Passenger Transport - July 1, 2016
(Print All Articles)


Happy 60th Birthday, Interstate Highway System!

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Interstate Highway System, the network of major federally funded roads. The law also created the Highway Trust Fund, the source of most federal funding for public transportation. The first project was reported to be U.S. 40 (now the I-70 Mark Twain Expressway) in Missouri; the system has expanded to 46,876 miles, linking nearly every sizable town or city in the country. The photo portrays Eisenhower receiving specific recommendations for funding.

Photo courtesy of the Dwight Eisenhower Library

Leaders Gather in Phoenix for Annual Rail Conference

More than 1,400 passenger rail professionals gathered in Phoenix June 19-22 to network, share best practices, discuss trends and innovations, learn about industry products and services and explore pressing industry issues as APTA conducted its International Rail Rodeo and Annual Rail Conference.

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall and Acting President & CEO Richard White presided at the Sunday evening banquet to celebrate International Rodeo award winners and honorees of APTA’s Safety and Security Awards.

In addition, the conference featured dozens of concurrent sessions, technical forums, committee meetings, presentations and special workshops. Four General Sessions featured high-level presentations from leaders, stakeholders and experts who discussed some of passenger rail’s challenges and trends: ridership and economic growth, state of good repair and legacy systems, a DOT update and societal trends that are affecting public transportation’s future.

Brief reports of these General Sessions and special programs follow in the "News from the APTA Rail Conference" section of this issue. Find videos of some sessions at the APTA website.

Task Force Submits Final Report

The APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration recently submitted its final report to the Board of Directors, proposing several recommendations related to the association’s governance and membership development and services.

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall launched the task force in October 2015, appointing co-chairs Patrick Scully, chair, Business Member Board of Governors; Ann August, member, Bus and Paratransit CEOs and Mid-Size Operations committees; and David Stackrow, chair, Transit Board Members Committee. McCall charged the task force with focusing on improving communication and coordination with APTA member groups and strengthening cooperation with key external partners representing local government, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and National Association of Regional Councils.

“I am proud of the work we have accomplished,” McCall said. “I believe we have made significant progress in improving alignment among APTA business members, transit agency CEOs and board members; in enhancing communication among APTA’s designated committees; and in strengthening our cooperation with key external partners.”

The task force also took steps to ensure more regular exchanges take place on initiatives with APTA committees, strengthen ties to APTA’s strategic plan and provide adequate staff support for member groups.

The recommendations will be carried forward by APTA’s new Revenue Task Force, chaired by APTA Secretary-Treasurer Kim Green; Task Force on Member Consensus, chaired by J. Barry Barker, chair, Legislative Committee; and the Governance and Bylaws Review Task Force, chaired by Nuria Fernandez, member, Executive Committee. Members of the Task Force on Member Collaboration were:

Representing public transit CEOs: Joseph Calabrese, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Don Orseno, Metra, Chicago; Keith Parker, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Carl Sedoryk, Monterey-Salinas Transit, Monterey, CA; and Lauren Skiver, SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA.

Representing business members: Jeff Wharton, IMPulse NC LLC; Hugh Harrison, Legacy Resource Group; Chuck Wochele, TransitConsult LLC; and Paul Skoutelas, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Representing transit board members: Carol Herrera, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA; Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Los Angeles Metro; Beverly Silas, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX; and Fred Daniels, MARTA.

The final report is here.

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, left, and task force co-chairs provided a progress report at the 2016 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference. They are David Stackrow, Ann August and Patrick Scully.


Twin Cities A Line: 30,000 Rides in First Week

Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul reported that passengers on its new A Line BRT service took more than 30,000 rides during its first week of operation.

The 10-mile A Line, which entered service June 11 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is the first of a dozen rapid bus lines to be built by Metro Transit throughout the region. It runs from the city of Roseville into St. Paul, crosses the Mississippi River into Minneapolis, and connects to the system’s two light rail lines. Stations are located about one-half mile apart to speed service and connect customers to major destinations.

“Our riders are at the forefront of the design of the A Line and its stations,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Features including heated shelters with improved lighting, security cameras and real-time displays that let riders know when buses will arrive are only a few of the things that show how we work to act on our riders’ needs. By doing this, we have worked to make good on our commitment to improving service in one of the busiest transportation corridors in the area.”

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said, “The A Line will make commuting more convenient for thousands of Minnesotans every day and reduce congestion for those who can’t use transit. The metro area needs transit projects like the A Line, which supports jobs and economic growth today, and will handle double the ridership by 2030.”

Upgraded features on the A Line include prepaid boarding, technology that gives buses priority at intersections, redesigned buses with wider doors and aisles and free onboard Wi-Fi. The service operates with 40-foot Gillig buses.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), holding scissors, prepares to cut the ribbon to open Metro Transit's A Line BRT. Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb is second from right, holding the ribbon, and FTA Region 5 Administrator Marisol Simon is to the left of Klobuchar.


IndyGo Dedicates Downtown Transit Center

IndyGo in Indianapolis opened its Julia M. Carson Transit Center—the agency’s new central transfer point for all routes traveling through downtown—to the public on June 26, a few days after ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremonies featuring local dignitaries.

The opening of the transit center also sparked system-wide service and schedule changes affecting all 31 IndyGo bus routes. The agency is operating fare free throughout the bus system through July 4.

“The Julia M. Carson Transit Center will enhance the passenger experience by offering real-time arrival information, safe and convenient transfers, free Wi-Fi and an indoor waiting area. It has been a long time coming and is a huge step forward for transit in Indiana,” said IndyGo President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Terry.

The facility, built on land donated by the city, contains 19 covered bus bays. IndyGo also is moving its Customer Service Center to the new transit center, allowing convenience for riders to purchase passes and pick up route maps.

Through a partnership with the Indianapolis Arts Council, local artists performed at the transit center and downtown stops during its first week of operation.

IndyGo named the facility in memory of Carson (D-IN), a member of the House who helped secure dedicated federal funding for the facility during her tenure from 1997 until her death in 2007.

The agency is applying for LEED Silver certification for the new facility, which incorporates such green features as stormwater management, curbside rain gardens and energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling.

The $27.4 million project received $13 million in federal grants and the remaining $14.4 million from local sources.  

A panoramic view of opening-day crowds at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center in Indianapolis.


TTC Launches New Streetcar Route

As part of the ongoing Waterfront Toronto revitalization project, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) officially opened its first streetcar extension since 2000—the 514 Cherry Streetcar—on June 19.

TTC Chair Josh Colle noted that the new streetcar will ease congestion, provide more frequent service along the central section of TTC’s busiest suface route and add a new accessible east-west route with the introduction of low-floor streetcars.

TTC introduced the line to provide congestion relief to the nearly 65,500 daily riders along its busiest surface route. The east-west route is an integral part of the new West Don Lands community, Toronto’s first “Transit First” neighborhood in the city, designed with a goal of having public transit access within a five-minute walk of all residences in the area. The federal, provincial and city governments provided funding for the extension.

“The 514 Cherry Streetcar line is an example of how we can build better neighborhoods by providing reliable transit options for residents,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Building a great future for our city starts with ensuring our ability to move around. Working together with other levels of government, we are building a reliable transit system so people can get to work on time and get home faster to spend time with their families.”

TTC's 514 Cherry Streetcar entered operation June 19, the first streetcar extension in 16 years.


'AC Go' Largest Service Expansion in Agency's History

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) in Oakland, CA, introduced the first phase of its “AC Go” service expansion plan on June 26, marking the beginning of the most significant expansion of service in its history representing an overall service increase of almost 14 percent when it is complete.

The agency designed the service overhaul—which includes new vehicles, redesigned routes and more frequent service—to put more buses on the streets of the 22 cities and unincorporated areas it serves daily.

