Passenger Transport - October 21, 2016
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IN DEPTH

Grassroots Advocacy Takes Root; How Public Transit Agencies Cultivate Successful Ballot Initiatives

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



BY RYAN HOLEYWELL

When voters go to the polls in a few weeks, in addition to ­electing the president and members of Congress, many will also be deciding the outcome of nearly $200 billion in investments for transportation— an unprecedented level of funding.

These initiatives are years in the making, starting with far-sighted planning, long-range forecasting, deep local grassroots outreach and ambitious ideas about the transformational role public transportation has in strengthening communities and improving the quality of life for individuals.

What does it take to get from a vision to a vote? What’s the appropriate role of public transportation agencies in advancing a positive outcome? What lessons can be learned from an initiative that loses?

Passenger Transport
explores the power, scope and influence of grassroots advocacy in this article.

At a time when anti-tax advocates are a powerful political force, the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) in Genesee County, MI, did something unprecedented: Twice, in just three months, it asked voters to approve taxes for public transit.

First, in August 2014, MTA asked them to renew a property tax for public transit that had been on the books for years. Then in November, it came back with another request—this time, to approve a new tax.

“I would not prescribe that anyone else do that,” said Edgar Benning, general manager and chief executive officer of MTA, which serves Flint and Genesee County. (This type of vote, based on millage, is typically for operating funds and usually renewable—once every five or 10 years, for example.)

The unprecedented request came as Michigan enacted property tax reforms that threatened agency resources, while at the same time MTA and other transit providers were suffering from declining state support. As a result, Benning said, the agency opted to pursue its first new transit tax in 17 years.

Benning said the agency had to pursue a relentless outreach campaign to convince voters—even those who tend to support public transit—of the merits of the agency’s unusual approach.

“This was our pitch: ‘We don’t want to do this, but we’ve got to have an increase, and if we don’t, we could find ourselves having to do service reductions’,” Benning recalled. MTA relentlessly made that case to every civic group that would listen.

Eventually, the new tax passed—with just 50.4 percent of the vote.

“The community, I think, really likes this organization,” Benning said. “I think they recognize they’re getting a good value for the investment.”

Growing Trends
Those relationships are poised to become even more critical for transit agencies as they increasingly ask voters directly for additional funding. Agencies are making their appeals to voters for two overarching reasons—the demand for more service and the reality of scarce resources.

First, a growing interest in urban living and public transit is leading some residents to demand more of their transit systems. Riders are no longer satisfied with good service. They want more—and extended—service, new facilities and shelters, environmentally friendly vehicles, Wi-Fi, real-time trip information, easy payment options, sidewalk repairs and frequent headways. And in many cases, they’re willing to pay for it.

Responding to the demand requires additional operating and capital funds—both of which depend on a combination of federal, state and local resources.

Second, the federal government, which had previously served as a catalyst, is no longer seen as a reliable source of long-term, sufficient resources for all capital projects. In many cases, transit agencies are being forced to find that money elsewhere—including the ballot box.

In 1999, APTA, along with the New Starts Working Group, the Surface Transportation Policy Project and Parsons Brinckerhoff, created the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE) as a resource for communities pursuing ­public transit measures. Art Guzzetti, APTA vice president-policy, has been associated with CFTE since its beginning.

“It was established to build a body of knowledge from best practices and lessons learned around the country,” he said. “Experiences are largely transferable to regions with upcoming elections.”

Seventy ballot measures related to public transit funding will go before local voters by the end of the year, a new record, according to CFTE.

Among them are major efforts throughout the country, including a half-cent sales tax to fund nearly $100 billion in expansions in Los Angeles; various taxes to fund $54 billion in projects in the Seattle area; $7.5 billion in the San Diego area; an effort to approve an Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail line; an initiative for the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, to extend the parcel tax that accounts for 7 percent to 9 percent of the agency’s annual operating revenue; and other high-profile elections in Atlanta, Santa Clara County, CA, Columbus, OH, and Wake County, NC.

“With more than 30 local referendums on public transportation on the ballot on Nov. 8, voters across the country will have the opportunity to make a big difference in their communities,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “With approximately $200 billion in funding for public transportation, this is a game changer for people and the communities they live in.”

White noted that since 2000, public transit ballot initiatives have passed by an average of more than 70 percent, showing how important public transportation is to people and communities of all sizes. Local and state funding are critical revenue streams for public transportation. Governments at all levels—federal, state and local—fund public transportation, he added.

Though local ballots may give public transit agencies more flexibility than relying on state or federal governments, that doesn’t mean they are easy. In fact, ballot measures often require years of planning, carefully honed messaging campaigns and careful attention to the politics of a community if they have any hope of being successful.

Guzzetti sees local measures as the spark for attracting other resources. “The self-help demonstrated through ballot measures will help leverage federal and state funds, low-cost loans and support from the private sector,” he said. “Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Salt Lake City are systems that started with sales-tax measures.”

Planting the Seeds
Agencies with experience pursuing ballot measures almost universally agree: You can’t start planning for them too soon.

Generally, said CFTE Executive Director Jason Jordan, public transit agencies and community advocates start contacting his organization for advice at least two years before Election Day.

“My advice has always been, the more time you give yourself up front, the better your campaign is going to be,” Jordan said.

A longer timeframe gives communities the chance to run a “pre-campaign.” That might entail an evaluation of the local political climate and a study of past ballot measure performance.

Take the case of Phoenix, where voters opted to hike a sales tax to support public transit in August 2015. To the public, that process might have looked relatively brief. In less than a year, the city council formed a committee of community leaders to identify transit needs; it voted to put the tax on the ballot and residents voted to approve it.

But behind the scenes, staff members had been working on the issue much longer. “We knew we couldn’t wait that close to 2020 to do this, so that’s why we started planning three to four years ahead of time,” said Maria Hyatt, public transit director for the city of Phoenix.

Of course, that situation is ideal. In reality, some agencies may be forced to scramble on a faster timetable—as was the case with Flint.

