s website to register for the informational session.
We look forward to receiving your comments and working with you as we continue to implement the new safety program. For more information, please contact Candace Key, acting chief, safety policy and promotion, FTA Office of Transit Safety and Oversight.
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
As the public transportation industry transitions from advocating for a long-term authorization bill to implementing the new five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), Passenger Transport and APTA’s Government Affairs team offer this summary of its public transportation-related facts and figures.
Background and Highlights
President Barack Obama signed the FAST Act into law on Dec. 4, 2015, with an effective date of Oct. 1; it applies new program rules to all FY16 funds.
The FAST Act authorizes surface transportation programs for five fiscal years (FY16-FY20), through Sept. 30, 2020. It’s the first long-term comprehensive surface transportation legislation since the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was enacted in 2005.
It reflects many of APTA’s recommendations, which were developed by the Authorization Task Force and the High-Speed and Intercity Rail and Legislative committees, after several listening sessions and meetings to gather, vet and consolidate recommendations from a wide range of members.
“Despite a challenging federal budgetary and political environment, we worked cooperatively with Congress to enact a fully funded, five-year authorization bill that grows federal investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy in APTA’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act: A Guide to Public Transportation and Rail-Related Provisions.
Over the FAST Act’s life, it authorizes a total of $61.1 billion for all programs administered by FTA. It authorizes $11.8 billion for public transit programs in FY16, with increases to $12.6 billion by FY20—an increase of 17.7 percent over FY15.
“Under the new law, much of the federal transit program structure remains in place,” states the APTA guide. “It retains the urban and rural formula programs that distribute mostly capital assistance based on need and a program for new fixed guideway starts and extensions. It preserves the state of good repair formula program, a program for seniors and individuals with disabilities and the formula programs for growing states and high-density states.“
The measure maintains the existing bus and bus facilities formula program, and it creates a new bus and bus facilities competitive grant program that grows federal investment levels in buses and bus facilities,” adds the guide.
In addition, the guide reports that the act places TIFIA and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing programs under a single agency at DOT and conforms some standards under the two programs.
Major Public Transit Features
Reintroduces a Bus Competitive Grant Program
Increases Buy America requirements incrementally from 60 to 70 percent by FY 2020
Institutes changes to the Workforce Development Program
Increases funding for the state of good repair and the bus program
Streamlines vehicle procurement and leasing
Select Specific Measures
Bus and Bus Facilities
Bus Competitive Grant Program includes $268 million for FY16, with $55 million set aside for Low or No Emission Bus Deployment competition
Remaining $213 million competitively distributed based on age and condition of assets
ncludes pilot program for cost-effective capital investment, allowing state to share bus funding resources among voluntarily participating designated recipients to allow them to procure more vehicles at a time at a lower cost
Public Transportation Safety Program
Requires establishment of minimum safety standards as part of the National Safety Plan
Permits FTA to temporarily take over for inadequate or incapable State Safety Oversight (SSO) agency; permits use of agency’s SSO funds during corrective timeframe
Grants FTA permission to issue nationwide transit safety directives
Grants FTA permission to issue restrictions or prohibitions on operations at unsafe transit agencies
Requires FTA to conduct review of systems’ safety standards, protocols to examine their efficacy
Requires final report on review findings, with comprehensive recommendations and actions needed to improve safety by establishing additional federal minimum safety standards
Requires study, report on evidentiary protection for public transportation safety program information, data
Requires DOT rulemaking to prevent driver assaults
Expedited Project Delivery, Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Pilot Program
Creates fast-track approval process for capital project construction grants, with maximum of 25 percent federal share
Includes project justification, finance criteria (altered from the typical CIG criteria)
Limited to 8 participants, New Starts, Small Starts or Core Capacity but with different eligibility than CIG
Innovative Coordinated Access, Mobility Pilot Program
Competitively distributes funding for projects that improve coordination of transportation services with non-emergency medical transportation services
Funding intended for organizations focused on coordinated transportation solutions
Authorizes funding at $2 million in FY16, $3 million in FY17, $3.25 million in FY18, $3.5 million each in FY19 and FY20
Technical Assistance, Workforce Development
Maintains National Transit Institute (NTI)
Maintains Workforce Development as competitive program, without reach to additional populations, focus on national training standards, increased outcome requirements and report to Congress
Authorizes $9 million per year, with $5 million set aside for NTI
Metropolitan and Statewide Planning Program
Adds resiliency, intercity bus to planning considerations
Provides MPOs that serve Transportation Management Associations with option to develop Congestion Management Plan
Clarifies role of transit agency representatives on MPO boards
Authorizes $130.7 million for FY16
Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants
New Starts: establishes maximum 60 percent of program share, with up to 80 percent federal share (from other federal sources); directs FTA to include art and landscaping in cost-effectiveness calculation (agencies can use STP, CMAQ, TIFIA, TIGER funds to reach the 80 percent threshold)
Small Starts: raises the total project cost threshold to $300 million and raises maximum share to $100 million; changes definition for corridor-based BRTs to eliminate weekend service requirement