“The service improvements slated for June will primarily focus on improving bus frequency and the length of our operating day,” said AC Transit Board President H.E. Christian Peeples. “To affect AC Go’s sweeping service enhancement, our transit planners paid particular attention to AC Transit’s longest bus routes, which transport our largest number of riders.”

Among other service changes, the agency redesigned four lines to improve connections to San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) stations and increased the frequency of service to BART stations on four additional lines.

“Having more transit options serving our stations is great for the region,” BART Director Rebecca Saltzman said of the service change. “We can’t add more parking at BART, so making the connection between bus and BART as seamless and frequent as possible will help make it easier for our riders to leave their cars at home.”

To accommodate future phases of AC Go’s expansion, the agency is preparing to introduce 96 buses during the current fiscal year, including 25 diesel-electric hybrid buses from Gillig scheduled to begin service by August.

AC Transit is also investing in 10 fuel cell buses and five battery-electric buses, all from New Flyer, to enter service in either late 2017 or early 2018, as well as 29 60-foot articulated buses, 10 double-deck buses and 10 40-foot buses to begin service late next year.

Md. MTA New 'Express BusLink' Part of $135 M Plan

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) introduced Express BusLink service June 20 as the first part of BaltimoreLink, a $135 million multimodal improvement plan designed to improve connections to jobs, entertainment centers and other locations.

The three new Express BusLink routes provide significantly faster connections from the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall) MARC Train Station and will improve connections among suburbs.

“Baltimore has desperately needed a comprehensive, regional transit plan that helps alleviate downtown congestion by opening up the transit grid and that connects people to emerging job centers,” said MTA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Paul Comfort. “That is why updating our regional transit system with Express BusLink service is key. Express BusLink is an important new service that will link people to where they need to go.”

MTA Administrator Paul Comfort speaks to the media before taking the first ride on Express BusLink on opening day,


OCTA Launches 'Bravo' Limited-Stop Route

Bravo! Route 560, the Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) new limited-stop bus service, allows riders on a popular route to save time by making one-third as many stops.

The 17-mile route, which entered service June 13, operates on the same main roads between Santa Ana and Long Beach as OCTA’s regular Route 60 but makes only 52 stops (compared to 150 stops), including stops at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, Santa Ana College, Cal State Long Beach and the VA Medical Center. The line also connects to Metrolink commuter rail.

“We are excited to launch this service that will allow commuters to reach major destinations throughout the county faster and more conveniently,” said OCTA Chair Lori Donchak. “The new Bravo! 560 is a great example of our efforts to better meet the community’s needs by directing service to areas with higher demand.”

OCTA Chief Executive ­Darrell Johnson said, “We have taken significant steps during the past year to thoroughly examine our transit system, and our most important effort in this process has been listening to current and former riders. Launching more limited-stop service is in direct response to what our passengers say will motivate them to use public transit more frequently and, thanks to funding from California’s cap and trade program, we were able to make this happen.”

The launch of Bravo! 560 is part of OC Bus 360°, OCTA’s ongoing effort to improve bus service and increase the efficiency of bus travel throughout the county. The June 2016 bus service change program is one step in an initiative to add 1.3 million riders over the next three years.

Celebrating the launch of OCTA’s Bravo! Route 560 are, from left, Kim-Yen Huynh, president of the Asian American Business Women Association; OCTA Chief Executive Officer Darrell Johnson; OCTA Chair Lori Donchak; and Santa Ana College Professor Roy Shahbazian.

Safe Fleet Acquires Rear View Safety, FleetMind

Safe Fleet, headquartered in Belton, MO, recently acquired two other companies: Rear View Safety (RVS), based in Brooklyn, NY, and FleetMind Solutions Inc., based in Montréal, QC.

RVS, a provider of backup cameras and video-based road safety solutions, will retain its headquarters and operations in Brooklyn, NY. Joseph Schechter will continue as vice president.

FleetMind provides onboard computing systems that allow waste and recycling fleets to link their drivers and vehicles to business operations in real time. It will maintain its headquarters in Montréal and its co-owners, Martin Demers, chief executive officer, and Martin Lord, chief technology officer, will continue their leadership roles as vice presidents in the organization.

Safe Fleet was formed in September 2013 through the merger of ROM Corporation and SMI Corporation.

GCRTA Helps Champion Cavs Celebrate

When an estimated 2 million people poured into downtown Cleveland June 22 for the parade and rally celebrating the Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory in the NBA Championship over the Golden State Warriors—the city’s first sports championship in 52 years—the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was there to provide more than half a million rides. APTA Chair and RTA Board Member Valarie J. McCall participated in planning the parade and had a front-row seat for the event from her office in City Hall. CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese said the single-day ridership was “by far the highest in RTA history,” adding, “Every bus and train was jammed, from before 6 a.m. until after 7 p.m. All parking lots were overflowing, and lines to ride our rail service stretched for blocks.”


Across the U.S., Transit Riders 'Dump the Pump'

Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.

Public transit agencies across the U.S. celebrated APTA’s 11th annual Dump the Pump Day on June 16 with free rides, giveaways, events and other activities.

Special Events and Gifts
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) extended its observance beyond the single day to declare June National Dump the Pump Month. Activities throughout the month included free live entertainment in the city’s cultural district; RTA-sponsored free concerts before weekend Cleveland Indians home games; and a weekly beach-themed celebration near downtown.

“Public transportation is a cornerstone of local economies in urban, suburban and rural communities,” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, an RTA board member. “In fact, public transportation helps to make a community economically prosperous and competitive. Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns, powering community growth and revitalization,” she said.

The Greater Portland (ME) Transit District (METRO) introduced METRO BREEZ express bus service connecting Portland with neighboring communities—the agency’s first expansion of service since Falmouth joined the district in 2009—June 16 in conjunction with National Dump the Pump Day.

The limited-stop route operates with three new low-floor buses from Arboc with seating for 17 passengers, equipped with Wi-Fi, USB ports, extra storage room, bike racks and space for two wheelchair users. METRO BREEZ is a three-year pilot program funded by local, state and federal partners.

METRO BREEZ complements and connects with Amtrak Downeaster rail service. Every trip on the line will serve the Portland Transportation Center, providing passengers with convenient connections for the train or bus. Riders can also easily transfer to other transit options.

The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), San Carlos, CA, provided free rides on two routes, and representatives from SamTrans and Caltrain commuter rail (also managed by the transit district) hosted “Energizer” stations at two public transit facilities during the morning rush hour, where they distributed snacks, drinks, prizes and information about public transportation.

In addition to operating free all day throughout its bus system, the Antelope ­Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Lancaster, CA, posted staf­f members on select local buses, leading trivia games with passengers and handing out prizes that included gift cards, free passes to leisure destinations and sports event tickets. Followers of AVTA on social media were eligible for the top prize, a weekend trip for four to Disneyland donated by BYD.

Employees of the Riverside (CA) Transit Agency marked the special day by distributing free one-day passes and other giveaways at an event outside ­Riverside City Hall.

Laketran, Painesville, OH, partnered with the city and a local radio station to host an awareness event at a local farmer’s market. Agency representatives demonstrated APTA’s online gas saving calculator (, provided trivia and prizes and awarded a $50 Smart Card for future rides in a drawing among riders who purchased all-day passes.

Employees of Los Angeles Metro distributed thank you gifts to riders at stations throughout the system.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus joined with the Columbus Young Professionals (CYP) Club and car2go to promote the day with “YPs Make Miles Matter.” The day’s activities included photo ops with community leaders at several locations, giveaways and participation in the month-long Commuter Challenge that invited area residents to consider using sustainable modes of transportation.