Agencies and their partners in local government have to think hard about how election timing will affect their odds of success at the polls. Will high turnout help or hurt a measure’s chances? Is a mayor up for re-election, and does that person support or oppose the measure? Will the transit tax have to compete against other tax-related measures? What’s the national mood and how does that affect local opinion?

But one thing is certain: Experts say because transit agencies become bound by rules once an item is officially placed on a ballot, they should take full advantage of the time they have leading up to that moment.

Educating, Not Advocating
Though the particulars of the law vary by state, almost without exception, the role of transit agencies is to “educate, not advocate.” That means an agency can provide the public with information about what it will do with new funding—from the project list to proposed routes to any accountability programs that may accompany the endeavor.

In some cases, the agency might even be able to communicate broadly about how the funding would benefit the community, as well as emphasize any service cuts that would result from failure of a measure to pass.

“They’re not saying how to vote,” said Jordan, “but they are responding to questions about what will this buy the community, what are the benefits and what’s the plan. It’s a hugely important role.”

In Seattle, Sound Transit is asking voters to approve a measure that includes a mix of sales, property and motor vehicle taxes to fund light rail, commuter rail and bus service for 15 years.

“We put out interactive web content. We’ve used video. We’ve done FAQs and things like that. It’s about trying to make it easy for people to understand,” said Geoff Patrick, media relations and public information manager for the agency.

Many agencies also choose to go on road shows throughout the community, presenting their plans to media outlets, civic groups and business organizations, as was the case in Flint.

For the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City, the political campaign that supported the 2015 transportation measure on the ballot in 17 counties launched a mobile app. Users could input their addresses to see which projects and expanded bus routes would serve their area if the measure passed. It was developed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, which previously launched a similar initiative for an Atlanta ballot measure, said Abby Albrecht, chair of Utahns for Responsible Transportation Investment, the political campaign that supported the measure.

Developing Lists and Transparency
What’s the right dollar amount to ask from voters? There’s no easy answer, but Jordan said agencies should think carefully about how big an ask they want to make of their community, balancing the resources they need against the local political climate and history.

Similarly, agencies should assemble a list of projects that’s clear enough for voters to know what they’re going to get, but not so specific that agencies handcuff themselves for years to come.

“It’s about finding the sweet spot,” said Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni). In 2014, voters approved issuance of $500 million bonds to support public transit.

The task force of local community leaders and advocates that helped outline San Francisco’s public transit needs prior to the vote also served as a built-in coalition of supporters for the ballot measure. “There was already this base of folks who understood this because they had been in the room for a good part of a year,” Reiskin said. “It wasn’t intentional, but we had essentially developed advocates to support this.”

A project list that will resonate with voters—and truly reflects the desires of the community—is key to ensuring the measure succeeds at the polls. Although agencies have increasingly recognized the importance of using digital tools—not just public meetings—to get public input, doing so is even more critical in the context of a ballot measure.

For example, Phoenix used a website called TalkTransportation.org to gather feedback from the community. “The days of asking people to come to you are gone,” Hyatt said.

Taking public input seriously wasn’t just good politics, Hyatt noted. It also made for a better package of projects. “They told us, ‘We walk to the bus stop, and there’s no shade; we get to the bus stop in some areas and there are no sidewalks; we like to bike there but there’s not a safe bike path’,” Hyatt recalled. Those comments convinced leaders to allocate funding not just to public transit but also to street improvements.

Experts advise that, along with providing a project list, it’s wise to make voters aware of accountability measures so they’ll have confidence that an agency will spend money wisely.

For example, UTA passed a resolution pledging to spend funding the way the community wanted and subsequently used online dashboards to show how the agency is spending the money. In San Francisco, the ballot language included a commitment to have an oversight board and the city review the bond spending.

The public needs to be clear about what they are voting for and that the project sponsors will be accountable for making good on their commitments, Guzzetti said.

Defining Roles
Which organization can—and should—do what tasks?

Public transit agencies cannot play a role in the advocacy campaign, decide which advocacy organizations will take up their cause, which consulting firms will run a campaign and how each will operate.

Agencies can, however, play a critical role in defining the need for funding, engaging with the public and promoting their organizations, but advocates and political campaigns can pursue a wider variety of tasks—recruiting supporters, raising the profile of the issue, building databases of volunteers, raising money, conducting polls, testing messages and leading get-out-the-vote efforts, for example.

“Transit elections are both an art and a science,” Guzzetti noted. “CFTE is a way to learn the tactics, strategies and messages used in other elections. The CFTE workshop, to be held in Seattle May 21-23, is a great opportunity to learn and network,” he added. (Find details here.)

In Utah, for example, the political campaign was led by the aforementioned Utahns for Responsible Transportation Investment, affiliated with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. “Our transit agency did an exceptional job laying out the plans and working with communities to develop the plans,” said Albrecht. “We were able to use that and push it to the general public.”

In Phoenix, Mayor Greg Stanton and other elected leaders established the political campaign that urged residents to increase taxes for public transit. Javelina, an Arizona political consulting firm, staffed the campaign. Its role was to lay the groundwork for grassroots support, get support from the business community, mine data on likely voters, canvass for votes and engage with the public via social media. Educational materials developed by the transit department supported much of that work.

In some cases, the agency might have an informal seat at the table, but it’s a limited role, and generally agencies are not permitted to share information with a campaign if that information hasn’t already been made public.

A gray area is just how involved an agency’s staff and board members can be. In San Francisco, Reiskin said he helped with the campaign—after work hours, on his own time. “If as an individual I wanted to participate, I did so,” he said. “But I can’t ask my staff to do that. It’s not legal or proper.”

In Utah, the agency’s board members—some of whom were local elected officials—pushed hard for a “yes” vote, but they did so in a personal capacity, UTA leaders said. And in Phoenix, ­Stanton often discussed the ballot measure during his re-election campaign. Transit department staff, Hyatt said, “can do anything on our own time as long as they’re not representing the city of Phoenix,” she said. “But we have to be very careful about it.”