Establishes framework for joint intercity rail, public transportation projects
Authorizes $2.3 billion per year
Allows for interstate cooperative procurement schedules, state-led cooperative procurement schedules on behalf of transit agencies within the state and a non-profit cooperative procurement pilot program
Establishes Joint Procurement Clearinghouse to allow grantees to aggregate planned rolling stock purchases, identify joint procurement participants
Encourages capital leasing of assets
Introduces increased domestic content percentage requirements: 60 percent, FY16-17; 65 percent, FY18-19; 70 percent, FY20 and beyond
Permits transit body shell composed of domestically produced steel and/or iron to be counted toward percentage
For denied waivers, FTA is required to certify availability, quality of domestically produced item for which the waiver was denied
State of Good Repair (SOGR)
Modifies eligibility in high-intensity motorbus tier to cover only vehicle SOGR costs
Codifies the federal/local match share at 80/20; specifies eligible local match funding
Authorizes $2.5 billion in FY16, an increase from $2.1 billion in FY15
Includes a rail title that restructures Amtrak
Authorizes separate funding under three rail investment programs
Increases total funding from $200 million in FY16 to $650 million in FY20 for intercity passenger rail
Urbanized Area Formula Program
Modifies 100-bus rule to include non-ADA general population demand-response transit service
Allows 20 percent of allocation for ADA paratransit operations under certain conditions
Increases Small Transit Intensive Cities tier starting in FY19
Authorizes $4.53 billion for FY16
Formula Grants for Rural Areas
Increases the tribal formula authorization to $30 million per year, maintains the $5 million discretionary tribal program
Allows advertisement and concessions revenue as local match
Clarifies costs that counted as local match with respect to intercity bus feeder service
Authorizes $620 million for FY16
Research and TCRPRenames FTA’s research program the Public Transportation Innovation Program
Funds demonstration, deployment, evaluation research projects; maintains match requirement
Introduces a Low/No Vehicle component testing program, funded at $3 million per year
Moves TCRP to Mass Transit Account, funds it at $5 million per year
Enhanced Mobility of Seniors, Individuals with Disabilities
Allows states, localities that provide transit service to be direct recipients
Requires FTA to develop best practices guide for service providers
Introduces pilot program for Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility
Authorizes $263 million for FY16
Information supplied by APTA and FTA
Now that the FAST Act ensures a predictable federal funding stream to public transit organizations for the next five years, industry experts are engaged in the numerous—and complex—details of administering its implementation and regulatory requirements. Passenger Transport recently took the opportunity to ask several experts to share their assessment of next steps.
With the passage of the FAST Act, federal lawmakers and officials have pivoted to implementation and regulatory matters under both the FAST Act and MAP-21. Based on your experience on APTA committees and in your own organization, what do you see as the central regulatory issues—and ideal outcomes—facing the public transportation industry?
The Devil Is Always in the Details
Director, Governmental and Strategic Partnerships
General Contractors Association of New York
Chair, APTA Federal Procedures & Regulations Subcommittee
Federal Relations Manager
Orange County Transportation Authority, CA
Vice Chair, Federal Procedures & Regulations Subcommittee
After years of preparation and lobbying by APTA and our strategic partners, Congress finally passed two major pieces of legislation reauthorizing federal surface transportation programs—MAP-21 in 2013 and the FAST Act in December. Together, they laid out a framework for policy and funding for the public transportation industry for the next five years and beyond.
Our advocacy role nonetheless continues, since many of their provisions must be administratively implemented—a task that falls primarily on DOT, FTA and FRA. That responsibility is, however, more than simply ministerial. Like the proverbial camel under the tent, interpretation of the law is an art form that can at best be subjective and at worst, go beyond the intent of the written statute.
Which is why the subcommittee we oversee and the APTA staff stay abreast of regulatory activity and comment on proposed regulations that run contrary to our own interpretation of the law and/or our collective industry interests.
Anyone who has commented on regulations or rulemakings through the official legal “docket” process knows how frustrating and impersonal an experience it can be, especially when there is no palpable feedback along the way and final outcomes leave the impression that no one was listening.
However, over the last year and a half we’ve tried to change some of that dynamic by opening a proactive dialogue with our colleagues at DOT and FTA about concerns with how existing regulations are being enforced or suggestions about emerging regulations prior to formal issuance.
FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and her senior staff, including former Charlotte Area Transit System CEO Carolyn Flowers, FTA senior advisor, and FTA’s legal and program oversight teams, have not only been receptive, but have embraced the opportunity. In publicly noticed sessions open to the entire APTA membership, we’ve been able to share concerns over thorny issues like the application of “Buy America” to construction and technology projects, accessibility guidelines and regional consistency of triennial reviews.
Separately, with a number of MAP-21 policy changes having already entered the formal issuance process, we will continue to comment through the docket. Transit asset management plans, accessibility guidelines and perhaps one of the biggest changes to the FTA’s relationship with the industry—the Agency Safety Plan rule—are examples. With regard to the last issue, it is worthy of note that all public transportation agencies—not just rail operators—must have a plan in place one year after the final regulation is promulgated. It is vital that every agency take a close look at the proposed requirements, contribute to APTA’s comments and also send in their own to highlight issues important to their agencies.