SolTrans in Vallejo, CA, provided free rides on all its local routes.

In Stockton, CA, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) celebrated with the ceremonial breaking of three prize-filled piñatas shaped like gas pumps. In addition to the top prize, a golden ticket good for one year of free rides on RTD, the piñatas contained snacks, bus passes and plush toy versions of the agency’s mascot, “Artie D.”

Connecting on Social Media
Spreading the message on social media was also an important part of many agencies’ activities.

The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) posted a 15-­second video spot on Facebook (which was also broadcast on a local television station) and promoted a branded Dump the Pump logo with the message “Ride JTA-For Your Planet, For Your Wallet, For Your Life.” Visitors to JTA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed could access a link to the fuel calculator.

Cincinnati Metro played up the fact that this year’s observance fell on 6/16/16 to introduce the hashtag #61616, and offered free bus rides for people who pledged online to use public transit instead of driving. Metro also hosted an event with giveaways, entertainment and food.

Throughout the Chicago region, the Regional Transportation Authority spearheaded a prize drawing for riders who took selfies as they rode Chicago Transit Authority, Metra or Pace Suburban Bus vehicles and posted the photos, with an appropriate hashtag, to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) in Providence invited the public to participate from Dump the Pump Day through June 30 in its “RI Bike to Work Challenge,” a free online trip-tracking competition sponsored by the authority’s commuter resource team.

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Alle­gheny County distributed “I Dumped the Pump for Transit” buttons at a lunchtime event the day before Dump the Pump Day and invited customers to post photos on Twitter of themselves wearing the button using the hashtag #DumpThePumpPGH. People who posted photos were eligible to win a transit pass for one month of unlimited rides.

In Reno, NV, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County operated fare free on the day and invited its riders to participate by choosing to walk, bike, carpool and vanpool rather than driving alone. Participants who record their trips through July 31 on the agency’s website will receive gifts and become eligible for larger prizes.

Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, invited riders to post comments on the benefits of public transit for themselves and their community to the agency’s Facebook page by June 30 to be eligible to win a prize package that includes a $25 gift card, 31-day bus pass and other items.

The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, NY, invited riders to submit their Dump the Pump Day photos and captions to Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win free bus passes and other prizes.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, asked their riders to post selfies on social media showing their experiences taking public transit, carpooling, walking, biking or even telecommuting.

Other agencies including the Delaware Transit Corporation, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and GoTriangle, Research Triangle Park, NC, provided information about the economic and environmental benefits of leaving cars at home.



In Memoriam: Levy, Longtime AECOM Executive

Ira Allan Levy, 68, of Walpole, MA, an executive vice president of AECOM in Boston, died June 15.

Levy worked for the same company (with different names) for most of his career. He joined the former Frederick R. Harris in 1971 as an engineer in training, became a professional engineer and worked his way up, serving as the last president of DMJM Harris until it and other operating companies were combined into the new and current AECOM, at which point he became an executive vice president.


Columbus Named America's Smart City: Public Transit's Essential Role

Central Ohio Transit Authority

On Thursday, June 23, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx awarded the Smart City Challenge grant of $40 million to the city of Columbus. Combined with a $10 million pledge from Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. and local business pledges of $90 million, a total of $140 million in new technology investments will transform mobility, access and transportation in Columbus.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is a key planning and implementation partner in the Smart Columbus effort and commends DOT for selecting Columbus as America’s first “Smart City.”

Late in 2015, President Barack Obama and Sec. Foxx asked cities around the country to identify how they would use technology to meet the unique challenges they are facing. In particular and of great interest to me, cities were challenged to consider how to create ladders of opportunity and extend the American dream into every community.

Central Ohio is a fast-growing, economically vibrant and forward-looking region. Planners estimate that by 2050, the Columbus region will welcome an additional 1 million residents. Our region is often described as entrepreneurial, high-tech, highly educated, open, diverse and prosperous.

Yet, in many of our neighborhoods, the promise of technology, and all the advantages and opportunities that come with it, is often unrealized. The technologies many of us now take for granted, like high-speed internet and data connections, app-based mobility and payment options, as well as ready access to fresh food, health care and job training, still elude many of our residents.

On the day of Sec. Foxx’s historic announcement, as I was parking in Columbus’ South Linden neighborhood where the announcement ceremony was held, I encountered a neighborhood resident who asked me what was going on. I told her about the Smart Cities Challenge and the announcement that was going to be made at the event around the corner at the recreation center. She asked if I had a flyer or information pamphlet about the event, and I told her the event was announced via the Internet and email. Her reply: “That’s why none of us know about it. We don’t have those things in this neighborhood.”

It is ironic that many of the residents of this neighborhood, one that is proposed to benefit from the technological advances of the Smart Columbus plan, don’t have access to the basic technology that most of us take for granted. Nonetheless, I applaud Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther for his vision of elevating and improving neighborhoods throughout Columbus, and the Smart Cities team for using the Smart Cities Challenge to bring tangible resources to Linden and other neighborhoods to advance that vision.

I look forward to COTA’s participation in the Smart Columbus effort to elevate and advance our city and region while simultaneously improving our neighborhoods and the lives of the people in them.

In true Columbus fashion, innovative minds and city leaders came together in a collaborative effort to identify problems and challenges and propose solutions using the most promising and impactful emerging technologies available. The list of institutions, organizations and companies that stepped up to develop the Smart Columbus proposal demonstrates the commitment our community has to becoming the nation’s intelligent transportation hub.

Joining the city in this partnership are COTA, Ohio State University, Battelle Memorial Institute, American Electric Power, Honda of America, Franklin County, Ohio DOT, IBM, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and even the arts community. Other partners include Amazon Web Services, Mobileye, Autodesk, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, NXP, AT&T and DC Solar Solutions.

Columbus also will receive funding to acquire a fleet of electric vehicles from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. Coalescing this partnership of leading research institutions and best of class technology innovators will transform mobility for residents and provide a model for other cities and public transit authorities for pursuing demonstrated and measurable technologies.

As COTA worked closely with the other local partners on the Smart City Challenge proposal, we were motivated by how public transit could participate by:

* Removing barriers to opportunity in communities that are transit-reliant;
* Introducing technologies to underserved populations, many of whom are COTA riders; Enhancing safety for riders, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists;
* Removing or reducing barriers for potential users; and
* Improving data collection and sharing to improve service and planning.

Transportation corridors identified in Columbus’ winning application are seeing significant COTA investment already. For example, in the Linden neighborhood (a key target for investment through Smart Columbus) construction is about to begin on CMAX, COTA’s $48 million BRT. With operations planned to begin in January 2018, CMAX will significantly improve connectivity and access to opportunity along Cleveland Avenue by connecting the Linden neighborhood with Downtown Columbus, educational institutions, health care and the many employment opportunities available in the fast-growing Polaris development.

COTA’s Easton Transit Center, located in the employment, retail and entertainment-rich Easton Town Center area, will be expanded to accommodate a significant increase in bus service in 2017. Smart Columbus calls for the deployment of a fleet of electric autonomous vehicles that will operate from the transit center. This “smart logistics” component of the project will enable job seekers to access opportunities with employers located throughout the area by connecting to bus routes serving the transit center.

In the Smart Columbus Logistics-Rickenbacker corridor, COTA is connecting residents to opportunity with increased service to this fast-growing employment center and expanding COTA’s partnership with the Groveport Rickenbacker Employee Access Transit (GREAT) that connects residents to more than 20,000 jobs. Deployment of other notable project components that involve COTA include Mobileye Shield+ collision avoidance system, traffic signal priority upgrades in the CMAX corridor, universal payment system applications and information data exchange providing access to COTA’s computer-aided dispatch/automatic vehicle locator and schedule data.

