Passenger Transport - August 25, 2016
(Print All Articles)


MARTA Rejuvenates TOD with 'Spoke'

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) broke ground Aug. 22 on Spoke, a TOD project anchored by the agency’s Edgewood/Candler Park Station, an event that signals the agency’s revamped community development initiatives.

“This is the first in a new series of TODs that will be going up throughout our service area, and we are thrilled that this community will be the place where we rejuvenate this program,” said MARTA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker. He listed MARTA’s principles for using its rail stations to spur new growth:

•    Generating new ridership and enhancing the rider experience for current customers;
•    Strengthening communities—rather than looking for the highest bidder, MARTA wants to bring new development that benefits communities; and
•    Producing funds that could benefit future MARTA projects and expansions.

The name “Spoke” refers to the connectivity the project will provide to the Edgewood and Candler Park communities; the development will help strengthen the areas through housing, retail and mobility.

MARTA partnered with Invest Atlanta on this project and chose Columbia Ventures to lead development at the site.

An artist’s rendering of MARTA’s Spoke TOD at the Edgewood/Candler Park Station. The MARTA heavy rail station is at the far right.

LA Metro Honors Sen. Boxer

Representatives of Los Angeles Metro presented Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) with an award Aug. 24 in recognition of her role in helping the agency secure a $546 million TIFIA loan to jumpstart construction of the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX light rail line currently under construction. During her visit to the Metro Green Line’s Aviation Station, which will connect to the new line, Boxer joined LA Metro employees along with Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington, far left; Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County supervisor and Metro board member, second from left; and Metro Board Chair John Fasana, far right. The text of the plaque states: "Metro deeply appreciates U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer for her relentless work in bringing billions of dollars of federal transportation funds to LA County. We are on the move--thanks to Sen. Boxer."

Photo by Juan Ocampo, Metro

Foxx, Lee Attend Ground Breaking for AC Transit's BRT Line

As Passenger Transport went to press, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) were in Oakland, CA, to participate in ground-breaking ceremonies for the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District’s (AC Transit) 9.5-mile BRT system.

“BRT offers East Bay riders features unmatched by local light rail service,” said AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursh. “Unencumbered by the restrictions of a fixed track, we were able to design and build stops spaced on an average interval of one-third of a mile apart. This is essential because it allows riders more direct access to homes, businesses, places of education and medical facilities that were previously in-between our stops.”

AC Transit Board President H.E. Christian Peeples called BRT “a paradigm shift in modern public transit planning and construction,” adding, “Its frequency and reliability will help resolve ‘first-mile, last-mile’ issues of moving our riders from work hubs to their homes.” He also noted that BRT construction will incorporate utility improvements, new landscaping, repaved streets, new sidewalks and miles of fiber-optic connectivity.

The BRT line will connect Oakland’s Uptown district with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s San Leandro Station on a route with 12 curbside stations and another 21 center median stations similar to train platforms. It will primarily operate inside a bus-only lane and use signal priority technology to allow buses to run at least every 7 minutes during peak hours.

New 60-foot bybrid-electric articulated buses will operate on the route, offering seating capacity for 35 passengers, bus floors level with the station platform for enhanced accessibility, on-board bicycle racks and five doors on each vehicle.

The $108 million major construction phase for AC Transit BRT is the final component of a project funded through a $174 million FTA Small Starts Grant. Additional funding comes from Alameda County Measure B/BB tax revenues, Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Bay Area Toll Authority’s Regional Measure 2 bridge tolls, the California State Transportation Improvement Program, a statewide Prop 1B infrastructure Bond and cap and trade funds, FHWA Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds, Bay Area Air Quality Management District Transportation for Clean Air Funds and AC Transit capital funds.

An artist's depiction of a station on AC Transit's BRT line.

DC Streetcar to Add Sunday Service

In conjunction with the six-month anniversary of service on the DC Streetcar, the District DOT in Washington, DC, announced that the streetcar will add Sunday service on Sept. 18; at the same time, the streetcar will reduce its headways from 15 minutes to 12 minutes, operating with six vehicles. “With six months of passenger service complete, the streetcar is ready for the next step forward, the launch of Sunday service,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We continue to be impressed by the ridership numbers and look forward to attracting even more people to the H Street/Benning Road corridor each and every day of the week.” The free 2.4-mile streetcar line along H Street NE serves eight stops from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue at RFK Stadium's parking lot. The Feb. 27 opening of the line marked the return of streetcars to the district for the first time since 1962. Monthly data show that the streetcar exceeds ridership projections, transporting more than 400,000 passengers in its six months of operation and stimulating economic development, tourism and general interest along the corridor.


Connect Transit Launches New Bus Network

Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal, IL, welcomed Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) to its Uptown Station in Normal to celebrate the recent launch of an entirely new regional fixed-route bus network.

“We are excited to have the whole community join us in launching a completely redesigned Connect Transit bus system, ushering in an exciting new era of public transportation in Bloomington-Normal,” said Andrew Johnson, general manager.
The agency worked for more than a year gathering data, listening to the public and working with community partners to craft the improved service, which includes updated routes, increased bus frequency and, for the first time ever, Sunday service.

Regarding the service revisions, Johnson said, “You have to provide a convenient service. Our service prior to today was very circuitous. It didn’t necessarily make the best use of people’s time; it kept them on the bus for a long time.”

Following a media event and ribbon cutting, LaHood and Johnson joined passengers on the first trip of the revised Green Route between the cities.

Connect Transit operates 14 routes (identified by color) in and between the two cities, as well as Redbird Express service covering the Illinois State University campus in Normal.

Also at the event, Connect Transit promoted its mobile app, which allows customers to track their buses in real time, check schedules and see updated information.

Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson, left, chats with Rep. Darin LaHood on opening day of the agency’s new bus network.  LaHood is the son of former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, who previously held the congressional seat his son now holds.

Photo courtesy of Rep. Darin LaHood’s office


TransLink Unveils First Mark III SkyTrain

TransLink in Vancouver, BC, introduced its first Mark III SkyTrain to service Aug. 18 at the Waterfront Station on the Expo Line, with Chief Executive Officer Kevin Desmond and Vivienne King, president and general manager of the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. (BCRTC), which operates service on the light rail line, in attendance.

“In a region that needs expanded transit service, getting the first of these trains into service helps build momentum toward improving transit and transit capacity in the region and improve services to our customers,” Desmond said. “These trains exemplify how all levels of government come together to invest in much-needed transportation infrastructure to support and shape growth in the region.”

The Mark III train, built by Bombardier in Ontario, consists of four open gangway cars in which passengers can walk among the cars. In addition to providing room for 20-50 more riders than the previous model, the new trains offer more accessible features, including larger open spaces for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs; larger windows; and door design that reduces noise.

In coming months, TransLink will introduce six additional trains in anticipation of next year’s opening of the 11-km ­Evergreen Line. The seven Mark III trains cost $91 million (Cdn.) to build and were purchased as part of the Evergreen Project to serve an expected increase in ridership.

TransLink Chief Executive Officer Kevin Desmond and BCRTC President and General Manager Vivienne King welcome guests to the initial ride on the first Mark III SkyTrain.


Public Transit Funds Targeted to Ontario; Infrastructure Fund Covers Up to Half of Project Costs

Public transit projects throughout Ontario will have access to almost $1.5 billion (Cdn.) from the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund through an agreement between Canada’s federal government and the provincial government of Ontario, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Aug. 23.

This federal program will provide up to 50 percent of funding needed for projects supported under the agreement. Trudeau and Wynne noted that the bilateral agreement will provide a total that exceeds $2.97 billion (Cdn.) when added to provincial and municipal funds, which account together for the remaining 50 percent—for projects across the province.

Public transit projects totaling more than $688 million (Cdn.) have already been approved in several Ontario metropolitan regions.

Toronto will receive approximately $475 million (Cdn.) for 91 projects, including 61 that will benefit the Toronto Transit Commission and two that will go to Metrolinx, which also serves the municipality of Waterloo.

Ottawa is receiving approximately $125 million (Cdn.) for projects, including those to strengthen OC Transpo.

