Passenger Transport - October 7, 2016
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Southeastern U.S. Agencies Brace for Hurricane Matthew

As Passenger Transport went to press, public transit agencies on the southeast coast were shutting down or cutting back service, closing facilities and protecting vehicles and rolling stock as Hurricane Matthew scraped the coastline from Miami Beach to Cape Fear, NC, starting Thursday, Oct. 6.

The hurricane was classified a Category 3 storm as it neared land, with wind gusts exceeding 100 mph and storm surges up to 11 feet from Sebastian Inlet, FL, to Edisto Beach, SC—higher in spots than the surge from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, according to the National Hurricane Center, if the surge coincides with high tide.

Here’s how the most severely affected agencies responded:

Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) buses conducted evacuations from three locations at the beach and special needs evacuations on Oct. 6 and shut down all service (including its ferry) early the next day, according to spokesperson Leigh Ann Rassler.

In keeping with the JTA’s Continuity of Operations Plan, Rassler said, the agency relocated half its bus fleet to high ground outside the evacuation zone and the rest to higher ground on its main campus in downtown Jacksonville. She added that JTA recently upgraded its main facility’s stormwater and drainage systems.

Rassler noted that—even before the arrival of Matthew—the city had received substantial amounts of rain and high winds due to a nor’easter, saturating the soil. She said JTA officials hope to resume service Oct. 8, depending on damage.

Broward County Transit, Plantation, FL, evacuated more than 500 people from their homes the evening of Oct. 5 and continued the effort on Oct. 6, shutting down regular service that morning. “When winds hit 39 mph, it is no longer safe to use buses, so at that time we stop,” said Mary Shaffer, spokeswoman.

The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando suspended all services the morning of Oct. 7, to resume when the roadways are deemed safe. LYNX staff was providing updates on its website, social media and traditional media.

Also in Orlando, Walt Disney World, including Walt Disney World Transportation, closed Oct. 6-7. Guests were evacuated from several Disney resorts.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Pompano Beach, suspended its Tri-Rail commuter rail service, which extends about 72 miles, after its last train Oct. 5, and expected to remain closed until Monday, Oct. 10, at the earliest, reported Bonnie Arnold, public information officer. She added that the agency secured as many as 75 gates, a process that takes 12 hours, and moved some of its rolling stock—50-60 vehicles—out of the storm’s direct path.

The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works shut down regular bus, rail and Metromover operations early Oct. 6 and resumed service Oct. 7. Buses that transported residents to shelters have returned to these facilities to pick up evacuees.

Palm Tran in West Palm Beach suspended service at noon Oct. 6 and remained closed on Oct. 7. Public shelters opened the afternoon of Oct. 5 and the system’s website included route information for people to use buses to access the shelters. Maruti Transit Group LLC, which provides Palm Tran Connection paratransit service, transported customers to shelters until noon Oct. 6.

Amtrak suspended service in the southeast and ended one southbound line—the Palmetto Line, which typically terminates at Savanah, GA—in Washington, DC.

Help from APTA, TCRP
While not all transit agencies contend with hurricanes, many must prepare for other weather-related and natural disasters, including earthquakes, tornados, blizzards and wildfires. Here are some resources that can help:

APTA and many of its committees have developed standards and recommended practices on emergency preparedness, including those focusing on planning, communications strategies, railcar evacuations, working with first responders and other critical factors. To find the standards, click here and search on “emergency preparedness.”

Go to the TCRP website and search on “emergency preparedness” to find best practices and research related to paratransit challenges, response and recovery planning, communicating with vulnerable populations, legal challenges and more.


RTA New Orleans Celebrates Historic Streetcar Opening; Event Marks Return of Streetcars after 70 Years

Director, Marketing & Communications
Transdev at RTA

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in New Orleans entered revenue service Oct. 2 with its latest addition to the city’s growing streetcar network by putting back on track—for the first time since 1949—streetcars operating along the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue corridor through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.

This project, funded by a Series 2010 Sales Tax Revenue Bond, was completed on schedule and within its original construction budget of $41.2 million.

On Oct. 3, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the RTA Board of Commissioners joined city residents and business owners to celebrate the opening of the 1.6-mile extension.

Landrieu said nearly 70 years have passed since buses replaced streetcars along the corridor, so the opening enables the city to “come full circle.” He also credited the streetcars with continuing to spur economic development.

“We know that where there is quality transit service, there will be economic development. Most recently, over $2 billion of private development can be credited in part to the streetcar line that launched along Loyola Avenue in 2013,” Landrieu said. “As a result of this most recent investment in infrastructure, a renaissance is happening along the historic Rampart/St. Claude corridor.” He and other officials predicted greater reinvestment in the city’s historic neighborhoods as a result of the project’s successful completion.

RTA Board Chairwoman Sharonda R. Williams noted the historic and cultural significance of streetcars to the city, calling them “iconic symbols.” She also spoke about RTA’s plans to expand streetcar service and other transit modes as funding becomes available.

“The RTA is committed to expanding the entire intermodal network of transit services that encompasses rail, buses, paratransit and ferry, offering residents a variety of options to access employment, education, entertainment and healthcare,” she said.

Justin Augustine, vice president of Transdev, RTA’s private operating partner, said, “The opening of the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar line is great for the citizens of New Orleans. It will help revive the North Rampart corridor and provide a link from Elysian Fields to Canal Street. This line runs along the edges of the French Quarter on its way to some of the most historic neighborhoods in New Orleans, such as the Tremé, Marigny, and St. Roch neighborhoods.”

He added, “The citizens of New Orleans deserve access to affordable, reliable and convenient public transportation. This line does exactly that. It promotes livable communities by enhancing the connectivity of our streetcar networks.”

The red streetcars, affectionately known by locals as the "Red Ladies," will operate every 20 minutes, adding to the existing bus service, which also operates every 20 minutes, thus providing transportation every 10 minutes along the corridor. The line operates from 6 a.m. to midnight and is accessible to people with mobility impairments.

The new six double-sided, lighted stops feature (among other amenities) refurbished light poles that replicate historic cobra-style lights. As Passenger Transport went to press, RTA was preparing a city-wide public celebration in true New Orleans style.

For details, click here.

Transdev is RTA’s private operating partner.

New Orleans RTA unveils its historic North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue streetcar line at one of its stations, marking the return of streetcars to the corridor after nearly 70 years.

Photo courtesy of NORTA Twitter feed

VTA Opens Bus Stations in Downtown San Jose; Incorporates Locale-Inspired Pavers

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) recently opened two stations—one in downtown San Jose, CA, and the other at City Hall—that serve three regular VTA bus routes and ultimately will become part of the Alum Rock-Santa Clara BRT, currently under construction.

Both station designs incorporate specially designed pavers unique to each location—a design theme that will be extended to all stations on the BRT corridor.

