Passenger Transport - January 13, 2017
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NEWS HEADLINES

Riders Flock to NYC Second Avenue Subway; City's First Major Subway Expansion in More than Half a Century

MTA New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Line—originally proposed in 1929 and the city’s first major subway expansion in more than half a century—is drawing large crowds since its opening on New Year’s Day, both for added rider convenience and for the soaring station infrastructure and art exhibits at the three new stations.

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo visited the line’s ­initial three new stations—96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street—at open houses in advance of service. The 1.8-mile stretch of new track, expected to serve approximately 200,000 daily ­riders, connects to the existing Lexington/63rd Street Station; it is expected to relieve overcrowded conditions on the nearby ­Lexington Line by as much as 13 percent or 23,500 riders. When the Second Avenue Subway is complete, it will cover 8.5 miles, extending north to 125th Street in Harlem and south to Hanover Square in the financial district.

“With unparalleled architecture and newly installed artwork along the Second Avenue Line, we are transforming these stations into underground galleries that encompass the spirit and cultural charm of New York,” Cuomo said. “This open house offers a unique opportunity for us to share this important project milestone with New Yorkers and marks the progress we have made in delivering a new, vital artery to one of the nation’s busiest transit lines. I encourage all New Yorkers to come for a tour and see this new state-of-the-art station for themselves.”

New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast said, “Gov. Cuomo challenged the MTA to work aggressively to open the Second Avenue Subway on time and we have been working around the clock to meet this challenge. We’re thrilled to start the new year with a new subway line and invite all New Yorkers to come get a preview.” (Prendergast announced his retirement shortly after the subway opened. See the story in "People on the Move" in this issue.)

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast and a host of New Yorkers rode the Second Avenue Subway on its opening day, boarding at the 96th Street Station and exiting at 72nd Street.

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo's Office

AECOM participated in a joint venture that provided engineering and architectural services for the $4.5 billion project. Skanska and Kiewit also were part of joint ventures related to the new subway line.“The Second Avenue Subway is a transformative project that takes a leap forward in engineering and design innovation of a transit system.” said Liam Dalton, a project manager at AECOM. “We are very proud to have been a part of the project. Its success is a testament to the hard work, dedication and close collaboration with the contractors.”

AECOM’s contributions included tunnel construction; geotechnical evaluations to accommodate telecommunications, electrical, gas, steam, water and sewage lines beneath the asphalt; updates to the tunnel ventilation system; pedestrian modeling that simulated 3,000 uptown and downtown train arrival combinations; and leading the multidisciplinary design of the new underground stations.

The design, based on a new set of NYC Transit station guidelines developed specifically for the Second Avenue Subway project, includes architectural detailing, ADA compliance, high ceilings, column-free design, lighting, top-level acoustics, increased safety and security and innovative artwork.

Maryland MTA Opens Transit Center

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recently opened the largest non-WMATA Metrorail station public transit transfer point in the Washington, DC, region—the $34.8 million Takoma-Langley Crossroads Transit Center in Prince George’s County—at ribbon-cutting ceremonies with other transit officials, FTA representatives and area city leaders in attendance.

“Public transit is a vital element in helping to relieve traffic congestion and the Takoma-Langley Transit Center will play a key role in making sure that transit riders have a convenient, accessible and customer-focused facility to help them get to where they need to go,” said MTA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Paul Comfort at the event.

FTA Region 3 Administrator Terry Garcia Crews said the new facility will “provide ladders of opportunity to help residents access employment, healthcare and other vital services throughout the national capital region.”

The facility serves 11 bus routes that transport 12,000 passengers daily from the Maryland counties of Prince George’s and Montgomery, the University of Maryland and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It accommodates 12 buses at one time and will provide a convenient transfer point to MTA’s proposed Purple Line light rail station. The project has been a cooperative effort among Maryland DOT, the federal government, WMATA and the two counties.

Sixty buses serve the area per hour during morning and afternoon rush periods. Before the development of the transfer center, passengers had to board and disembark from several different locations around a busy, highly congested intersection. The center provides a central, off-street location where passengers can connect quickly with multiple routes without risking traffic conflicts.

A federal TIGER grant provided $13.9 million for the transfer station and a federal earmark added $818,000. Other funding came from Maryland, $8.3 million; WMATA, $6.76 million; and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, $2.5 million each.

MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort and FTA Region 3 Administrator Terry Garcia Crews, center, and WMATA GM/CEO Paul Wiedefeld, third from left, joined dignitaries from the Washington, DC, region at ceremonies to open the Takoma- Langley Crossroads Transit Center.

C-TRAN's BRT 'Vine' Sprouts Despite Cold Weather

Despite temperatures that hovered just above freezing, approximately 200 guests helped C-TRAN in Vancouver, WA, launch The Vine, its first BRT service, at a community event Jan. 7 that featured free rides on the service’s 60-foot articulated buses, the first in the agency’s fleet.

“As C-TRAN celebrates the opening of The Vine, and we reflect on the nearly six-year process to bring this project to fruition, we also want to celebrate our customers,” said Jeff Hamm, the agency’s executive director/chief executive officer, at the opening event, which included giveaways, family-friendly games and refreshments.“Our riders are the reason we undertake any project, large or small. The Vine is designed to improve reliability, mobility and capacity on C-TRAN’s busiest corridor, getting people where they need to go quickly and efficiently. We believe it will change the face of public transit in Clark County and the region,” he added.

The Vine’s articulated buses operate on a six-mile route along the system’s highest-ridership corridor, with raised boarding platforms, queue jumps and transit ­signal priority.

Regular Vine service, originally scheduled to begin Jan. 8, was delayed for a day because of severe winter weather. Introducing BRT to service culminates a process that began with planning and analysis in 2011, followed by meetings with residents, businesses and other community members. C-TRAN broke ground for the line in August 2015.

At the grand opening celebration for The Vine, Jeff Hamm, C-TRAN executive director/CEO, and Anne McEnerny-Ogle, chair of the C-TRAN Board of Directors, cut a cake that was an exact replica of a Vine articulated bus—including working headlights.

Chao Supports HTF at Confirmation Hearing

In her Jan. 11 confirmation hearings, Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for DOT secretary, stated her support for funding the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and for creating a task force on Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation has a rare opportunity to shape the transformation of our critical infrastructure,” Chao said in her statement before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  “The chance to lead the department at this historic time is a great honor.”

When questioned about the solvency of the HTF, she noted that the fuel tax that provides about 90 percent of the fund’s revenues does not bring in as much money as it had in the past and that other payment mechanisms must be examined.

In her statement, Chao, a former DOT deputy secretary and U.S. secretary of labor, said “infrastructure in need of repair … growing congestion, and … a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies” are threatening the nation’s transportation infrastructure, which she called “the underpinning of our world-class economy.”

She also said DOT should work with states to ensure that federal funds are used to improve transportation system performance and project delivery.

As Passenger Transport went to press, no date had been scheduled for a committee vote.

Two Agencies Receive Large Federal Grants: LA Metro, CTA

Los Angeles Metro: $1.6 Billion

Los Angeles Metro received approximately $1.6 billion in federal grant funds and a loan agreement—which DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx called “an important investment in the future of the Los Angeles region”—toward the $2.5 billion Westside Purple Line Extension project at ceremonies Jan. 4. Foxx and FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers attended.

The funding includes a construction grant agreement for $1.2 billion through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, a loan agreement for up to $307 million through DOT’s TIFIA program and $169 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds.

FTA will provide the CIG funds over 12 years on an annual payment schedule, subject to congressional appropriations.
LA Metro is providing a $747 million local match funded by 2008’s Measure R sales tax.

Foxx said, “Thanks to a strong local vision and federal support, Los Angeles will continue its transformation from the nation’s car capital to one that embraces sustainable, multimodal solutions that increase access to opportunity.”

Flowers added, “FTA is awarding highly competitive grant funds for this project because, as Los Angeles residents and visitors well know, there is a clear need for alternatives to traffic-congested corridors … the Purple Line extension will offer Angelenos better options for getting to and from their jobs, classrooms and all that the area has to offer.”

LA Metro Board Chair John Fasana, Duarte City Council member, said, “By smartly matching federal dollars with Metro’s local sales tax proceeds, we will be able to deliver fast, frequent and high-capacity subway service as promised to LA County residents on an accelerated timeline.”

This phase of the project will extend the subway 2.6 miles to a corridor connecting downtown Los Angeles and Century City, with two new stations at Wilshire/Rodeo in Beverly Hills and Century City/Constellation. The stations are expected to open in 2026 and account for more than 36,000 daily trips by 2035.