Since many new FTA rulemakings will have an impact on what your agency is doing and planning to do, we welcome your participation in our subcommittee, but at the end of the day, everyone needs to stay informed about the “devilish details.”
Here are a couple of suggestions for how to do so:
1. Make sure you’re checking the APTA website regularly. You’ll find a series of charts showing each major federal transit regulatory action, when first proposed, comment deadlines, APTA comments and resulting final actions. APTA has broken down the dozens of recent DOT proposed and final rules under MAP-21 and the FAST Act into 12 common-sense categories, including areas ranging from ADA/civil rights to safety and security. In addition, APTA has established a rulemaking forum exclusively for APTA members to comment on particular DOT proposals. For example, you can currently read several thoughtful posts regarding FTA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Geographic Hiring Preferences.
2. Stay involved with your state or regional transit association in addition to APTA. There you may hear details of particular state requirements that may conflict with or need special treatment under FTA policies. For example, California has had a particular problem receiving section 13(c) labor certification for many grants due to state pension reform legislation. Although FTA is aware of this issue, it is unfortunately governed by the Department of Labor, which may not be aware of state laws that need to be taken into consideration in applying federal regulatory policy. Look for ways to help FTA reconcile any differences.
3. Keep in touch with other industry groups. APTA is a great starting place to find peers of your size, mode or interests, but there are other independent special interest subgroups that regularly collaborate with APTA yet still focus on a particular industry discipline.
4. Use preparation for the triennial review process to familiarize yourself with changes that may have been put in place since your last one. Keep track of what other industry peers are experiencing in their own triennials.
It is not surprising that inconsistencies and misinterpretations will occur, especially since many reviews are undertaken by private consultants around the country. In order to properly raise what you may believe is an erroneous application or interpretation of FTA regulation or policy, you need to make sure that you completely understand it.
Don’t be shy about asking for particular citations. Is the requirement clear as written? Was a new policy interpretation shared by notice and comment? Is it being applied to everyone consistently? If you need to, ask for time to consult with your own attorney or, better yet, have him or her attend the triennial review.
In conclusion, the regulatory process is just as involved and complicated as is the legislative process itself, if not more so. Use the resources that your APTA membership provides, as well as your own capabilities, to stay on top of the details—and ahead of the devil!
A Time for Balance
Peel Back the Onion
Unleash Agencies to Modernize
Strengthen Oversight, Training, Safety
Join an APTA Committee
The experts cited in this article are leaders or members of various APTA committees, which 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 here.
APTA has created an online tool to help its members connect with congressional leaders and public transit providers and businesses in their region.
The members-only resource, the Industry Footprint, highlights the latest information on APTA member locations around the nation, the breadth and depth of public transportation services offered and key facts and statistics—all organized at the state and congressional district levels. The information is continuously updated and is designed for easy viewing on a smartphone, other hand-held devices and computers.
The Business Member Activity Fund supported this project.
The map delineates APTA business members, public transportation providers and government and other groups with dots of different colors for different member types to easily distinguish information for business members, public transit agencies, state DOTs and others. In addition, users can access rural public transit providers, identify congressional district lines and bus stops and rail lines, and the map has a search function and offers numerous views including photographic, topological and major routes—all of which are quickly accessible with a click.
For example, clicking the map in a congressional district brings up the names of the two U.S. senators and the House member representing that district. Clicking on the officeholder’s name reveals the extent of public transit’s impact in his or her district, including APTA members, bus stops, rail lines and stations, and regional federal formula funding.
All data on bus sheds and rail lines are provided from automatic feeds from those transit properties reporting publicly in the General Transit Feed Specification, the most common format for public transportation schedules and related geographic information.
All information on APTA members in the Industry Footprint is automatically generated from the APTA database. APTA members wishing to amend their information should contact Helene Brett.
Access the Industry Footprint by clicking here.
APTA-sponsored Voices for Public Transit (VPT), a national grassroots group of public transportation advocates, has published a list of ways to say thank you to Congress for passing the FAST Act, the first long-term transportation bill in a decade.
“This critical legislation will enable investment in roads, bridges, rail, and—yes—public transportation,” VPT’s blog stated. “As part of our celebration, we want to send a collective ‘thank you’ to Congress. They got the job done!” Here are the top 10 reasons, in no particular order:
Five Years!: The FAST Act provides five fully funded years of investment in America’s transportation infrastructure.
18 Percent Increase: The FAST Act increases the nation’s investment in public transportation by 18 percent.
No More Short-Term Bills: Inconsistent, short-term funding—36 bills over six years—set back American public transportation. Now we’re moving in the right direction.
Bipartisan Cooperation: There’s a lot of division in Congress, but legislators set aside differences to reach consensus on long-term transportation funding.