“We are committed to investments that will make a real difference in our communities—investments that will give Canadians more time to spend with loved ones and to be out enjoying all that their towns and cities have to offer,” Trudeau said. “These investments will provide Ontarians with improved public transit systems that will get them to work on time, and back home quickly and safely. They will also help generate new jobs, grow the middle class, promote a healthier environment and lay a solid foundation for the sustainable economy of the future.”

Wynne said, “I am delighted Ontario has reached an agreement with the federal government on the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. This partnership between Ontario, the federal government and our municipalities builds on the historic infrastructure investments Ontario is already making as part of our economic plan for jobs and growth. The projects supported through this new agreement will make people’s everyday transit experiences better and support the growth of our low-carbon economy for decades.”   

The full list of projects is available here.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced federal public transit funding for Ontario municipalities at an Aug. 23 event in Barrie, ON.


TEXRail Breaks Ground--Three Times in One Day

A new commuter rail line that will run from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport kicked off construction Aug. 24 with three groundbreakings in one day, as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority celebrated its TEXRail project with events at Fort Worth’s historic Texas & Pacific Station (the beginning of the route), Grapevine and North Richland Hills.

“We are delighted to have this project underway,” said Paul Ballard, president/chief executive officer of the authority. “TEXRail is a tremendous achievement for our region and our customers.”

TEXRail’s 27-mile line will go through Fort Worth’s four stations and five others, including two in North Richland Hills and one in Grapevine. Service will begin in late 2018; officials expect more than 9,000 daily riders by the end of the first year of operation, with projected growth to 14,000 daily riders by 2035.

Bob Baulsir, vice president of railroads and procurement at the authority, said riding TEXRail will be hard to resist. “Once people have the chance to see how smooth and elegant this Stadler vehicle is, they will see that it’s the way to go. Why suffer through white-knuckle driving in traffic when you can sit back and enjoy the ride?”

TEXRail will operate 44 diesel multiple unit (DMU) passenger trains a day. The bidirectional train has the engine in the middle and the operator sits at either end of the DMU.

“One of the greatest features of TEXRail is that we’ll have positive train control for enhanced safety,” Baulsir said. “These trains feature state-of-the-art technology that will provide a great rider experience.”
Ballard said he is excited for all the project will bring with it. “We have transit-oriented development planned throughout the region, from residential living to retail to boutique hotels,” he said. “Public transportation has a very bright future in North Texas.”

Fort Worth Transportation Authority officials including Bob Baulsir, vice president, railroads and procurement; Scott Mahaffey, board chair; and Paul Ballard, president and chief executive officer, shared the honors at a recent ground breaking for TEXRail.


Monroe Township, MI, Renews Property Tax

Almost three-quarters of voters in ­Bedford Township in Monroe County, MI, recently approved a 0.25-mill property tax renewal to support Lake Erie Transit’s Dial-a-Ride program.

The measure was placed on the ballot following the defeat in March of a proposed 0.1-mill increase in the tax.

Eleven other Michigan counties and townships also voted on tax issues, with six approved and five defeated. They are Clare County, approved; Isabella County, approved; Missaukee County, defeated; and eight townships in Delta County: approved in Brampton, Ensign, Ford River and Masonville, defeated in Baldwin, Bark River, Wells and Maple Ridge.

APTA Annual Meeting Set for LA

APTA and its members are preparing for the 2016 Annual Meeting, Sept. 11-14, in Los Angeles, a city of skyscrapers and palm trees. Meeting events include General Sessions focused on trends and issues; concurrent sessions devoted to peer-to-peer sharing and best practices; technical forums; behind-the-scenes tours of LA Metro, the host agency; dozens of committee meetings; and ample time for networking. For more details, click here.

New CEOs, Interims Named

Millar, WA State DOT

Roger Millar has been appointed secretary of transportation for Washington State DOT (WSDOT); Gov. Jay Inslee previously appointed him acting secretary, a position he has held since February.

Millar, a civil engineer, joined the agency as deputy secretary in October 2015. As secretary, he oversees WSDOT’s 6,800 employees, highways, passenger and freight rail, bridges, airports and the nation’s largest ferry system. Prior to joining WSDOT, he served as vice president of a national non-profit organization.

Murdock, BJCTA

Barbara Murdock, interim executive director and former chief of staff of the Birmingham-Jefferson County (AL) Transit Authority (BJCTA), has been named to the position on a permanent basis.

Murdock, a Birmingham native, worked in ­Washington, DC, for more than 20 years as a federal contractor to DOT and other federal agencies. Prior to that, she was BJCTA’s director of marketing. For APTA, she is a member of the Bus & Paratransit CEOs Committee and the Mid-Size Operations Committee.

Mims, COMTO, Interim

The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) has named A. Bradley Mims its interim president and chief executive officer.

Mims, a member of the COMTO Board of Directors and legislative advisor to the organization, most recently served as transportation and infrastructure advisor to the Mid-Atlantic Laborers’ Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. He has more than 35 years of transportation industry experience and is a member of APTA’s Diversity Council and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors.

Formby, Honolulu HART, Acting
The Board of Directors of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has appointed Michael D. Formby, Honolulu’s director of transportation services (DTS), acting executive director of the agency after Dan Grabauskas stepped down Aug. 18.

Formby had served as an ex-officio voting member of the HART board as DTS director; he resigned from the board upon accepting the acting executive director position.

Prior to joining Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s cabinet in 2013, Formby was interim director of transportation, overseeing the airport, harbor and highway divisions, and earlier was deputy director of the state’s Harbors Division. He is also an attorney. Grabauskas headed HART for almost four and a half years.


SGR: A Systems Approach; Industry Responds to SGR Needs, FTA Regulations

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


It’s an all-too-familiar challenge for public transportation systems and their partner organizations: Find sufficient resources to invest in state of good repair at a rate that matches need.

Public transit providers of all sizes, modes and locations know that the condition of their capital assets is critical to safety and reliability. Without ongoing investment, maintenance costs increase, service degrades, customer satisfaction falls and safety can be compromised.

FTA estimates that the repair bill to bring the nation’s public transit systems to SGR exceeds $86 billion. To keep that backlog from growing, systems nationwide need an additional $2.5 billion annually.

However, funding is only part of the story. Growing demand, constrained revenue and aging infrastructure preclude any meaningful attempt to reduce the SGR backlog through funding alone.

MAP-21 brought renewed emphasis on performance management—how to identify meaningful performance measures that will link policies, goals and objectives, planning, programming and project delivery to stated outcomes.

MAP-21 and the FAST Act require FTA to establish national performance measures; each transit provider will be responsible for setting an annual performance target based on those measures.

Public transit agency officials have long employed systems in one form or another to track the age and condition of their physical assets, but MAP-21 establishes a national transit asset management (TAM) system and calls for all grant recipients to use a TAM system to inventory and assess the condition of all their assets.

Under MAP-21, the federal investment in public transit focuses on maintaining, rehabilitating and repairing existing transit investments and emphasizes the need for all stakeholders—systems, MPOs, state DOTs and others—to work together to determine how to best use scarce resources to maximize the life cycle of transit assets.

“We’ve worked inclusively with our grantees to develop the transit asset management rule, setting clear requirements for transit agencies to identify and prioritize state of good repair needs,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “The good news for both transit operators and the traveling public is that the rule will improve safety and reliability and result in fewer travel delays for passengers.”

One Size Doesn’t Fit All Agencies
All public transit systems are unique and approach identifying and achieving SGR in different ways. This article explores three such strategies.

San Diego’s ‘Capital’ Plan. When Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), joined the agency in 2004, it began focusing on SGR through its annual capital improvement program.

“We had hundreds of millions of ­dollars in unfunded capital needs at the time,” Jablonski said. “It was imperative that we identified the needs and established a priority list of projects. SGR is now the focus of our annual capital program development.

“We had lots of discussions with the chief operating officers, facilities people and the head of maintenance of way about what needed to be done to maintain SGR. Today, our entire system is in a total SGR,” he added.

MTS provides approximately 97 million trips annually on its bus and light rail services. The light rail system, at 35 years, is among the oldest of the modern U.S. light rail systems.

MTS just completed its Trolley Renewal capital improvement program, which began about six years ago when it accumulated $700 million to rebuild the Blue Line and part of the Orange Line. The agency renovated 35 of 55 stations, replaced switches, rail, overhead catenary and ties, and it rebuilt platforms to accommodate new low-floor cars. The biggest source of those funds was a dedicated local half-cent sales tax.