At the downtown station, the eastbound platform recalls San Jose’s history of agricultural innovation and cultural diversity with a pattern inspired by historic seed packet designs from Kitazawa Seed Co., founded in 1917 and originally located near the station.

Although the seed business was forced to close during World War II when the Japanese-American Kitazawa family was placed in a relocation camp, it reopened after the war and is still in business.

The westbound platform features pavers inspired by the world’s first computer hard disk drive, developed in 1956 by a small research laboratory that was part of IBM and located near the station.

Pavers at the City Hall station depict the  process of filing a patent, in honor of the Silicon Valley U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that opened at City Hall in 2015.

Transportation is critical to the appeal of downtown San Jose, said Kim Walesh, deputy city manager and director of economic development. “What we hear from companies is they want access to talent, transportation options and amenities. Once people realize that BART is accessible at Berryessa and that the BRT is modern, frequent and fast, that connection from downtown to BART will be really key.”

The pavers at the westbound City Hall Station depict the process of filing a patent, in honor of the Silicon Valley U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that opened at City Hall in 2015.

Pavers at the eastbound Downtown Station take their inspiration from historic seed packet designs from Kitazawa Seed Co., located near the station site when it opened in San Jose in 1917.

MBTA Opens Wachusett Station in Fitchburg

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has opened its newest five miles of commuter rail service, which terminates at the new Wachusett Station on the Fitchburg Line.

The station opened on Sept. 30 with two inbound and two outbound trains daily while the agency completes final elements of ­station construction. Full service will begin in November.

The new station, located in West Fitchburg, is completely accessible and includes parking for 360 cars. When ­finished, it will offer such amenities as a ­passenger shelter, benches and windscreens, lighting and landscaping, as well as closed circuit television video surveillance cameras and police emergency call boxes.

Other components of the project include construction of a new MBTA train layover facility in Westminster, approximately 1.5 miles west of the station, and rehabilitation of the existing Pan Am Southern freight rail line, including rail and tie replacements, bridge repairs, new crossovers, a new signal system and clearance improvements.

An MBTA commuter train arrives at the new Wachusett Station.


Metrolink Opens Expanded Vincent Grade/Acton Station

With a historic train as a backdrop, Metrolink in Los Angeles recently hosted a ceremony at its upgraded Vincent Grade/Acton Station to unveil the station’s second platform, pedestrian at-grade crossing, 5,000-foot extension to the Vincent siding and other improvements.

“We will see enhanced safety, reduced idling and emissions, as well as shorter commutes and fewer service delays,” Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy said at the event. The improvements were funded by Los Angeles Metro, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission.

In keeping with the “old West” design theme of the Antelope Valley Line station, which recognizes Acton’s past as a mining town, Metrolink provided a photo booth so guests could pose for a “wanted” poster. The San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society (SBRHS) provided the pristine steam locomotive, which made a 120-mile round trip to and from the event. According to SBRHS President Warren Peterson, the Sante Fe 3751 was the “first steam locomotive to travel north of Los Angeles in 24 years.”

Metrolink, a commuter rail agency, operates on seven lines with 59 stations and provides 44,000 daily boardings over a 536 route-mile network.

Metrolink CEO Art Leahy hosted ceremonies marking the completion of improvements at the commuter rail system’s Vincent Grade/Acton Station.


Presidential Search Task Force Announced

APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes convened the first meeting of APTA’s CEO Search Task Force at the association’s recent Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

The group, which totals 50 members, began the discussion on how to proceed with the selection of APTA’s permanent president and CEO.

Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, serves as chair of the task force. “This is one of the most important tasks that any board undertakes. We are committed to finding the best leader for this next chapter in APTA’s history,” he said.

The task force will identify and recommend to the board of directors an executive search firm, the qualities most desired in the next APTA president and CEO and an updated compensation philosophy and performance measurement program. The task force will also conduct interviews and recommend a candidate for the board’s consideration.

To manage these activities, three working groups have been formed.

* Working Group 1 will select and recommend a search firm for the board to engage as well as develop the job description and necessary attributes for the president and CEO. APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority, will lead this group.

* Working Group 2 will develop and recommend to the board the compensation philosophy and pay structure for the president and CEO. APTA Secretary/Treasurer Kim Green, executive director of business development, Genfare, will lead the group.

* Working Group 3 will develop and recommend to the board the process and timeline for measuring the performance of the president and CEO. Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall, board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, will lead this group.

Barnes said he is committed to keeping APTA’s Board of Directors and ­membership informed of the process as it moves forward.

Members, APTA CEO Search Task Force

APTA Officers: Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit; Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville Transportation Authority; ­Secretary/Treasurer Kim Green, executive director of business development, Genfare; Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall, board of trustees, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Members: Joseph Alexander, president, Alexander Group; Michael Allegra, president, KivAllegra Consulting; Christopher P. Boylan, director, governmental and strategic partnerships, General Contractors Association of NY, Inc.; Lester W. Bryant, board secretary, VIA Metropolitan Transit; Dorval R. Carter Jr., president, Chicago Transit Authority; Conan Cheung, executive officer, OMB, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Grace Crunican, general manager, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Frederick L. Daniels Jr., treasurer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; George F. Dixon III, president, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Sue Dreier, chief executive officer, Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority Corporation; Dwight A. Ferrell, chief executive officer and general manager, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority; Russ Frank, chief of staff, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County; and Freddie C. Fuller II, vice president, CH2M.

Andre Gibson, board vice chairman, Memphis Area Transit Authority; Kevin J. ­Holzendorf, board of directors, secretary, Jacksonville Transportation Authority; Paul C. Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; Andrew J. Johnson, general manager, Connect Transit; Kristen Joyner, executive director, South West Transit Association; Christian T. Kent, assistant general manager, access services, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; Jeanne Krieg, chief executive officer, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority; Paul J. Larrousse, director, National Transit Institute, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Adelee Marie Le Grand, chief strategy officer, NORTA Transdev North America; Bacarra Sanderson Mauldin, secretary/treasurer, Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority; Donna P. McNamee, trustee, LAKETRAN; Diana C. Mendes, senior vice president, national transit/rail market sector leader, HNTB Corporation; Jennifer Mitchell, director, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation; Mary Jo Morandini, general manager, Beaver County Transit Authority; Jeffrey A. Nelson, general manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District; and ­Donald A. Orseno, executive director and chief executive officer, Metra.