Getting to ‘Yes’
Successful messaging is key to a project’s success, since campaign experts say undecided voters tend to vote “no” on ballot measures. Both agencies and the political campaigns advocating for passage work in this area.

In Seattle, Sound Transit has assembled maps, charts, infographics and other media online to show exactly how the agency will use the funding on the November ballot. “We’ve gone well out of our way to develop summary materials that are accessible and clear,” Patrick said.

But not every messaging campaign is easy, especially when it doesn’t involve a high-profile capital project. In Utah last year, officials pursued a package that emphasized smaller-scale transit improvements. Residents had long been accustomed to the agency developing big, ambitious light rail projects; this time, UTA’s efforts were focused on things like improved headways and sidewalk repairs. It was the agency’s first referendum focused on service improvements—as opposed to big capital projects—since 1974, said Matt Sibul, the agency’s chief planning officer.
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“This isn’t sexy, and it was a hard sell,” Albrecht said. “We had to explain to voters why the need was there. Our point was, if you ever ride transit, you will benefit and so will your neighbor and your neighbor’s neighbor.”

Ultimately, the political campaign’s message focused on the potential for less congestion, reduced air pollution, an improved local economy and less wear and tear on vehicles.

Guzzetti also pointed to the desire for transportation choices: “In regions that undertake scenario planning—where [participants] chose the future they desire—the pendulum always swings to more public transportation. It is the vision that sells.”

Albrecht said agencies and campaigns should also avoid underestimating their opponents. “They were loud, and people will listen when there’s opposition,” she said.

CFTE similarly recommends some basic opposition research to identify likely critics and arguments. Before a ballot campaign is underway, Jordan said, agencies may have to have “uncomfortable conversations” about their political assets and liabilities.

Agencies can ameliorate challenges by conducting polling on their reputation long before a campaign is underway and by maintaining social media campaigns and other outreach efforts to highlight their successes even when a ballot measure isn’t in play.

One of the fundamental issues facing most public transit agencies is encouraging voters to support something many don’t currently use. In the Flint area, about 50,000 to 60,000 residents use public transit out of 450,000 in the service area. That underscores the need of the agency to lead ongoing awareness campaigns focused on the benefits of the service—even when it isn’t facing a vote.

“It’s all about the fact that there are people in your neighborhood who use the service and need it,” Benning said. “They might be a relative or a neighbor, or one day it might be you.”

Guzzetti had these final thoughts about the importance of public transit elections being designed to gain support of voters who may not be regular riders:

“Some of us use it; all of us need it. That’s the message that was used successfully in regions around the country.”


Holeywell is senior editor, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, a former reporter for Governing magazine and a past contributor to Passenger Transport.


New Beginnings: Bouncing Back Stronger After a Loss

BY BRAD MILLER
Chief Executive Officer
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
St. Petersburg, FL

Public transit supporters across the Tampa Bay region were hoping ­Election Day, Nov. 4, 2014, would be a historic day in the western half of the region, Pinellas County.

As the most densely populated county in the state with nearly a million residents and 5 million annual tourists, Pinellas was voting on a change in public transit funding from a property tax to a sales tax, which would be paid by tourists as well as residents.

However, despite a significant public outreach effort reaching hundreds of thousands of residents at large crowd events, strong pre-vote polling and a significant privately funded pro-transit campaign, the referendum did not pass.

Those first few weeks following the failed referendum were tough on transit agency employees and elected officials, as we were all disheartened. Some supporters even questioned the viability of mass transit in Pinellas.

Here at Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), we allowed ourselves a brief mourning period, but then we started talking about what would come next for PSTA and public transit in this region.

Focusing Forward
This wasn’t the end for PSTA, but instead a brand new beginning. One-on-one discussions with the local elected officials who make up our board of directors, along with group meetings and a board workshop, helped us all find focus for the future.

Together we forged a new Path Forward ­Strategic Plan that would be our roadmap for the next few years. The Path Forward included a collection of guiding tenets, most importantly these:

* Focus on customer-oriented public transit services;
* Develop a strong governance model for ­effective transportation leadership; and
* Expand incrementally whenever possible.

Today, two years later, PSTA is more focused than ever on this strategic Path Forward. Bus service has been systematically redesigned to be more efficient, both for the riders and for PSTA. A very active legislative affairs team has worked diligently to look for new funding sources within our local, state and federal grant programs.

We decided not to decrease our pre-referendum public outreach efforts and ­actually to increase them to an even higher level by adding more public meetings, more oppor­tunities for engagement and more boots on the ground telling riders about our services.

Building New Partnerships

Most importantly, we began thinking outside the traditional transit box. Our most exciting accomplishment by far is the new first-in-the-nation partnership we’ve forged with Uber to get riders to and from the bus stop—helping solve that first mile/last mile issue that all public transit faces.

We expanded our partnership with Uber with another new program to increase transportation access for transportation disadvantaged citizens, especially those who go to and from work late at night when regular bus service isn’t available.
And now, with the recently announced award of FTA’s Mobility on Demand (MOD) “sandbox grant,” we will partner with Uber and Lyft to provide PSTA’s more than 12,000 paratransit passengers with rides to doctors’ appointments, work, school and more—in real time and on demand.

The failed referendum was certainly a major disappointment, but the resiliency of the 610 PSTA employees and our board leadership has been inspiring and has led to these innovative successes.

PSTA’s laser focus on the future will allow us to keep moving along our Path Forward. We will provide the best service we can for our community. We will continue to be a trailblazer for new ideas, new technologies and new innovations in public transit.


Get Involved: Join NAPTA
Public transportation professionals interested in advocacy efforts are invited to join the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA), a national organization created by APTA that represents grassroots transit coalitions, rider organizations and advocates that support increasing investment in public transportation.

The organization’s objectives are to

* Create a diverse, committed and visible national alliance of local public transit coalitions;
* Generate a heightened level of advocacy through constituent visits, calls, e-mails and letters at necessary and appropriate times in the congressional decision-making process; and
* Link local transit coalitions with new advocacy tools and resources.

Information on how to join NAPTA, including a directory of member coalitions, is available here.