With the addition of 65 new low-floor rail cars, MTS retired its venerable Siemens U2 cars and began setting aside capital to replace the Siemens SD-100s, now 20 years old. The conversion to low-floor vehicles “has made all the difference in the world,” Jablonski said. “It brought performance back to where it should be.”

The agency has been applying SGR practices to its bus operations as well. Last year it opened an expanded bus facility, with plans to open a new one later this year. In addition, it replaces about 50 buses of its fleet of 700 annually.

“We are now ahead of the curve,” Jablonski said. “We know safety goes hand-in-hand with a well-maintained system. And we are focused on meeting the goals of the TAM initiative.”

MTS received a federal grant to implement its TAM, a component of an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that included using a LIDAR (light detecting and ranging) system to inventory assets. Jablonski said all assets and their life-cycle information are now in a database, maintained in the finance and accounting department by a staff member responsible for the TAM system. Individual departments have access screens that allow them to enter data.

“The operating people are always very positive when they hear we want to spend money to keep the system in a SGR,” Jablonski said. “The entire staff gets behind the program.”

The critical value of public transit to the region is one key factor driving ­service expansion, and SGR and TAM need to be central to planning such growth, right from the beginning. The MPO, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), is working to secure a full funding grant agreement for the new 11.7-mile Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project. Jablonski said MTS worked closely with its board and SANDAG to emphasize safety and maintenance.

MARTA’s Focus on Accuracy. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), now in its fourth decade, has had an asset management system since the early 1990s. Its initial TAM system was maintenance-driven and included information on approximately 42,000 assets, but some assets lacked complete data, hindering decisions regarding asset replacement or rehabilitation.

In 2006 MARTA launched its second-generation Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system. In 2009, after participating in FTA’s first SGR roundtable, MARTA began to focus heavily on inventory, condition assessments, data quality and decision-making processes.

In 2013, with $1.38 million in FTA grant funds, MARTA performed a major upgrade to its EAM system, adding a capital planning module and several other features to improve capital programming of assets. And this year, MARTA began working toward full ISO 55001 asset management certification. If, as expected, MARTA receives that certification in a few months, it would be the first public transit property in North America to do so.

Today, MARTA’s TAM system includes information on 57,000 assets with a high degree of accuracy. Minimum requirements have been set for all assets. Scenarios are run through the EAM software to prioritize assets for replacement, considering how important the asset is to the agency’s performance, life-cycle information (age, condition, priority codes and so on) and operational performance data.

MARTA’s TAM success is evidenced in its Strategic Asset Management Plan (STAMP), 10-year capital improvement program and annual fiscal budget book, all of which are anchored by the EAM data system. MARTA has also taken a leadership position in accounting for environmental stresses and impacts in asset management planning and design.

David Springstead, assistant general manager for capital development and programs, provides executive leadership over MARTA’s TAM system, which he said provides the agency with much-needed asset management intelligence. The agency has reliable data from which to bundle assets into projects and prioritize those projects, thus ensuring MARTA remains a safe, secure and sustainable asset for its service region.

Springstead said MARTA staff worked to overcome cultural differences among departments, with the result that “operations, maintenance, budget and finance are all on the same page.” He added, “It is all about building strategic partnerships within the agency—finding allies in other departments and engendering trust. You need someone who can communicate information to a range of specialties.”

As Springstead points out, “It takes five years to build an overnight success.”

Denver and Data. In 2011 when the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) was focused on expansion, agency leaders recognized the need to also focus on maintenance, resulting in an initiative to pilot an asset management system. They began rolling out the program in 2012, and a year later drafted foundational policies and procedures that formed the basis of its TAM system, which became effective in 2014.

According to Lou Cripps, senior manager, asset management, “We asked, ‘What information does RTD need to make better decisions on investments?’ When we started the program, we had a maintenance management software package that housed really good transactional data (costs, performance, condition) on assets back to 2010. This data and the TAM system is all about providing the lowest-cost, lowest-risk, highest-performing assets we can.”

Initially, the program included only buses and light rail rolling stock—the assets for which RTD had the most data. It has since been expanded to include facilities, rail infrastructure and system data (IT).

Now that the system includes complete inventory, age and condition for all assets, Cripps said, “we can now use that information to prioritize projects and further supplement our existing strategic budget plan. We have the tools we need for the best life-cycle management plan. We can capture lessons learned, what works best—allowing us to decide whether to reinvest, rehabilitate or replace.”

RTD ties its TAM to customer experience. “As assets age and decay, we look at the impact on the customer, focusing on performance and cost. We can maintain something in reasonably good condition almost forever, but at some point the cost to do so goes up and reliability suffers. If we cannot provide the frequency that riders expect, ridership will decrease,” he added.

Decisions keeping the agency in a SGR are “always based on what we know and what we trust,” Cripps said. “We face the same challenge as does the entire transit industry—our needs outpace funding. Our system is in really good condition. But everything is always in a state of flux—assets move in and out of SGR, based on funding and need.”

The RTD operates more than 1,000 buses, 172 light rail vehicles and 56 commuter railcars over a service area measuring 2,340 square miles. And the system is still expanding (three lines already opened this year, with two more scheduled) and a couple of extensions are in the works.

“We have the usual conflicts over the ability to expand and maintain what we have. TAM ties into both, giving us the best life-cycle performance, by optimizing spending and maintenance to get the best service at the lowest risk,” Cripps said.

The slow degradation of assets over time makes it difficult to capture and measure their condition so RTD developed standards documents for inspections for each asset class.

“As we moved the program through the various departments, we found data challenges which led us to work on the types and quality of data collected.” He added that “decisions made cannot exceed confidence in the integrity of the data.”

“This gives us consistency in ratings. The standards include photos and descriptions, allowing different individuals to evaluate assets and report similar results. It’s a method for calibrating people,” Cripps explained. The agency also developed glossaries and thesauruses as a means of standardizing the use of language.

“It is difficult to determine the condition of some assets just based on their physical appearance, such as a gearbox in a light rail vehicle. For those assets, the RTD developed a component life calculator, which is used is used in conjunction with oil samples and data to estimate the expected lifespan of a component,” Cripps said.

Now that FTA has published the TAM rule, Cripps said the agency will revisit its TAM and SGR policies. “We are ­hoping to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Are we doing the right things and are we doing things right? We need to run our assets like a business. The TAM system gives us the information we need to do that,” he added.

Cripps attributes the success of RTD’s TAM system to leadership support and continual investment. “In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that agencies will see successful SGR programs without full leadership commitment.”

Ohio’s Collaborative Plan
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), an MPO, is conducting an asset management program for all modes (roads and transit systems) in the city of Cleveland and five surrounding counties.

Executive Director Grace Gallucci launched this project with direct TAM experience; she previously served at Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority, where she was responsible for inventorying all assets and estimating the cost to bring those assets to a state of good repair. That estimate totaled $25 billion over a 10-year period.

For the NOACA project, the board provided $400,000 and the organization secured an additional $600,000 from FHWA. These funds supported Phase I of the long-range transportation plan of NOACA and Ohio DOT, which focused on an inventory and assessment of the road network. The Phase I report will be published in September.

Phase II of the long-range plan will focus on the region’s public transit systems, including garages, depots, passenger facility areas, railroad tracks, catenary, vehicles, communication systems and farecard systems.

A central part of the NOACA plan is a technology-based TAM tool to record all asset conditions, with an overlay of vehicle miles of travel and other significant decision-making criteria, such as local employment nodes.

The tool will be linked to other major regional assets, including airports, educational institutions, hospitals and cultural centers. Using scenario planning capabilities, the tool will inform the agency of priorities to make the system safer and more reliable—“a truly integrated approach to planning transportation improvements,” Gallucci said. “The tool does not pit agency against agency, or exurbs against suburbs.”

Gallucci explains that the agency’s focus is on preserving existing assets rather than system expansion because in part, the greater Cleveland region, with a population of 2.1 million, has remained steady overall since the 1970s; certain communities in the region have grown while others have shrunk.

“Our TAM system is an objective means of looking at preservation,” Gallucci said. Kathy Sarli, NOACA’s director of planning, leads the project.