Greg Percy, chief operating officer, Metrolinx; John R. Plante, IPEM board director and treasurer, Metra; Arun Prem, executive director, Full Access and Coordinated Transportation Inc.; Elizabeth Presutti, chief executive officer, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority; Michael Scanlon, firm of Michael J. Scanlon; Michael I. Schneider, senior vice president and managing director, global consulting practice, HDR; Patrick J. Scully, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries; Beverly S. Silas, vice chair, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Lauren Skiver, chief ­executive officer/general manager, SunLine Transit Agency; David M. Stackrow Sr., chairman, ­Capital District Transportation Authority; Lurae Stuart, senior principal technical specialist, transit and rail systems, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff; William T. Thomsen, president and chief executive officer, Urban Engineers of New York, P.C.; Peter Varga, chief executive officer, Interurban Transit Partnership; Thomas R. Waldron, global transit market sector director, HDR; Jeffrey Wharton, president, IMPulse NC LLC; Eve Williams, president/chief executive officer, Dikita Engineering; and Charles R. Wochele, managing partner/owner, TransitConsult LLC.

Port Authority Opens Reconstructed Red Line

The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh reopened the light rail Red Line between Fallowfield and Potomac stations on Sept. 25, following the successful completion of a rail reconstruction project that closed the line for six months.

“Addressing our capital needs ensures our riders the service reliability they expect and deserve,” said Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Ellen McLean.

The $8.4 million project allowed the agency to replace nearly one mile of embedded tracks and street pavement in the center lanes of a main thoroughfare. The section had come to the end of its useful life and needed to be replaced before the condition of the track worsened. Port Authority worked with community members and business owners and condensed the work into two phases during a single construction season.

The Red Line transports more than 12,000 people each day from the county’s South Hills area into Downtown Pittsburgh. During construction, Port Authority provided several alter­natives for riders, including a special rail shuttle and shuttle buses to operating rail stations.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, fourth from left, and Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean, center, join local and state officials and agency board members at the reopening of the Red Line.


SARTA Opens Hydrogen Fueling Station

As part of its effort to join the hydrogen fuel cell “revolution” with 10 fuel cell buses due to enter service in 2018, the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Canton, OH, recently opened a state-of-the-art hydrogen fueling station at its headquarters.

SARTA Chief Executive Officer Kirt Conrad noted why the agency is investing in hydrogen fuel cells: “First, our involvement will enable us to cut our fuel costs by as much as 50 percent in the years ahead, and second, to maintain our position as trailblazers in the use of green technology to fuel public transit. Additionally, this project will drive investment, research, business development and job creation here in Stark County and across our state,” he said.

When SARTA begins operating all 10 of its fuel cell vehicles, only two U.S. public transit agencies—SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms and AC Transit in Oakland, both in California—will have larger fuel cell fleets.

“Our success in obtaining funding from outside sources has enabled us to both become a national leader in transit research and technology and get the most mileage possible from the dollars we receive from our sales tax and other local sources,” Conrad said.

SARTA received $14 million from the federal Low or No-Emission Bus Program, $4 million from the National Fuel Cell Bus Program and $1 million each from Ohio DOT and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.

SARTA scheduled the opening one day before the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition’s 2016 Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium at Stark State College in Canton, held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiencies and Renewable Energy. Conrad moderated a session on supply chain opportunities for Ohio companies during the symposium.

“One goal SARTA has for being involved in commercialization of the fuel cell buses is to create economic opportunities and create jobs in Ohio,” he said. “We want to keep Ohio in a leadership position in the zero-emission market.”

The agency’s investment in alternative-fueled vehicles also includes 40 buses fueled by CNG, built by Gillig and other companies, and a CNG fueling station.

Sacramento Reopens Light Rail Station

At ceremonies Sept. 27, the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) reopened its 7th & Capitol light rail station, which had been closed since May to undergo substantial renovations.

RT General Manager Henry Li called the opening “a monumental event in Sac RT’s history. The 7th & Capitol Station is at the heart of so much energy and activity in Sacramento. We are proud to reopen this station and encourage everyone to try riding RT.”

The $1.89 million upgrade (funded by the state) is part of a $6.7 million project to improve stations throughout the system.

The 7th & Capitol Station serves the California State ­Capitol and the new Golden 1 Center. Improvements include two new bus shelters, station furniture, lighting and signage.

Guests on the platform at RT’s reopened 7th & Capitol Station.


APTA Delegation Makes Exploratory Trip to Cuba; Leaders Cultivate New Insights and Relationships

A delegation of 15 APTA members and partners participated in a study mission to Havana, Cuba, Sept. 26-30 to gain an understanding of the country’s political, economic and social climate and to explore how Cuban officials plan and manage transportation and infrastructure projects.

Valarie J. McCall, APTA immediate past chair and board member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Patrick Scully, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries, and immediate past chair, Business Member Board of Governors; and Frank Jackson, mayor of Cleveland, led the delegation. APTA Vice President-Policy Art Guzzetti provided staff support for the study mission.

The group examined Cuba’s mobility services, vehicles and infrastructure. It has been more than 60 years since American public transportation officials have had a dialogue with their Cuban peers.

The trip, which was organized with support from the Center for Democracy for the Americas, was also an ­opportunity to learn more about the country, its culture and its people.

The itinerary included meetings with Cuban officials, U.S. diplomats, entrepreneurs, small business owners, academics, economists and urban planners. Highlights included a meeting with Warnel Lores Mora, counselor of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, and Scott Hamilton, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The trip was a key element of McCall’s initiative to pursue new avenues of outreach, engagement and collaboration.
APTA is developing a report that will describe the complete findings of the mission.

APTA’s delegation to Cuba included APTA board member Patrick Scully and Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall, third and fourth from left, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, center. Participants explored a wide range of collaboration opportunities related to city-based and national public transit.

Photo courtesy of Art Guzzetti


NWS Survey Seeks Data on Weather Advisories

NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) is seeking feedback in a survey gauging how decision-makers, such as transportation managers, use NWS watches, warnings and advisories.

The survey is part of the NWS Hazard Simplification Project to analyze the use and effectiveness of NWS watches, warnings and advisories and evaluate possible alternatives to these terms.

The survey will assess the extent to which organizations at all levels and in various sectors have formally incorporated such weather-related notices into their decision-making processes via policies, protocols, laws and similar procedures. For instance, the survey will determine if transportation agencies or companies have a written policy that determines specific processes and pro­cedures if NWS issues a blizzard watch.

The survey closes after Oct. 31. To take it, click here.

Find details on the Hazard Simplification Project here and send questions or comments here.

Cuomo Announces $1.6B P3 Plan for Transit Hub

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently released plans for a $1.6 billion P3 to transform the historic James A. Farley Post Office, adjacent to Manhattan’s Penn Station, into a transportation hub that expands access to Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

The develop-build team, which includes Skanska AB, will create the 255,000-square-foot Moynihan Train Hall in the former post office to house passenger facilities, 112,000 square feet of retail and nearly 588,000 square feet of office space.