CTA: $1.07 Billion

FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers announced Jan. 9 that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive approximately $1.07 billion in federal grant funds for the first phase of the $2.067 billion Red and Purple Line Modernization Project, which will expand capacity on one of the CTA’s busiest corridors.

“FTA is awarding highly competitive grant funds for this project because there is a clear need for transit improvements in this busy, crowded corridor,” Flowers said at an event in Chicago attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. and other agency officials. “When completed, this project will make a big difference for CTA riders with increased service, less crowding aboard trains and better waiting conditions at larger reconstructed stations.”

Carter called the funding agreement “historic,” adding that it was “great news for CTA customers because we can now move forward with one of the biggest modernization projects in CTA history and follow through with our promise to reduce crowding and increase station accessibility.”

The project involves construction of track improvements to relieve a bottleneck at the junction of the Red, Purple and Brown lines; the purchase of 32 new railcars; reconstruction and expansion of four stations to better accommodate current and projected demand; and upgrades to the power, track and signal systems.

The federal funding includes a core capacity construction grant agreement for $956 million through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program and approximately $116 million through DOT’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The CIG funds will be provided over nine years on an annual payment schedule, subject to congressional approval during the annual appropriations process. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.

FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers and DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, right, join Los Angeles Metro CEO Phillip Washington, left, and Board Chair John Fasana to announce $1.6 billion in federal funds for an extension to the Westside Purple Line.
Photo by Juan Ocampo, LA Metro

FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers, at podium, announces $1.07 billion in federal funds for CTA’s Red and Purple Line Modernization Project. CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. is at left and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is at right.


Passenger Transport Is 75!

This year, Passenger Transport is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding as a publication focusing exclusively on the challenges and opportunities facing the public transportation industry.

The American Transit Association, a predecessor organization of APTA, published the first issue of Passenger Transport.

The categories of news from that first issue aren’t too different from those in today’s publication, although homefront concerns related to World War II were a constant theme. Here’s a brief sampling from the first issue:

* News about public transit providers. The “Transit Market” column listed “new franchises and line extensions” in Kansas City, MO; Newark, NJ; Oklahoma City; Portland, OR; Raleigh, NC; and Richmond, VA. Many of these changes were related to improved public transit service to factories and other job centers providing support for the war.

* News about business members. The Mack Manufacturing Corporation announced that it had stopped manufacturing buses and moved the production line to heavy-duty Mack trucks for the armed forces. The Pennsylvania Railroad canceled three of its vacation trains following a federal call for the elimination of unnecessary rail and bus travel.

* News from the federal government. “Capital Stuff” reported on how employers could challenge the drafting of “a man with dependents in an essential occupation within an essential industry” and how much money local transit agencies could receive in federal expenditures to support war plant expansion.

* News about conferences. A session at the New England Regional Bus Conference in Boston laid out wartime concerns facing public transit and plans for postwar vehicle and service improvements. Similar issues would be addressed at the upcoming Midwest Conference in Chicago and the Eastern Conference in New York City.

* News about the workforce. Public transit agencies were actively recruiting women operators as greater numbers of men were called into military service.

Passenger Transport will continue to report highlights from its 75-year history throughout 2017.

From the archives: the front page of the first issue of Passenger Transport.

 

Sound Transit, DOT Develop 'Master Credit Agreement'; Tool Will Provide Nearly $2 B for Four Projects

Sound Transit in Seattle recently entered into a $1.99 billion master credit agreement (MCA) with DOT’s Build America Bureau, which will allow the agency to manage loans for multiple projects under a single agreement with an expected long-term savings of between $200 million and $300 million.

“Building a mass transit network that connects all corners of a growing region is a monumental task,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation stretches our transit dollars even further, helping us meet the demand for fast, reliable light rail and express bus service.”

The MCA covers four separate projects approved by voters as part of the authority’s ST-2 program. In addition to a TIFIA loan of $615.3 million for the 4.3-mile Northgate Link Extension, the agreement will streamline the application process for loans of $657.9 million for the Lynnwood Link Extension, $629.5 million for the Federal Way Link Extension and $87.7 million for the Operations and Maintenance Satellite Facility, East.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx called the MCA “a big win” for the region. “This announcement demonstrates that the Build America Bureau is already playing a major role in how projects are planned and paid for by streamlining the financing process and bringing together valuable tools for accessing federal dollars,” Foxx said.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “As Puget Sound continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to invest in smart, efficient transportation systems that meet the needs of workers, families and the local economy. I’m proud to support programs that can create jobs and save Washington State taxpayers money at the same time.”

The savings are forecast to accrue over the loans’ 35-year lives and are in relation to the borrowing costs assumed in Sound Transit’s financial plan. The loans improve the agency’s long-term financial outlook and reduce risks associated with completing regional transit projects approved by voters in both 2008 and 2016.

The MCA is one tool offered by the Build America Bureau, launched in 2016 as a centralized service for state and municipal governments to fund infrastructure projects and help streamline the process of applying for TIFIA and RRIF loans.

FTA Awards BRT Funds to SFMTA, UTA, Reno RTC

FTA recently announced grant funding for BRT projects operated by three public transit agencies: approximately $75 million each to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and approximately $39 million to Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC).

SFMTA’s $75 million for the Van Ness BRT project, for which the agency broke ground in November, includes a $45 million Capital Investment Grant (CIG) and $30 million in Bus and Bus Facilities funds. The balance of the $223 million project will be funded through other federal, state and local sources.

The two-mile BRT corridor will operate in dedicated lanes along U.S. 101/Van Ness Avenue, one of the city’s busiest bus corridors, when it enters service in 2020. The project includes bus purchases and such features as nine side-platform boarding stations, pedestrian safety enhancements and traffic signal priority. The Van Ness Improvement Project also includes replacing 1800s-era water and sewer lines.

SFMTA Chairman Tom Nolan said, “The Van Ness Improvement Project will improve Van Ness from the sewers below ground, to decreasing transit travel time above ground. This grant is another key milestone towards realizing a better, safer Van Ness for people who ride, drive and walk along this busy corridor.”

The $75 million CIG to UTA will cover about half the total cost of a 10.5-mile BRT line connecting Orem and Provo. This line, scheduled to enter service in 2019, is part of the Provo Orem Transportation Improvement Project, a partnership among UTA, Utah DOT, the two cities and Utah County.

“UTA is very grateful to the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their strong support of transit projects in Utah. This grant announcement is the culmination of years of planning with the support and vision of our board, community leaders in Utah County, as well as the support and strong leadership from state lawmakers and Utah’s congressional delegation,” said UTA President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Benson.

The BRT line will feature 18 stops including connections to FrontRunner commuter rail and regular UTA bus routes. Approximately half of the route will operate on dedicated lanes.

In Reno, the $39 million of federal funds for the 3.1-mile 4th Street/Prater Way BRT line between Reno and Sparks includes a $16 million TIGER grant, $11.8 million from the Surface Transportation Program, $6.47 million from the CIG program and $5.3 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding. Local sources will provide additional funding.

The “RTC Lincoln Line” will operate in mixed traffic along the Historic Highway 40 (Lincoln Highway) corridor that links the two cities’ downtown business districts. The project includes four electric buses, a fast-charge station, four stations with level boarding, transit signal priority upgrades and improvements. RTC anticipates introducing BRT service in 2019.

RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson said, “This new BRT line will improve much needed access, mobility and ADA compliance for all users which will provide enhanced transit service, including new electric buses and passenger stations, to connect residents to jobs and education opportunities. We are grateful for the partnership and support we are receiving from the FTA to deliver this project.”

New CEOs, Interim Named

Baker, Alexandria Transit Company (DASH)

Josh Baker will join the Alexandria (VA) Transit Company, operator of the DASH bus system, as its chief executive officer/general manager on Feb. 6, succeeding retiring 28-year CEO Sandy Modell.

Baker, honored in 2014 as a White House Champion of Change for his role in developing the first public transit system in Radford, VA, in more than 30 years, is general manager of the Greater Lynchburg (VA) Transit Company. He began his 17 years of public transportation experience as a bus driver.

Koleber, CAT, Savannah, GA

The Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT), Savannah, GA, has named Curtis Koleber executive director and chief executive officer. He had been serving in the position as interim for the past year.

Koleber joined CAT in 2013 as chief operating officer and deputy executive director. He previously worked for Veolia in Phoenix.

He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2016 and a member of several APTA committees.


McCaul, Cincinnati Bell Connector

Transdev has named Luke McCaul general manager of Cincinnati Bell Connector operations, succeeding Interim General Manager Mark Young.

McCaul joins Transdev after more than 15 years with Pan Am Railways, a regional rail provider, beginning as train operations manager and moving up to general manager of operations.