COTA’s extensive planning efforts over the past decade have positioned us favorably to offer a great deal as our community prepares to implement Smart Columbus. Since many of our planned enhancements are focused at the unique intersection of mobility and technology, deployment of many of the Smart Columbus technologies will bring added value to COTA’s system and to our customers for many years to come.

Winning the Smart City Challenge is an historic and transformative moment for our community as well as for public transit in our region. The success of Smart Columbus will serve as an example of how the thoughtful and strategic deployment of technology can improve the lives of our neighbors who, until now, have not enjoyed the many opportunities available in a growing, vibrant region.

COTA’s goals are closely aligned with the goals of our community, and consequently, the promise of Smart Columbus aligns with our commitment to transit customers and our other stakeholders.

We look forward to realizing significant benefits for Central Ohio and will work closely with our partners in the public transit industry to share what we learn. COTA is excited to put technology and innovation to work to improve transportation and mobility and provide ladders of opportunity in our community.

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


Early Annual Meeting; Plan Now

This year’s APTA Annual Meeting is earlier than most years—Sept. 11-14 in Los Angeles—and the early registration discount is available until Aug. 1, so add this event to your calendar now!

A panel of women transportation pioneers will present their stories at the Wednesday Wake Up Breakfast. The panel will be headlined by the two authors of Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom, Grace ­Crunican, general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, and Elizabeth Levin, president, Liz Levin and Company. Scheduled panelists include Dana C. Hook, vice president, CDM Smith; APTA Past Chair Shirley A. DeLibero; and Mary E. Peters, principal, Mary E. Peters Consulting Group LLC, former DOT secretary and a member of the HDR Inc. Board of Directors.

The Monday General Session features thought-provoking speaker Steven L. Robbins, S.L. Robbins & Associates, Grand Rapids, MI. His presentation will examine diversity and inclusion from the frameworks of human behavior and cognitive neuroscience.

For details, click here.

Barnes Takes International Stage

APTA Vice Chair Doran Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, recently represented APTA and the U.S. public transportation industry at Transports Publics 2016, an international conference and exhibition held in Paris and attended by 10,000 professionals and stakeholders involved in mobility, rail and road transportation and passenger services.


Opening Session Celebrates Public Transit Investment, Value, Access

At the official conference kickoff on Monday morning, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith applauded APTA’s mission and the importance of public transportation.

“Phoenix is the poster child for how investment in public transit can change a city,” Stanton said. Calling attention to local taxpayers’ support for investing $8 billion in new infrastructure and partnerships with shared mobility services like Uber, he said “great cities need to support as many different transportation options as possible.”

Gallego explained that fighting for more federal money to support public transportation is personal. “Growing up in Chicago, the CTA was my ‘second parent’,” he said. “Transit took me to school, to my first summer job, to the museum and to a world beyond my neighborhood.”

Smith, a business leader and former mayor of Mesa, AZ, talked about public transportation’s ability to change the way people live, interact and invest. “Passenger rail changes lives ... and changes communities in ways they didn’t even know they could be changed,” he said. Smith called APTA’s efforts “a noble cause,” saying “when people have a chance to experience the benefits of public transportation, they become passionate.”

In opening remarks, APTA Vice Chair Doran Barnes welcomed attendees to the conference, recalling his father’s affection for the legendary Super Chief passenger trains of the 1930s and ’40s.

“Some say those were rail’s glory days, but our greatest days are here now … and ahead of us,” said Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, who presided at the crowded session. “Rail’s popularity is clear: Ridership is up across the country despite low gas prices, and the public knows that public transportation is a magnet for economic growth.”

Barnes said one of the industry’s biggest challenges continues to be infrastructure needs, but he expressed optimism, asserting that public transportation has always found a way to turn challenges into opportunities.

Tom Waldron, global transit marketing director for HDR, the session’s sponsor, applauded the conference theme, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows” and presented a video about industry future trends.

Opening General Session speakers were, from left, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, APTA Vice Chair Doran Barnes, Rep. Ruben Gallego and Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith.





Legacy System Leaders: Confronting SGR Shortfalls

Representatives of legacy rail systems described their efforts to deal with the funding shortfall they face when they spoke at “Nearing the Breaking Point—Investment Needs at America’s Rail Systems,” the June 21 luncheon General Session.

Dorval R. Carter Jr., president, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), who noted that parts of his system date to the 1890s, said the current effort to achieve state of good repair is CTA’s largest capital investment in its history. He said if the effort is to continue, it requires “a push for more stable long-term federal funding” and strong local leadership.

Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), noted that the Philadelphia agency was “born in bankruptcy” following the collapse of earlier rail systems. State Act 89—passed in 2013—provided enough funding to rebuild a line that dated to 1854, he said, but eliminating the system’s backlog will still take 20 years.

John J. Haley Jr., director of transit for the 104-year-old San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), stressed the support of the community and local leadership for this “vitally important” service. SFMTA has learned from previous procurements and industry outreach, he said, leading to a renewal of the rail and bus fleet, transit priority lanes and the city’s first multimodal transportation center.

Mike Palmer, deputy chief executive officer, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), said his agency is coping with numerous issues, including railcars that must be built specifically to fit TTC’s unique gauge, limited combined funding from all levels of government (92 cents from a $3.25 (Cdn.) fare), lack of proper drainage leading to track ­damage, asbestos abatement and a signaling system from 1954 for which replacement parts are not available.

Moderator Nuria I. Fernandez, general manager, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, said the shortfalls are a result of public transit being “a victim of its own success.” Lack of available funding leads to deferred repairs, she said, and the addition of new projects (such as the coming expansion of BART into Santa Clara County) compounds the problem.

Kiewit and APTA co-sponsored the lunch session.

Luncheon speakers, from left: moderator Nuria Fernandez, Dorval Carter Jr., Jeffrey Knueppel, John Haley Jr. and Mike Palmer.

Flowers: FAST Act Funding 'On the Right Track'

The increased federal funding levels for public transportation in the FAST Act are “on the right track” but “much more needs to be done,” FTA Acting Administrator ­Carolyn Flowers told Paul Jablonski, who presided at the June 20 DOT Update General Session.

Flowers explained that while the legislation increases public transit funding by $1 billion in each of its five years (an 8 percent increase), the funding totals are less than those proposed by both President Obama and APTA.

Changes she cited in the FAST Act include reducing the federal match for Capital Investment Grants from 80 percent to 60 percent—which Flowers said “stretches federal dollars further”—and a revision that makes joint public transportation-intercity rail projects eligible for New Starts funding.

She called the law’s consolidation of three DOT workforce programs “mixed news”: While more than one-third of current public transit employees will reach or near retirement age in the next 10 years, she said, the act allows grant recipients to use one-half of 1 percent of their funds for human resources and training.

Other FAST Act-related topics she addressed included the safety rule, which strengthens state safety oversight agencies, and the $8 million “sandbox” program for improving mobility on demand.

In answer to an audience question, Flowers said she sees services such as Uber and Lyft as extensions of public transit that will “redefine public transportation and expand its network.” She noted that she has lived without a car for her year and a half in ­Washington, DC.

Jablonski said in his introduction that the industry has been “waiting for the day we had an administrator who came from our ranks.” Flowers headed the Charlotte Area Transit System and worked for Los Angeles Metro before joining FTA.

Paul Jablonski introduces FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.

Closing General Session: Moving from Vision to Reality

Patrick Scully, left, chair, Business Member Board of Governors, and member, Executive Committee, introduced Closing General Session speaker Michael Rogers, technology pioneer, author and journalist, who shared insights on how rail industry leaders can transform current opportunities into future improvements for better customer satisfaction, productivity and operations. Key elements of his message focused on technological innovation, demographic changes, sustainability, an organization’s “R&D” and its overall culture. Rogers, former vice president of the Washington Post Company, is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and Fortune 500 consultant. Session sponsored by the Business Member Activity Fund and APTA.