The new train hall will have more space than Grand Central’s main concourse, Cuomo noted, and will expand the overall capacity of Penn Station, which Cuomo said serves twice as many passengers as JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports combined.

The private partners have provided guarantees to complete the project on time and will pay the state approximately $600 million in recognition of the value of the development opportunity. The project balance includes $570 million from Empire State Development, a state economic development agency, and $425 million from federal sources, Amtrak, LIRR and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Preconstruction work will begin this fall, with completion expected by December 2020.

In other news related to Penn Station’s redevelopment, Cuomo said the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) expects to award a contract by the end of 2016 for a redesign of LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to nearby subway stations. The LIRR redesign is scheduled to be finished by the completed renovation of the Moynihan Train Hall.

An artist’s panoramic view of the Moynihan Train Hall and its Amtrak and LIRR facilities.

Art courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


White House Adds $80 Million to Smart Cities Initiative; Chattanooga to Receive Funding to Test Self-Driving Vehicles

Urban transportation projects will receive more than $15 million in new federal grants and planned funding as part of an $80 million expansion to the White House Smart Cities Initiative, announced at a Sept. 26 event to kick off Smart Cities Week.

The funding will help National ­Science Foundation researchers in Chattanooga, TN, test, for the first time, how an entire urban network of connected and autonomous vehicles can improve travel efficiency and operate safely during severe weather events. The Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority is not included in this grant.

The expansion also includes $10 million to expand the Department of Energy (DOE) SMART Mobility Consortium to support smart, energy-efficient urban transportation systems and establish a “Technologist in Cities” pilot in Columbus, OH (winner of the DOT 2016 Smart City Challenge), and Detroit.

In addition to the $15 million in transportation grants, the White House announced other funding for the initiative that would help cities address energy and climate challenges and boost public safety and disaster response, bringing the number of cities participating in the initiative to more than 70.

For details, click here.

New Datwyler Sealing Solutions CEO

The Datwyler Group announced the appointment of Torsten Maschke as chief executive officer for its Sealing Solutions Division. He succeeds Dirk Lambrecht, who will become chief executive officer of the entire Datwyler Group on Jan. 1.

The ­Datwyler Sealing Solutions Division supplies sealing, closure and packaging solutions to industries, including transportation, civil engineering, healthcare and ­consumer goods.

Rep. Davis Visits Connect Transit

Connect Transit in Normal, IL, welcomed Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), center, a member of the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee, to its offices as part of his Oct. 4 “Transit Tour” of central Illinois communities. Davis discussed infrastructure funding issues with General Manager Andrew Johnson, left, and agency staff members during his visit. At right is Mike McCurdy, vice chairman of the Connect Transit Board of Trustees.


Up Close and Personal: Community Tours Honolulu's First Train

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) recently invited Honolulu area residents to visit and board the agency’s first train. “We are proud to present this wonderful opportunity for community members to see and learn about Honolulu’s impressive Train #1. Honolulu will be the first driverless rail system in the nation,” said Howard Garval and Connie Lau, co-chairs of Move Oahu Forward, a nonpartisan coalition of Hawaii business and community leaders that partnered with HART to host the event, which was held at HART’s Rail Operations Center.

Cubic Transportation Systems Opens Global Operations Centre in U.K.

Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a business unit of Cubic Corporation, recently opened its new Global Operations Centre (GOC) in the northeastern part of the United Kingdom, an existing base of Cubic resources and infrastructure and the home of its intelligent transportation management system operations.

The facility operates around the clock, providing customers worldwide with central service desk operations and more skilled and specialized interventions to remotely resolve issues or improve performance.

“Our services business today supports a comprehensive range of operations and maintenance needs for transportation authorities around the world, ranging from public transport to traffic management for roads and highways. As our first global operations hub, the GOC will augment our services operations already on site in these multiple locations,” said Min Wei, CTS senior vice president, operations.

FTA Issues Revised EEO Guidance

FTA recently published revised guidance on complying with federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) guidelines to help public transit agency leaders better understand and follow EEO requirements to prohibit workplace discrimination and stay current with federal laws that impact civil rights.

EEO requirements protect against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, genetic information, disability or veteran status. In the agency’s first revision of EEO guidance since 1988, the revised circular highlights such changes as protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. It also spells out new reporting requirements; agencies with more than 100 employees now need to submit EEO programs to FTA every four years rather than every three.

Agencies with 50-99 public transit employees are required to prepare and maintain the major elements of an EEO program to provide to FTA upon request.

Find the text of the circular here.

CDTA 'Tickled Pink' to Support Breast Cancer Outreach

The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, NY, led by CEO Carm Basile, far left, is once again partnering with the American Cancer Society in its fight against breast cancer. CDTA is raising awareness of the disease by turning one seat pink on each of its BusPlus BRT buses during October, designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition to the pink seats, CDTA is placing pink hangtags in the buses that feature a breast cancer fact and information about the city’s Oct. 16 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, for which the agency will provide free transportation from downtown.

FTA Publishes New TAM Materials

FTA’s Transit Asset Management (TAM) final rule became effective Oct. 1 and, as part of the agency’s technical assistance to transit providers in implementing the rule, FTA has published new materials, including a webinar series, presentations and updated FAQs.


Letting the Public Lead the Way: How--and Why--Austin's Capital Metro Incorporates Extensive Public Feedback Into System Planning

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority President/CEO
Austin, TX

Contrary to what some people may think, we transit agencies don’t design services on a whim, nor do we do it in a vacuum. And statistical data, for all of its scientific validity and concrete value, can only provide us with a portion of the information we need to make smart planning decisions. The rest has to come from those we serve—our community.

At Capital Metro, we put a lot of stock into community involvement. It’s not just a check-the-box activity for us; we really want to know what the public thinks. And we really do use that feedback in our decision-making process to improve service. We want to hear from everyone—those who ride frequently, occasional transit users, even drivers who love their cars and would never even think of taking the bus!

For starters, here are some of the basic things we’re curious about:

* What do you like or dislike about our services?
* What would make you ride more often?
* What could induce you to ride for the first time?
* What would it take to make that behavior stick?

Getting answers is not as simple as it seems, however. For one thing, there’s a lot of clutter and noise out there, with so many things competing for people’s attention. So sometimes people don’t know we’re asking the questions. Many others don’t have the time or inclination to come to public meetings, no matter how convenient you make them.

Sure, we all have our “regulars” who seem to attend these, but they’re usually the ones with something to advocate for or who simply have the time on their hands to attend. And while their opinions absolutely matter, their voices represent only a small portion of the community at-large.

Go Where Riders Are

Getting feedback from all the others takes creativity, flexibility and good old-fashioned determination. For one thing, we have to be willing to go to where people are—rather than hope they seek us out. But where are they?