 

Sousa, Interim, Green Mountain Transit

Mark Sousa, assistant general manager of Green Mountain Transit (GMT), ­Burlington, VT, has been named interim general manager effective Jan, 20, when Karen Walton steps down after two years in the post.

Sousa was director of operations for GMT, then the Chittenden County Trans­portation Authority, before being promoted to assistant general manager.


Ross, Wisconsin DOT

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker named Dave Ross, secretary of the state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services, to head Wisconsin DOT following the Jan. 6 resignation of Mark Gottlieb, who had served in the post since 2011.







Trogdon, North Carolina DOT

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper named Jim Trogdon—North Carolina DOT’s chief operating officer until his retirement in 2013—to lead the department. Trogdon currently is national transportation director of SAS Institute, and earlier was director of strategic transportation planning for the North Carolina General Assembly.

 

2017: THE YEAR AHEAD

Public Transit Agencies Prepare for Facility, Line Openings, Part 1; From BRT to Intercity Rail, New and Expanded Options

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. have big plans for this year, from introducing new vehicle fleets to opening new rail lines and extensions and opening BRT. Here are just a few examples of what’s ahead; Passenger Transport will report on additional openings and expansions in future issues.

BRT
LYNX in Orlando, FL, is preparing to introduce its third BRT route, the LYMMO Lime Line, in the spring.

AC Transit in Oakland, CA, will open its first BRT service late in the year, operating in a 9.5-mile corridor between the cities of Oakland and the San Leandro BART Station with a fleet of hybrid buses.

Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, plans to open its third BRT line, West Eugene EmX (Emerald Express), in September. Funding for the $94.4 million, 4.5-mile expansion includes $75 million in federal funds, $17.8 million in Oregon Lottery Bonds and $1.6 million from ConnectOregon.

Light Rail and Modern Streetcar

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) marked the completion of its light rail METRORail Green Line Jan. 9 with the opening of the Harrisburg Bridge over a north-south Union Pacific freight rail line. The Green Line now offers nine stops, linking downtown Houston to the Magnolia Park Transit Center in the city’s east end.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) expects to introduce light rail service on the Blue Line Extension this summer. The 9.3-mile extension will include 11 stations and four park-and-ride facilities with approximately 3,100 parking spaces.

CATS also plans to break ground in 2017 for CityLYNX Gold Line Phase 2, which will extend the current route west two miles and east one-half mile with 11 new stops when it opens in 2020. The service will use S70 Siemens modern streetcar vehicles powered with hybrid technology.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) will open its newest light rail line, the 10.5-mile R Line, in 2017, allowing convenient connections to Denver International Airport, the Denver Tech Center and downtown Denver.

Valley Metro in Phoenix plans to break ground later this year for the 50th Street Station, the first light rail project slated under the Phoenix Transportation 2050 development plan. The new station is located on the original Valley Metro Rail line.

Seattle’s Sound Transit is preparing to break ground on two stations on the planned East Link light rail extension, Overlake Village and Redmond Technology Center. The line is scheduled to open in 2023.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, Monrovia, CA, will follow up the 2016 opening of the light rail segment from Pasadena to Asuza late this year by breaking ground for the 12.3-mile, six-station Glendora-Montclair segment.

Heavy Rail
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) plans to open the Warm Springs Extension, with 5.4 miles of track and a new station ­farther south than the line’s ­current terminus in Fremont, CA, early in the year.

Both BART and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are preparing to receive new railcars, which will enter service later in the year.

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Illinois Medical District ­Station, on the Blue Line, is undergoing a renovation budgeted at $23 million and scheduled for completion in 2017.

Commuter and Intercity Rail
Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Petaluma, CA, plans to open the first phase of commuter rail this spring, operating fare free until the July 4 holiday and then with discounted fares until Labor Day. SMART will operate diesel multiple unit railcars from Nippon Sharyo on the route, which will begin with a 37-mile stretch between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

RTD in Denver will open G Line commuter rail during 2017, providing service to the city and its northwestern suburbs.

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline, a privately owned and operated intercity rail system in Florida, will begin service by the middle of 2017 between Miami and West Palm Beach, with an interim station in Fort Lauderdale. A subsequent extension will provide service to Orlando.

Amtrak officials hope to complete new stations in Meriden and Wallingford, CT, by May.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, operator of Tri-Rail commuter rail, is preparing to open the Pompano Beach Station and Operations Center.

Houston METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert, right, joins other stakeholders before the inaugural ride of the METRORail Green Line across the Harrisburg Bridge.

Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, plans to open its third BRT line, West EugeneEmX (Emerald Express), in September.

 

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is testing its trains in preparation for this year's introduction of service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, CA.


Buy America: Current State, Future Prospects; Analyzing the Potential Impact of a New Environment

BY CLIFF HENKE
Senior Analyst, Transit & Rail Systems
WSP
Los Angeles

Commentary

Whether Buy America regulations depart from or continue current policy will depend on how the new administration and congressional leadership will craft their economic agenda.

Concerned about slow growth in U.S. wages and jobs in the wake of the worst economic recession since the 1930s, both Congress and the Obama administration saw a need to attach new conditions to the purse strings as a means to leverage grant assistance for job creation.

As a result, a variety of new policies and regulations came into being, ranging from new rules to incentivize recipients of contracts to create more jobs, internships and training programs to tweaking an old one: Buy America rules.

Rather than delving yet again into the pros and cons of such policies, this article will examine the immediate effects of the rulemaking and guidance on Buy America regulations and whether such rules might change in the wake of November’s election results.

Where Buy America Stands Today
The tougher Buy America provisions in the FAST Act enacted in December 2015 increase the domestic content requirements for federally funded rolling stock procurements, the first such content increases promulgated since 1991.

The legislation increases the minimum required domestic content from the current 60 percent by dollar value of buses, rail vehicles and other manufactured goods purchased with federal transit assistance to 65 percent for such procurements beginning in Fiscal Year 2018 (which begins on Oct. 1 of this year) and rising to 70 percent by the beginning of FY 2020.

The rules also apply to procurements of train control and vehicle location systems, communication systems, traction power equipment and prototypes of vehicles, systems and equipment purchased with federal funds.

In complying with these changes, however, an important question arose: Is the domestic content enforceable at the time that the contract between the procuring agency and supplier is entered into, or upon delivery?

Of course, rules governing pre-award and post-delivery audits of these procurements were not really affected by the new changes, but it was unclear when this content is to be mandated during the transition phase to 70 percent. For example, how would FTA look at contracts that had already been entered into but whose deliveries were expected after the 65 percent or 70 percent requirements became effective? Hundreds of millions of dollars in rolling stock and other procurements could have been affected by how the FTA answered that question.

The answer came when the FTA issued first a proposed Buy America policy guidance, which it then finalized in September 2016. Under the guidance, the content requirements will be based on the scheduled delivery date of the first production vehicle.

In other words, if the first article is delivered after Oct.1, 2017, the domestic content must be greater than 65 percent of its manufactured value; for buses, railcars and other manufactured goods delivered after Oct. 1, 2019, the U.S. content must be greater than 70 percent.

“The revised FTA Buy America policy addresses public transportation industry concerns and maintains the core goal of the program to preserve and create good-paying American jobs,” stated FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers when the final guidance was announced.

The FTA guidance also provides a limited public interest waiver for solicitations and contracts that were underway when the FAST Act was enacted in 2015. Although not explicitly allowed, the guidance also seems to imply that the general interest waiver applies to options on contracts in force prior to Oct. 1, 2015, which are exercised after that date.

However, the waiver does not apply either to procurements made after that date from statewide purchasing schedules or options that are assigned to other agencies after that date, because each typically must be mutually agreed to by the purchasing agency and manufacturer—essentially a new contract in these cases.

Moreover, FTA issued this warning in its finalized guidance: “FTA will not generally look favorably on waivers that provide for contracts that include the exercise of options for vehicles that will be delivered beyond FY 2020. FTA will act expeditiously on public interest waiver requests that provide the information requested.”

Meanwhile, suppliers and contractors can also continue to seek waivers if using a compliant American product in the manufacturing process cannot be found or if it would increase the cost of the project by more than 25 percent. And all such waivers have not been without expenditure of cost, time and labor. However, another provision of the FAST Act shifts the burden of proof to FTA, which could make them easier to obtain.

Implications for Agencies
While the concerns of the supply side of public transportation are known, many are also concerned about the prospects of higher prices and project delays for public transportation agencies on their capital programs.

The impacts vary by sector. While railcar procurements have been able to deliver orders with higher percentages of domestic content, many share the concerns of bus builders that suppliers often exit and enter the market well after the contract is negotiated, which has an effect on the percentage of domestic content by the time vehicles are delivered, as well as when options are exercised on contracts.

