Passenger Transport - April 15, 2016
|SEPTA has received authorization from FRA to begin operating PTC in provisional revenue service on the Warminster Regional Rail Line.|
In mid-March, three west coast public transit agency general managers and members of their staffs traveled to Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District headquarters for a meeting of peer agencies to share experiences, network and learn from each other.
Alex Clifford, chief executive officer and general manager, Santa Cruz Metro; Carl Sedoryk, general manager and chief executive officer, Monterey-Salinas Transit; and Geoff Straw, executive director, San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority, attended with 43 of their team members who spanned all public transit disciplines. They met for a half day to discuss best practices, data, key performance indicators and financial information.
“It was exciting to explore together both our operational differences and similarities,” Clifford said. “As small- to mid-size properties, we share each other’s challenges in figuring out how to stretch limited resources to do all we need and want to do.”
Sedoryk added that the three agencies were carrying on a tradition of peer-to-peer cooperation. “This meeting continues a history of collaboration and partnerships among the three transit operators,” Sedoryk said.
Agency staff discussed several key challenges, including funding, benchmarking against peers, paratransit and the future of electric buses, among many other topics. The half-day event also included a breakout session where peers from each department in all three agencies met to discuss their job-specific challenges and experiences.
“I can say with confidence that my staff is recharged with some great new ideas to pursue,” Straw said.
The day wrapped up with a tour of Santa Cruz Metro’s maintenance facility and its new Judy K. Souza operations facility.
And as valuable as the half-day meeting was, Clifford said, the greatest benefits to the agencies lie ahead as personnel build on career-long connections and strengthen ongoing communications and collaboration.
|General managers and staff members from three California public transit agencies met to compare notes and tour the maintenance facility of Santa Cruz Metro, which hosted the meeting.|
The most successful public transit agency general managers are masters of collaboration who build partnerships with transportation stakeholders as diverse as real estate developers, community activists, small business owners and engineers.
But perhaps their most important partnership is with their mayor. Every component of public transit, from infrastructure to fares and service hours to routes, has an impact on a city’s overall well-being.
Passenger Transport asked a few mayors and GMs to talk about their shared goals in a two-part article that starts below:
Please share some strategies or practices that strengthen your collaboration to integrate community initiatives and public transportation priorities.
The city of Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) are each committed to “thinking big and thinking bold,” a philosophy that serves us both well in our long and mutually rewarding history of collaboration, whether we’re advancing projects that keep Cleveland moving or policies that define our partnership.Consider just one current project in the execution stage—the redesign of Cleveland’s Public Square, a historic transit hub that serves more than 40,000 RTA riders daily and is an essential factor in our revitalized downtown, which is experiencing unprecedented growth and investment. Together, along with philanthropic, business community, planning, design and engineering partners, we have a great opportunity to enhance Public Square as a signature destination—one that serves transit riders, encourages economic development, attracts people, is another great enhancement for our great city and continues the momentum for creating a sustainable foundation for downtown Cleveland.
CEO and General Manager
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Collaboration happens when RTA is at the table.
That’s my long-held sentiment, based on helping to create successful collaborative partnerships among the city, civic leaders, private developers and many others during my 17-year tenure.
That may sound simple enough, but RTA is at the table because people like Mayor Jackson make that happen. He knows the critical role RTA plays in connecting the dots to all the city has to offer. And he lends his support because he knows that every world-class city needs a viable and robust public transit system.
Key evidence of this is the fact that Cleveland is now getting ready to host the Republican National Convention in July. This is not Cleveland’s first time at the dance; in prior years it hosted the International Children’s Games, the International Gay Games and the National Senior Games. It takes public transit, working in partnership with the city, to create the structure that can support such significant attractions.
Aside from the big events, the city also recognizes the important role RTA plays in the day-to-day mobility of its residents and the longer-term economic development of the region. We participate in the planning and execution of major events, development projects and community initiatives with major civic, political and private organizations. Cleveland is the type of city where leadership checks its egos at the door, comes together, rolls up our sleeves, finds solutions and gets the job done.