There are six public transit agencies in the MPO’s purview, and Gallucci said most of them have some level of asset management systems.

“So they are ready to work with us on our TAM system. Once the data is input, it will be used for scenario planning, allowing us to look at all the ‘what ifs.’ The tool gives us a baseline for discussion—not ‘here’s the answer’,” she said.
Gallucci added that the hardest task for the MPO in a multiagency region is to ensure that everyone has a voice at the table and all are assured of being heard.

“We work hard to ensure that no one feels marginalized. We don’t have enough money to do all we want, but we want to ensure that the process is perceived as fair—as a ‘win-win.’ We don’t let anyone ‘game’ the system. In the end, the objective is to make everyone happy.”

The results of the asset management effort can also be used as part of an advocacy plan. “The TAM system will help legislators understand the severity of circumstances and needs. Once we have the facts to back it up, we will conduct an outreach program to decision makers at the state and local levels,” she said.

Michigan: An Early Adopter
Michigan DOT (MDOT) was an early adopter of a public transportation management system, which it developed specifically to collect and manage information from the state’s public transit agencies to support its operating and capital assistance programs and MDOT’s federal grants.

For federal grants, the information helps determine which rural and specialized transit agencies receive federal funds from MDOT for buses, for example. The system was developed by a consultant, with support from the MDOT IT staff.

Sharon Edgar, administrator of MDOT’s Office of Passenger Information, said the decades-old system, which she called “a fairly rudimentary transit asset management system,” is somewhat cumbersome, a natural outcome as officials work to update a 20-year-old system with new data fields.

Edgar said MDOT was ahead of the curve in adopting an asset management system—largely because the department issues more than $200 million a year in state funds to public transit agencies—but today she thinks most state DOTs have caught up with Michigan, or even surpassed it.

The system collects data on assets owned by the 79 public transit agencies serving Michigan’s 83 counties. Operating agencies submit both financial and non-financial data and the information generates performance indicators for each transit agency—indicators MDOT posts on its website (find it at by searching on passenger transportation program data).

Edgar said the system has worked very well and has been helpful in putting together annual FTA grant applications under both formula and competitive grant programs.

Harrington-Hughes is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in transportation technology and policy.

Baseline Principles; Small Bites
As varied as these—and many other—SGR initiatives are, the most effective programs share some underlying principles, experts say:

* A focus on asset management for the long term;
* The use of data and analysis for timely, effective decision making;
* Agency-wide implementation and integration with other operational processes;
* Engaged and informed employees at all levels of the organization; and
* A documented process for setting investment priorities.

The best way to eat an elephant, the familiar saying goes, is one bite at a time. The same could be said for achieving and maintaining state of good repair.

About TAM
As Passenger Transport reported in the Aug. 1 issue, FTA issued its final rule on TAM at the end of July.

The final rule requires all FTA grantees to develop management plans for their assets, inventory and assess the condition of those assets, develop priorities for investment based on the inventory and establish performance targets. The rule also requires transit providers to report their transit asset management requirements to the National Transit Database.

To help transit agencies comply, FTA is providing technical assistance through guidebooks, webinars, newsletters and a National Transit Institute course devoted to asset management. Find the final rule by searching the Federal Register for Transit Asset Management; National Transit Database July 2016.

Resources at the Ready
APTA has published several related recommended practices, standards, fact sheets and other information, including:

* Creating a Transit Asset Management Program;
* Defining a Transit Asset Management Framework to Achieve a State of Good Repair;
* Capital Asset Inventory and Condition Assessment;
* MAP-21, Asset Management and You; and
* “Preparing a Transit Asset Management Plan—An Agency Checklist” (scheduled to be published in October).

Visit the APTA website and click here.

FTA’s updated webpage centralizes and organizes FAQs, technical resources and general information. For details, click here.

TCRP has several reports and documents available, including a new project (E-12) that will develop guidance for calculating return on investment for rehabilitating or replacing existing transit assets to help achieve SGR and will help agencies of all sizes and modes identify the full impact of SGR investments versus other investment options. The project has a projected start date in October.

For a list of TCRP resources, click here.

Passenger Transport has published a few recent SGR-related articles:

* A one-question interview with public transit agency general managers and senior leaders (“SGR: Challenges of Ridership, Reliability and Repair,” in the June 13 issue) featured Michelle Bouchard, Caltrain; Frank DePaola, MBTA; Donald Orseno, Metra; Grace ­Crunican, BART; Joseph Boardman, Amtrak; and Daniel Hofer, UTA; and

* “Commentary” (“Public Transportation Infrastructure ‘Crumbling,’ Say APTA Members”) that appeared in the May 30 issue summarized remarks agency leaders made in a media call during National Infrastructure Week. They are APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall; APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; Joe Calabrese, GCRTA; Ed Reiskin, SFMTA; Dorval Carter, CTA; Jeff Hamm, C-TRAN; Jeffrey Knueppel, SEPTA; Paul Wiedefeld, WMATA; Dennis Martin, NJ Transit; and Ellen McLean, Port Authority of Allegheny County.

What Boards Need to Know about State of Good Repair

Chair, Capital District Transportation Authority Albany, NY
Chair, APTA Transit Board Members Committee

As the issues, challenges and opportunities in public transportation grow increasingly complex and critical to a public transit agency’s short-term and long-term successes, the role of governing boards grows exponentially consequential.

Most policy questions are intertwined: The decisions boards make and directions they help set today can have a profound impact on public transit agencies for decades—far longer than most individual board members’ tenures. Funding and financing mechanisms, service and expansion plans, community investment and economic development, just to name a few.

Because I—and most of my board colleagues across the country—have “day jobs” and serve as volunteers with our agencies and APTA because we’re deeply committed to public transit’s mission, staying current on both the issues and on our appropriate roles and responsibilities is a never-ending task. No issue is more challenging to understand than state of good repair (SGR): what it means; how it affects the agency’s safety and reliability, financial health, reputation and resource allocation; what actions are right today—and tomorrow.

Safety, Assets and FTA
SGR is a complex process that is part of transit asset management (TAM), which FTA defines as “a business model that uses asset condition to help prioritize funding to achieve or maintain transit networks in a state of good repair.”

Last fall, FTA issued a TAM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in response to specific authority granted by MAP-21, including the development of comprehensive, far-reaching safety initiatives: the National Public Transit Safety Plan (NPTSP) and the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP), which is required of all transit agencies.

Among many other elements, PTASPs require agencies to spell out how they will allocate and prioritize resources for safety—and, consequently, state of good repair—and how they will appoint a designated “accountable executive” for safety.

Both requirements affect boards: First, most agency boards will be required by regulation to approve both the TAM and the PTASP. However, even though some boards might not be required to authorize the PTASP directly, they will be called upon to approve resource allocations for TAM and PTASP plans or projects. Second, boards will likely engage with the “accountable executive” on a range of safety and SGR-related issues. In fact, in some agencies, the designated accountable executive could end up being a member of the board.

Questions that Count
Based on my own board experience and with input from SGR experts at APTA and elsewhere, I suggest that the following questions can help a board hit the ground running and gain a broad understanding of SGR and its potential impact on the agency’s operations, culture and future:

* What is our overall strategy and how does it meet FTA’s guidelines?
* What is the status of our assets by category and where do they need to be?
* What’s our gap between resource needs and resource availability?
* How do we begin bringing our assets into a state of good repair?
* What level of investment is required over the next 10 years? Are P3s realistic options?
* What’s likely to happen to our assets if funding levels remain constant?
* What’s the impact on safety and reliability?
* Is our frontline workforce trained for achieving SGR as well as corrective maintenance?
* How do we avoid technical obsolescence when purchasing assets such as rolling stock?
* What are the SGR policies and practices of the partners we contract services to?
* How can the board provide appropriate support to agency leadership so each entity can fulfill its duties and optimize its attention and resources?

Dealing with Answers

It’s one thing to gather information; it’s another to do something with it.