Unfortunately, that’s a moving target. In Austin, the rapid rise of property values and resulting changes in many of our neighborhoods have shifted demographics. New waves of immigrants from as close as Mexico and Central America to as far away as Bangladesh add language and cultural dimensions to the challenge. On top of that, it takes a lot of human resources to go where people are. It can get expensive and is very taxing on staff.

For Connections 2025, Capital Metro’s big bus service redesign, we did our best to maximize our reach without overburdening our resources. We identified community events and gathering spots all over the city that were likely to draw large crowds. These ranged from the Chinese New Year Festival to the city’s iconic Kite Festival in Zilker Park.

We dedicated a branded “engagement bus” to create a presence at those events and used the bus for meeting people at places like bus and rail stations and farmers’ markets as well. Using this approach, we had more than 2,700 in-person conversations and received more than 6,000 surveys submitted in person and online.

Lessons Learned
Along the way, we learned a lot of useful lessons. Even when you catch people where they are, it has to be in a context where they’re in the right frame of mind to give you feedback.

The Austin Marathon, for example, attracts thousands of spectators who line the streets around town. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to intercept people from all over the city to gather input on Connections 2025. We quickly learned, though, that people didn’t want to be distracted from watching their friends and family members running in the race. So although we came up nearly empty-handed on that one, it informed our next attempts, which proved to be more successful.

Another surefire tactic we employ is to always show up at big events with plenty of swag. After all, everyone loves free stuff, right? But while we know that giveaways work wonders to attract ­people, it’s easy to run out too quickly. At the Kite Festival, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors this year, we learned to use our freebies wisely. Instead of giving them out to just anyone who stopped by our booth, we used it to reward people who were willing to talk to us. We managed to get meaningful feedback from more than 300 people that day.

Trial and error is just part of good community involvement. You have to be willing to fail. And when you do, you have to regroup and try something else. The point is to keep trying.

Will the same strategies work for every initiative? Of course not. Like I said, public opinion is a moving target. But it’s definitely one worth chasing.

Before joining Capital Metro in August 2010, Watson was chief executive officer, Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando; general manager, ­Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority; and assistant general manager, Fort Worth Transpor­tation Authority.

For more news about Capital Metro in this issue, see the “Meet the Member” ­profile on Beverly Silas, vice chair.

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


Meet Beverly Silas!

Vice Chair
Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Austin, TX
Member, APTA Executive Committee, Task Force on Member Collaboration, Transit Board Members and Awards committees

Please describe your agency’s scope.

Capital Metro is the Austin area’s public transportation provider. We’ve been around since 1985, giving residents, commuters and visitors the best possible transit options to match their busy lives.

The agency provides service to more than 31 million riders each year and has spent much of the past few years investing in the region’s mobility with high-­capacity solutions like MetroRapid, which moves more people at less cost and with less environmental impact. We are now entering an exciting phase of development that will see the transformation of our bus system with the goal of increasing the frequency and reliability of our service. Once those changes are implemented, ­Capital Metro riders will be able to take advantage of a truly connected transit system.

What attracted your interest in the industry?
I’ve been involved in public transit all my life. We didn’t own a car when I was growing up in Houston, so we took the bus to school, church, downtown shopping, to see family and friends … everywhere.When I came to Austin to college, I rode Greyhound back and forth between ­college and home. It was just a given. I didn’t purchase a car until I was in my mid-20s.

That experience helps me as a board member when people come to meetings with questions. I can remember standing right where they are standing, which helps me more easily empathize and sympathize with them.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.

I joined the Capital Metro board in January 2010 and attended my first APTA conference—the Legislative Conference—that March. I joined the Transit Board Members Committee at that time. My other involvement [besides those noted above] includes serving on the CEO Search Task Force. In 2015 I served on the Nominations Committee and I headed one of the teams for the APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration.

I also have been a moderator and panelist at various conferences and I was the program chair for the Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar in 2013.

Which APTA benefit helps you most?

The number one benefit for me is the educational conferences and seminars. APTA does an excellent job in bringing together experts from all over the world on various topics.

Second, I meet other people in the industry, which adds to my knowledge and social infrastructure. I can pick up the phone or send an email to the people I’ve met. They are a great resource.

It was also rewarding to serve on the Nominations Committee. I got to learn more about the people applying to the APTA board. That’s when I really got to learn about them in depth—especially the benefits they bring to their properties and communities.

I go to Legislative Committee meetings, which are beneficial in learning how federal legislation impacts local laws in other states.

The knowledge I get and the contacts I make help me do my job as a board member and make decisions that benefit our stakeholders.

What do you like most about your involvement and service?

It’s the fact that I’ve been able to serve on the board and serve my community. My community involvement is very deep and was part of my job as the director of external affairs for AT&T in the five-county Austin area.

I was the “go-to” for people and organizations, and when I retired after 32 years, I knew everyone and they knew me. I couldn’t just go home and sit down. When I was asked to serve on the board, it was a way to continue serving my community.

I also enjoy educating young people and students at all levels about transit’s career options—especially girls.

What would readers be surprised to learn about your agency?
I was familiar with Capital Metro, but when I became a board member, I found out how knowledgeable the people here are, how smart and awesome they are. They work hard every day because they love the work. I often think that when their big toe hits the floor every morning, they wonder ‘what can I do today to make things better?’ They go out of their way to serve the public, whether the public knows about it or not.

Also, Capital Metro is the first transit property in Texas (maybe the country) to put all of its financials—including its check register—online. We’re all about total transparency.


Getting Creative in Financing Regional Projects; Ballot Measures, P3s, Leveraging Properties Among Methods

Representatives of public transit agencies and businesses reported on P3s, regional programs and revenue-generating measures for infrastructure construction and system operation at an Annual Meeting session titled “Creative Funding and Finance Approaches with Public and Private ­Partners.”

The session featured two panels. The first focused on funding and financing, with presentations by Peter Rogoff, chief executive officer of Seattle’s Sound Transit; Michael Ford, chief executive officer, Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA), Detroit; and Alice N. Bravo, director, Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works, and a member of the APTA Board of Directors.

Rogoff described the 25-year, $54 billion “Sound Transit 3 (ST3)” plan on the Nov. 8 ballot in the three counties served by the agency. If approved, ST3 will add 62 new miles of light rail, establish two BRT routes, expand capacity and service for Sounder commuter rail and provide for improvements in ST Express bus service, access and parking.

“We, like other megaregions, are growing faster than our transportation network can serve,” he said. “We’re seeing new and life-changing dynamics for the Pacific Northwest—what once was a 25-minute commute may now take 45 minutes on a good day.”

Funding would come from increases in motor-vehicle excise, property and sales taxes totaling $169 a year ($14 a month) per individual. The taxes would raise an estimated $27 billion, which would be combined with other state, federal and bond revenues.