Post-Election Webinar Nov. 15
In the aftermath of the Nov. 8 election, NAPTA and the Center for Transportation Excellence have scheduled a webinar Nov. 15 to observe how public transit ballot measures fared and discuss trends in campaigning and advocating at the local level.

This year is a historic one for public transit elections, both in terms of the number of measures on the ballot nationwide and the level of financial investment voters will consider at the polls. To register for the webinar, click here.



APTA’s Voices for Public Transit: National Network; Local Clout
Just as “all politics is local,” as the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill claimed, all advocacy is local—especially when it’s wielded in communities to support public transportation. This is the basic premise behind APTA’s initiative, Voices for Public Transit (VPT), a national network of public transportation advocates—riders, ­business owners, environmentalists, members of community organizations and other stakeholders committed to strengthening public transit at the local and regional levels.

The network, developed in 2013, was very active in the run-up to the passage of the FAST Act. In 2015, VPT advocates sent 83,763 emails to members of Congress, delivered 4,590 personalized letters or faxes and placed 4,025 personal phone calls to legislative offices. They continue to share information and remain active on social media.

The network currently stands at approximately 200,760 members and is participating in “Get Out the Vote” activities in support of local and state public transit initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot.

APTA provides resources for VPT at its public outreach and information website, which features voter and advocate toolkits, contact information for members of Congress, public transit tips and benefits, dates of transit-related events, rider profiles and infographics, among other information.

To become a VPT advocate and to learn more, click here.

NEWS HEADLINES

OCTA Reorganizes Entire Bus Route Map; Johnson: 'Match the Needs in Front of Us'

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) recently introduced extensive service changes throughout its Southern California service area, including a reallocation of routes, the introduction of full mobile ticketing through the new OC Bus app and a six-month discount in the cost of a day pass from $5 to $4.

These changes are part of the agency’s OC Bus 360° program to increase ridership by 1.3 million boardings over the next three years through multiple initiatives.

“We’re a county of 3.2 million people and changing demographics: population, job patterns,” said OCTA Chief Executive Officer Darrell Johnson. “We set out to develop a transit system that would match the needs in front of us, not behind us, by matching the right kind of service with the right demand.”

The extensive October service changes are part of the 2016 Bus Service Plan adopted by the OCTA Board of Directors to add, increase, reduce and/or eliminate services to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall bus system. A few initial changes were implemented in June.

OCTA instituted the OC Bus 360° program, in part to bolster ridership and strengthen sales tax revenue for bus operations funding, OCTA is reallocating resources from low-performing routes to areas where demand is higher, ­replacing lower-ridership routes with local circulators.

Johnson explained that the route evaluation process began about 18 months ago and took into account ridership, productivity and farebox recovery to determine the system’s highest- and lowest-performing routes. He described how OCTA reached out to ­various stakeholders in their communities during the planning process, noting that their recommendations led to changes in about 20 percent of the agency’s original plan.

In advance of the route reorganization, “all OCTA employees became transit ambassadors,” Johnson said. “We involved employees who don’t ­usually work with the public—for example, ­people who work in street and road planning and government relations staff—and trained them to engage with riders on board buses and at transit ­centers and explain the changes that riders were going to see.”

The OC Bus app for Apple and Android allows users to purchase ­regular fares and college passes for travel on fixed-route buses, with other passes available soon. Passengers need only show the pass displayed on the phone when they board. Partial funding for the app and ticketing equipment came from the California State Transportation Agency, the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) and Orange County’s Measure M sales tax.

Funds to cover the cost of temporarily reducing the day pass cost come from the California State Transportation Agency’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program, a part of the cap-and-trade program that seeks to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions through transformative rail and transit capital improvements.

Another element of the program is an effort by OCTA and its member cities to develop new transportation services—such as community shuttles and a subsidized rideshare program using Lyft—to replace and supplement bus routes that have been either discontinued or changed. A program funded by Measure M helps cities develop solutions to complement regional bus and rail services to meet needs in areas not served by regional transit.

The supplementary transportation services include the Mission Viejo ­Circulator, a neighborhood loop based at the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Metrolink Station; a rideshare service planned in San Clemente along routes previously served by two discontinued bus routes; and the Westminster Little Saigon Circulator, scheduled to begin service Oct. 31.

Phoenix Prepares for Bus Service Expansion

As Passenger Transport went to press, Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix were preparing for the Oct. 24 expansion of service on all bus routes and Dial-a-Ride paratransit in the city.

Funding for the expanded service—additional hours on the road each day and frequencies of 30 minutes or less—comes from Transportation 2050 (T2050), a tax approved by Phoenix voters in 2015 to improve public transit and streets, support increased ­security on buses and light rail and build 1,080 miles of new bicycle lanes.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Valley Metro officials and other guests planned to participate in rider appreciation events at seven transit centers during the morning rush hour Oct. 24, followed by a media event at Central Station.

Earlier this year when the Phoenix City Council approved the service expansion, Stanton said, “We heard loud and clear from Phoenix residents that they want the option to catch a bus later in the evening just as they do with light rail, and they want more frequent service to reduce wait times at bus stops. Providing more options for working families and residents is what our long-term transportation plan is all about, and that’s what we are going to deliver.”

Under the change, buses will begin weekday service an hour earlier and continue an hour later, and on weekends service will start an hour earlier and continue two hours later.

The next expansion in April 2017 will standardize service hours for bus, light rail and Dial-a-Ride operations.

Valley Metro Breaks Ground
In other news, local officials recently marked the start of construction on the Gilbert Road light rail extension, due to enter service in late 2018 or early 2019, to extend the existing 3.1-mile route to Mesa by 1.9 miles.

Valley Metro Interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Smith called the extension “the East Valley’s gateway to countless connections in Mesa, Phoenix and Tempe,” adding, “Expanding regional travel options is important for future riders and has proven itself as a catalyst for strong economic activity.”