Keep on Congress’ Radar: We need effective implementation and oversight of our national investment in public transportation, so Congress still has a role to play.
Encourage Members to Champion Public Transit: Support for public transportation needs to be sustained and expanded.
Strengthen Ties to Washington: Your thanks will help you build and strengthen your relationship with your elected officials and their staff.
Demonstrate Long-Term Support: Show Congress and their staff that you’re a dedicated public transit advocate who will remain active and engaged in discussions about the future of American transportation.
Increase Clout: Congressional offices take special notice when constituents offer their thanks. Elected officials and staff are more likely to listen closely to your views in the future.
It’s the Right Thing: Members of Congress heard us and responded. Let’s give them the thanks they deserve. Reason enough? We hope you’ll take a few minutes to email your member of Congress your thanks.
VPT is organized through APTA’s website specifically devoted to serving as a resource for riders, advocates and other stakeholders who support a strong public transportation network in their communities and nationwide.
To learn more and to encourage your riders to join VPT (now at 200,000 advocates), click here.
California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) officials announced their intention to complete construction of the high-speed rail line between Silicon Valley and Central Valley by 2024, with operations beginning the next year, according to the authority’s recently released draft 2016 business plan.
“This draft business plan presents a clear path forward within available funding to deliver the system as approved by California voters in 2008,” said CHSRA Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales. “By constructing the line between the Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, while also making significant investments in Southern California’s passenger rail systems, high-speed rail service will become a reality in this state in the next 10 years at a lower cost than previously estimated.”
CHSRA has started more than 100 miles of active construction in the Central Valley. The plan estimates a reduction in overall capital costs from $67.6 billion to $64.2 billion.
In a related statement, Caltrain commuter rail noted its ongoing coordination with CHSRA and stated that it will review the plan to understand its impact on the Caltrain Modernization Program. This program includes electrification of the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, purchase of new high-performance electric rail vehicles, upgrades to the signal system and implementation of PTC.
Initiating service as soon as possible is the first of three objectives cited in the plan. The others are to make strategic, concurrent investments throughout the system that will be linked together over time—such as the Burbank-Anaheim corridor—and to construct segments as funding becomes available.
CHSRA is seeking public comment here on the draft plan through April 18. The plan is available at the same website by clicking on “Draft 2016 Business Plan.”
Construction is underway on the Fresno River Viaduct for California high-speed rail, where superstructure forms and supporting beams are being put into place. The structure in the Central Valley should be completed by the end of summer.
President Barack Obama has announced his intent to appoint Keith T. Parker, general manager/chief executive officer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC).
The council provides the president, through the secretary of homeland security, with advice on the security of critical infrastructure sectors and their information systems. The council, which meets quarterly, comprises a maximum of 30 members, appointed by the president from private industry, academia and state and local government.
King County Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond recently unveiled the first of three Proterra battery-powered, all-electric buses that the Seattle agency will test this year on two heavily traveled routes.
“The deployment of our new battery buses moves us a step closer to achieving our goal of having an all-electric and hybrid fleet within three years,” Desmond said. “These investments will allow us to increase service through 2020 with no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. On a broader scale, these types of green investments will advance this technology within our own industry.”
The addition of the three buses means that almost 70 percent of the agency’s fleet operates with either all-electric or hybrid-electric technology.
King County Executive Dow Constantine, chair of the King County Metro Transit board, also participated in the event.
King County Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond welcomes the first electric bus to the fleet.
Voters, by a margin of 57 percent opposed to 43 percent in favor, defeated a March 1 ballot measure in Pulaski County, AR, that would have raised the countywide sales tax by one-quarter percent to support public transportation.
The unofficial totals, with all precincts reporting, were 48,841 against the measure and 36,791 for it.
“While we are disappointed we won’t be able to bring new and different transit service to central Arkansans in the immediate future, we are encouraged by the strong support we have received during this very short campaign, which came right on the heels of our agency rebranding,” said Jarod Varner, executive director of Rock Region METRO in North Little Rock. “A solid 43 percent of Pulaski County voters supported a dedicated funding source for public transit and our plan received an unprecedented amount of support from elected officials, business leaders, neighborhood associations and other advocates. We look forward to working with our new coalition of supporters to continue educating our community about the benefits of public transit to our economy, environment and quality of life, while we continue to improve our system as much as possible within our current funding structure limits.”
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) has authorized an option on a contract with Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., to purchase an additional 332 MCI 45-foot commuter coaches for an estimated $166 million.
The contract, signed in July 2015, was originally for 772 new commuter coaches. This additional order increased the total number of approved purchases to 1,104 over the next six years with a total value of approximately $561 million.
MCI is currently delivering three test buses to NJ Transit. Following a successful in-service evaluation and funding approval, a purchase order is expected for the first year of production.
“The MCI Commuter Coach provides a high level of reliability and enhanced passenger riding comfort for NJ Transit and we’re proud the agency has once again called on us to assist with rejuvenating their fleet,” said Patrick Scully, MCI executive vice president of sales and marketing and chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors. “As passenger demographics continue to change and passengers look for an upscale ridership experience, MCI will be there to supply the latest safety technology with enhanced in-cabin amenities that draw ridership.”