Concurrent Sessions: Best Practices, Practical Efforts

APTA’s Rail Conference featured dozens of technical programs covering all aspects of rail transportation in small, focused sessions and workshops designed to foster peer-to-peer exchanges, effective and practical strategies, best practices, experiences and solutions.

The sessions were organized in six tracks: technology and technical forums; operations and maintenance; safety, security and emergency preparedness; planning, finance and sustainability; capital programs; and policy, management and workforce development. Brief reports of some sessions follow.

P3s and Private Funding: Back to the Future

Representatives of rail projects in Florida and Colorado spoke at “Privately Funded Intercity Rail,” June 21, about their return to an earlier era of public transportation: ­private funding and public-private partnerships (P3s).

Michael W. Lefevre, manager of operations planning for All Aboard Florida in Coral Gables, said his organization’s Brightline will be the nation’s first private intercity passenger railroad when it enters service next year from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, extending soon after to Orlando. Brightline will operate primarily on existing Florida East Coast Railway freight tracks, he said, and is being financed through a mix of debt and equity.

Construction is underway on Brightline’s stations in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and MiamiCentral, which will also serve South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Tri-Rail commuter trains and Miami-Dade Transit’s Metrorail, Metromover and Metrobus. According to Lefevre, the stations are in “legacy locations” in walkable parts of their cities and also will be hubs of TOD.

Two employees of Jacobs in Westminster, CO—Jane E. Donovan, deputy manager for North Metro, and Jennifer Whiteside, structural engineering manager—reported on the North Metro commuter rail project in Denver, originally part of the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) FasTracks plan. When costs began rising, Donovan said, RTD looked for alternatives, entering into a partnership with BNSF freight rail. The line became part of the Eagle P3 project in 2011. It will ultimately cover 18.5 miles with eight stations, Donovan said, with 12.5 miles and six stations currently under construction. Service is expected to begin in 2018.

Jaime Lopez, senior project manager with RS&H in Miami, said P3s can accelerate implementation of rail projects by using innovative funding and financing—important in ­locations where urban congestion is increasing at an unsustainable rate.

Lopez added details about TOD at the MiamiCentral site, which will include several high-rise towers on nine acres owned by the railroad adjacent to the government center. Another Miami construction project, Brickell CityCentre, will integrate an existing Metromover station into a site containing four towers and more than $1 billion in private development. Future projects for the region include light rail lines to Miami Beach and Broward County and a streetcar.

Implementing State of Good Repair, Transit Asset Management

As state of good repair (SGR) becomes increasingly important to rail transit operators, agencies are using FTA performance measures to develop Transit Asset Management (TAM) plans—a process discussed at a June 21 session by representatives of FTA and four public transit systems.

Michael McLaughlin, deputy chief of staff, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), said “grassroots advocacy from legacy systems” led to FTA’s 2009 report stating that the legacy agencies jointly had a $50 billion infrastructure backlog. That report led to increased SGR funding and FTA technical assistance for TAM and was followed by SGR provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, MAP-21 and the FAST Act.

McLaughlin added that CTA began the TAM process in 1992.

Robert J. Tuccillo, FTA associate administrator for budget and policy, defined TAM as “a business model that uses the condition of assets to guide the optimal prioritization in achieving SGR.” Under SGR, he said, an asset operates at its full level of performance. The TAM process includes development of a plan—agencies with fewer than 100 buses and no rail in their fleets can participate in a group plan—and setting annual targets for asset classes. Agencies have to report their results annually to the National Transit Database, he added.

Mike Nabhan, asset management administrator/report developer for Denver’s Regional Transportation District, said a TAM administrator “must know what’s being measured and understand how to use the data.” For example, an internal maintenance analysis can show whether an agency is making repairs before the asset breaks down.

Steve Meyer, chief capital development officer, Utah Transit Authority, also said TAM is a tool to identify problems before failure occurs, similar to preventing a fire rather than fighting one. “Be sure to check root causes,” he said. “Dealing with them might be simpler and cheaper than waiting and dealing with more serious issues.”

Bernadette Lambert, program manager for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s Silicon Valley Extension, said agencies must consult a property rights expert when working on an existing right-of-way. Agencies that don’t secure the rights up front, she said, may face construction delays and possible lawsuits and could lose funding for the project.

PTC Implementation and Operation

With increased government oversight and growing public interest in rail safety, APTA assembled a panel of representatives from diverse agencies and organizations to discuss ongoing efforts to install federally mandated PTC systems.

The panel featured Jeffrey Knueppel, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; James Cline, Denton County Transportation Authority, ­­Lewisville, TX; Gigi Harrington, Caltrain, San Carlos, CA; Andrew Rawls, Sound Transit, Seattle; David Male, AECOM; William Everett, ARINC/­Rockwell Inc.; Ruben Pena, Transportation Technology Center; and David Diaz, LTK Engineering Services, who moderated the discussion.

Panelists explained that PTC systems are available in three configurations: ACSES, a transponder-based technology generally deployed in the Northeast Corridor; I-ETMS, adopted by the freight railroads for nationwide use that relies on GPS and extensive radio communications; and E-ATC, a track circuit-based application most accepted by smaller systems that don’t require interoperability with other systems.

Implementation challenges vary among systems, they said, and include availability of radio spectrum, balancing cyber security and physical security needs, tight train berthing and defining the responsibilities of tracks that are owned, operated and maintained by different entities. Cost is an over­riding issue along with the availability of necessary equipment and professional expertise.

The challenges are not all technical, some panelists said, adding that many of the toughest problems are administrative. Across the board, speakers emphasized the importance of not just meeting government requirements, but implementing a PTC system for the future.

Despite a wide divergence of experiences and implementation budgets (ranging from $50 million to $1 ­billion), the speakers raised some common themes.

First, all the panelists agreed that PTC implementation needs to be a priority from the start of the project. Second, a good team, preferably one that can remain together throughout the duration of the project, is essential. Third, public transit systems need a good plan. Finally, successfully implementing PTC is helped by good circumstances, meaning the most advantageous technical elements as well as the existence of effective procurement processes and interagency cooperation.

All the systems represented at the session were at different stages of implementation and testing but are confident in their ability to meet the government deadline of December 2018.

FRA is expected to release its “PTC Planning and Implementation Guide” in the near future. It will contain checklists, training and testing programs and illustrations for implementation work.

Industry experts discussed the challenges of PTC implementation at a crowded concurrent session.


Many Sides of Planning

Panelists at a June 20 session discussed the ins and outs of the federal performance-based planning and programming (PBPP) process covered in MAP-21 and the FAST Act.

PBPP applies performance management within public transit agency processes to achieve desired outcomes. This process attempts to ensure that agencies make both short- and long-term decisions based on their ability to meet established goals.

Lucy Garliauskas, FTA associate administrator for planning and environment, walked session participants through the process, noting that ­MAP-21 increased emphasis on planning in non-metropolitan areas and made additions to the metropolitan planning process.

Metro planning agreements, she said, must include the views of MPOs, states and service providers, while the government may designate a regional transportation planning organization for non-metro areas.

According to Garliauskas, the development process should consider investment strategies, population, employment and baseline conditions for maintenance and improvement.

Albert Santana, assistant to the city manager of Phoenix, described how voters from across the ideological spectrum voted for “Transportation 2050,” the largest transportation investment in the city’s history.

The measure raised the previous 0.4 percent public transit sales tax to 0.7 percent and changed its designation to a transportation tax.