The construction contractor, Stacy and Witbeck/Sundt, also constructed Valley Metro’s Northwest Extension in Phoenix, which opened earlier this year, and a portion of the original 20 miles of light rail that opened in 2008. Federal and local funding will cover costs for the $152.7 million project.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, left; Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith, fourth from right; and area and agency officials commemorated breaking ground for Valley Metro’s Gilbert Road light rail extension.

 

MTS Opens Energy Efficient CNG Bus Facility

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) opened the East County Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility in nearby El Cajon, CA, to provide a new home for up to 120 CNG-powered buses.

“MTS is focused on improving all facets of our business to improve efficiency, reliability, passenger amenities and the air we breathe,” said MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski at recent dedication ceremonies. “The new East County Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility helps us achieve all those goals.”

A new CNG fueling station on site will allow MTS to replace diesel-fueled buses with CNG buses, which provide a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions, an 85 percent reduction in particulate matter pollution and an 89 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions.

MTS built the facility to LEED ­Silver standards, with energy-efficient designs and equipment that include on-site renewable energy, LED lighting, reflective windows, water use reduction techniques, drought-tolerant landscaping and temperature control technology. Employees based at the new facility, overseen by Transdev North America, include 115 bus operators and 14 mechanics.

The 34,500-square-foot maintenance building and 10,275-square-foot administrative building sit on 5.5 acres. The $38 million project was built with funds from MTS, an FTA competitive grant and the state Transit Development Act and Transit Assistance Program.

MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski, third from right, joined board members, state and local officials and other dignitaries at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the East County Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility.

 

Foxx Visits High-Speed Rail Construction Sites


DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, right, recently toured California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) construction sites in the Central Valley with Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales, center, and other California transportation officials. Foxx visited work sites at the Fresno River Viaduct near Madera, the San Joaquin River Viaduct and the Tuolumne Street Bridge in Fresno, speaking with trade and labor union members about their roles in the construction of high-speed rail.

Connecticut DOT Unveils Track Construction Machine; 'CT rail' Will Connect New Haven, Hartford, Springfield

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker recently unveiled the mammoth Track Construction Machine (TCM) being used to double-track portions of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) passenger rail line, now branded as the CTrail Hartford Line.

Building a second track parallel to the existing single track, currently used by Amtrak trains, will allow more frequent train service and more efficient movement when the CTrail Hartford Line enters operation in January 2018.

“We are excited to finally launch commuter rail service between New Haven, Hartford and our friends in Springfield, and state-of-the-art, 21st-­century machinery like this is helping keep us on schedule so we can begin service as soon as possible,” Malloy said. “We are committed to building a best-in-class transportation system for Connecticut’s residents, and the Hartford Line is one piece of this vision that will move us forward.”

Redeker added, “Launch of the Hartford Line will provide an opportunity for Connecticut to join in a regional vision to a make rail a more convenient and faster option for travelers.”

The 250-ton TCM is laying nearly nine miles of track between North Haven and Meriden. The project, which will take until early or mid-November to complete, will safely and efficiently lay new track without interfering with train traffic on the adjacent mainline track.

This marks the first time a TCM will be used to lay this length of track in Connecticut.

Connecticut DOT’s Track Construction Machine lays new track on the CTrail Hartford Line. See a one-minute video of the TCM in action here.

Cleveland Receives FTA Grant for Vehicle Safety Technology

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is preparing to launch testing early next year on two intelligent transportation systems designed to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions, funded with a $2.7 million grant from FTA in cooperation with ­Battelle Memorial Institute.

The two programs are the Enhanced Transit Safety Retrofit Package (E-TRIP) and the Transit Bus Stop Pedestrian Warning (TSPW). E-TRIP uses vehicle-to-vehicle technology, which warns buses when another vehicle is driving up along its left side and turning right in front of it, and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, which helps prevent collisions with pedestrians in or near intersections and crosswalks. TSPW alerts pedestrians when a bus is approaching or exiting a bus stop and notifies bus operators of pedestrians at a transit stop.

GCRTA will select approximately 80-100 buses and 6-10 intersections for testing.

“Bringing connected vehicle technology to public transit to protect pedestrians is becoming increasingly important,” said GCRTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese. “GCRTA has been at the forefront of enhanced vehicle safety technology since it created and implemented the ‘Talking Bus’ technology several years ago. The ‘Talking Bus’ has become the industry standard for customer and pedestrian safety nationwide.”

He continued, “Now GCRTA is taking the next critical step in testing and using enhanced safety technology that will benefit both our customers and operators. We look forward to launching this initiative and to partner with ­Battelle on this important pilot program. Our success will likely be shared among other transit systems nationwide.”

St. Louis Celebrates Historic Eads Bridge Rehab

Leaders from Bi-State Development (operator of St. Louis Metro), FTA representatives and officials from Illinois and Missouri recently celebrated the reopening of the historic 142-year-old Eads Bridge, the oldest bridge still in operation across the Mississippi River, following a $48 million comprehensive rehabilitation project.

The bridge, which daily carries 300 MetroLink light rail cars, passenger cars and pedestrians, provides a critical link between downtown St. Louis, MO, and East St. Louis, IL, and is the only MetroLink connection between the two states.

“At the original dedication of the Eads Bridge on July 4, 1874, James B. Eads declared that the bridge would endure, just so long as it continues to be useful to the people who come after us,” said Bi-State President and Chief Executive Officer John Nations. “He could scarcely have imagined that, after 142 years of changes in society, in our region, in our landscapes and in our patterns of travel and movement, his bridge would still have a critically useful function for our region, our states and our country.”

The rehabilitation is expected to extend its life of the bridge for another 75 years. The light rail line continued to operate across the bridge during the four-year rehabilitation process, said Metro Executive Director Ray Friem, who recognized the planners and workers who helped minimize the project’s impact on passengers and commuters crossing by car.

“The team was able to achieve a continuous operation and a beautiful restoration of the bridge,” said Friem. “We kept the train moving over this beautiful river we are standing on. During the process, we had to overcome many unknowns. It was a 140-year-old bridge, with different technologies that had inaccurate drawings. I want to take a moment to recognize the people who made this possible. Today, we celebrate you, your accomplishments, your skills and your courage to work high above this raging river in order to unify a region, unite two states and build this bridge to and for the future.”