Collaboration is also on display in governance in that the city is charged with appointing four of the 10 members of the RTA Board of Trustees. RTA employees and city residents will always see the mayor and his appointed board members at ground breakings and ribbon cuttings for every major infrastructure project. That’s because they are with us every step of the way.
Such major achievements as the Waterfront Line, HealthLine, Cleveland State University Line, newly designed Cedar-University rail station and the new Little Italy rail station are tangible successes achieved in great part because the city and RTA are working together.
We’re both actively engaging and collaborating on the hard work that makes these projects happen.
Albany, NY: Building a Spirit of Community
Mayor Kathy Sheehan
For Albany to achieve its potential attracting new residents and growing its economy, the city must have convenient and efficient mass transit.
Roughly 80,000 people come and go to our capital city each day to private and government jobs, colleges and universities, entertainment venues and hospitals, and if each commuter drove a car, travel times would be slow, the pollution levels high and parking far more difficult.
That’s why the city works so closely with the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA); when CDTA succeeds, our city becomes more livable and attractive. Strong bus transit is also a prerequisite for many people returning to cities and who want to live car-free.
Providing more than bus routes, CDTA offers buses to and from the numerous special events sponsored by the city, such as riverside concerts. CDTA also works closely with public safety officials, providing buses to firefighters as well as to displaced residents during fires and other emergencies.
Whenever the city engages in major traffic calming projects, officials work closely with CDTA to make sure bus use is attractive along redesigned streets. A strong bus system is also a key part of the Complete Streets legislation that has been adopted by the city. CDTA has expanded alternative transportation modes such as vanpooling, bus-and-bike options, buses to and from train stations, express commuter service and instituted Real Time Passenger Information , each making multimodal transportation a viable option for all those who live and work in Albany.
Capital District Transportation Authority
The Capital District Transportation Authority is an integral part of the capital region in Upstate New York.
CDTA services stimulate and support the local economy. Community leaders, like Mayor Kathy Sheehan, are incorporating transit services into their planning efforts to foster environmentally healthy communities. The results have been outstanding—CDTA ridership has increased by close to 25 percent over the past five years, and we have broken our all-time ridership records for the last two years running, now exceeding 17 million boardings.
Our organization is focused on who we are and advocating for a better capital region. We provide special event services and support a number of community initiatives that all make our region more attractive to those who live here and those looking to make it home.
Our buses are safe havens for emergency officials, volunteers and others during fires, natural disasters and events where a covered, heated or air-conditioned environment is needed. We work with law enforcement officials to provide shelter and transport families to safe residences during troubling times. Our staff works with local school districts to move students to important educational opportunities. And we are tied into local calendars to make moving large numbers of people to and from special events easy and efficient.
The CDTA spirit is one of community, partnership and advocacy. We believe that being involved in communities where we live and work is good for everybody. Encouraging and recognizing employees who are involved ensures a strong CDTA and a strong and prosperous capital region.
Watch for Part 2 of this article in the next issue of Passenger Transport.
Sound Transit marked the opening of the new south platform and pedestrian overpass at the Mukilteo Sounder commuter rail station at ceremonies April 11.
“The second platform and pedestrian bridge couldn’t come at a better time,” said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff, noting that northbound Sounder ridership in February was 23 percent higher than the same month in 2014 and special service ridership to sports events jumped 52 percent last year. The Central Puget Sound region anticipates its population to grow by one million in the next 25 years, causing widespread gridlock.
“Commuters need more than one option for getting to work and back home to their families, and for going to weekend games,” he added. “That’s why the vision for a regional mass transit system includes multimodal service and connections.”
The $18.1 million project included construction of both a second platform at the station and a tower leading to a pedestrian bridge over the tracks connecting the north and south platforms.
The Mukilteo Station had been the only one in the Sounder system with a single platform since it opened in 2008. Now all Sounder stations are served by two platforms and two tracks.