Rogoff also spoke about other funding opportunities for ST3, including a P3 with BNSF regarding commuter rail and the potential for federal RRIF funds.

Ford’s agency also has a ballot issue this year, with voters in four counties considering a 1.2-mill property tax for BRT and a commuter rail line between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

He explained that the regional authority was established in 2012 and it serves four different transit operators in four counties with both urban and suburban populations. “We want to ­create synergy and connections among the four counties,” Ford said.

Ford said RTA will create a regional master plan that would fill in service gaps: developing BRT on major lines to transport workers to jobs, introducing service in areas that don’t currently have public transit, adding service to underserved regions and providing universal access with a regional farecard and paratransit.

Bravo spoke about how Miami had planned for service expansions in the 1990s that were never built, except for service to the airport. She emphasized the importance of P3, which she said can balance funding and risk between private and public sectors.

For example, she said, her agency is considering a P3 for building and operating CNG buses and garages that would generate revenue by selling fuel to certified non-transit fleets during off hours. The private partner would design, build, operate and maintain the fueling stations.

Bravo also noted that the system is considering a 30-year plan that would advance service along six corridors, including a streetcar to Miami Beach. “The strategic question is what to do first,” she said.

The second panel reported on alternative ways to generate revenues, including public transit commuter benefits, property management and private funding for station development.

Daniel Neuburger, president of ­WageWorks Inc., and Meltem Korkmazel, chief operating officer, commuter benefits solutions, for Edenred USA, reported on the “win-win-win” of public transit benefit programs. Employers who provide the benefit and employees who receive it save on taxes, and more transit use means fewer vehicles on the road and less greenhouse gases going into the environment.

Neuberger explained the concept of “price elasticity,” where changes in quantity relate to changes in price. Specifically, when the cost of public transit rises, ridership falls, and when costs decline, ridership tends to increase. Transit benefits help by reducing the effective fare price, he said.

Korkmazel called commuter benefits “an important, underused tool” that could be better promoted to commuters and, perhaps, schools.

Charles Di Maggio, chief operating officer and counsel, Greystone Management Solutions, said public transit agencies might find new revenues by rethinking the use of properties they already own. He cited the trend of transit systems working with private real estate firms for asset management and revenue development through repurposing, development or disposal.

Derrick Cheung, vice president of strategic sourcing and real estate for TransLink, New Westminster, BC, picked up on Di Maggio’s theme, saying transit agencies can work together with stakeholders to reap benefits.

For example, he said, population is growing around TransLink stations. The agency is working to facilitate TOD and transit-oriented communities, integrating development with the stations themselves and using private funds to rejuvenate public infrastructure. Developers of a privately funded station might partner with local government to build the neighborhood.

APTA board member Jeffrey D. Ensor, chair of the Public-Private Partnerships Committee and director, project delivery and finance, Maryland Transit Administration, served as moderator.

HNTB Corporation sponsored the session.

Public transit officials who presented funding and financing case studies at the session, from left: Alice Bravo, Michael Ford, Peter Rogoff and moderator Jeffrey Ensor. Reporting on alternative methods of revenue generation were, from left, Charles Di Maggio, Derrick Cheung and Meltem Korkmazel. Not shown is Daniel Neuberger, who presented with Korkmazel.


Smaller Agencies Share Challenges, Successes

Chief executives of smaller public transit agencies discussed the unique challenges they face—such as increasing efficiency on a limited budget, reaching out to stakeholders in their communities, and meeting the disparate needs of specific areas—at an Annual Meeting session titled “Leading the Way: Small Operations Best Practices and Innovative Solutions.”

“You can never build enough political capital,” Andrew J. Johnson, general manager of Connect Transit in Normal, IL, said about his agency’s recent complete route redesign. Implementation of the new route system followed an 18-month planning process and more than 100 public meetings.

Johnson, also a member of the APTA Board of Directors and chair of the Small Operations Committee, said the purpose of the route overhaul was to improve the efficiency of the system by making the routes more direct. The new routes provide 97 percent of previous coverage while operating every 10-15 minutes at peak hours.

He also recommended that public transit agencies develop positive relationships with local media and reach out to make front-line employees part of the process.

David Cangany, general manager and chief executive officer, South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (Transpo), South Bend, IN, reported on how his agency leveraged strategic partnerships to yield more than $8 million in capital improvements. Transpo converted its fleet to CNG, received a grant toward the cost of a fueling center and then worked with its MPO to receive the remaining funds.

Paul E. Davis, general manager and chief executive officer, Tri-State Transit Authority (TTA), Huntington, WV, described the challenges of operating a public transit system in a district that covers counties in three states (West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio), three FTA regions and two MPOs. He explained that Huntington did not expect to be federally designated as a Transportation Management Area, but it was. 

Davis said each MPO, state and county has its own requirements, and TTA has to work closely with each one and build cooperation among them to achieve its goals.

Kimberly A. Dunham, executive director, Greater New Haven Transit ­District, Hamden, CT, spoke about her agency’s implementation of strategic change. The transit district provides paratransit services to Connecticut Transit.

She listed ways she needed to stream­line operations: the internal and external communications staffs were in separate silos and didn’t talk to each other, not every department could access all the information it needed and the system was not meeting its core service applications.

The agency has turned around, she said, by emphasizing customer service and finding ways to save money (such as investing in minivans that can operate in places regular paratransit vehicles cannot). Dunham’s efforts include forging a team from internal and external stakeholders, implementing software innovations and building camaraderie.

Louwana S. Oliva, general manager, Centre Area Transportation Authority, State College, PA, and vice chair, Human Resources Committee, moderated the session. 

Panelists at the “Leading the Way” session, from left: Andrew Johnson, Connect Transit; David Cangany, South Bend Public Transportation Corporation; Paul Davis, Tri-State Transit Authority; and Kimberly Dunham, Greater New Haven Transit District.


Smart Cities: Reimagining Transportation

What makes a city smart? Speakers at the “Smart ­Cities: Reimagining Transportation” session—led by W. Curtis Stitt, president/chief executive officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus, recently named the winner of DOT’s Smart City Challenge—described ways in which information technology connections will help public transit provide better and more comprehensive service.

“We need smart people as well as smart systems,” said Stitt, a member of the APTA Board of Directors and chair of the Mid-Size Operations Committee. He said the members of the “Smart Columbus” effort, which created the Smart City Challenge plan, are “all thinking about the same things—how to improve communities with the best technologies.”Calling Columbus “already a pretty smart city,” Stitt noted that local businesses have pledged $90 million for the Smart City effort along with the $40 million Smart City Challenge grant and a $10 million pledge from Vulcan Inc.