One lot of deliveries might easily comply with the Buy America requirements while the next lot may have a greater challenge. This puts a heavier burden on public transit grant recipients monitoring production and sometimes creates project delays in finding compliant suppliers to replace those that exited the U.S. market.

Because 2012’s MAP-21 Act extended the contract length for rail procurements to seven years, FTA’s guidance that the new requirements of the FAST Act apply to content measured at the time of delivery could further exacerbate the challenge of delivering orders that meet the new Buy America threshold over a full contract term.

Meanwhile, bus manufacturers have had a tougher challenge in meeting even the 60 percent threshold in previous legislation, let alone the FAST Act’s higher mandate; such challenges vary depending on the model being ordered in the procurement.

Of particular concern is that a few key components and systems in the public transit bus supply chain have only one supplier; thus, bus builders alike are very concerned that the higher mandates of the FAST Act, along with other new procurement requirements, might force these suppliers to leave the market altogether, resulting in capital program delays or much higher prices.

This is more than a theoretical concern in other market sectors as well. In San Francisco, a communications modernization program has experienced delays because of lack of available suppliers, despite repeated solicitations. A streetcar project in Charlotte was delayed because the agency could not find a domestic supplier of rail. And although FTA used the Department of Commerce’s manufacturing assistance programs to encourage domestic mills to produce the needed rail, the project was delayed. Tougher content requirements could make such situations more frequent.

Future Prospects

Going forward, the implementation of FAST Act provisions with respect to Buy America will be determined by the incoming administration and Congress.

One hint on how the new administration may enforce Buy America is contained in written statements that DOT Secretary-designate Elaine Chao submitted to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (the committee that will vote on her nomination).

Chao emphasized her priorities in streamlining regulation. In 2009 while she was a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, she criticized the Buy America provisions contained in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, claiming they were “building a moat around America.” In public transportation, those provisions were the same as in previous law.

A possible area of rollback is the Obama administration’s unprecedented extension of Buy America rules to utilities’ relocation on highway and public transportation infrastructure projects. Those rules have been strongly resisted not only by traditional public transportation goods and service providers but also by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Foundation and several major utilities trade groups and companies. Both the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also opposed Buy America amendments to the recently enacted water resources bill, calling them “counterproductive” measures that could “drive up public infrastructure costs, unduly burden contractor supply chains and reduce overall project competition.”

Whether—or precisely how—the new Congress and administration will change Buy America provisions in federal public transportation policy, some of which date to the 1930s, remains to be seen.

One thing is very clear, however: Buy America will be considered in the larger context of addressing the plight of many who are still struggling economically, which was a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

This Commentary is by Cliff Henke, who was named APTA’s Outstanding Business Member of the Year in 2012. He is past chair of the Business Member Legislative Committee and vice chair, policy, BRT Council. He also serves as a member of the Business Member Procurement Committee and Authorization Task Force, among other positions.

Public Transportation's Big Winners at the Ballot Box: What's Next? Agency GMs Describe SGR, Expansion, Ridership Plans for Coming Year and Beyond

After all the grassroots outreach and education, public hearings, rider mobilization efforts, media interviews and election night vigils, winning public transportation agency leaders typically take a breath on post-Election-Day morning and then gear up for their next challenge: allocating the voter-approved funds among competing—and pressing—priorities.

After public transportation agencies of all sizes and in all areas of the country racked up a series of wins at the ballot box in November (amounting to more than $170 billion in voter-approved funding nationwide), Passenger Transport asked a few agency leaders to share their thoughts in this ­one-­question interview:

Your agency was one of several public transportation systems that experienced significant wins at the ballot box in November, an election that also delivered historic wins for the industry in general. How will this funding impact your agency both in the short term and in the years ahead?

BART: Priority on Safety, Reliability, Meeting Demand

Grace Crunican
General Manager
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

Last November, voters in our three-county district sent a clear message: It’s time to fix BART.

Measure RR, a cornerstone of the plan to rebuild and improve our 45-year-old system, will raise $3.5 billion in bonds with the first projects slated to begin immediately in 2017.

Thanks to BART’s focus on asset management, our short-term capital improvement projects have been prioritized based on necessity so that those with the greatest impact on BART’s safety and reliability will be addressed first.

These state-of-good-repair projects will rely heavily on funds raised from Measure RR and include rail replacement, power transmission equipment replacement, escalator replacement and tunnel waterproofing.  Our immediate focus is on reducing the number of delays that occur due to deteriorating infrastructure; this ensures the system stays safe for riders and remains a viable alternative to personal vehicles.

BART’s victory at the ballot box, however, was only one piece of a larger financial puzzle we are working to solve.

Our mandate to rebuild comes at a time of breakneck growth in the Bay Area, and changing attitudes toward public transit are bringing people on board faster than our capacity can keep up. Voters’ approval of Measure RR signaled a willingness to invest in effective public transportation and validates our plan to begin long-term projects like the implementation of communications-based train control.

Qualifying components of that program will be paid for with funds from Measure RR, and once complete will enable us to run more trains more often. Moreover, new train control enables us to expand our fleet to more than 1,000 cars—a separate project we hope to have delivered by the mid-2020s.

With mounting uncertainty over federal and state funding, we cannot overstate our gratitude for the passage of Measure RR. Without it, we would be facing unprecedented difficulty. Balancing state-of-good-repair needs with core capacity improvements is a tightrope we will be walking for quite some time, yet we have every reason to be optimistic.

Voters are taking notice of our industry’s growing pains and are offering overwhelming support. Everyone moves forward together, and we’re excited to keep up the momentum.


Los Angeles Metro: Measure M for ‘Momentum’
Phillip A. Washington
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

It has been an incredible year for Los Angeles Metro. At a time of uncertainty and division across our nation, Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly confirmed their commitment to mobility by supporting Measure M, the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan.

In November, more than 71 percent of voters approved the new half-cent sales tax and extension of the Measure R half-cent sales tax. Both will continue until voters decide to repeal them (“no sunset”). We think the broad support was the result of the process we used to determine the projects and programs for the measure.

At the outset of the tax initiative exploration, we vowed to uphold a transparent, bottom-up input process, with ideas coming from the communities to create a balanced plan for all of L.A. County. Communities responded with vigor, and we were able to craft a ballot measure that we think reflects the needs of our patrons.

The voters agreed and Measure M is forecast to raise about $120 billion in its first 40 years.

Measure M is the fourth half-cent sales tax approved by county voters since 1980. Those local funds have been and will continue to be instrumental in leveraging state and federal funds —and possibly private monies in the form of P3s— to accelerate “mega projects.”

In the short term, we have a lot to do at Metro and we’re hard at work on a master guidance document to detail the broad investment categories in Measure M. The guidelines will help us stay on target as we implement the projects and programs. We know that fulfillment of the ballot measure is going to impact many L.A. County residents and we want the process to go deliberately and smoothly.

We’re also setting up the all-important Independent Oversight Committee to provide an enhanced level of accountability on the use of Measure M sales tax revenues.

And the future? We will be embarking on significant construction. Measure M will bring us 40 capital projects to be built mostly over 40 years. It includes new rail and BRT projects, highway projects and enhanced bus and rail service. It ensures that fares remain affordable for seniors, students and persons with disabilities.

It also provides billions of dollars to the 88 cities in L.A. County (a provision called “local return”) for them to do their own local street, sidewalk, pothole and signal improvements while also dedicating billions more to the kind of transportation projects that might not otherwise be built, including active transportation, such as pedestrian and bike projects to help our patrons solve the first and last-mile gap.

And for the first time, it provides us with a dedicated funding stream to keep our system in a state of good repair so that we can replace railcars and buses and other transit infrastructure as it ages.

We have begun a transportation infrastructure revolution here in L.A. County … a revolution that will transform the region, creating an estimated 465,690 jobs and building and maintaining transportation infrastructure that will endure for the next 100 years.

We are grateful to voters for their support and generosity as we are invigorated and inspired by the job ahead. Here we go!

NAIPTA: Building on Security, Laying Groundwork
Jeff Meilbeck
CEO & General Manager
Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority
Flagstaff, AZ

The Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA) put Proposition 411 before Flagstaff ­voters in November 2016, asking if the existing Mountain Line sales tax should be continued for 10 more years.

When the votes were tallied, the measure passed with a resounding 71 percent approval rating, securing Mountain Line’s funding until 2030.

Although it was a renewal of an existing tax, having success on a crowded ballot was a significant win for our organization.