A new $129 million ferry terminal adjacent to the Sounder platform is scheduled to open in mid-2019.
|Cutting the ribbon April 11 at the new south platform and pedestrian overpass at the Mukilteo Sounder commuter rail station are, from left, artist Linda Beaumont, whose work appears in the station; Les Reardanz, chief executive officer, port of Everett; Joe Marine, a former Sound Transit Board member and former mayor of Mukilteo; Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson; board members Dave Somers, Snohomish County executive, and Paul Roberts, Everett City Council member; and Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff.|
On April 7, FTA issued Safety Advisory 16-1 to collect information on the frequency of stop signal overruns in the rail transit industry and the actions being taken to address these occurrences.
FTA officials say they are aware of stop signal overrun incidents but the industry lacks a database that tracks incidents. Officials also report that some State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) require rail transit agencies under their jurisdiction to report stop signal overruns while others do not and that definitions, reporting thresholds and data analysis differ across the industry.
The advisory requests each SSOA to provide FTA with the total number of stop signal overruns that occurred during calendar year 2015 at each rail transit agency within the SSOA’s oversight. In addition, FTA is asking for a description of the process each agency uses to internally detect stop signal overruns and the process it uses to report stop signal overruns to its SSOA.
FTA requires that SSOAs that respond to the request submit information within 90 days of the advisory’s release to Sam Shelton. The text of the notice is available here.
As Passenger Transport went to press, the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) was preparing to commemorate its acquisition of the St. Johns River Ferry with an April 16 event featuring free ferry rides, live music, games, face painting, balloon art and food, co-sponsored by the city of Jacksonville, the St. Johns River Ferry Commission and Friends of the Ferry.
The JTA Board of Directors and the Jacksonville City Council recently approved an agreement to transfer ownership of the St. Johns River Ferry from the ferry commission to the JTA, which also operates the ferry as part of the agreement.
“It is a great day for the JTA and the St. Johns River Ferry,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “JTA is excited to utilize its transportation expertise to make the ferry an important part of a world-class regional transportation system. The St. Johns River Ferry is an iconic landmark in Northeast Florida. The ferry also has a significant economic impact and improves the quality of life in this community. JTA is pleased to be able to ensure it remains an integral part of the East Coast Greenway [a hiking and biking trail that runs from Canada to Key West, FL] and the National Park Service.”
The St. Johns River Ferry is a car and passenger ferry that connects the north and south ends of Florida State Road A1A and operates seven days a week. The 0.9-mile voyage crosses the St. Johns River 2.5 miles inland of the river’s mouth and departs every half hour.
Also, FTA has awarded a $6 million Passenger Ferry Grant to JTA and the St. Johns River Ferry Commission to fund the second phase of the ferry’s slip walls replacement and capital improvement project. The first phase, currently under construction, was funded through a previous $3.9 million federal grant and $1 million state match.
The ferry slips have had eight major upgrades or repairs since the original construction was completed in 1949, most recently in 1996. The structural steel elements are continuously exposed to the corrosive marine environment and have reached the end of their useful life.
JTA and the city of Jacksonville are paying the local match for the $7.5 million project, which will improve the state of repair, increase reliability of the service by using a lower-maintenance design and lower costs and service interruptions for repairs. At the completion of the project, the slip walls system will be completely renovated, extending their useful life by 30 years.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), left, recently toured the Pembina, ND, manufacturing hub of Motor Coach Industries (MCI) with Bryan Couch, MCI vice president and general manager of operations. Hoeven, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and former governor of North Dakota, called the facility an example of U.S. manufacturing leadership. “Motor Coach Industries has provided good jobs for North Dakotans for many years and is a good example of successful manufacturing right here in the United States,” Hoeven said. “North Dakota’s strong pro-business environment, combined with the company’s innovation and commitment to quality, have helped MCI to grow and thrive.” MCI also thanked Hoeven for his help in passing the FAST Act.
Crosbie, NJ Transit
Crosbie succeeds Dennis J. Martin, who has served as interim executive director since December 2015 and will return to his previous position as vice president/general manager of the agency’s Bus Operations Division.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently recognized 13 U.S. public transit agencies for earning its highest rating of “Gold Standard” on their 2015 Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement (BASE) for building strong security programs.