The tax will raise $16.7 billion over 35 years, matched by federal and regional funds during that period to total $31.5 billion. These funds will finance 47 additional miles of light rail, 75 new miles of BRT and bus service enhancements beginning later this year, Santana said.

He emphasized the intensive outreach of the city to its residents during the run-up to the 2015 vote, including more than 100 meetings, 600 in-person comments and 1,500 online comments.

Stephanie Shipp, a consultant with WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in Tempe, AZ, reviewed tools that allow agencies to trace service demand. Different perspectives might give varied results, she explained, so statewide and regional ­perspectives can give a result different from the step-by-step process of FTA’s Simplified Trips-on-Project Software (STOPS) model.

Daryl R. Wendle, principal consultant with Parametrix Inc. in Seattle, reported on Sound Transit’s plan for its upcoming ballot measure. The agency is merging federal and regional planning requirements in an area undergoing major growth, he said, identifying projects to ease congestion. 

Panelists, from left: Stephanie Shipp, moderator Lee Gibson, Lucy Garliauskas, Albert Santana and Daryl Wendle.


Transit System Safety Is FTA Priority

Thomas Littleton, FTA associate administrator, Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, spoke to a packed crowd about the new safety initiatives coming out of the FAST Act, including recently released requirements on the National Public Transportation Safety Plan (NPTSP) and the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP)—requirements that affect all public transit agencies.

The proposed NPTSP plan would provide guidance on FTA’s approach to improving the safety performance of public transit systems and would be FTA’s primary method to disseminate guidance and resources to the industry. The plan includes guidance for implementing a Safety Management System (SMS).

Littleton said that although public transit systems already perform many activities to stay safe, SMS makes sure the right safety activities for all modes are performed correctly and routinely and are having the impact agencies expect.

The proposed PTASP plan would require any system that receives federal financial assistance to implement a comprehensive safety plan based on SMS principles unless the system’s safety issues are already regulated by another DOT agency.

Littleton said FTA is currently working on the issue of transit worker assaults and will be creating a notice of proposed rulemaking by March 2017. “We have a national online dialogue going on regarding this issue,” he said and urged attendees to go to FTA’s website to post questions.

Safety standards are a critical issue, said Littleton. “Under the FAST Act, we need to review the public transit systems’ different safety standards to see how effective they are,” he said. Although the public comment period closed on June 16, Littleton encouraged attendees to provide more feedback. “Tell us what you think is effective and what the federal government should or should not be setting standards for,” he added.

Littleton told listeners that FTA has numerous resources to keep them informed including its website, webinars, a YouTube page, a newsletter that covers safety and program oversight, and email alerts.

Dennis Bonney, chair, APTA’s Rail Safety Committee, and director, HSE and regulatory compliance, Bombardier Transportation, moderated the session.

FTA’s Thomas Littleton discussed federal requirements for transit safety plans. Bombardier executive Dennis Bonney was the session moderator.


Emerging Technologies Changing Transit's Landscape

A panel discussion on the use of emerging technologies in the public transportation sector offered a glimpse of three different approaches to improved customer service—Berlin, ­Germany; Newark, NJ; and Phoenix.

William Tsuei, chief technology officer, Valley Metro, and chair, APTA’s Information Technology Committee, introduced the three presenters.

Frank Scholz, chief information officer of Deutsche Bahn’s DB Regio Group, the largest railway enterprise in Germany, explained how integrated, automated IT systems can save costs in IT and operations and improve efficiency.

By employing a leaner and less differentiated IT landscape, he said, DB Regio Group has reduced the need for small and expensive specialized solutions, focused on more versatile market products, automated more business workflows and reduced the number of application program interfaces.

Using the shift sign-in process for engine drivers as an example, Scholz showed how digital transformation has reduced cycle times and the number of people involved. The company’s next goal is to automate the actual shift confirmation directly to the accounting office.

Robert James, director of customer communications technology at New Jersey Transit Corporation, discussed the wide range of ways new technologies help public transit systems communicate with customers. Referring to employees as “our ambassadors,” he said technology can help workers provide a seamless experience for riders.

James cited point-of-sale initiatives, such mobile ticketing, trip planners, real-time station-to-station schedules, web ticketing for special events and banknote recyclers that dispense bills rather than dollar coins.

Other communications technologies James discussed were passenger Wi-Fi and social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), which offer real-time, two-way exchanges with customers as well as a way to monitor comments, market promotional offers and educate the ­public.

He also cited advances in digital audio for public address systems, station communications to manage information for customers system-wide and dynamic signage.

Jay Yenerick, manager of design for Valley Metro, talked about how the success of Phoenix’s light rail system depends on coordinated, pre-emptive and predictive priority control of traffic signals and said engineering departments in the participating cities worked together to develop a system that would maintain the most efficient schedule for trains and traffic.

By adopting technologies that can sequence events—from receiving a signal from an LRT train at an upstream interaction to predicting its arrival time at a downstream intersection, extending or reducing the phase split time, moving the train through the intersection and returning to normal coordinated operation—Valley Metro is able to reduce traffic congestion and ensure safe interactions between trains and cars.

Speakers said the pace of emerging technologies will require public transportation systems to prepare for a future of “full automation.” Mobile apps for right-of-way workers, door-to-door transit services and PTC development are changing business processes, communications, costs and safety. The result: smarter, safer, more efficient operations.

Panelists were, from left, Frank Scholz, moderator William Tsuei, Robert James and Jay Yenerick.


Honolulu: 'The Perfect City for Rail'

A representative of Honolulu’s under-construction rail system called the Hawaiian capital “the perfect city for rail” and said the line’s driverless operation will be “the future of our industry” during “Mega Capital Projects.”

Charles Sam Carnaggio, project director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), emphasized the isolation of Hawaii and its serious traffic congestion as he explained the importance of the 20-mile route.

HART has worked with communities to create stations that both honor native heritage and are sustainable, he said. Embossed columns supporting elevated guideway at each station tell historic and cultural stories of the region, while canvas platform canopies channel rainwater into hollow central pillars for future use in irrigation.

The session also covered major public transit projects in New York and London.

Damian J. Carey, project director for Jacobs, and Lennart Andersson, director of virtual design and construction, LiRo Group, reported on the East Side Access Project that will bring MTA Long Island Rail Road trains into Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. Andersson focused on the role of building information modeling (BIM) in the project, which costs more than $10 billion and includes 155 separate contracts. BIM replaces two-dimensional modeling with three-dimensional virtual and printed images, allowing contractors to discover problems that could not be found with earlier technologies.

Mike King, technical and compliance director for CH2M in London, reviewed measures to determine the effectiveness and practicality of fire- and waterproofing-testing methods to tunnels being constructed through Crossrail, a 100-km (62-mile) rail line and Europe’s largest construction project.

Vincent Gallagher Jr., Hill International Inc., moderated the session.

Valley Metro Host Forum: Investment Attracts National Mega Events

Panelists at the Host Forum June 20 talked about TOD along Valley Metro’s 26-mile light rail line and how it is spurring economic growth and attracting national mega events to the region.

Former Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ), who was instrumental in helping secure federal funding for the rail line, which opened in 2008, recalled how the system had little initial congressional support. “Today, the line means positive economic development not only for Phoenix, but for the entire metropolitan area,” he said.

Collaboration and vision among all stakeholders were key in the early stages of the line’s development, said Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego. Some things, however, can never be planned too carefully, she added, citing a lesson learned: “how not to shoot a promotional video the same day Lady Gaga is holding a concert in downtown Phoenix.”

Developer Lorenzo Perez, principal, the Newton/Venue Projects, described the “demolition culture” that once existed in the Phoenix area. In contrast, his firm currently has five projects around the rail line, which he said “are catalysts for stimulating investment.” He stressed the importance of reinvesting in older existing buildings and reclaiming historic properties instead of razing properties near the rail line.