Highlights of the celebration included speakers who described the critical role of the bridge in the region’s transportation system and tours on MetroLink for an up-close look at the bridge rehabilitation and preservation effort.

Federal funds supported 91 percent of the cost, including a $27 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. The city of St. Louis contributed $4.8 million in federal funds and grants and the remaining costs were covered by local funds. TranSystems was the design engineering firm on the project.

Metro Executive Director Ray Friem, third from left, and Bi-State President and CEO John Nations, right, join other officials at the reopening of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis.

 

Connect Transit Faces Possible Shutdown

Connect Transit in Normal, IL, may be forced to suspend service at the end of December if the state does not resume funding that accounts for 65 percent of its operating expenses through the Downstate Public Transportation Fund.

“Citizens in downstate Illinois rely heavily on public transportation to travel to work, school, healthcare and shopping. Forcing bus systems to shut down due to nonpayment of state operating assistance will be devastating to communities throughout the state,” said Andrew Johnson, general manager of Connect Transit and president of the Illinois Public Transportation Association. “We are counting on the state of Illinois to address this crisis before it is too late and ensure that its citizens who take millions of trips each year will continue to be able to count on public transportation to get them where they need to go.”

Melissa Chrisman, marketing and business development manager, said the agency is hosting a town hall meeting Oct. 27 where community members can share feedback about the future of the system’s services due to the state funding issues.

According to state law, Illinois provides 65 percent reimbursement of operating expenses for Connect Transit and other downstate public transportation systems. The state is bound by law to provide this funding as a continuing appropriation whether the legislature appropriates sufficient funds or not.

The state makes operating assistance payments on a quarterly basis through the Downstate Public Transportation Fund, funded through transfers from the General Revenue Fund. The public transportation fund has a current balance of $47,000.

However, the state has not made a transfer since June 2016; the comptroller’s office is not sure if a transfer will be made before December and the state has made no commitment regarding a transfer in December. Connect Transit and other downstate systems have received no state operating assistance payments in Fiscal Year 2017, which began July 1.

Connect Transit is owed about $5 million in state payments, which constitutes a third of its annual operating budget. In the absence of any state payments, the agency has enough cash on hand to continue operations through December 2016. However, after that the system would likely have to suspend service until the state payments resume, and other downstate systems might have to suspend their service sooner than that.

The agency provides an average of 8,000 rides per day. During any suspension of service, up to 150 agency employees could be laid off.

DOT Announces New Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Oct. 19 that he will establish an Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation (ACAT), which will serve as a critical resource for the department in framing federal policy for the continued development and deployment of automated transportation.

“This committee will help determine how, when and where automated technology will transform the way we move,” Foxx said. “The department has advanced some of the life-saving benefits of automated technologies, including automated vehicle policy, but we are looking outside the government for innovative and thoughtful leaders to uncover its full potential across all modes.”

The 15 members of the committee should have cross-modal perspectives on such issues as intelligent transportation systems, robotics, enhanced freight movement, air traffic control next generation technology and advanced transportation technology deployment. Committee members will serve two-year terms, with no more than two consecutive term reappointments.

Individuals interested in nominating themselves or other potential members to the ACAT should send materials to this address.

The committee will assess DOT’s current research, policy and regulatory support to advance the safe and effective use of autonomous vehicles. They will also engage in information gathering, develop technical advice and present technology recommendations to the secretary. In particular, the ACAT will perform these activities as they may relate to emerging or “not-yet-conceived” innovations to ensure the department is prepared when disruptive technologies emerge.

NJ Ends Transportation Funding Impasse with 23-Cent Tax Hike

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Oct. 14 that revised the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority Act and issued an executive order that rescinded previous orders to freeze construction and rail projects statewide.

The signing followed Christie and Democratic leaders reaching a bipartisan agreement for funding transportation initiatives by raising the state’s gas tax by 23 cents a gallon, the first time it has been raised since 1988. The new revenue will replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and will finance a wide-ranging, multiyear $16 billion transportation program that Christie previously said will strengthen the state’s infrastructure and economy.

The gas tax increase is partially offset by reductions in the sales tax and other tax-related changes.

In addition, Christie encouraged voters to support a November ballot measure to dedicate all new gas tax funds to transportation projects.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Happy 50th Birthday, DOT!


President Lyndon Johnson signed the law creating DOT on Oct. 15, 1966, surrounded by Cabinet officers and members of Congress, including Speaker of the House John McCormack at the far right. “This Department of Transportation that we are establishing will have a mammoth task—to untangle, to coordinate and to build the national transportation system for America that America is deserving of,” Johnson said in brief remarks during the ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He appointed Alan Boyd the first DOT secretary a few weeks later.

PRTC Celebrates 30th Anniversary

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), Woodbridge, VA, commemorated its 30th anniversary of service with a community celebration Oct. 8 featuring bus excursions, a K-9 demonstration, a food and toiletry donation drive to support area homeless shelters and other events.

“We’re always looking for ways to attract more non-drivers who want the frequency, dependability, safety and comfort our service provides,” said PRTC Interim Executive Director Eric Marx, noting that expansion of the region’s high-occupancy lanes is driving transit growth.Corporate sponsors of the event included Motor Coach Industries (MCI), First Transit Inc., InsideNova, Smartmaps Inc., Trapeze Group, Apollo Video Technology, Gillig Corp. and TransTrack Systems Inc.

MCI announced that the system will take delivery of five new commuter coaches before the end of the year to replace retirement-age equipment on PRTC’s OmniRide express routes to Washington, DC, the Pentagon and surrounding areas.

Deadline Nears for AdWheel Awards

It’s time to submit your entry to APTA’s 2017 AdWheel Award program and win the accolades your hard-working marketing, communications and PIO staffs deserve.

The deadline is Nov. 14. Judges will present awards in three categories: Best Marketing and Communications to Increase Ridership or Sales, Best Marketing and Communications to Highlight Transit Needs/Funding and Best Marketing and Communications Educational Effort.