Public transit boards and senior leaders always have one eye on the present and one on the future. Just as it can be a difficult balancing act in personal finances to pay the mortgage and save for that new roof you’ll eventually need, public transit agencies must tend to the urgent issues of the day while planning for the important challenges down the road.
To do so, boards need information (where we are) that enables analysis (where we’re headed) and informs decision making (how we stay on track)—all of which can help boards fulfill the three traditional duties of a fiduciary:

* Duty of due care to help ensure the long-term viability of all agency assets;
* Duty of loyalty to serve in the agency’s best interests; and
* Duty of obedience to follow ethical, legal and mission-based standards.

Context; Culture
Of course, these questions and ­others that address highly complex issues need to be (1) posed in the context and culture of each individual agency and fully vetted with the agency’s CEO and other senior leadership he or she designates—in advance of board discussions; (2) informed by the agency’s operational and financial processes; and (3) ­discussed within the board’s existing committee structure.

As always, an open and productive partnership between the board and the CEO is of paramount importance, with the ongoing goals of strengthening partnership, collaboration, mutual respect, trust and transparency—and while striving for the optimum balance between policy and practice, governance and management, and oversight and operations.


Crumbling Bridges: Now Is the Time to Take Action

National Bridge Practice Leader
HNTB Corporation

As 2015 came to a close, the federal government finally enacted legislation that provides long-term funding for America’s transportation system. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, despite having its critics, was a welcome development for many infrastructure owners who had endured a decade of frustrating funding uncertainty spawned by a long string of short-term funding extensions.

Media headlines understandably focused on the federal money the FAST Act would provide: an authorization of $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 to pay for various highway, bridge, rail, public transportation and safety programs. Deeper in the act’s details, however, were substantial policy changes that encourage greater innovation among state and local leaders responsible for ensuring bridge safety and performance.

Keeping Bridges Safe: Many Unique Challenges
Nearly 60,000 bridges across the country have been rated as “structurally deficient,” the worst of five possible ratings, according to the 2015 National Bridge Inventory. These bridges, representing about 10 percent of all the nation’s bridges, are in desperate need of repair. In some cases, deficiencies are visible and readily apparent, which is why public outcries and media coverage tend to focus on crumbling concrete or rutted bridge decks. Yet, more often, bridge deficiencies are invisible to everyone but engineers and, left unaddressed, these hidden problems inexorably increase the risk of asset failure while elevating the complexity and cost of future remedies.

As a consequence, bridge owners have long had to grapple with complex practical, political and financial factors when deciding how best to maintain, repair and replace bridges. What’s more, they’ve been constrained by federal transportation rules that linked bridge funding to highly prescriptive contracting, engineering and construction processes. Now, with the passage of the FAST Act, many of those constraints are being loosened in an effort to accelerate innovation and reduce unnecessary costs.

Specifically, the FAST Act has increased the availability of two key strategies that can help states proactively address deteriorating and dangerous bridges while achieving an optimal blend of efficiency, creativity and technical excellence. These strategies, combined with enhanced funding options targeted specifically to bridges, make this the right time to take action.

Bridge Bundling: The Power of Scale
The first such strategy is bridge bundling. With the FAST Act, states are now encouraged to bundle multiple bridge projects into one larger project, which can then be awarded as a single contract. This authorization may be used to aggregate a specific set of projects or to undertake a statewide bridge improvement program.

With bundling, bridge owners can gain several advantages:

* Simplicity: They negotiate and manage one large contract for a collection of bridge projects, rather than dozens—or even hundreds—of contracts focused on individual, discrete projects.

* Savings: Large projects attract greater attention from major contractors, who compete aggressively to formulate a winning bid at an attractive price.

* Efficiency: When bridges are bundled, engineers can analyze their characteristics and design standard elements to be mass-produced, while builders can deliver economies of scale relating to materials, equipment and know-how.

* Speed: Winning contractors can hire a range of subcontractors—ready to begin work in communities where the bridges are located—to quickly ramp up construction while benefiting from standardized bridge elements and knowledge from other projects. …

Accelerated Bridge Construction: Harnessing Creativity

The FAST Act also includes reforms for accelerating bridge project delivery, thus reducing costs of bridge replacement projects, among other benefits. Specifically, it allows for the second of our two key strategies, called accelerated bridge construction [ABC], a relatively recent development in how cities and states plan and execute bridge replacements.

At the core of ABC is the acknowledgement that traditional processes for bridge replacement can take a significant amount of time and adversely impact social and economic wellbeing in nearby communities. Replacing a heavily used span over a river, for example, might traditionally demand that the existing bridge be closed and removed and then a new bridge built in the same location—a process taking years. Meanwhile, commuters would have to log many thousands of extra miles and endure delays due to detours and congestion, commercial transportation efficiency would suffer, and emergency services could be hamstrung. On the job site, workers would spend more months exposed to construction and vehicular risk, while opportunities for labor and material cost overruns would also increase.

By contrast, ABC can bypass many of these issues. Rather than adhere to a traditional, sequential approach, ABC allows a range of activities to be performed concurrently and in controlled environments to more efficiently design, procure, prefabricate and erect replacement bridge systems. In most cases, the replacement bridge is created offsite, then transported to the final location and secured in place. Construction is faster and the replacement activity itself can happen in as little as a few days, or even hours. …

Time for Analysis and Action
… As a first step, owners should work with partners to analyze existing at-risk bridges and prioritize those that can offer the most immediate returns on investment. Like any form of asset management, this requires a process that is thorough, objective and driven by the most comprehensive data available. Analysis looks beyond the simple answers to uncover the most important priorities. For example, a structurally deficient bridge that carries 50,000 vehicles a day might initially seem a more urgent priority than one carrying just 5,000. Yet, perhaps the second bridge is a critical crossing for school bus traffic, ferrying a hundred buses filled with children every day. Factoring such differences into the asset management process enables more clear-eyed decision making and eases the process of explaining priorities to a broad range of stakeholders.

The mandate for improving America’s bridges is strong. And, now, federal funding and policies are better aligned to achieve quick progress. This is no time for delay—our bridges aren’t getting any younger.

Price, PE, has served HNTB as a bridge design engineer and project manager, department and operations manager, group director and office leader. Previously, he was with Missouri DOT. HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm that offers a full range of services, including planning, design and program and construction management. For more, click here. ©2016 Reprinted and excerpted by permission of HNTB Corporation.

"Commentary" features points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.


Celebrating the Industry's Best

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

APTA is honoring 18 of public ­transportation’s most exemplary agencies, businesses and individuals during a special ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the 2016 Annual Meeting, Sept. 11-14 in Los Angeles.

The winners were selected by the 15-member Awards Committee, chaired by Paul Skoutelas, senior vice president and national director and market leader, transit and rail, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. Here’s a look at this year’s honorees (see the Aug. 1 Passenger Transport for additional details):

Hall of Fame

* John B. Catoe Jr., for his more than three-decade career leading multiple public transportation systems to excellence.
“I’ve had the privilege of working directly with John and seeing firsthand how he guides and encourages people to achieve far more than what they thought possible. Inducting John Catoe into APTA’s Hall of Fame is a fitting recognition of his many achievements with individuals, organizations and the industry.”

— Carolyn Flowers, former Los ­Angeles Metro and public transportation colleague

* Frank T. Martin, for his 40-plus years of industry management, public service and mentoring.
“Frank T. Martin, my mentor and friend, is a study in hard work, diligence, forthrightness and perseverance. He is fair, a deep thinker and a great organizer of human resources that identifies individuals with potential and empowers them to achieve things they once thought unattainable. The city of Birmingham and Jefferson County owe a debt of gratitude to Frank T. Martin, as do I.”
— Donald E. Blankenship, circuit judge, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Jefferson County

* Michael Scanlon, for his nearly 50 years of leadership and influence in the industry.
“Mike Scanlon represents all the best things about our industry. He’s a person of integrity, and he leads his teams and colleagues by example. He loves the communities he serves and the residents of those communities love him back.”
— Gary C. Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; past APTA chair

* William L. Volk, for his 44 years of dedication and service to the industry.
“Bill’s innovative accomplishments have been ongoing throughout his career. His vision for the future was often ahead of his peers, especially in the areas of full accessibility for the disabled, and unlimited access for University of Illinois students. Bill was always my first call when I was thinking through the issues that downstate transit providers were facing. His knowledge and understanding were always a great resource for me and my staff.”
— U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, IL