Win Holden, publisher, Arizona Highways, said light rail is a key factor in attracting high-profile national events to the area, including the 2015 Super Bowl, 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Organizers of all three cited the convenience and availability of light rail as one of the “compelling reasons” Phoenix was awarded contracts to host these events.

Since its opening, Valley Metro Rail has seen its ridership grow by more than 30 percent. It has proven to be an economic boon to the area, accounting for more than $8.8 billion in private and public capital invested along its lines.

More growth is anticipated as voters last year approved a citywide plan called “Transportation 2050,” which calls for adding 42 miles of light rail in the region and extending bus services.

State Sen. Steve Farley moderated the session.

On hand to share the light rail success story in Phoenix were, from left, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego; John Graham, president and CEO, Sunbelt Holdings; Lorenzo Perez, principal, Newton/Venue Projects;and Win Holden, publisher, Arizona Highways.


Getting Railcar Procurement Right

“Design it right. Run it right. Maintain it right. Measure it right.” These are the recommendations for building—and delivering—a reliable railcar, according to Kam Kwok, chief vehicle engineer, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), who opened the session on rail procurements and partnerships.

Kwok stressed the need to tell the builders up front what is needed so there is no “guessing game.”

He also stressed that working out any issues that arise takes time. For example, the Toronto Rocket, the newest model of TTC subway trains, entered service in June 2011, but achieving reliability targets took three and one-half years.

Kwok elaborated on the four areas of design for reliability: 1) Design it right by laying the foundations; 2) Run it right to embrace the changes; 3) Maintain it right as tools for asset management; 4) Measure it right to track reliability growth.

Panelists agreed on the need for clear communication at the start of the procurement process. Doug Kelsey, chief operating officer, TriMet, Portland, OR, stressed the need for agencies and railcar builders to work together as partners.

“Good communication, a real-world testing environment and agreeing on performance measures with contractors makes a program successful,” he said.

“The biggest challenge is the unknown,” said Jesus Montes, director, rail vehicle acquisition and maintenance, Los Angeles Metro. “You need to make sure during the solicitation phase that there is great dialogue going on.”

Montes also said it is important to talk to “your own staff and customers, the operators and safety personnel to be clear on what the end product will be.”

Robin Stimson, vice president, business development, Siemens Industry Inc.-Mobility Division, Sacramento, CA, said the key to success is for “expectations to be clearly stated before procurement. It’s only fair to the car building community as well as stakeholders.”

Stephen Bonina, executive vice president, Stadler US Inc., Westfield, NJ, said it is important to know what a transit system is looking for, whether a “low-cost procurement, high-quality procurement, high-quality product or low life-cycle-cost product.”

Natalie Cornell, chair, Business Member Procurement Committee; secretary, Rolling Stock Equipment Technical Forum; and director business development, LTK Engineering Services, moderated the session.


Panelists were, from left, Kam Kwok, moderator Natalie Cornell, Doug Kelsey, Robin Stimson, Stephen Bonina and Jesus Montes.

Industry Gathers for Security Roundtable

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, left, and APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White kicked off a special security roundtable on June 18, prior to the start of the Rail Conference, to give attendees an additional opportunity to share information, best practices and collaborate on safety- and security-related issues. Conference host Valley Metro and the Peer Advisory Group helped organize the event.

Power of Diversity: Supporting Communities

APTA Vice Chair Doran Barnes, chair of the Diversity Council and executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, moderated “The Power of Diversity,” a panel discussion to address industry efforts to encourage greater diversity and inclusiveness at member agencies and businesses through local community and customer outreach. Panels included, from left, Barnes; Paul Larrousse, vice chair, Higher Education Subcommittee, co-chair, APTA LGBT Task Force, and director, National Transit Institute; Conan Cheung, vice chair, Diversity Council, and executive officer, OMB, Los Angeles Metro; and Kimberly Slaughter, vice chair, Policy and Planning Committee, and vice president/central region transit market director, HDR.

Awards Are Highlight of Sunday Gala Banquet; LA Metro Takes Top Rodeo Award

Los Angeles Metro received the prestigious Rail Transit Team Achievement Award at the 24th annual APTA International Rail Rodeo, held June 19 in conjunction with the Rail Conference.

“I’ll bet every person who took part in the Rail Rodeo or who competed for a safety or security award learned something,” said Acting President & CEO Richard White. “Take all that you experienced here in Phoenix and use it to achieve even more success for your agencies and your communities.”

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall and Vice Chair Doran Barnes presided at the awards presentations and are pictured on the far left and far right of the winners’ photos.

The top award goes to the competing public transit system with the highest combined score for rail operators and maintainer team. Los Angeles Metro’s teams placed third in both categories.

Narciso Garcia and Robert Dennis, representing Denver’s Regional Transportation District, placed first among operators, with Harsvinder Dhaliwal and Kuljinder Bath of the Santa Clara Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, in second and Los Angeles Metro’s Saul Sanchez and David Wilson in third. Operators are judged on professional skills, including train operation and knowledge of safety regulations, train equipment and track right-of-way rules and procedures.

In the maintainers’ competition, where participants are evaluated on their ability to troubleshoot maintenance problems, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District team of Gary Crandell, Andre Trujillo and Darrell Johnson took top honors. The team from Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA—Christopher Mertz, Robert Johnson and Joseph Atkins—placed second and the Los Angeles Metro team of Ezequiel Garcia, Marcos Martinez and Rafaele Mastrangelo Jr. won third place.

A record 21 teams competed in this year’s rodeo, including teams from Canada and, for the first time, Japan. A total of 42 operators and 51 mechanics took part.

First place among rail operators went to the Denver Regional Transportation District team. BART General Manager Grace Crunican joined her agency’s maintenance team to accept the first-place award.

Los Angeles Metro CEO/General Manager Phillip Washington and agency employees accepted the Team Achievement Award for the team with the highest combined score. Metro’s operators and mechanics each placed third in their categories.

APTA Honors Agencies for Safety

APTA recognized rail agencies for their safety and security efforts as part of the Rail Rodeo and Safety and Security Awards Banquet June 19.

“Safety and security are front line issues,” APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall said. “Just like maintenance … skilled operations … and customer service, they impact everything we do … for our riders … our employees … and the communities we serve.”

The top honor is the Gold Award, which is given to agencies with the best overall rail safety or security program selected by an independent panel of judges. A Certificate of Merit is given to public transit systems in recognition of exceptional achievement in safety or security.

These agencies received Gold Awards:

* Maryland Transit Administration (Md. MTA), Heavy Rail Security, for its ZEUS (Zone Enforced Unified Sweeps) program, which has been effective in reducing crime on the subway;

* Md. MTA, Light Rail Safety, for its Railroad Worker Protection program, an effective tool to keep rail workers safe; and

* MTA Metro-North Railroad, Commuter Rail Safety, for the Enhanced Employee Protection System to protect wayside workers.

Two agencies received Certificates of Merit: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, Light Rail Safety, for its “Building on a Foundation of Safety” initiative, and Utah Transit Authority for its safety program titled “TRAX Light Rail Pedestrian Treatments and Enhancements.”

The judges determined the honorees based on four criteria: effectiveness, benefit level, innovation and transferability to other agencies. 

The Maryland Transit Administration—represented by Sean Adgerson, deputy chief operating officer-core support, center—received two Gold Awards, for heavy rail security and light rail safety, from APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall and Vice Chair Doran Barnes.
McCall and Barnes presented the Gold Award for commuter rail safety to Justin R. Vonashek, vice president of system safety, MTA Metro-North Railroad.