The new 57-seat coaches will be Wi-Fi ready, seatbelt equipped, ADA compliant and will deliver reduced exhaust emissions as required by the latest Clean Air Act amendment.
The relationship between MCI and NJ Transit began in 1982 with a contract for 700 MC-9 cruiser buses in 1982. In 2000, the agency awarded MCI the largest public transit order in North American bus manufacturing history, a contract for 1,400 vehicles.
Palm Tran Connection, the paratransit division of Palm Tran in Palm Beach County, FL, recently received $381,294 from the state’s Natural Gas Fuel Fleet Vehicle Rebate Program.As part of a new service contract, Palm Tran Connection purchased 50 new propane-fueled vehicles, which have been in service for one year. The state rebate program allows for reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost of the propane upgrade for these vehicles.
The two commuter rail agencies of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MTA Metro-North Railroad, both experienced the best mechanical performance records in their recorded history in 2015.For LIRR, 2015 was its 16th consecutive year of improvement for railcar reliability and the best record since it began keeping records in 1981. Metro-North began keeping reliability records in 1989.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking recently sponsored their fifth annual human trafficking awareness program at Tower City’s Skylight Concourse.
The program highlighted the roles of multidisciplinary organizations in addressing the reality of modern-day slavery in northeast Ohio. Speakers included U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach and representatives of the FBI Violent Crime Task Force, Cleveland police, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and RTA.
Service organizations took part in the event during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, distributing information on resources for trafficked persons, and photos and artworks related to the issue were displayed.
ARTBA Highlights Deficient Bridges — The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has created an interactive map that provides state-by-state information about the more than 58,000 structurally deficient bridges throughout the U.S., which account for almost 204 million daily crossings. Clicking on a state brings up the number and percentage of its bridges classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, as well as federal investment figures and information about new bridge construction and major reconstruction. To access the map, visit www.artba.org.
Las Vegas RTC Partners on Bikes — The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada awarded a contract to BCycle, based in Waterloo, WI, to install the first bike share system in Las Vegas. The system is scheduled to open later this year with 18 stations and 180 bikes in the downtown area.
Houston METRO’s New ‘Connect’ App — Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) recently launched “MPD Connect,” a free app that allows individuals to contact the agency’s police department. (The app is also formatted for desktop computers.) Users can submit a report directly to police by filling out a short form or send texts during staffed hours.
Tech Students, Staff Ride PSTA Free — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL, has entered into a partnership with Pinellas Technical College (PTC) that allows PTC students and staff members to ride PSTA free simply by showing their school ID. This program could benefit more than 3,000 PTC students attending classes in St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Cameras on All BART Railcars — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) has begun installing additional security cameras to the interiors in all 669 railcars in its current fleet. The useful life of the new digital cameras is between six and seven years, which coincides with the final decommissioning of the old fleet. BART’s new train cars, being constructed by Bombardier, will arrive next year with built-in cameras.
Metra Cuts Police Overtime Costs — Metra commuter rail in Chicago has reduced its police overtime costs by 33 percent over the past two years and overtime hours by 23 percent through staff reorganization and realignments. These changes, according to Metra police, allocated resources to areas where the need for police response is greatest while maintaining the total budgeted headcount of officers.
LA Metro’s ‘Harriet’ — Los Angeles Metro lowered a segment of “Harriet,” the tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will excavate twin one-mile tunnels to connect three underground stations for the Crenshaw/LAX project, during a recent event. High school junior Calvin Mosley proposed the name in honor of Harriet Tubman’s use of the Underground Railroad to transport slaves to freedom. The TBM will be assembled underground after being lowered by segments.
Bendix Reaches Out — Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and its employees completed 60 projects in their communities last year as part of a program funded through Knorr-Bremse Global Care, a nonprofit organization founded by Bendix’s parent company in Munich, Germany. Projects included building a school library in Mexico, funding free surgeries for children with cleft palates, purchasing athletic uniforms and flag football equipment to allow children with physical and mental challenges to participate in a YMCA athletic program, providing financial support for children with disabilities to attend camp and supporting English as a second language training for refugees.
San Diego Fines Riders — The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has introduced fines for riders who refuse to vacate priority seating designated for riders over 65 and persons with disabilities, based on a new state law and an MTS ordinance amendment. A first offense would result in a $25 fine, a second offense is $50 and third (and subsequent) offenses are $100. Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski said, “Previously we were only allowed to request that passengers vacate their seat. We could not enforce or compel a person to move. Now we have that authority.”
Free Rides in Reno — Access to Healthcare Network (AHN) is now providing free transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities for healthcare-related trips through a partnership with the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV, and the county. The service can be used for doctor appointments, picking up medications, getting home from a local hospital, getting to and from outpatient procedures and stopping by designated stores to buy groceries. FTA provided almost $270,000 for the program through MAP-21 Section 5310, which went toward purchasing minivans and establishing a dedicated phone line.