Entries will be judged in four groups: public transportation systems with 4 million or fewer annual passenger trips; public transportation systems with more than 4 million, but fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips; public transportation systems with more than 20 million annual passenger trips; and business members.

All APTA members in good standing may submit entries. Elements or campaigns must have been used in whole or in part between Jan. 1, 2015, and Nov. 14, 2016, and may not have previously won an AdWheel Award.

For information, contact Stephen Kendrick or click here.

In Case You Missed It...

Public transit professionals who couldn’t attend the 2016 APTA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles can experience many of the major sessions on video by visiting the APTA website.

In addition to a wrap-up video summarizing the four-day meeting, members can watch “A Conversation with the FTA Leadership,” “Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” “Transformational Leadership Throughout the Organization,” the APTA Awards Luncheon and the presentation of American Public Transportation Foundation scholarships.

In Memoriam: Dorfman, Transit Manager


Mark Dorfman, 65, a 35-year public transit professional who managed systems in Saginaw, MI, El Paso, TX, and Santa Cruz, CA, died Sept. 23.

Dorfman began his career as a planner for the Capital District Transit Authority, Albany, NY, and then worked with the planning department in Montgomery, AL. He was assistant general manager of the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and served for 18 months as the agency’s acting general manager before returning to his previous post.

Dorfman, who was retired, was a member of several APTA committees. He was also affiliated with the Michigan Public Transit Association, where he served as president; the Texas Public Transit Association, the California Transit Executive Committee and the California Transit Insurance Pool Board.

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Lindsey Robertson!

Lindsey Robertson
Senior Program ­Manager
Workforce Development and Educational Services Department


What job elements do you focus on most?

My main focus comes under the workforce development umbrella, working with the Human Resources Committee and the Workforce Development Subcommittee, which are looking at how we can solve some of the industry’s workforce development challenges.

One strategy is to widely share the fact that public transit is a rewarding career decision. I think there are 179 different job opportunities in transit. We’re looking at how we get that knowledge out to people looking for new careers, college or high school students—even students in elementary school.

My personal focus is on generational work. There are four generations in our workforce right now. How do we work together? Every generation brings something valuable to the workplace. It’s very rewarding to help people explore new ideas as they value and appreciate our industry’s history and precedent.

I also support APTA’s foundation (the APTF), the APTF Board of Directors and the foundation’s scholars. I do a little bit of everything, including fund­raising and website design.

I also help “connect the dots” on workforce development. This includes listening to members to identify “collective issues”—the challenges everyone faces—and then help find solutions and best practices. Our industry is very willing to share, and I enjoy helping APTA be the “con­nector” between issues and answers.


Please talk about a recent time you’ve helped out a member.


A member contacted me looking for examples of organization charts, so I sent a mass email to the 300 or so members of the HR Committee. Before long, I heard from committee members that they would like those charts too.

Instead of asking committee members to send their org charts to an individual, I asked them to send the charts to me so I could post them on APTA’s collaboration pages on APTA’s website where we centralize resources and information for specific committees. Now everyone on the HR Committee has access to the charts, not just the individual who first asked.


What have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?


I’m excited about the Organizational Development Workshops we’re conducting around the country. So far, we’ve had a spring workshop in Washington, DC, one in Atlanta and a third in Los Angeles before the Annual Meeting, hosted by the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.

About 100 people from member organizations have participated in each workshop.  We cover the key issues: diversity, engaging unions, reaching veterans and other underserved groups, developing internships and apprenticeships, moving from front-line jobs to management and so on.

In addition to the curriculum, the participants—all from the same region—really connected, peer-to-peer. The workshops are a great way to combine the talent and experience on the HR Committee and the Workforce Development Subcommittee with APTA’s expertise and apply it for the direct benefit of members.


How did you land at APTA?

I worked closely with Vice President Pam Boswell and Joe Niegoski (senior director-educational services), the HR Committee and the foundation when I was an APTA member with GannonConsult. Dr. Barbara Gannon told me about the job at APTA. She saw it as a great opportunity for me and—hopefully—a good fit for APTA. She’s been a terrific mentor for me. I also worked at the Center for Transportation Leadership at the Eno Transportation Center.

I’ve been at APTA for about 10 months, but I was with member organizations for eight years before that.


Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?


I love to bake, and sometimes I bring in cookies or cupcakes to share with my APTA colleagues. I always have a stash of peppermint patties for my colleagues—especially when they need a little chocolate! I’m also the only female on the APTA Fantasy Football League—and I’m in second place!

I grew up in Skaneateles, NY, right on the Finger Lakes. It’s beautiful there—but I came to Washington, DC, to go to college and stayed. I own a car, but I’m an everyday ­public transit user.

COMMENTARY

Emerging Transportation Technology Will Connect Southern Nevada

BY TINA QUIGLEY
General Manager
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
Las Vegas

Great cities realize the importance of transportation in building a strong economy and thriving community. They collaborate on transportation infrastructure and ­technologies to enhance mobility for their residents and visitors.

They plan for growth by making the necessary investments now so they can ensure the efficient movement of people and goods later.

Southern Nevada is no exception. We need to continue to engage, collaborate and invest in our community and our future.

It is projected that by 2025, Clark County will have added 700,000 residents and 10.1 million annual visitors. In addition, numerous plans and projects are underway for new development throughout the valley. In the resort corridor, we have already seen T-Mobile Arena open, and next year it will welcome our first major-league sports team, an NHL hockey team.

We see continued construction of hotel-casinos, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will further develop its existing convention facilities. Beyond the resort corridor, Apex Industrial Park is expanding in North Las Vegas, where innovative companies like Faraday Future and Hyperloop will be; UNLV is building a medical school in the Las Vegas medical district; and our community is considering building a 65,000-seat domed football stadium.

The projected population and visitor growth, coupled with these significant projects and continued economic development across our valley, necessitate a more cohesive multimodal transportation network. This network must safely, efficiently and effectively move millions of people and goods throughout our region. Our roads are already congested. Just imagine what they would look like with hundreds of thousands more residents, millions of additional visitors and thousands of new properties, projects and businesses.