JR East Sends First Team to Rodeo

The East Japan Railway Company (JR East) was the first Rail Rodeo participant from outside North America. The team demonstrated great professional skills with confidence, based on their experience of delivering high-quality service in Japan. Team members were, from left, Simpei Sato, Tomoyuki Katsuhata, Takeshi Ishida, Kenji Sato and Masaaki Moriya.

Rail Conference Sizzles

More than 1,400 industry professionals and other stakeholders attended the 2016 APTA Rail Conference in Phoenix for networking, sharing and learning in educational programs, award presentations, tours, workshops and receptions. The conference also featured the Products & Services Showcase and the International Rail Rodeo, where teams competed in 118-degree weather. Click here to see more photos from the conference.

Photos by Steve Barrett Photography


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.

DALLAS—Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and a past APTA chair, has received Texas Tech University’s Distinguished Engineer Award.

Thomas graduated from Texas Tech in 1980 with a double bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and architecture structure. Prior to joining DART in 1998, he worked for a national engineering firm where he held positions of project engineer, project manager, engineering manager and ­program manager.

ALBANY, NY—David M. Stackrow, a member of the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) Board of Directors since 1995, has been renamed its chairperson. Stackrow is a member of the APTA Board of Directors and several APTA committees, chairing the Transit Board Members Committee.

Georgeanna N. Lussier is the CDTA board vice chairperson, Joseph M. Spairana Jr. secretary and Arthur F. Young Jr. treasurer.

FRANKLIN, TN—Kerry Perkinson has joined the Franklin Transit Authority, the governing body of the public transit agency in Franklin.

Perkinson is senior vice president, commercial bank, for Tennessee Bank & Trust. Before joining the bank in 2004, he had more than 30 years experience in investment finance and the oil and gas industry.

LOS ANGELES—Ronnie Campbell, a financial expert with more than 25 years of budget and finance experience, is the new chief financial officer of Metrolink.

Campbell has been director of the city of Camarillo’s Department of Finance since 2007 and previously was assistant director of the Administrative Services Department for the city of Lakewood for 10 years.

FORT WORTH, TX—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority has hired Tisha Jones as director of marketing. Her background includes managing an international marketing team for the Society of Petroleum Engineers and working in technical marketing and communications for Koch Industries Inc.

NEW YORK CITY—Will I. Flores has joined STV as a vice president in its Transportation & Infrastructure Division. He comes to STV from another major consulting firm where he performed management duties for projects with MTA New York City Transit and New York State DOT.

FLINT, MI—Flint’s Mass Transporta­tion Authority has named Eric ­Chenoweth director of facilities. He has an extensive background in purchasing and construction management as well as retail, medical and dental, distribution, manufacturing, leasing, capital projects, facility and fleet maintenance.

PEORIA, IL—The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink) Board of Trustees named ­Maxine Wortham its chair, following two terms as vice chair. She joined the board in 2006, appointed by Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Wortham succeeds two-term Chair Sharon McBride, who is entering her 20th year of service on the board and will serve as board secretary. The West Peoria Township Supervisors recently reappointed McBride to another four-year term.

For APTA, Wortham serves on the board of directors and the Legislative and Transit Board Members committees. McBride is a member of several committees and a former member of the APTA Executive Committee.

The other officers are Joan Krupa, who joined the board in 2015, vice chair; Art Bell, a member since 2005, treasurer; and James Polk, a board member since 2004, trustee.

Also, CityLink recently promoted Martha Howarter from senior accountant to director of federal programs. She began her career at the agency in 2008 as an accountant/benefits coordinator.

NEWARK, NJ—New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) announced the following management changes.

Amy Herbold, formerly senior counsel in the Governor’s Authorities Unit and a lawyer with Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, was named deputy executive director. She succeeds Neil Yellin, who retired.

Michael J. Lihvarcik, the newly appointed chief financial officer, succeeds Kathleen Sharman, who became finance director for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Lihvarcik was a special assistant to the state treasurer who served earlier at NJ Transit as acting chief financial officer and senior director of budget and financial operations compliance.

Joyce J. Zuczek, a 37-year employee of the agency, was named board secretary after five years as acting secretary. She joined NJ Transit when the agency was created in 1979.

Michael Drewniak, the former spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was named interim chief of staff. He joined NJ Transit in April 2015 as its first chief of policy and strategic planning and succeeds Jacquie Halldow, who joined Christie’s Office of Communications as deputy chief of staff.

BERLIN, GERMANY—Germar Wacker has been named chairman of the Management Board of Bombardier Transportation GmbH and head of mainline and metros for central and eastern Europe.

Wacker began his career in the automotive industry. In 2000, he joined Adtranz, now part of Bombardier Transportation. In recent years, among other responsibilities, he served as the head of Bombardier’s Vienna production site, president of the Light Rail Division and head of the Propulsion and Controls Division.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC—GoTriangle has named Mike ­Charbonneau its director of marketing and communications.

Charbonneau most recently was deputy secretary of communications for North Carolina DOT. Earlier he was director of public relations for the Wake County (NC) Public School System and a broadcast journalist, receiving two regional Emmy Awards, a national Emmy nomination and an award from the Associated Press.

WEST COVINA, CA—Foothill Transit has re-elected Diamond Bar Council­member Carol Herrera as chair of its executive board.

Corey Calaycay, Claremont council­member, is vice chair. Other new board members are Corey Warshaw, West Covina mayor pro tem; Cynthia ­Sternquist, mayor pro tem of Temple City; and Sam Pedroza, representing the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

New alternate members of the board are Paula Lantz, Pomona councilmember; Cruz Baca, Baldwin Park councilmember; Richard Barakat, Bradbury councilmember; Valerie Muñoz, La Puente mayor pro tem; and Michael De La Torre, representing the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

ISELIN, NJ—Mott MacDonald has named retired Maj. Gen. John Peabody senior vice president and director of federal programs based in its Arlington, VA, office.

Peabody, who retired in 2015 from the Army Corps of Engineers after 10 years, commanded three different corps divisions. He also supported state and local authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency during civil disasters, coordinating emergency response missions and preparatory activities.

CINCINNATI—Demarcus Peters has joined Cincinnati Metro in the newly created position of director of diversity-Title VI, DBE compliance and EEO officer.

Peters was small business program analyst for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and earlier monitored local Small Business Enterprise plans and procurement processes as a senior contract compliance officer. He previously served with community development funder Enterprise Community Partners as a program director and was a member of the Atlanta Beltline Tax Allocation District Advisory as part of a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of parks, trails and transit along a historic 22-mile Atlanta rail corridor.

LANCASTER, CA—The Antelope Valley Transit Authority announced the hiring of Norman Hickling as chief administrative officer and Erika Monroe as innovation coordinator. Hickling worked for Los Angeles County for more than 13 years, primarily as senior deputy to Supervisor Michael Antonovich. He chaired the AVTA board from 2009 to 2015. Monroe was a paralegal for R. Rex Parris Law Firm while serving as deputy mayor of Lancaster.

CINCINNATI—First Transit announced the appointment of Gregg Baxter as vice president of rail, supporting all of the firm’s rail initiatives in North America. He has more than 25 years of rail transportation experience, working most recently as president of Keolis Rail Services America.

WASHINGTON, DC—Joseph Leader is joining the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as chief operating officer effective Aug. 1, in charge of rail, bus and paratransit, Metro Transit Police, parking and support services. He will succeed Jack Requa, who has served in the post on an acting basis and will resume his role as executive managing officer.

Leader has 30 years of transportation experience, serving as a consultant to WMATA General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld as an associate for Bianco Associates. He worked for MTA New York City Transit until earlier this year, most recently as senior vice president of the Department of Subways and earlier as chief of safety investigations.