One goal he cited was to expand public transit routes to connect underserved neighborhoods to the rest of the city. Stitt also said COTA’s CMAX BRT line, now under construction, will spur investment, which he said will help bring technological opportunities to residents and businesses along its corridor. He added that future high-capacity driverless vehicles will connect public transit to businesses and other destinations.

Moderator Polly Trottenberg, commissioner, New York City DOT, noted that while this is a “very exciting time for urban transportation,” concerns remain about dealing with technology overload and creating connections among existing tech systems.

Panelists who brought other perspectives to the discussion were Neil J. Pedersen, executive director, Transportation Research Board; Alain Flausch, secretary general, UITP (International Association of Public Transport), Brussels, Belgium; and Philippe Schnobb, chairman of the board, Société de transport de Montréal (STM).

Pedersen shared the Smart Cities Council’s definition of a smart city: It “uses information and communications technology to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability.” Such a city requires a system-wide, integrated approach, which depends on gathering data that civic leaders can turn into usable information.

“We know what we should do. Doing it is the difficult part,” said Flausch. He emphasized the important role of public transportation in creating a smart city by listening to the public and making changes one step at a time.

Schnobb said Montréal was named “Intelligent Community of the Year” for 2016 by the nonprofit, international Intelligent Community Forum. Regarding STM, he talked about the agency making open data available for app development, adding interactive signage to bus shelters, installing recharging ports in buses and providing Wi-Fi ­connections in stations.

Accenture sponsored the session.

Update, DBE Programs and Best Practices

In the “Update on the ­Federal DBE Program” Annual Meeting ­session, federal, state and local DBE program administrators provided overviews on key program elements and recent changes, including payment requirements.

Linda Ford, FTA associate administrator for civil rights, said one of the most important program changes was the reinforcement of prompt payment requirements. New guidance requires the prime contractor to bill on a regular cycle when entering into a contract. It also requires a public transit agency to ensure that prime contractors are promptly paying upon their receipt of progress payments.

Ford pointed out that a number of states have even more stringent prompt payment regulations than the federal requirements. In those cases, the more stringent requirements need to be applied to comply with both the federal and state regulations.

Angela de la Rosa, certification manager, centralized certification administration, Los Angeles World Airports, spoke about their process for overseeing DBE certification and participation in the California Unified Certification Program (CUCP), which she called a “one-stop shopping” program. The CUCP eliminates the need for a DBE to obtain certifications from multiple agencies within the state. (For details, click here.)

California’s statewide database includes certified firms eligible for contracts as well as those suspended from program participation. She also noted that many of the participating agencies are transportation authorities.

Tashai R. Smith, deputy executive officer, diversity and economic opportunity department, LA Metro, discussed her agency’s successful Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program, which paves the way for small businesses to bid on and win non-federally funded contracts as prime contractors.

SBE set-aside applicable contracts enable small businesses to compete only against other small businesses for projects up to $5 million, as well as projects under $100,000, she explained. Only LA Metro-certified SBEs can participate in the SBE Program. LA Metro has created an online vendor portal of contracting opportunities and programs accessible here.

Janice R. Thomas, senior director, office of business diversity and civil rights, Metra, Chicago, stressed the importance of having a program that is “real and sustainable.” The proper staff and CEO support is key to successfully administering the program, she said.

“Be a whiner if you have to,” she told the audience. “Whine to your CEO or whoever you report to. Whine constantly that you need sufficient staffing. It is hard to be the program certifier, compliance officer, set goals and do outreach without the necessary resources.”

It’s not enough to be diligent about certification, Thomas added. Monitoring to avoid fraud, enforcing compliance and providing proper program oversight of contracts are critical. “You have to be involved in monitoring the contract from beginning to end with constant documentation,” she explained.

Brenda R. Nnambi, chair of APTA’s Procurement & Materials Management DBE Subcommittee and manager, diversity and small business development, Sound Transit, Seattle, moderated the session.

Panelists were, from left, Linda Ford, FTA; Angela de la Rosa, Los Angeles World Airports; Tashai R. Smith, LA Metro; Janice R. Thomas, Metra, Chicago; and Brenda R. Nnambi, Sound Transit, Seattle, at the podium.

APTF Awards Lichtanski Scholarship

Carl Sedoryk, center, general manager/chief executive officer, Monterey-Salinas (CA) Transit (MST), accepted the 2016 Frank J. Lichtanski Scholarship on behalf of Joshua Baker, lower left photo, general manager of the Lynchburg (VA) Transit Company, at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Baker was unable to attend the ceremony. Presiding at the ceremony were, from left, APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White, APTF Chair Jennifer Mitchell, APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and APTF Board Member Anne Louise Rice. The scholarship, established by APTF in memory of Lichtanski, longtime MST general manager, annually provides $2,500 to an eligible candidate from a small- or medium-sized agency to attend the Eno Center for Transportation’s Transit Senior Executive Program. Lichtanski is a member of the APTA Hall of Fame. For details about APTF scholarships, contact Pam Boswell.


APTA Report: Transit Riders Save $9.6K Annually as Gas Prices Rise

Commuters who switch from driving a car to taking public transit can save, on average, $9,686 a year or about $807 a month, according to APTA’s September Transit Savings Report, which analyzes the costs associated with both types of ­commuting.

The September report calculates the national average cost of gasoline at $2.21 per gallon, as reported by AAA (a jump of 8 cents compared to August), and the national unreserved parking rate at $166.26 monthly, according to the Colliers International Parking Rate Study.Specifically, the report estimates the savings for an individual in a two-­person household who switches to public transportation and lives with one fewer car.

Find other details and a list of average monthly and annual savings for commuters in the 20 U.S. cities with the highest public transit ridership here. The list factors in local costs for gas prices and monthly parking rates.

Photo Invitational Now Open

APTA invites public transportation professionals to submit their best high-resolution photos of public transit in their communities by Oct. 27 to participate in the 17th Annual Photo Invitational.

The winning photos, focusing on how a community uses public transportation and the involvement of employees in their organization’s mission, will appear in the 2017 APTA Calendar. The invitational is open to all APTA agency and business members.

All photos must be submitted via the online entry form. Entrants must be logged in to MyAPTA to complete the form and upload photos. Individuals without accounts can register for one at the APTA website.

For questions and details, contact Stephen Kendrick.


FTA, NTI Announce EJ Course

FTA and the National Transit Institute (NTI) have announced a training course for employees of public transit agencies, MPOs, state DOTs and U.S. DOT, Introduction to Environmental Justice (EJ), Oct. 24-25 at DOT headquarters in Washington, DC.

The course offers pointers for transportation professionals when considering EJ in planning and project development while providing the basic tenets of EJ principles as a civil rights matter. It satisfies the EJ requirements issued by executive order, DOT order and an FTA circular.

The course is designed to help participants identify the difference between Title VI and environmental justice, discuss the importance of environmental justice and how it affects transportation decision-making, and understand the compliance process for planning and implementing under the National Environmental Policy Act.