It also gives us the breathing room to know that our base funding is secure for the foreseeable future and opens up opportunities to potentially have a public transit component as part of a larger Flagstaff transportation initiative in 2018.

NAIPTA has a history of success at the ballot box, but we did not take anything for granted going into the Proposition 411 campaign.

A pre-election survey of likely voters revealed that more than 85 percent of voters have a positive opinion of Mountain Line and 87 percent of voters supported a 10-year continuation of the existing transit tax. Armed with this information and input from a Citizens’ Review Commission, we developed ballot language that reflected the will of our community.

With a high level of public support, our main goal was to create an educational campaign that kept Proposition 411 top-of-mind during a noisy election season and laid the groundwork for the 2018 election.

We hosted a series of open houses, conducted a small advertising campaign and used social media and the Mountain Line website to keep voters up-to-date.

The highly visible campaign reinforced the fact that voters put their trust in us when they increased the transit tax in 2008 and Mountain Line delivered on the promises made during that campaign.

In the short term, having a secure funding source through 2030 gives NAIPTA the freedom to deliver on its mission of “Getting You Where You Want to Go” on a daily basis.

In the long term, having success at the ballot box in 2016 allows us to be thoughtful and deliberate about where and how we want to grow in the future, with the eye to the 2018 election.

SARTA: Focus on High-Tech Tools, Ridership
Kirt Conrad
Chief Executive Officer
Stark Area Regional Transit  Authority, Canton, OH

Passage of our levy demonstrates that Stark County residents are keenly aware of and enthusiastically support the things SARTA does today.

Thanks to the convincing “Yes” vote, we’ll keep meeting—and exceeding—the expectations of the thousands of seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, students and commuters who depend on us to get them where they need to go when they need to be there.

Levy funding will also enable us to both upgrade our already-impressive suite of high-tech tools that put riders in control of their public transit experience and build upon the award-winning initiatives that have made SARTA a national and world leader in the acquisition and deployment of low-emission vehicles, including buses powered by the energy of the future: hydrogen fuel cells.

In the years ahead, our levy will enable us to develop and implement programs that will grow ridership by making SARTA an attractive transportation option for a wider segment of the population.

To accomplish that goal, we’re actively considering a number of initiatives to make SARTA more affordable and convenient than ever. They include the following:

Installing Wi-Fi at our bus islands so riders can stay connected;
Increasing service on key routes to reduce wait times and improve connectivity;
Partnering with local colleges and universities to provide SARTA service as part of students’ tuition;
Developing express service to and from our transit centers to employers, job sites and childcare facilities;
Making SARTA the “go-to” option for the Hall of Fame Village development;
Implementing a pilot “Dial-A-Ride” program to serve those who don’t have access to our fixed routes; and
Restarting operations on Sunday to accommodate the riders who work weekends.

Most importantly, our plans for the future will enable us to provide transportation solutions that help workers, students, commuters and families deal with the challenges they face in a world in which time is an incredibly valuable—and scarce—asset.

Our planned programs will help the people we serve succeed and they’ll guarantee that SARTA remains a valuable, and valued, community asset well into the 21st century.


Time to Get Started?
If your agency is planning a ballot initiative for 2018, Election Day will be here before you know it.

It’s never too early to get started on building support and launching educational campaigns. One good way to begin is to review the resources at the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE), an APTA affiliate that serves as an online clearinghouse for news and resources related to public transportation-related ballot measures.

Public transit officials preparing for an election will find resources at the CFTE website, including examples of ballot language and sample campaign materials, an interactive map showing the location of recent transit votes, extensive research and original reports regarding the connections between communities and their public transit agencies and information on training opportunities and webinars. CFTE also keeps a running year-by-year list of ballot issues and tabulates the percentage of measures that pass.

Transit leaders can also attend CFTE’s biennial Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference, scheduled for May 21-23 in Seattle. This meeting—the only national conference exclusively devoted to understanding transportation ballot measures and providing concrete advice on how to win—features firsthand accounts from industry professionals and volunteers who have worked in the trenches of successful ballot campaigns.

In addition, more information on how to build and cultivate grassroots advocates for public transit can be found in an in-depth article that appeared in the Oct. 24 Passenger Transport.

Members Look to 2017

APTAtv recently had an opportunity to speak with members about their organizations’ initiatives for 2017. Watch this brief video to see—and hear—what they’ve got on the drawing board.

Federal Role in Safety Continues to Unfold; Officials at Three Major Federal Agencies Review Priorities

Safety and security invariably claim the top spot in a list of public transportation’s essential practices, with the aim of “keeping a safe network even safer”—a goal reflected in APTA’s current strategic plan, which was developed after a yearlong initiative to gather and incorporate feedback and insights from members.

And as individual public transit agencies increase safeguards to protect riders, employees and assets, the federal government is also playing a growing role in setting guidelines, recommending best practices and developing pilot programs to strengthen safety throughout the industry.Here’s a look at how three senior leaders view the federal government’s evolving role in public transportation safety.

FTA: Safety Management Systems ‘Foundation’ for Program
Thomas Littleton
Associate Administrator for Transit Safety and Oversight, FTA

As we begin a new year, public transportation safety enters a new phase at FTA. Safety Management System (“SMS”) methods and principles remain the foundation for all FTA policies and regulatory initiatives, and in 2017 we will support the industry in understanding SMS.

We now have several SMS pilot programs underway in various stages at several bus agencies and one large multimodal agency. Based on these pilots, we will develop technical assistance for the entire industry—both rail and rubber-tire—and provide a pool of peer-to-peer expertise. We look forward to sharing a number of SMS resources with the industry in 2017.

This year, FTA expects states to make significant progress toward attaining certification for their State Safety Oversight (SSO) agencies as required by federal law. The SSO final rule, issued in March 2016, requires that an SSO agency have financial and legal independence from the rail transit agencies it oversees, as well as independent investigatory and enforcement authority.

Because of short state legislative calendars, some states must work in earnest towards certification of their SSO programs in 2017 to meet the April 15, 2019, deadline. FTA has grant funds available for states to use to develop and implement their SSO programs.

In addition, this year FTA will complete the task of building the policy and regulatory foundation for the Public Transportation Safety Program, authorized by federal public transportation law in 2012. FTA anticipates publishing final rules for Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans and the Safety Certification Training Program, as well as our first National Public Transportation Safety Plan, which will provide guidance to the industry.

We will build upon this foundation by addressing specific, critical safety issues. For example, FTA will publish a statutorily required report on our comprehensive review of existing public transportation safety standards and protocols. The report includes a comprehensive set of recommendations to support a risk-based analysis of the safety performance of transit modes and identifies transit safety issues that may be mitigated through the issuance of additional safety standards.

In the coming months, we are scheduled to issue a statutorily required Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on protecting public transportation workers from the risk of assault that would establish requirements for mitigating assaults against transit employees.

FTA will continue providing direct safety oversight of the Washington ­Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system until a new SSO program is created jointly by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia and certified by the FTA. Indeed, FTA has learned much from our hands-on experience of WMATA oversight, which will inevitably help us achieve our policy and regulatory objectives.

Overall, FTA’s safety role continues to mature with the ongoing startup and completion of rulemakings, directives, State Safety Oversight implementation, SMS guidance and more in 2017 and beyond.

I encourage you to visit FTA’s website, read our monthly newsletter and view our Safety and Oversight page to stay up-to-date with the work we are doing to make a safe industry even safer for its passengers and employees.


NTSB: Steady Emphasis on Technology, Trends
Bella Dinh-Zarr
Vice Chair, National Transportation Safety Board

I take public transportation every day. My family and I rely on transit to get to work and school, to shop and to visit friends and family. We, like many American families, depend on public transit and depend on the federal government to help ensure it is safe.

For me, as an NTSB board member, public transportation safety is both a personal and professional priority. I had the pleasure of commenting on the release of APTA’s safety research, which helped educate the public on the importance of transit as a traffic safety tool.

Transit is increasingly considered a safe alternative for travel, especially for high-risk drivers, and this is a positive evolution in perceptions as we all work to make public transit as safe as possible.

What is the evolving role of the federal government and the NTSB?

On one hand, the role of the federal government, including the NTSB, is always evolving because we have a responsibility to ensure we are up-to-date on the latest technology and trends—and that is a responsibility the NTSB takes seriously because we are an agency based on investigative and scientific rigor.

On the other hand, the role of the NTSB to keep Americans safe, in all modes of transportation, does NOT evolve. We have been, and will continue to be, the steadfast, unwavering champion of transportation safety for our nation.

Our purpose is to investigate accidents and make safety recommendations to save lives and prevent injuries. We are a unique, independent agency dedicated to advancing transportation safety, including public transportation safety.