The agencies, which attained high scores across all categories, are Amtrak; the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus; Denver’s Regional Transportation District; Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul; Miami-Dade Transit; MTA Metro-North Railroad and MTA New York City Transit; New Orleans Regional Transit Authority; North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA; Pace Suburban Bus Division, Arlington Heights, IL; Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation; Port Authority Transit Corporation, Lindenwold, NJ; and Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
The BASE program establishes a security standard for individual system security programs and assesses progress. This voluntary comprehensive review of public transit agency security programs focuses on such topics such as security plans, training, drills/exercise programs, public outreach efforts and background check programs.
St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans take a new flight of stairs from the platform of the Stadium MetroLink Station to the new Spruce Street Bridge, which crosses the MetroLink tracks and provides access to Busch Stadium. The new pedestrian and vehicle bridge opened April 10, replacing a bridge that dated to 1874 and had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer usable. The $7.5 million project, funded 80 percent by the federal government and the balance from local sources, included construction of stairs and improved pedestrian access in the station.
Harold Francis Murray, 91, a railroad professional in Canada for more than half a century, died April 4.
Murray joined Canadian National in 1943, rising through the ranks of the dining car department to become general manager-passenger service. When the Canadian government formed VIA Rail Canada in 1977, he was appointed vice president-VIA West, based in Winnipeg. He retired with more than 50 years of railway service and then served PTSI Transportation as senior advisor-passenger and on-board services until his death.
Diana C. Mendes, AICP
Please describe your business’ scope.
AECOM is built to deliver a better world. And one way we do that is through advancing investment in public transportation! We are the Engineering News-Record Number 1 ranked firm in transportation and have held that ranking for a decade.
In addition, we design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure to resilient communities and environments to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM companies had annual revenue of approximately US $18 billion during Fiscal Year 2015.
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
Well, you would have to give me a full page in Passenger Transport to fully answer this question—where to begin! APTA is the most comprehensive go-to source of information for anything and everything related to public transportation and is on the cutting edge of policy and legislation for the industry. The conference programs are exceptional, as are the research reports. I know with high confidence that the information I get from APTA is timely and reliable. But the benefits to me are so far beyond that.
The opportunity to engage with marquee industry leaders and to learn how they approach critical issues is invaluable. And so is the lasting camaraderie built by working through tough issues together. The diversity of interests gives me the opportunity to learn about the full breadth of issues facing public transportation, not just the ones related to my day job. This exposure helps me be better in my career by having a more comprehensive and holistic approach.
What do you like most about your career?
So many things. The people. The diversity of the work and its importance. The chance to collaborate on solving complex challenges. And most importantly the chance to leave places a little better off than they were by enhancing the transportation choices available and creating more vibrant, resilient communities.
What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?
On a personal note, I have been honored to sustain a continuous working relationship with WMATA for more than 30 years. I feel like we grew up together, and we even share the same birthday, March 27! Readers might be surprised to learn how many AECOM employees enjoy similar long-term client relationships, as it has been a privilege for me and my colleagues to serve a wide range of transit providers for decades.
The Los Angeles Sustainability Coalition (LASC) recently recognized APTA for its leadership and support of sustainability issues with an award presented to APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy at the 2016 Sustainable Infrastructure: the Next Generation Forum, hosted by the coalition and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Melaniphy, who was the keynote speaker at the event, accepts the Outstanding Sustainability Program award from Sherman Gay, LASC events chairman.
Photo by Peter Valli
Does your organization have a steady pipeline of new employees?
Now’s the time to introduce K-12 students to careers in public transportation, says APTA’s Human Resources Committee, which is sponsoring the association’s 6th annual National Public Transportation Career Day, Thursday, May 12.
Committee Chair Lydia Grose, director of engineering and design, civil engineering, at Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is encouraging public transit agencies and businesses to host an event to showcase the benefits and rewards of a transit career. Suggestions include conducting tours of facilities, visiting schools, holding interactive demonstrations, sponsoring poster contests and hosting career awareness programs.