Riverside Offers Riders a Lift — The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency (RTA) has partnered with an area ski resort to provide a limited number of free lift tickets for use on Wednesday nights through the end of the ski season. “This is a great opportunity for RTA to thank its customers for riding the bus,” said Chairman of the Board Frank Johnston. “We are thrilled to give our customers another big reason to ride.”
Bombardier to Overhaul MARC Coaches — The Maryland Transit Administration has awarded a $36.8 million contract to Bombardier Transportation to overhaul 63 MARC III bi-level commuter rail cars. The railcars, which have been in service almost 17 years, provide service along three commuter rail lines that terminate at Union Station in Washington, DC.
Tri Delta Helps Riders Stay Dry — The Eastern Contra Costa County Transit Authority (Tri Delta Transit), Antioch, CA, is distributing more than 1,000 umbrellas to area residents in anticipation of El Niño rains. System employees and bus drivers are handing out the umbrellas—which they call “mobile bus shelters”—on board buses, at bus stops and park-and-ride lots and at Tri Delta Transit’s administrative offices.
VIA Displays Art by Seniors — VIA Metropolitan Transit partnered with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department to display artworks by older residents during February. This year’s “Bravo for ArtAbility, Never Too Old to Create” exhibit included paintings, drawings, photographs, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, sculpture and crafts.
LA Metro Produces ADA Videos — Los Angeles Metro has created a video series that provides customers with disabilities with information about public transit service and features.. Find the videos, in English and Spanish with open captioning, here.
The schedule is finalized for the APTA International Bus Roadeo, May 13-17, and Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 15-18, in Charlotte, NC.
The roadeo competition begins Sunday morning, May 15, before the conference convenes. Bus operators and mechanics from public transit systems across North America participate in separate competitions, which showcase their skills in safe driving and vehicle maintenance. APTA will recognize winners at the Roadeo Banquet on May 17, and competing teams are invited to participate in specialized educational sessions during the conference.
APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall will host a listening session on her signature initiative, the APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration, on Monday morning, May 16. McCall appointed a task force to identify ways to enhance internal partnerships and collaboration among three key membership groups (public transit agency CEOs, board members and the Business Member Board of Governors) and between APTA and key external organizations with shared interests such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and National Association of Regional Councils.
The conference’s educational sessions are organized by eight routes of study: technology; operations and maintenance; safety and security; accessibility and mobility management; planning, finance and sustainability; capital programs; BRT; and workforce development, management and policy.
To learn more and register, click here.
APTA’s Early Career Program (ECP) is seeking nominations through March 21 for the Class of 2017.
ECP is a 12-month professional development program for public and private sector professionals new to the public transportation industry. The program aims to help early career individuals broaden their knowledge of the public transit industry and develop meaningful relationships with their peers and mentors.
The target audience for the program is transit professionals who have at least three to five years of work experience in the industry, with one to three years of experience managing tasks, people or projects. It is open to both young professionals and those who have recently switched careers to transit. Applicants must be sponsored by an APTA member, and each APTA member organization should only nominate one applicant per year.
The applicants selected will attend an opening session in conjunction with APTA’s Rail Conference this June and a capstone session at APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference in May 2017. The class will engage with industry experts, participate in panels and develop group projects.
For details, click here,
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Dissemination Program has selected 11 new individuals to serve as Ambassadors for the program during the 2016-2018 term.
These industry professionals will travel to various areas of the country to enhance the understanding and use of TCRP-sponsored research products. They were selected from a competitive pool of candidates across the U.S. and have backgrounds in operations, executive management, planning, safety, special events and mobility management.
Each Ambassador is expected to volunteer for at least two public transportation venues a year to help promote and disseminate TCRP reports and products.
The list of Ambassadors includes Christina Arthur, Chicago Transit Authority; Brent Boyd, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; Alva Carrasco, VIA Metropolitan Transit; Desmond Cole, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; Ryan Daniel, St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission; Paula Haskin, Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation; Reeny Madathany, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Robert Palladino, New Jersey Transit Corporation; Jamaal Schoby, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; Jessica Vargas Astaiza, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority; and Brian Waterman, Star Metro-City of Tallahassee.
TCRP was established in 1992 to serve as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative, near-term solutions to industry needs and demands. The dissemination effort of TCRP, as managed by APTA, ensures that program-related reports and products reach appropriate industry audiences and interested individuals. As a result of this effort, the TCRP Ambassador Program was developed to expand outreach efforts and is a joint effort among APTA, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), FTA and TCRP. COMTO manages the Ambassador program and seeks to continue expanding its outreach.
For more information about the TCRP Dissemination Program, please visit www.tcrponline.org. For more information about the TCRP Ambassador Program, visit the COMTO website.
VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio is hosting the Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar, April 30-May 3.
The seminar will focus on such issues as governance, policy and leadership. Educational sessions cover safety, ADA, TOD, legislation, labor relations and board development.