For more information, including who is eligible to attend free, contact Ginny Stern. To register, click here.

NYC Transit Reopens Renovated Brooklyn Subway Stations

MTA New York City Transit recently reopened two elevated stations in Brooklyn after closing them in April for renewal work as part of an $88 million capital project to rehabilitate seven stations.

Improvements to the Saratoga Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue stations include new ADA tactile warning strips, columns and mezzanine floors, windscreens, platform lighting, benches, trash receptacles, guardrails, painting and a reconfigured fare control area to facilitate customer flow. The agency will continue working on the stations to install windows and an exterior façade to the mezzanine.

NYC Transit operated free shuttle bus service during the closures.

Maryland MTA Launches Bus Line in BaltimoreLink Roll Out

As part of the BaltimoreLink public transit improvement plan to better connect people to employment centers, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recently opened a commuter bus route to the largest employer in Harford County, MD, about 35 miles northeast of Baltimore.

The new commuter bus route is one of three such lines called for in the multi-year plan.

“We are committed to delivering a new and improved transit system to connect Marylanders in Greater Baltimore to jobs more reliably and efficiently,” said Gov. Larry Hogan.

“While our commuter bus service has traditionally been designed to bring people to jobs in downtown Baltimore, these new BaltimoreLink enhancements will now connect Baltimore city and Baltimore County residents to regional employers in Harford County,” said MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort. MTA is a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

BaltimoreLink, introduced in 2015, provides a long-range framework for developing an interconnected public transit system by redesigning the MTA’s local and express bus systems and adding 12 new high-frequency bus routes that improve connections to jobs and to MTA’s commuter rail, light rail and bus systems.

Specifically, BaltimoreLink features bus-only dedicated lanes, installation of transit signal prioritization, construction of a transfer hub network, rebranding and replacing signage, expanded commuter bus service, bicycle amenities and access to car sharing options.

For details, click here.

Metrolinx Orders 125 Railcars

Metrolinx in Toronto has exercised options for 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 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 & 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. Bombardier has extensive experience delivering coaches for us over nearly four decades and we are confident they can meet the order.”

McCuaig noted that service improvements like this one will roll out continuously during GO Transit’s 10-year expansion program. The 125 new railcars will help the system meet its five-year service expansion plans.

The new railcars can be used by either diesel or electric locomotives, supporting GO Transit’s plans to introduce electric operations while maintaining some diesel service in select areas.

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.

Muni's Heritage Weekend Showcases 'Boat Tram'

Guests at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) recent fifth annual Muni Heritage Weekend celebration rode free on Streetcar No. 228, an open-air “boat tram” from Blackpool, England, built in 1934. SFMTA, operator of the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), and its historic preservation partner, Market Street Railway, restored vintage buses, trolleybuses and five historic streetcars to service for the event. The celebration also included historical photos displayed on buses and special exhibits and memorabilia at the San Francisco Railway Museum. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Muni’s first trolley coach line.

Industry Briefs

New Tools for Ann Arbor Riders — The Ann Arbor Area (MI) Transportation Authority recently redesigned its homepage to highlight new tools that can help riders plan their trips, track buses in real time and customize route schedules. The agency also is installing electronic boarding information signs at its transit centers.

Interactive DART Kiosk at Dallas Love Field — Air travelers arriving at Dallas Love Field Airport can plan their ground travel on Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) with a ConnectPoint® Interactive Touchscreen Kiosk from CHK America installed by DART at the airport. The web-enabled kiosk integrates with tracking and location systems, scheduling systems and other DART information systems to provide comprehensive information to customers.

Laketran’s New, Clean Buses — Laketran in Lake County, OH, recently took delivery of 10 clean diesel commuter buses from Motor Coach Industries, replacing vehicles from 1998. The agency received the largest federal grant in its history—$4.89 million in Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds—for the buses, which operate between Lake County and downtown Cleveland.

BART Rewards Off-Peak ­Riders — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District and San Francisco County Transportation Authority recently launched a six-month pilot program that offers riders the chance to win cash rewards by shifting their travel times away from the peak morning hours. Points accrued through the “BART Perks” program can be exchanged for small cash rewards or used to play the “Spin to Win” game for the chance to pick up additional points or random cash rewards.


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.

FORT WORTH, TX—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority has promoted Detra Whitmore to vice president of administration from her previous position as director of administration. Whitmore joined the agency in 2005.

LOS ANGELES—Duarte Councilmember John Fasana is the chair of the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors, succeeding Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Fasana has represented the San Gabriel Valley on the board since its inception in 1993 and previously served as board chair in Fiscal Year 2001-2002. He currently serves as chair of the Executive Management Committee. He has served on the Duarte City Council since 1987 and was mayor on five occasions.

Also, through a partnership between Los Angeles Metro and Ernst & Young, experts from Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors LLC including Tom Rousakis and Tuyen Mai will act as Metro’s P3 financial advisor, assisting Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation in evaluating infrastructure financing proposals as part of Metro’s new Unsolicited Proposal Policy.

CINCINNATI—David Riposo has joined Cincinnati Metro as chief financial officer.

Riposo has more than 20 years of experience in the finance industry, most recently as vice president and treasurer of Novitex Enterprise Solutions. His previous employers include the Chicago Transit Authority.

CHICAGO—Metra has named Janice R. Thomas its first senior division director of diversity and civil rights, a position created to elevate Metra’s commitment and exposure to diversity and inclusion efforts. She has been the senior director of the agency’s Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights since 2010.

Thomas has more than 17 years of experience in government, with a concentration in supplier diversity. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2013 and a member of several APTA committees.

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Institute of Transportation Engineers honored Praveen Pasumarthy, a 12-year employee of CDM Smith, with the Young Member of the Year Award and the Past Presidents’ Award for Merit in Transportation.

The Young Member of the Year Award recognizes members under the age of 35 who have already shown exemplary ability and leadership. The Past Presidents’ Award for Merit in Transportation highlights the accomplishments of promising, young engineers.

PITTSBURGH—Michael Baker International has announced the appointments of ­Bonnie D. Shepherd as senior vice president and national market lead in the railroad and transit practice, based in ­Baltimore, and Jennifer Lewis as director of the company’s southeast region, based in Orlando.

Shepherd has almost 30 years of rail and public transit experience, working most recently as vice president of corporate strategy at Systra USA and earlier as vice president of marketing and business development at Hatch Mott McDonald.

She is a board member and former chair of the American Public Transportation Foundation and a coach for the APTA Early Career Program.

Lewis is a 22-year veteran of the engineering industry in central Florida. She most recently served as associate vice president for T.Y. Lin International in Orlando and was the Central Florida area manager for Parsons Transportation Group.