Are we criticized for this single-minded focus on safety? Yes. Does that stop us? No.

Since 1926, we have made more than 14,000 safety recommendations to 2,300 entities; 80 percent of those recommendations have been adopted. But we do not give up when recommendations for effective safety interventions, such as PTC, take years or even decades to complete.

We also shine the spotlight on safety concerns through our “Most Wanted List” of transportation priorities. We focus on transportation safety as only an independent non-regulatory agency can. And our nation is safer for it.

At the NTSB, our safety mission is guided by our values of independence, credibility and transparency. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “The care of human life and happiness … is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

In that sense, the role of the NTSB, and indeed the federal government as a whole, should not evolve at all.


TSA: Prevent Attacks, Protect Infrastructure
Christopher McKay
Mass Transit Branch Manager, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

TSA employs an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to secure U.S. transportation systems. Risk-based security strives to deter, detect and disrupt attacks on the nation’s transportation systems and critical transportation infrastructure while facilitating the movement of legitimate travel and commerce.

TSA employs risk-based operations tailored to each environment and transportation mode and leverages intelligence, technology, the experience of our front-line operators and our private sector and international partners to ensure we employ effective and constantly evolving systems and capabilities.

TSA’s public transportation security strategy differs from its aviation security strategy model due to differences in the operating nature of the two elements. PT systems are designed to be open systems in which very little is known about the travelers who use it or personnel who approach its infrastructure.

These systems are much less regulated in comparison to the aviation mode, so for security matters, the federal government primarily serves in a supporting role to state and local authorities and system owners/operators.

In conjunction with federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners, TSA enhances public transportation security through (1) deterrence, (2) detection and (3) resilience activities. This is accomplished through planning, developing and implementing primarily voluntary strategic security solutions. The primary goals of these activities are to prevent catastrophic terrorist events and protect nationally critical infrastructure.

TSA is responsible for developing public transportation security policy and supporting system owners/operators in identifying, developing and implementing remediation strategies to include unpredictable operational deterrence, preparedness and response exercises, improving critical infrastructure resilience, front line employee security training and public awareness campaigns and materials.

It is important to note, however, that mitigation, response and recovery following a terrorist attack involving transportation infrastructure and services requires a “whole-of-community” approach, including public- and private-sector owners and operators, as well as federal and state and local governments.

Effective preparedness and operational readiness for a terrorist attack begins with the prevention and protection mission areas of the National Preparedness System and in the pre-incident planning, training and exercise components of the response and recovery mission areas.

DHS and DOT share the responsibility for transportation emergency preparedness and response during declared emergencies or disasters.

Editor’s Note: FRA did not provide comments for this article.


COMMENTARY

2017: A Year of Opportunity ... With Details TBD

BY RICHARD A. WHITE
APTA Acting President & CEO

The start of every New Year inspires us to be aspirational. As 2017 begins, there is reason to be optimistic despite the uncertainty that always occurs with a change of administrations in Washington, DC.

For starters, the strong support for local and state transit ballot initiatives on Election Day 2016 shows that the public wants more of what we provide. Americans approved $170 billion in new investment for public transportation in their communities. That means planning and revenue collection activities will begin this year—some for new and expanded service, others to chip away at the $86 billion backlog in infrastructure needs.

More than a dozen new openings are scheduled in 2017—in communities as diverse as Chicago and Denver, St. Louis and Miami, and San Jose and Detroit. And the year began with the launch of the newest subway line in one of the oldest public transit systems in the U.S.: New York MTA opened the Second Avenue line on New Year’s Day. This is also the second year of the five-year FAST Act. Our industry continues to implement the $61.1 billion federal program. State of good repair will continue to be a major focus as our older and most-used systems replace aging equipment and address deferred maintenance needs.

Safety and security will be an ongoing priority for our industry this year and it is APTA’s most important strategic goal. Look for more progress to be made on installation of PTC equipment as the December 2018 deadline approaches.

Our association will do its part by implementing a new safety and security accreditation program, providing guidance on Safety Management System-based cultures, conducting an international security exchange and sponsoring special sessions at our conferences.

We also expect to see the nexus between technology and training make a big difference as systems invest in more high-tech products and talented people.

New technologies and new mobility services are changing the way people travel, including how passengers use public transit. More and more public transportation agencies are partnering with shared mobility and on-demand companies, such as Uber and Lyft, thereby increasing options and access. Others are testing fully automated transit vehicles. The combination of new service providers, new business models and new innovative equipment has the potential to put our industry at the center of an evolving, collaborative mobility ecosystem.

A new administration and Congress will not only bring new faces, but also new perspectives. With Elaine Chao as DOT secretary, we will have an experienced transportation veteran in a powerful leadership role. Having served as the agency’s deputy secretary from 1989-1991, Chao understands the issues facing our industry—and she knows APTA.

The Trump administration is looking for ways to ease regulatory burdens on businesses and local governments, while Republican leaders in Congress seek limits on the rulemaking activities of some agencies. This could benefit the public transportation sector, as we look ahead to implementing streamlined provisions under the FAST Act. Still, “Buy America” rules that pertain to public transit fleets and rolling stock are likely to remain in place; the president-elect and many Cabinet nominees are staunch advocates of tough “made-in-America” requirements.

Finally, the possibility of a major infrastructure investment package, which President-elect Trump proposed during the campaign, remains real. A busy legislative agenda in early 2017 means that a meaningful infrastructure plan may not emerge until after the first 100 days of the new year, but interest among members of Congress is serious. Discussions have begun over what might be included in such an initiative.

In fact, a plan to rebuild and strengthen America’s infrastructure is compatible with the November election’s populist sentiment. Many voters said they were concerned about issues like jobs, income equality and security. I believe we can add mobility to that list because public transportation is an essential “open-to-all” means to these mainstream priorities—and accessibility is at the heart of populism.

A recent survey of voters supports this idea. Nearly 70 percent of all voters last November—and 65 percent of those who voted for Donald Trump—favor greater investment in public transportation. More than four in five Trump voters oppose any cuts in public transit funding.

Yes, it’s early and the 2017 agenda is still taking shape. But there are positive signs for public transportation in the coming months. With your active participation, I’m confident 2017 will be one of our industry’s best years.

Here’s to a happy—and successful—New Year for our industry, association and all of you and your organizations.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Raymond J. Melleady!

Raymond J. Melleady
Managing Director, North America
USSC Group/4ONE/FMNA
Exton, PA
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Business Member Board of Governors and Bus Operations Committee; co-chair, Business Member Legislative Committee

Please describe your organization’s scope.

The USSC Group of companies employs 850 people. The company includes four divisions: USSC (United States Seating Company) manufactures heavy duty operator seating for various markets, including public transit bus and rail, locomotive, fire truck and ambulance. 4ONE passenger seating is a joint venture between USSC and Freedman Seating in Chicago. This division designs and manufactures ­passenger seating and ADA securement solutions for the heavy duty transit and coach markets. FMNA (Fogmaker North America) designs and manufactures fire suppression systems for various industries, including school and heavy duty transit buses. GSS (Global Seating Systems) is our military seating division that manufactures seating for various military applications, from tanks to joint tactical vehicles.

How long have you been involved in public transportation? What attracted your interest in the industry?

My entire life. My father drove a bus for most of his career and after high school I went to work in the transit industry, fueling and cleaning buses at night for SEPTA in North Philadelphia. I aspired to be a diesel technician and union rules required that I start at an entry-level position. I learned frontline operations as a technician for several years, then progressed through frontline and mid-level management positions prior to moving up to the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, where I was the chief operating officer and then executive director. I moved into the ­private sector in 2010 and continue to advocate for the industry that has given me so much.

The reality is, I began working in transit to feed my family. It was stable work. It didn’t take long, however, for me to recognize the impact that transit and mobility had on people and communities. I also recognized that within the industry, there were very few executives with a maintenance operations background. The people and opportunities in this industry have been tremendous. Where else can a high school graduate cleaning buses on night shift access executive opportunities?

Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.

I have been involved with APTA for 20 years. Some of my affiliations are noted above. As the co-chair of the Business Member Legislative Committee, I work with our members to develop an aggressive legislative agenda that supports transit operations. Having served for so many years on the public side, I encourage a much more aggressive approach with advocacy from a business perspective.

At USSC, we employ hundreds of blue collar, family sustaining ­manufacturing jobs—many of which are connected to public contracts and transit funding. I view it as my duty to meet with our political representatives to “connect the dots” between public projects and private jobs.

Which APTA benefit or resource helps you do your job, and why?

APTA is a tremendous resource for the industry—from networking to shared perspectives on issues affecting business and mobility. APTA provides a unique central repository for ideas and standards, and it is the association that harmonizes the many voices in transit to create a unified message for external stakeholders.