The weekend kicks off with a round of committee meetings on Saturday, including an exchange of leadership with the election of a new slate of officers.
APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy will host the Chair & President’s Roundtable session on Saturday, focusing on collaboration. Also on Saturday is a new feature, a Diversity Inclusion Listening Session led by National Transit Institute Director Paul Larrousse.
VIA has organized several technical tours, including San Antonio’s newest and most successful mixed-use development, The Pearl.
Learn more and register here.
PT: What motivated you to want to serve as APTA chair?
McCall: I first became active in APTA as a member of the Transit Board Members Committee. Immediately, I saw the value that transit board members gain and contribute to the association’s work. When I was nominated to succeed the most recent chair, I knew it was an opportunity to help motivate other board members and expand APTA’s role and importance. I’m grateful to be able to do this job.
PT: On your first day as board chair last October, you launched a collaboration initiative. Give us an update on this work.
McCall: The rationale behind my collaboration initiative dovetails with why I first became active in APTA. The association has so many unique members, giving us such broad expertise. If you consider APTA’s three main constituencies—transit board members, transit-related business leaders and the general managers and CEOs of transit agencies--we all bring a different perspective to the table. The question is: How can we ensure that these constituencies work more collaboratively?
On the internal side, it’s about how we align our efforts and work together. On the external side, it’s about how we coordinate better with some of the key associations such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Regional Councils.
PT: Tell us more about the external and internal focus of your collaboration task force.
McCall: In my role with the city of Cleveland, I’ve been very active in the three groups I highlighted. Since I regularly attend their conferences and APTA conferences, it was logical to ask how we could work a little bit more closely together. This was the start of our external collaboration because members of these organizations are often directly involved in public transportation governance and financing issues.
Within the APTA organization, we have held listening sessions at events like the Transit CEOs Seminar and the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) Annual Meeting. The goal is to solicit ideas on how we can expand collaboration throughout the association. At the upcoming Bus & Paratransit Conference, we’ll be meeting and reporting out about what we’ve been doing. We also have a listening session scheduled for the Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar in April. In addition, we are surveying board members and the entire APTA membership so that at the end of this process we can say we were inclusive.
We have a phenomenal task force co-chaired by David Stackrow [board chairman, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY] representing transit board members, Ann August [professional consultant, Ann August Consulting] representing transit agency leaders and Patrick Scully [executive vice president, sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries] representing the BMBG. And we have a great group of people who have just rolled up their sleeves, all with the same goal in mind—making sure we come out of this with us more aligned together. And I think it has been a great success so far.
PT: Since assuming the board chair role in October, what has been the biggest surprise and what has been your most rewarding experience?
McCall: With any association as massive as APTA with so many moving parts and constituencies, it’s often easy for activities to become siloed. We sponsor a bus conference, a rail conference, a massive Annual Meeting, as well as industry-specific events and hundreds of committee and working group meetings.
So one of the things that was more of a surprise than I expected was the degree to which our three major constituency groups have room to improve collaboration among themselves.
That said, one of the most rewarding experiences has been discovering all of the commonalities where people really do want to learn and grow and work together. The more we do this, the greater APTA will become. The goal is to move collectively from good to great. Patrick Scully, chair of the Business Members Board of Governors (BMBG) coined that phrase.
I think we’re moving in that direction. We’re all connecting with each other, networking with each other, doing peer-to-peer best practices together. I think it’s very, very, very important. As board chair, I just want to make sure that we’re focusing on the APTA of the future rather than the APTA of today. We want to stay stabilized and we want to be sustained.
PT: In your position with the Cleveland Mayor’s Office, you played a pivotal role in the city’s successful bid to host this summer’s Republican National Convention. What does the event mean for you and for APTA?
McCall: Our readers may be surprised to learn that 80 years ago, the two political parties held their conventions in the same host cities selected this year. In 1936, Cleveland was the site for the RNC and Philadelphia was the site for the DNC.
I can tell you that Cleveland worked hard for this honor. I was born and raised there; I love Cleveland. Back in the day, the city was sometimes the brunt of jokes, but no more. Cleveland has rebuilt its economy. We are leaders in healthcare, manufacturing, education and other areas. Next year, the city will host the American Bus Association conference, one of the country’s largest events. All of this, along with the RNC convention, adds to Cleveland’s image as a destination city for tourism.
One reason for the city’s successful rebirth is our public transportation. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has made Cleveland a multimodal transit city with light rail, passenger rail, trolleys and a modern, efficient BRT system.
And there is another important element: The city’s leaders—including the mayor, city council, county council, the Destination Cleveland tourism board, the Greater Cleveland Alliance, Chamber of Commerce--worked together as a team. This is what we try to practice every day, and it’s what I brought to APTA because it does work.
Now I’m working with [APTA President & CEO] Michael Melaniphy and his senior staff, the BMBG, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and Cleveland’s officials to make the RNC convention is a success not just for Cleveland but also for APTA. We are discussing some joint events that will help promote public transportation policies. Again, it’s all about collaboration and inclusion.