In addition, the committee is conducting a survey to gather information about outreach initiatives to students, either as part of the career day or throughout the year. Take the short survey here.
APTA invites all members to submit comments on documents in APTA’s Standards Development Program through May 2.
Any individual may provide feedback on any of the standards currently under development. APTA’s consensus-based standards development program requires that we maintain an open and balanced process to ensure the public interests are protected.
Click here to review the most current draft and to submit comments.
Paul Comfort, administrator and chief executive officer of the Maryland Transit Administration, gave a presentation on his agency’s Purple Line project April 14 at the APTA offices in Washington, DC, as a special Thursday session of the association’s “Transportation Tuesday” series. At the well-attended event, Comfort showed how the 16-mile Purple Line light rail route will coordinate with existing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail routes and stations. Construction will begin in the coming months on this public-private partnership (design-build-finance-operate-maintain) infrastructure project.
Photo by Mitchell Wood
BY STEPHANIE POLLACK
The MBTA—known in the Boston area as the T—recently became linked with two more “Ts” in our great city: transparency and trust, attributes that are the hallmarks of the agency’s new performance dashboard.
The new dashboard tracks and publicly reports four key metrics regarding performance of the agency—its four subway lines, including all four branches of the Green Line (the oldest subway line in our system), and all 170 bus routes.
For the first time, T riders—who take a million passenger trips each weekday on our vehicles—can now quickly and easily track reliability, ridership, financials and customer satisfaction of the T for an entire day, during rush hour periods or over time.
As a collaboration between MBTA and MassDOT, the dashboard reflects the same information externally that we use internally to improve our operations and on-time performance. In other words, riders have access to the same data and trends on these four metrics that we have. This commitment to transparency reflects our priorities of making data-driven decisions and of holding ourselves accountable for overall customer satisfaction. And it enables us to take a giant step toward our ultimate goal of making MBTA one of the best transit systems in the country.
Data and More
But the dashboard is only the beginning of this initiative and only part of the T’s new interactive website. [Editor's Note: This link goes to the dashboard.] The site also includes a blog that explains the details and nuances of the data found in the charts, graphs and maps. The blog is edited and produced by MassDOT and the MBTA Office of Performance Management and Innovation (OPMI), and all posts are written by OPMI staff.
One of their primary goals is to provide yet another layer of transparency about the data: Where does the data come from? What does it show us and what can we learn from it? What are its limitations and how can we improve our use of data? What cool or unexpected things are we learning?
For now, we’re updating three metrics—ridership, finance and customer satisfaction—monthly, but our reliability stats report the previous day’s performance. We’re also releasing information to third-party developers who could create apps featuring same-day statistics.
Impact So Far
Two days after launch, the dashboard generated more than 10,800 visits, with 9,875 unique visitors and 13,856 page views. We’re also seeing positive results on social media. Here’s a sampling of responses:
Kudos to @MBTA on the new dashboard. Love the increased transparency. Just one question: where are the trend lines?
@MBTA I love the new performance website. Can I download the data? I don’t want to click each day and write down.
Well this is neat. @MBTA launches new public metric tracking dashboard.
Really excited for innovation out of @MBTA. IT improvements and greater transparency.
Very cool. Check out the @MBTA’s new ‘dashboard,’ and find out just how reliable your train’s been.
This is great and the design is pleasing. @MBTA.
LOS ANGELES—The National Safety Council recently honored Phillip A. Washington, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Metro and APTA immediate past chair, as one of only seven “CEOs Who Get It”—and the only one in the transportation industry—selected by Safety + Health Magazine, the council’s official publication. The designation refers to development of a culture of safety in the workplace that requires courage, conviction and commitment.
WASHINGTON, DC—The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has named Patrick Lavin its new chief safety officer, effective May 9. He has more than 30 years of experience. Lavin joined MTA New York City Transit in 1983 as a signal maintainer’s helper and now is second in command of its Office of System Safety. He also volunteers as an associate staff member for DOT’s Transportation Safety Institute, where he teaches the Advanced Rail Incident Investigation course.