* Alan C. Wulkan, for his 43-plus-year career as a public transit business owner, executive and chief executive officer of an agency.
“It’s hard to imagine a person more deserving of the honor of being in the APTA Hall of Fame. I have observed Alan for over a quarter century in a variety of leadership roles with public transportation. He is a person of vision. As we enter a period of unprecedented growth and challenges in terms of environment, housing costs, congestion, new transportation technologies and struggles with legacy problems, APTA and America are better positioned to make progress because of Alan’s many contributions.”
— U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, OR

Outstanding Public Transit Systems

* EMBARK, Oklahoma City, ­providing four million or fewer annual passenger trips.
“Oklahoma City has purposefully reinvented itself, from our economy to our quality of life. Our public transit is a key part of that continued growth and vitality. I congratulate EMBARK and its board, Mayor [Mick] Cornett and our city council on this national award and commend their vision. The modernizations to OKC’s public transit have resulted in incredible gains in ridership.”
— U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, OK

* Jacksonville Transportation Authority, FL, providing more than four million but fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips.
“Congratulations to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority for proudly representing the state of Florida and receiving the 2016 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. Transportation projects are crucial to growing our economy and creating new jobs for Florida families. I look forward to continuing to work with Florida’s many great transit agencies to help ensure our state’s transportation infrastructure remains a national leader.”
— Gov. Rick Scott, FL

* Metro Transit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips.
“Minnesota’s economy depends upon a robust, modern transportation network, including transit. This need will only intensify in the coming years as the Twin Cities adds an estimated 800,000 residents and 490,000 jobs by 2040. This award confirms what the thousands of Minnesotans who rely on transit already know: Metro Transit delivers consistent, high-quality service. This recognition is well deserved and an important reminder that Minnesota needs to continue to expand and improve transit services if we want our economy to stay strong.”
— Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, MN

Outstanding Public Transportation Manager
* Gary C. Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
“Mr. Thomas’ contributions have helped North Texas become a national model for regional transportation collaboration throughout the public transportation industry. My constituents have enjoyed unparalleled transportation service and mobility as a direct result of Mr. Thomas’ work.”
— U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX

Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member
* Michael I. Schneider, senior vice president and director of professional services, HDR, Inc., Irvine, CA.
“Mike Schneider’s list of accomplishments within the transit industry is second to none. There are few people in the field who have contributed more to bringing innovation and imagination to the development, funding and implementation of public transportation systems and services throughout the United States and worldwide. His leadership has been hugely significant in making public transportation a successful enterprise.”
— Phillip A. Washington, chief executive officer, Los Angeles County ­Metropolitan Transportation Authority; past APTA chair

Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member

* Shirley Harris, board member, San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA.
“Transportation is about humanity and the people we serve, and Shirley is synonymous with humanity. It has been the hallmark of her transit career. Her commitment to service is deeply held and faith-based. I know I speak for all who have had the privilege of working with Shirley for two decades that we are proud of her and thrilled at the recognition she is receiving from our industry.”
— Adrienne Tissier, member, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, CA

* Thomas Nolan, chair, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
“Over his decades of service, Tom Nolan’s stamp of leadership has been imprinted on almost every single transit project in San Francisco and the Bay Area. His public service has ensured that all people and communities can safely, efficiently and affordably be transported from work, school and home while protecting our planet and eliminating congestion on Bay Area roads. Tom Nolan’s selection as APTA’s 2016 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member will bring luster to this award.”
— U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, CA

Special Award for Extraordinary Leadership

* Joni Earl, chief executive officer emeritus, Sound Transit, Seattle.
“Joni has been the heart and soul of Sound Transit, and her vision for success and drive to make it a reality was key to transforming mass transportation in the Puget Sound region. Every day, citizens across our region benefit from Joni’s leadership that helped start a truly high-capacity transit system, and her legacy will help Sound Transit continue to grow to serve the needs of the Puget Sound area.”
— U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, WA


* Chicago Transit Authority, for its lead role in developing the Ventra mobile app.
“With the development of the first-ever multi-transit system app, Chicago has demonstrated it is a leader in innovation by leveraging technology to modernize transit for a world-class future for Chicago. I applaud CTA President Dorval Carter and his team, as well as Metra and Pace, for creating the Ventra app, which is helping thousands commute more conveniently and efficiently across Chicago’s robust transit network.”
— Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago

* Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), for developing the Mobility Training Center, the only facility of its kind in the western U.S.
“At the RTC, we are dedicated to providing every citizen access to public transit. Our team is proud of the Mobility Training Center and the services it offers to seniors and persons with disabilities. With its unique blend of paratransit assessment and certification, mobility training and blindness skills training, the RTC Mobility Training Center is deserving of APTA’s Innovation Award.”
— Larry Brown, chairman, RTC Board of Directors

National Distinguished Service
This award recognizes significant contributions at the national level to public transportation through policy, legislative initiative and leadership.

* U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-PA, chair, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), for his role in spearheading the passage of the FAST Act.
“Chairman Shuster worked tirelessly with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the first long-term transportation authorization in a decade. His success is our success. The FAST Act means that Amtran and other public transit systems can move forward with critical capital projects. We are proud of Bill and grateful for his continuing efforts to advance infrastructure investment.”
— Eric Wolf, general manager, Amtran, Altoona, PA

* U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, member, T&I Committee since he entered Congress in 1987, for his career as an independent and steadfast defender of transportation infrastructure investments.
“Congressman DeFazio has dedicated his career in the service of transit and transportation, and our community is better for it. Thanks to Mr. DeFazio’s steadfast support, Lane County residents have access to fast, frequent and reliable transportation options that keep the economy moving and connect tens of thousands of residents each day to school, work and healthcare. LTD thanks Congressman DeFazio for his tenacity and commitment and congratulates him on a well-deserved recognition.”
— Aurora “A.J.” Jackson, general ­manager, Lane Transit District, Springfield, OR

* U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-IL, co-chair and founding member of the Congressional ­Public Transportation ­Caucus, and member of three T&I subcommittees.
“Congressman Lipinski is a strong advocate for public transportation! His tireless work in Washington and Illinois has directly contributed to moving people more safely and efficiently. Specifically, his work as co-chair of the Congressional Public Transportation Caucus contributed mightily to the passage of the FAST Act and the permanent extension of the transit benefit in 2015.”
— Kirk Dillard, chairman, Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago


CA Awards $390 Million in Transportation Grants; Cap and Trade Auction Funds Programs

The California State Transportation Agency recently announced $390 million in Transit and Intercity Capital Program grants for 14 ­public transportation projects, funded through the state’s cap and trade auction ­proceeds.

This program supports public transportation while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emission levels. The grants will provide approximately 10 percent of funding for the projects selected, valued at a total of almost $3.9 billion, and are expected to lead to a reduction of more than 4.1 million tons of carbon dioxide statewide.

Los Angeles Metro received two of the grants totaling $109 million: $69.2 million for the Red/Purple Line Core Capacity Improvements Project, which will allow trains to turn around quickly at Union Station so they can run every four minutes on each line at peak hours compared to 10 minutes currently, and $40 million for the new Airport Connector Station that will connect light rail riders on the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines to an automatic people mover that will serve Los Angeles International Airport, being built and operated by Los Angeles World Airports.

Other major grants include $82 million to the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency for track improvements and railcar leases serving Metrolink, the North County Transit District’s Coaster and Amtrak; $45 million to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for the purchase of 10 light rail vehicles to increase rider capacity; $30 million to the Sacramento Regional Transit District for construction of a new downtown-­riverfront streetcar line; $28 million to the Orange County Transpor­tation Authority for a streetcar connecting two communities and system-wide mobile ticketing; and $20 million to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for the BART Silicon Valley Phase 2 Extension, which will connect BART to California’s high-speed rail network in 2026.

For the complete list, click here.

New MVTA Route Serves Employment Hubs

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Burnsville, MN, worked with employers in Shakopee, MN, to develop a new suburb-to-suburb route, Route 495, which is expected to increase employee access to the area.

“Many of Shakopee’s businesses operate six or seven days a week, with 10- or 12-hour shifts,” said MVTA Executive Director Luther Wynder. “Route 495 was designed to meet employee shift times, providing access to jobs and contributing to the economic development of this ever-growing community.”