PT: How has your role as board chair influenced your work on the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority?
McCall: As the board chair of APTA, I feel an added sense of responsibility to the GCRTA. I take my local role as seriously as I do my national one. In fact, GCRTA may be the only transit agency to have had two sitting board members serve as APTA chairs. Prior to my election, George “Big Daddy” Dixon was chair of APTA in 2004 and he is still a sitting board member of GCRTA.
Cleveland has a great transit agency headed up by Joe Calabrese, one of Governing Magazine’s public officials of the year. My role for APTA gives the GCRTA great credibility in the national spotlight on public transportation issues. It’s no coincidence that one of Mayor Frank Jackson’s biggest initiatives this year is Sustainable Cleveland 2019, so it all goes hand in hand with transit.
PT: Now that a new five-year authorization law is in place, what do you believe is the next big challenge for transit boards?
McCall: Transit board members need to understand the new law. They need to make sure that they’re coming to APTA, attending all the great discussions that we organize with the FTA and learning how the FAST Act pertains to their agency. APTA has a phenomenal government relations team that works closely with communications, research and policy. All board members should use this expertise.
I also think the new law’s procurement provisions are especially important for transit board members. Recently I had an opportunity to hear the perspectives of two of APTA’s largest BMBG members, New Flyer and Motor Coach Industries. There are things that we should be looking at doing, especially when we buy buses. Something as simple as harmonizing specs for buses could save money for transit agencies.
I can’t stress enough the importance of working with APTA. You learn, you grow, you meet people, and it is important sometimes to get out of our community to see what else is going on in the rest of the world. APTA does a great job of bringing that to the forefront.
PT: What is your next big, aspirational goal?
McCall: I’m going to look forward to being a chairperson emeritus and supporting the leadership of APTA. I’m excited about Doran Barnes coming up after me … and about David Stackrow, whom transit board members would like to see in a future leadership role at APTA.
There are many great leaders coming out of the APTA Executive Committee. I’m looking forward to sitting back and helping them with leadership and encouraging their growth.
I just hope and pray that whatever I am doing, I am still in touch and in tune and able to grow, learn, and give back to others.
As long as I can do that, the sky’s the limit. Whatever I do next, I want to feel good about it and bring value to all that I do. Who knows what the future holds? I could be a greeter at Target or president of the United States.
APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, fourth from left, recently convened a meeting in Cleveland with Republican National Committee leaders, city officials and APTA staff to plan events at the Republican National Convention in July. Participants included, standing from second from left, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone, first vice president, National League of Cities (NLC), APTA Secretary-Treasurer Kim Green, BMBG Chair Pat Scully, Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony and APTA Vice Chair Doran Barnes, joined by RNC staffers and staff from APTA and the other organizations.
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
SAN DIEGO—The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has hired former San Diego County Sheriff’s Commander Michael Barletta as manager of operations and transit enforcement.
Barletta served in the sheriff’s department for 30 years in multiple leadership roles. For MTS, he will oversee both contracted security officers and code compliance inspectors directly employed by the agency.
SAN ANTONIO—The VIA Metropolitan Transit Board of Trustees has re-elected Stephen P. Allison as vice chair and elected Lester Bryant as secretary.
Allison joined the board in 2009, appointed by the Greater Bexar County Council of Cities, and was first elected as vice chair in 2015. He is a partner at Jefferson Cano Allison Barkley, PLLC, with more than 40 years of legal experience.
Bryant has represented the city of San Antonio since 2014. For APTA, he is an at-large director on the Board of Directors, secretary of the Transit Board Members Committee and a member of several other committees. He is a financial services professional with Mass Mutual South Texas with more than 30 years experience.
PHILADELPHIA—The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has promoted David T. Montvydas to chief engineer in the Engineering, Maintenance & Construction Division. He is a 16-year SEPTA employee who served most recently was chief engineering officer of the Power Department.
KANSAS CITY, MO—David Bower, former two-term mayor of Raytown, has been named to represent Jackson County, MO, on the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners.
Bower has more than 25 years of public service experience. He is a current member of the Regional Transit Coordinating Council and served as a board member of the Mid-America Regional Council from 2008-2015.
CLEVELAND—The Rev. Charles P. Lucas has joined the Board of Trustees of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, succeeding Jesse O. Anderson who retired from the board in 2014 after more than 20 years of service.
Lucas, who represents the city of Cleveland, is vicar of St. James AME Church. He chairs the city’s Community Relations Board and the Council of Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland and is past president of the Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP.
PHILADELPHIA—Carol Martsolf, an employee of Urban Engineers since 2003, has been promoted to director of training. Martsolf, a vice president of the firm who previously was manager of training, succeeds Urban’s first director of training, Bruce M. Mundorf, who remains as general counsel.
SAN CARLOS, CA—Ilia (Eli) Kay is joining the San Mateo County Transit District in the newly created position of chief financial officer. Kay, a Certified Public Accountant, has 20 years of financial management and accounting experience, serving most recently as chief financial officer for Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road Concessions LLC.