What do you value most about your industry involvement?

I am very aware of how fortunate I am to work in this industry—the people I have met and know, what I have learned, how I have grown. What I value in my involvement is my ability to give back, to serve, to pay it forward—to do for others what others have done for me.

Aside from my work with industry colleagues, I have advocated for and actively participate in the NTI Rutgers program for maintenance executive leadership, and I am confident that graduates of this program will be future executives at transit properties across North America. There is, and always will be, a shortage of executives who understand operations at its core.

What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?

Our company was started in a garage in Conshohocken, PA, by Ulf Hammarskjold in 1989. Ulf passed away this week [Dec. 19, 2016] and I remember him as I answer this question. From that humble beginning, I think people would be surprised to learn that we are the largest transit seating manufacturer in the United States.

Our FMNA division has a major presence in the fire suppression and detection business internationally. Our water mist fire suppression continues to be the fastest-growing segment of our business.

Lastly, we contribute in substantive ways to charities in our community. Our organization and our employees believe in paying it forward.

APTA NEWS

APTA Supports Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds for Infrastructure Investments

APTA recently joined 28 other associations and nonprofit organizations in a letter distributed to every member of Congress supporting the continued use of tax-exempt municipal bonds to finance repairs and construction of a wide range of public facilities and systems, from public transportation, roads, bridges and airports to schools, hospitals, housing and libraries.

“As the new administration and Congress seek ways to increase infrastructure investments, we would note an incredibly powerful tool already in hand—tax-exempt municipal bonds,” the letter stated.

The letter called the bonds “a fundamental component of our nation’s intergovernmental partnership” and “a bedrock by which state and local governments, authorities and nonprofits of all sizes can cost-effectively access the capital markets and in turn provide essential infrastructure for their citizens.”

Such bonds have financed more than $2 trillion in new infrastructure investments over the past 10 years, the letter noted, and are poised to finance another $2 trillion in the next 10 years, making them ideal instruments to fund community-specific infrastructure needs and encourage the development of P3s and other alternative financing models.

“State and local governments have been laboratories for innovative finance and have many insights to share,” the letter stated.

Conferences on the Horizon

APTA has scheduled conferences to meet the specialized needs of public transit agency CEOs and deputy CEOs, marketing and communications professionals, fare and revenue professionals and technology specialists.


The Transit CEOs Seminar, Feb. 11-14 at the Omni San Diego, provides practical information for new and longtime senior leaders on such topics as the CEO’s leadership role in safety and security, what to expect from the Trump administration and the future of mobility, along with opportunities to brainstorm and share with colleagues.

The Marketing & Communications Workshop, Feb. 26-March 1 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, covers all aspects of public transit marketing and communications, from ridership to social media, and includes numerous networking opportunities including organized dinner groups. The workshop will also host the 2017 APTA Call Center Challenge, selecting the industry’s best call center employee, and host a reception to celebrate the 2017 AdWheel first-place winners.

All participants in the Revenue Management/Fare Collection & TransITech Conference, April 3-5 at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, can attend any session in this combined program. Public transportation personnel involved in the collection and protection of transit fares and revenue can consider topics from interoperability from an agency perspective to lessons learned from a smart card and fare gate system implementation. TransITech provides a deep dive into new and emerging technologies. In both cases, the focus is on learning what’s new, career growth and ways to engage passengers and professionals.

For details and to register, click here.

APTA's New Toolkit Provides Funding Messages for Congress

As President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to invest up to $1 trillion in strengthening and building infrastructure in the early days of his administration, APTA has developed a toolkit to help members reach out to their elected leaders to reinforce the value and importance of including public transportation in any infrastructure package that might move forward.

The online toolkit features several “ready-to-use” components:
* General messaging guidance;
* Social media content to welcome the new Congress;
* Invitations members can customize to invite their elected representatives to their agency or business; and
* Other information and resources.

Find the toolkit at the APTA website by searching under “News Updates.”

Youth Summit Industry's Chance to Help Support Future Workforce

APTA is presenting its fifth biennial Youth Summit, June 19-23 in Washington, DC, an event that will introduce up to 50 high school juniors and seniors to careers in the public transportation industry.

Students from throughout North America are selected for the all-expenses-paid summit based on an applications process; APTA is accepting applications until Feb. 17.

This year’s summit features a curriculum developed and presented by industry leaders and invited speakers and will include workshops on STEM topics, local and federal transit policy, business administration, marketing and communications, unique roles of the public and private sectors, work culture, information technology, the frontline workforce and infrastructure.

APTA members can support the summit by encouraging young people to apply, becoming a sponsor and volunteering to help plan and conduct the event.

This summit, part of APTA’s youth outreach and awareness program, is being organized under the leadership of its two advisory committee co-chairs: Jeff Wharton, member, APTA Executive Committee, chair, Business Member Board of Governors, and president, IMPulse NC LLP; and Adelee LeGrand, member, APTA Board of Directors, vice president, Transdev, and chief strategy officer, Regional Transit Authority, New Orleans.

For details, contact Brandon Roccio.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Snowstorm Slows Portland; TriMet Keeps Going

 Public transit agencies in various parts of the U.S. are dealing with snow, ice, flooding and other severe weather by adapting routes, providing information to potential riders and keeping service going as long as they can.

Portland, OR, received nine inches of snow the morning of Jan. 11 and the snowfall continued, but the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) managed to maintain operations on its buses (with some route changes) and MAX light rail.

Public transit consultant Jarrett Walker used his blog (Human Transit) to describe the agency’s efforts to continue service. “I got to the airport [by bus and light rail] in about 1.2 times the usual travel time, faster than would have been possible by any other mode of transport,” he said.

But snow wasn’t the only weather-related emergency affecting transit agencies; flooding in California and western states also took a toll.

In Reno, NV, for example, storm-related flooding damaged a Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) construction site. RTC deployed drones to determine if the floodwater made contact with a berm protecting mercury-contaminated soil. One of the 12 stockpiles appears to have had a partial failure, agency officials said, but RTC cannot determine the extent of possible contact until the floodwater recedes.

In anticipation of more severe weather on the way, public transit agencies in the Midwest, including RideKC in Kansas City, MO, and IndyGo in Indianapolis, are preparing with additional staff and pre-treatment of roads. RideKC service, operated by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, provides real-time bus information and service changes for desktop computers and smartphones and the agency also will provide two warming buses in downtown Kansas City during the storm. IndyGo offers detour and delay information through its customer service phone number and asks passengers and operators alike to take extra precautions.

TriMet kept its buses and light rail operating despite a nine-inch snowfall, as shown in this photo of the agency’s Gateway Transit Center taken by public transit consultant Jarrett Walker.

Photo courtesy of Jarrett Walker, www.humantransit.org


AC Transit Launches Second Stage of 'Go' Plan

AC Transit, Oakland, CA, recently introduced a new bus line and adjusted service on an existing route in the second part of AC Go, a four-stage plan that ultimately will result in the most significant expansion of service in the agency’s history.

“Since the launch of AC Go, East Bay riders now enjoy the convenience of four all-new bus routes, a number of routes have been redesigned and extended for improved access to intermodal hubs, our hours of operation were expanded and—I am incredibly proud to say—bus frequency on several routes has been improved by as much as 10 minutes,” said Michael Hursh, AC Transit general manager. “In the coming months AC Go will usher in more frequency on lines, break loops into more direct lines and increase service to places customers want to go to. By fall 2017, AC Go changes will come to central Alameda County, where many lines operate in loops and only once an hour. Every line in these communities will have frequency improved to 30 minutes and loops will be broken into more direct routes.”

The district-wide plan, which costs $25.4 million annually, improves the agency’s existing network by better meeting demand and providing more frequent and reliable service, funded through Measure BB, the Alameda County Transportation Commission sales tax. AC Transit will increase its service by 14 percent when it completes implementation of all four segments of the project at the end of 2017.

Information about the plan’s first stage appeared in the July 4 Passenger Transport.

Klepper to Head DOT's Build America Bureau

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx has named Martin Klepper the initial executive director of DOT’s Build America Bureau, a recently created entity that streamlines access to federal credit and grant opportunities; provides technical assistance for project planning, financing, delivery and monitoring; and helps state and local governments develop and finance transportation-related P3s.

Klepper, a senior partner in the Energy and Infrastructure Projects Group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, has closed more than 100 major transportation, energy and other infrastructure transactions and worked with various public and private entities on energy and infrastructure financing.

The Build America Bureau combines TIFIA, RRIF and other DOT funding programs.