In addition, he said, the new route provides connecting access to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for work, entertainment, events and to the airport.

The new route, which entered service Aug. 20, operates seven days a week with service to public transit stations in Burnsville and Shakopee and the Mall of America, with 18 southbound and 21 northbound trips each day.

The Burnsville Transit Center is one of the major transfer points of MVTA Route 495.


Louisiana DOT Sets Up Regional Transit Service; Actions Help Restore Service in Flooded Areas

Following the historic and deadly flooding across south Louisiana, the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) established regional transit connections for communities in greater Baton Rouge to help restore public transit and provide vital service for the area’s workers, many of whom lost vehicles.

“DOTD is compelled to expand the scope of our public service in communities across the area by establishing this regional transit service,” said Shawn Wilson, DOTD secretary. “We are committed to helping our impacted neighbors get back to a regular routine by offering this important service to and from Baton Rouge.”

Initially, agency officials expected that it would operate the transitional service for approximately one week, but would extend it as necessary.

The flooding, which the American Red Cross called the country’s worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, resulted in the deaths of 13 people; required the rescue of more than 20,000 other individuals; destroyed or damaged more than 60,000 homes; and closed countless roads, bridges, businesses, schools and other establishments. Officials estimate that the storm dropped more than 6.9 trillion gallons of rain on the region.

Among those affected were approximately 150 area employees of AECOM, which set up a Go Fund Me site to help its colleagues affected by the flood (click here). AECOM announced that it would match all donations (which are strictly voluntary) up to $50,000. More than $34,000 had been raised as of Aug. 23.

As Passenger Transport went to press, DOTD had inspected more than 1,200 bridges with six remaining out of service, pending emergency repairs. In addition, the agency began the process of removing debris to open roads and protect residents and workers.

Some of the flooded areas in Baton Rouge, LA, on Aug. 15.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard


Uber to Launch Self-Driving Car Service

In one of the first commercial applications of driverless cars, Uber recently announced its plans to introduce a self-driving car-sharing service in Pittsburgh later this month, under the supervision of two human drivers—one of whom will sit in the driver’s seat.

Customers in the downtown area can request a car using the Uber app, as usual, and then will be matched at random with a driverless car, initially the custom Volvo SUV pictured at right. Uber has been road-testing the service in Pittsburgh since May. Initial trips will be free.

“Safety drivers” (sitting in the driver’s seat) will keep their “fingertips on the wheel,” ready to take control in some situations, such as driving over bridges and in emergencies. The co-driver in the front passenger seat will take notes. Cameras will record everything, and a tablet computer in the back seat will keep customers apprised of ride details. The car is also equipped with ­dozens of sensors that use camera, lasers, radar and GPS receivers.

Volvo has delivered a few of the 100 cars so far, with the remainder due by the end of 2016. The two companies also signed an agreement to invest $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car ready for the road by 2021, and Uber officials announced that the company plans to partner with other car manufacturers.

Other companies exploring the widespread use of such vehicles include Google, Tesla Motors, Otto (a driverless truck startup) and Ford, which recently announced its plans for launching an autonomous ride-sharing service. In related news, officials in Helsinki, Finland, are testing a driverless mini-bus in city traffic through mid-September, and Mercedes-Benz is testing a self-driving bus on a BRT route in Amsterdam.

DTC Opens Propane Fueling Station

Delaware DOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan joined other officials at recent ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Delaware Transit Corporation’s (DTC) new propane fuel station in New Castle, DE.

Also at the event, DTC announced its plans to increase the size of its fleet of propane-powered paratransit buses to 130—almost half the DART First State paratransit fleet. Following a two-year pilot program with five of the vehicles, the agency purchased 50 more this year and will purchase an additional 75 by 2018.

“Our first five propane-fueled buses collectively traveled 450,000 miles with no fuel system-related failures and saved $15,000 in fuel costs alone,” said DTC Chief Executive Officer John T. Sisson. “That, combined with the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, made it an easy decision to expand the propane program with our new private fuel stations and 130 buses by 2018.”

The paratransit vehicles are built on the Ford E-450 chassis and equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system. Sharp Energy, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, will provide the fuel supply for the paratransit buses and technical and maintenance support for the vehicles and fueling stations.

Propane autogas is a low-carbon alternative fuel that reduces greenhouse gases by up to 25 percent, 60 percent less carbon monoxide and fewer particulate emissions versus gasoline.

Safety in the Spotlight

Looking for the latest safety news from FTA about the status of rulemakings, updates on activity from senior officials, training opportunities and ways to advise the agency?

Go to the new edition of “Transit Safety and Oversight Spotlight,” FTA’s newsletter that recaps major activities related to its public transit safety initiative.

The monthly newsletter, issued by the Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, is available as a PDF by clicking here.

Metrolinx Orders 125 Bombardier Railcars

Metrolinx in Toronto has agreed to purchase an additional 125 bi-level railcars from Bombardier Transportation, for service with GO Transit, valued at $328 million ($428 million Cdn.), with construction due to begin in 2018 at the company’s Thunder Bay, ON, plant.

“We are ordering new train cars so we can continue to provide high-quality service while introducing more travel options for our customers,” said Metrolinx President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce McCuaig. “These new cars are an important part of our fleet strategy as we expand GO Transit service and they will support the introduction of electric service.” He added that Bombardier has been delivering coaches for the agency for nearly four decades.

McCuaig noted that such service improvements will roll out continuously during GO Transit’s 10-year expansion program. The new railcars will help system meet its five-year service growth plans, which include more frequent, convenient service, or will replace cars that have reached the end of their lifecycle The new railcars can also be used withdiesel or electric locomotives, so they will advance GO Transit’s plans to introduce electric operations while maintaining some diesel service.

According to Bombardier, 14 metropolitan regions in the U.S. and Canada use its bi-level coaches, with more than 1,300 of the vehicles either in operation or on order. The newest-generation cars feature increased energy efficiency, upgrades to door and air conditioning systems and enhanced passenger amenities.

FRA Calls for More Safety Efforts at Rail Crossings

Citing three grade crossing incidents in recent weeks that caused the deaths of parents and young children, FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg has called for greater action to prevent fatalities at the nation’s more than 200,000 railroad crossings.

“While many of these incidents are still under investigation, we know that incidents like these are almost always preventable. And yet they still happen,” Feinberg said. “The responsibility to improve safety at railroad crossings rests on all of us—safety regulators, state officials, the railroads themselves, law enforcement and even the private companies that conduct business in the transportation sector.”

Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the increase in fatalities at railroad crossings, which includes partnering with tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s crossings and add crossing alerts to map applications. FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings.

In March, FRA launched a redesigned website to serve as a one-stop shop to help drivers, pedestrians and law enforcement stay safe around railroad crossings. The launch follows the agency’s award of nearly $10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes.

MST Names Building for Lichtanski

Members of the Monterey-Salinas (CA) Transit (MST) Board of Directors including Chair Libby Downey, center holding scissors, and General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Carl Sedoryk, sixth from right, recently commemorated the official opening of the new Frank J. Lichtanski Administration Building. Lichtanski was a 31-year MST employee who was general manager/CEO at the time of his death in 2005 and was named to the APTA Hall of Fame in 2008. There is also an APTF scholarship named in his honor.

Harting North America Expands into Mexico

Harting North America, Elgin, IL, recently opened two facilities in Mexico: a manufacturing site in Silao, in the Guanajuato region, and a sales office in Mexico City.

“The current economic conditions in Mexico offer enormous potential for Harting,” said Jon DeSouza, president and chief executive officer, at the grand opening of the Mexico facility. “This is exemplified by the country’s expansion of their railway system, which indicates strong growth now and for the future in the transportation and machinery market—incidentally, two of Harting’s largest vertical markets.”

Harting Mexico Sales S.A. de C.V. joins more than 40 other company subsidiaries worldwide, while the manufacturing facility is the company’s 14th.

Harting North America is part of the family-owned Harting Technology Group, based in Germany, which employs more than 4,000 people globally with production facilities in Europe, Asia and North America.  The company’s core business is intelligent and high-performance connection technology including custom cable assemblies.