At the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), we are responsible for the region’s transportation planning and funding, public transportation and traffic management. We have spent the past several years forging partnerships and investing time and resources to help ensure we are at the forefront of transportation technology. Our objective remains focused on not just maintaining, but enhancing our infrastructure to accommodate growth.

Transportation technology is the ­cornerstone of the future. It will help pave the way for our community to build a much-needed multimodal network of roads and public transportation.

I sit on the board of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and participate on an advisory committee sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide recommendations on research and deployment of autonomous systems throughout the country. Based on discussions with our Nevada partners, colleagues in other Western cities and federal representatives, connected and autonomous vehicles will help transform our urban landscape and create a more modern connected network for drivers, transit riders and freight operators.

A recent report of the Eno Center for Transportation explained that autonomous or connected vehicles have features enabled by sensors, cameras and radar. This allows vehicles to wirelessly exchange data with their surroundings and communicate with other vehicles and roadway infrastructure, including traffic signals. The report indicates that autonomous or connected vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce the number of fatal crashes and injuries, provide critical mobility to the elderly and people with disabilities, enhance effective road capacity, and reduce congestion and fuel consumption.

Some experts predict autonomous and connected vehicles could be ready for public use within 10 years. And if you need further evidence that the technology is coming, according to Steve Hill, executive director of the governor’s Office of Economic Development, many of these companies like Tesla Motors, Faraday Future and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are testing and producing the technology right here in Nevada.

In fact, Google became the first company to obtain a license and test their vehicles in Nevada. Shortly after, two other companies also were approved to test in Nevada. And most recently Tesla announced it will unveil an autonomous “Tesla Semi” and transit bus in 2017.

At the RTC, we continue to work with government agencies and a host of regional partners to ensure our state continues to be the national leader in the autonomous and connected vehicles space. Advancements we made include Nevada becoming the first state to implement a common sense approach to testing, licensing and regulating autonomous and connected vehicles. We are collaborating with other private- and public-sector organizations to deploy and test technologies in the movement of people in downtown Las Vegas, around the Convention Center and at other major activity centers.

We are working with automakers and equipment vendors to test and evaluate their groundbreaking work that will move people and freight. And this fall we will see firsthand Local Motors, which has a partnership with UNLV, test its autonomous transit shuttle in downtown Las Vegas and at the UNLV campus.

As we continue developing our transportation blueprint, we know that technology will play a significant role in redefining urban planning and mobility in Southern Nevada. Our community is at a crossroads of transportation, urban development and economic growth. It’s a time when technology is shaping our future and rapidly changing the way people and goods move.

Our residents, elected leaders, local governments, businesses and community groups need to continue to work together to advance autonomous and connected vehicle growth. That means evolving and embracing change and innovation, and rallying behind building an economically diverse Nevada that is much safer, smarter and stronger.


This “Commentary” originally appeared in the
Las Vegas Sun. Reprinted with permission.

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

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

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.



BOSTON—The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has hired Janelle Chan as its real estate manager, working to maximize the agency’s real estate interests in TOD efforts. Chan joins MBTA after serving since 2010 as executive director of ­Boston’s Asian Community Development Corporation.


DALLAS—Jonathan R. Kelly has been appointed to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors to represent the city of Garland, succeeding Michael Cheney.

Kelly, a senior portfolio manager with more than 20 years of financial services experience, is a vice president at Northern Trust Company and previously worked at other financial companies.


NEW YORK CITY—WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the following appointments:

Richard Driggs has been appointed president of the program management sector at WSP | PB, based in Atlanta, responsible for building a program management organization across all of the company’s markets in the U.S. and Latin America. He has more than two decades of experience and was formerly the president and chief executive officer of Heery International.

Joseph Marie, a technical manager since 2012, has been named operations manager of the firm’s transit & rail technical excellence center in the New York City office. He has 30 years of intermodal transportation experience in both the public and private sectors.

Manisha Patel has been appointed associate director of environmental policy in WSP | PB’s St. Louis office. Most recently she was deputy general counsel for President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality. She also served in various capacities at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dave Schumacher has been named a senior planning manager in the firm’s San Diego office, acting as project manager or lead planner on transit planning projects in Southern California. He has more than 30 years of experience, working most recently as a principal regional planner for the San Diego Association of Governments.

Tanya Adams, WSP | PB assistant vice president, community relations and diversity manager for the transportation and infrastructure sector’s Central U.S. region, recently was named 2016 Corporate Executive of the Year by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) and was elected to COMTO’s national board of directors. Prior to joining the firm in 2006, Adams spent more than 18 years with Illinois DOT.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—The ­Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) announced the promotion of Robert Saldana to managing director of administration and the permanent appointment of Kelly Coughlin as director of marketing, a position she held on an interim basis.

Saldana has been a CCRTA employee for five years, previously serving as director of transportation. Coughlin joined the agency about a year ago.


VICTORIA, BC—Jonathon Dyck has joined BC Transit as communications ­manager. He previously worked five years with Northern Health in Prince George, BC, and was a news reporter and anchor.


PHILADELPHIA—The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) announced the promotion of Andrew Busch to chief press officer.

Busch joined the SEPTA Media Relations Department as a press officer in 2009 and most recently served as a public information manager. He has nearly two decades of experience in the Philadelphia news market, working as a writer and producer for KYW-TV and a reporter and editor with the Philadelphia Metro.


SAN DIEGO—Cubic Corporation has named Darryl S. Albertson to the newly created position of chief human resources and diversity officer. Albertson has served as vice president of corporate human resources since joining Cubic in September 2013.

Previously, Albertson held various leadership roles in human resources.


DAYTON, OH—Frank Ecklar, director of planning and marketing for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA), has retired after 32 years in ­public transportation, 28 of them with RTA. He began his career with the Central Ohio Transportation Authority in Columbus.

RTA cited Ecklar for his work to develop the Wright Stop Plaza facility and create the regional hub network.