TARC Welcomes New Electric Buses

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC), Louisville, KY, has begun introducing six new all-electric, zero-emission buses from Proterra to service, bringing the agency’s total number of the buses to 15. The new buses operate on a route that serves Museum Row, the University of Louisville, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum, among other locations of interest. “We know passengers enjoy a quiet, clean ride and it doesn’t get better than this,” said Executive Director J. Barry Barker. “We encourage everyone—visitors and residents alike—to take a ride on one of these zero-emission modern buses and have fun visiting top city attractions.”

St. Louis Metro: Buses and Brushes

St. Louis Metro recently hosted a bus painting event sponsored by the Saint Louis Art Museum as part of its “Family Sunday: Art on the Go” program. More than 50 art lovers of all ages “recreated” renowned artworks on display at the museum on the exterior of the bus, which will serve a variety of routes in St. Louis City and St. Louis County for one year.

Industry Briefs

Propane for Lee Tran — Lee Tran in Fort Myers, FL, has increased the number of its paratransit vehicles powered by propane autogas to 20, or 45 percent of the fleet, and plans to convert the entire paratransit fleet to the new fuel within the next five years. The per-gallon cost of propane autogas is approximately one-third of that for diesel. The vehicles operate with a ROUSH CleanTech fuel system.

CCW’s New Battery Pack — Complete Coach Works (CCW) recently retrofitted its upgraded Zero Emission Propulsion System battery pack technology into the first all-electric transit bus it supplied to Ben Franklin Transit, Richland, WA. CCW has increased the storage capacity of the battery packs without increasing their weight.

Training for Zero-Emission Buses — The SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA, recently opened its Center of Excellence in Zero Emission Technology, a training program focused on maintaining and operating zero-emission buses in public fleets. SunLine and its public and private partners, including educational institutions, are developing a curriculum and resources that address all aspects of in-service management for the vehicles.

Houston App Gathers Input — Users of the updated RideMETRO app from Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County can use the new public comments feature to contact the agency directly with comments, ­suggestions and smartphone photos.


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.

AECOM Employee Wins Silver

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Karsten Forsterling, an engineer with AECOM in Melbourne, took home a silver medal from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the four-man ­Australian men’s ­quadruple sculls (rowing) team.

ARLINGTON, VA—Bryna Helfer, DOT deputy assistant secretary for public engagement and senior advisor to the secretary on accessibility and workforce, will join Arlington County Government as director of communications and public engagement effective Sept. 19.

Helfer, who succeeds the retiring Diana Sun, previously was senior director of civic engagement for the National Academy of Public Administration, manager of strategic planning for the U.S. Government Accountability Office and director of Easter Seals Project ACTION.

RICHMOND, VA—Jennifer DeBruhl has joined the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation in the newly created position of chief of public transportation. DeBruhl joins DRPT after service to both Virginia DOT and FHWA, working most recently as deputy district administrator for VDOT’s Richmond District.

WASHINGTON, DC—The Eno Center for Transportation recently honored Phillip Washington, APTA immediate past chair and chief executive officer of Los Angeles Metro, with the Wilbur S. Smith Award for Service to Eno.

At the same event, Mort Downey, president of Mort Downey Consulting LLC, received Eno’s Lifetime Achievement Award as the longest-serving deputy secretary and chief operating officer in DOT’s history.

AMES, IA—Cody Barrett has joined HNTB Corporation as a senior designer and developer based in Ames, primarily serving the Iowa DOT. He previously was a GIS coordinator for Warren County, IA.

AUSTIN, TX—Sabino (Pio) Renteria, a member of the Austin City Council, has been named by the city to serve on the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors, succeeding six-year board member Ann Stafford.

Renteria chairs the city’s Housing and Community Development Committee and is vice chair of the Planning and Neighborhoods Committee and a member of the Audit and Finance Committee. He was a member of the Community Development Commission for 14 years, serving eight years as its chair.

WASHINGTON, DC—The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) has named Robert E. ­Skinner, former executive director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), to the ITS Hall of Fame for his contributions to the intelligent transportation systems profession.

Skinner worked 30 years for TRB, part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, beginning as senior program officer in 1983 and becoming executive director in 1994. Prior to joining TRB, he was a vice president of Alan M. Voorhees and Associates.

RICHMOND, VA—Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has named Keith T. Parker, general manager/chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, to the Boards of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Parker earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from VCU and received the university’s “Alumni Star” award in 2015.

McAuliffe charged the board members to use their knowledge and experience to foster innovation at their institutions, to keep the burden of tuition as low as possible and to emphasize access and completion for every student.

NEW YORK CITY—WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has named Nasri Munfah a senior vice president and director of global tunneling. He previously served PB from 1970-2004 as a vice president, senior technical manager and senior engineering manager and has more than 30 years experience in tunneling and underground engineering and project management experience in transportation, public transit and underground engineering.

Also, WSP | PB named Jorge A. Chaves ­Dominguez president and Asdrubal Montenegro chief financial officer of its Latin America region, overseeing offices in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and ­Trinidad and Tobago.

Chaves has more than 30 years of experience, most recently working as general manager of Schrader Camargo, an engineering firm based in ­Cundinamarca, Colombia.

Montenegro has worked for companies including DuPont, BHP Billiton, Schlumberger and Halliburton for more than 20 years.

The firm also announced the appointments of Wynne Davis as a senior rail and transit specialist in its Washington, DC, office; Rik Lor a senior engineering manager in the firm’s Transit and Rail Technical Excellence Center, based in San Francisco; and Ryan Davis a contract manager in the Los Angeles office.

Wynne Davis has more than 18 years of rail and transit industry experience, most recently as program manager for FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program and earlier as a management consultant for a global consulting firm and a transportation officer in the U.S. Army.

Before joining the firm, Lor was a deputy project manager at the Regional Transportation District in Denver, responsible for managing the agency’s Eagle P3 and North Metro Rail projects.

Ryan Davis comes to WSP | PB following a 20-year career as an officer in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, most recently serving in Tokyo as a staff engineer officer responsible for four Government of Japan-funded construction programs for U.S. military installations.

KANSAS CITY, MO—HNTB Corporation has announced these recent appointments:

James Parsons joined the firm as a director of national transit programs and vice president, based in Seattle. He has more four decades of transportation experience, serving most recently as transit rail market sector lead for the western U.S. for another consulting firm. For APTA, he co-chairs the Environmental Subcommittee and Major Capital Investment Planning Subcommittee and serves on several committees.

Aaron Marx, based in Los Angeles, is project manager, PTC systems. His 15 years of experience in design, PTC and signaling include working for another consulting firm as deputy project manager for Caltrain PTC CBOSS.

David Nolle, senior project manager-rail and transit systems based in Dallas, works with clients nationwide on PTC and ITS projects. He has almost three decades of experience as a systems engineer in the transportation and telecommunications industry.

Martha Bogle has joined the firm as leader of the bridge inspection practice and associate vice president in New Jersey, based in the firm’s Parsippany office. Her responsibilities will include inspections of rail and public transit bridges. She has more than 18 years of experience in the design of new bridges, rehabilitation of existing bridges and bridge inspection.

Also, HNTB announced the appointment of Fred Craig Jr. as business development leader and vice president, based in Washington, DC. His more than 35 years of expertise include public-private partnership project development experience, strategic planning, business development and client relations in the public and private sectors.

WASHINGTON, DC—Patricia (Patty) Lee has been named general counsel of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. She is a Harvard Law School graduate with 26 years of public and private legal experience. She is a former trial attorney with the Justice Department, was a partner at Holland & Knight and held senior legal roles at Northrop Grumman and Cable & Wireless USA Inc.

ALLENTOWN, PA—Cordelia ­Miller of Bethlehem has become the first African-American to chair the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) Board of Directors. She succeeds Michelle Griffin Young, who chaired the board since 2014.

Miller, a retired director of emergency services for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, has served on the LANTA board since 2008 and as its vice chair since 2014.

Holly Edinger, director of community and government affairs at Sacred Heart Hospital, will serve as vice chair; Beck Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, secretary; and retired business executive Fred A. Williams as treasurer.

LOS ANGELES—Keolis Transit America has promoted Ryan Adams, vice president of strategy and corporate development for the past three years, to senior vice president of strategic development. Adams is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2015.

New APTA Members

Click here to see a list of new member organizations that joined APTA in May and June.