Fort Worth Receives $499 Million for TEXRail


From left, FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers joined Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) President/CEO Paul Ballard, FWTA Board Chair Scott Mahaffey and Project Counsel Kevin L. Twining to sign a $499.39 million Full Funding Grant Agreement to complete funding of the TEXRail commuter rail project. The signing ceremony took place at FWTA’s offices in downtown Fort Worth, where the 27-mile commuter rail will start its route that concludes at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal B. Scheduled to begin service in late 2018, the $1.034 billion plan has generated multiple TOD projects along the route. See the initial funding story here.

New DOT Report Describes Transit Benefits of ARRA

A new DOT report estimates that the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or Recovery Act) infused roughly $48.1 billion in investments in transportation infrastructure, helping to facilitate a “historic ­economic turnaround.”

The report, Shovel Worthy: The Lasting Impacts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on America’s Transportation Infrastructure, was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden with an opening letter addressed to President Barack Obama.Because of the Recovery Act,

Biden’s letter stated, “Americans were put back to work and our transportation system—from roads and bridges to high-speed rail—received a significant down payment in every state in the country.”

He also called the act the largest ­public works project since the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System and said its long-term objective was “to build a 21st Century economy and transportation system.”

The report noted the Recovery Act’s several “tangible, visible and transformative” benefits, including:

* Transit investments to construct or rehabilitate 850 new facilities and provide nearly 12,000 new buses and 700 new railcars; and

* the TIGER grant program, which the report credited with successfully supporting several innovative projects across the country.

“The initial $1.5 billion TIGER grant program kicked off this successful program with over 60 competitively selected projects across the country,” the report stated. “Throughout its eight-year history, TIGER has not only renewed federal investment in critical infrastructure—putting $5.1 billion into 421 projects—it has reenergized communities across the country by sparking local and private investments in our transportation network.”

Find the report here.

CCW to Electrify Four Buses for GTrans


Complete Coach Works (CCW), Riverside, CA, has entered into a contract with Gardena Municipal Bus Lines (GTrans), Gardena, CA, to convert four of the agency’s buses from gasoline hybrids to all-electric battery-powered engines using CCW’s Zero Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) technology. This contract follows a project last year when CCW converted one of the agency’s gasoline hybrid buses to all-electric technology; GTrans recently received a California Energy Commission grant to upgrade four more of its hybrid buses to electric.

UITP Summit Kicks Off in May

Public transportation experts will convene at the UITP’s (International Association of Public Transport) Global Public Transit Summit in Montréal, May 15-17, in an event that encompasses all public transit modes, includes educational sessions and features an exhibit of the latest innovations and products in the industry and urban mobility.

The summit will focus on four key areas: all-inclusive mobility and the urban transition, digitalization, redefining urban transport and energy-efficient mobility. Specific session topics will include how new mobility services can be integrated with traditional public transportation, ways to stay competitive in times of increasing digitalization, methods to build better funding and financing opportunities and improving asset management.

For details and to register, click here.

TSA Issues NPRM on Security Training for Surface Transportation Employees

In news related to TSA’s comments on the agency’s role in public transportation safety, officials announced that the organization is accepting comments through March 16 on a proposed rule to require security training for employees of public transportation agencies, including public transit bus systems and passenger railroads.

In the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register in December, TSA would require owners and operators of these systems and companies to train their employees performing security-sensitive functions using a curriculum addressing preparedness and how to observe, assess and respond to terrorist-related threats and/or incidents.

The rulemaking would also expand TSA’s current requirements for rail security coordinators and reporting of significant security concerns (currently limited to freight railroads, passenger railroads and rail transit operations) to include the bus components of public transportation systems. TSA also added a definition for transportation security-sensitive materials.

Find the notice here.

To submit comments electronically, use the federal eRulemaking portal here.

Autonomous Vehicles Entering Operation Soon: Testing by First Transit; Keolis' Free Preview in Las Vegas

First Transit is preparing to test 12-passenger autonomous vehicles (AV) in anticipation of launching North America’s first AV passenger shuttle pilot later this year.

The fixed-route service will operate with designated stops within the 585-acre Bishop Ranch Office Park in San Ramon, CA, in partnership with a company that provides software powering AVs and last-mile mobility solutions. A customer service agent will be on board each vehicle, which will connect passengers to multiple public transit options, including Central Contra Costa Transit Authority express routes, bike and car-sharing services. The office park is home to more than 550 of the world’s leading companies, including Chevron, General Electric and Toyota.

“The AV passenger shuttle is also a great solution for first and last mile services, airport parking and university transportation,” said Sharad Agarwal, senior vice president, strategy and growth, First Transit.

In Las Vegas, Keolis launched a week-long pilot run Jan. 10 for an autonomous, fully electric shuttle it called the first ever to be deployed on a U.S. public roadway. The public can ride free on the vehicle, which carries up to a dozen passengers as it operates in regular street traffic.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is providing transit planning counsel to the project, and Keolis is partnering with the city and a French company that developed the autonomous technology. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and other local officials attended launch ceremonies for the vehicle in the city’s downtown Innovation District, established to create a center for testing groundbreaking technology in alternative energy, citizen participation, transportation and social infrastructure.

An example of the shuttle vehicle that First Transit will operate throughout the Bishop Ranch Office Park.

Keolis’ automated vehicle, operating on a pilot basis through Jan. 20 in downtown Las Vegas.


WSP | PB to Drop 'PB' from Name

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), a global engineering and professional services consulting firm, will assume the WSP name effective May 2017.

“We are adopting a single brand as the next step in the unification of the company, leveraging the rich heritage, reputation and combined portfolios of multiple firms to strengthen our position in the marketplace,” said Gregory Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. and Latin America region of WSP | PB.

The firm, with approximately 8,000 employees in more than 100 offices in its U.S. and Latin America region, has operated as WSP | PB since the acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff by WSP in October 2014.

WSP | PB has a combined 130-year history, with roots in companies founded in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Canada and created through mergers of dozens of companies based in these countries and internationally. Parsons Brinckerhoff dates its origins to 1885.

Honoring Veterans Year-Round

Special from Gold Coast Transit District
Oxnard, CA

Of the 10.2 million employed U.S. veterans, 7 percent of them, or approximately 712,000 individuals, work in the transportation industry, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD) in Oxnard, CA, is proud to claim some of them as its own, including bus operator Will Cattlidge, who served 21 years in the Marine Corps.

Will, who earned the rank of master drill sergeant, created a special educational project on Veteran’s Day to remind his fellow bus operators and other GCTD staff of the sacrifices veterans make for the nation. The project was inspired, in part, by the agency’s program to honor the 40,000-plus service members living in the area who receive a vets-only half-fare discount on buses and paratransit vehicles.

“While many of our local veterans may already qualify for a reduced fare due to age or disability, we recognize that many veterans who are not seniors or disabled still find it difficult to meet their transportation needs,” said Steven Brown, GCTD general manager. “It is our honor, and frankly our responsibility, to help our veterans where we can.”

Special Number 13
The number 13 figured prominently in Will’s project. He demonstrated how to make the 13 triangular folds in the U.S. flag, which is typically part of special ceremonies, and explained the significance of the folds. Will also created a “Fallen Comrade Table” that incorporated 13 specific elements to symbolize the sacrifices of service members who have fallen in the line of duty.

The special display also included photos of veterans and active duty personnel who are current and past GCTD employees and family members and a “Wall of Commemoration” that featured other photos, a “What Is a Veteran?” poster, memorabilia and various flags.

Gold Coast Transit District gathered to honor veterans, including, from left, Steven P. Brown, general manager; Will Cattlidge, bus operator and designer of an educational exhibit; Debbie Williams, director of human resources; and Bryan MacDonald, chair, GCTD Board of Directors and city of Oxnard councilmember.

Photo courtesy of Gold Coast Transit District

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

See a PDF of this story, which includes photos, here.

Prendergast to Retire as New York MTA Chairman, CEO

NEW YORK CITY—Tom Prendergast, chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) since 2013, has announced his retirement early in 2017. Prendergast’s tenure with MTA spans more than 25 years, including terms as president of MTA New York City Transit and president of MTA Long Island Rail Road.

 He is a former member of the APTA Executive Committee, APTA Board of Directors and numerous APTA committees.

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called Prendergast “an incredibly effective chairman and CEO and among the finest public servants I have had the privilege of working with.”


Michael Sanders, transit administrator, transit and ridesharing, for Connecticut DOT and a member of the APTA Executive Committee, recently was inducted into the NorthEast Passenger Transportation Association Hall of Fame. He was joined at the event by Anna Barry, CTDOT deputy commissioner, chair, APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee, and member, APTA Board of Directors; David Lee, co-nominator and general manager, HNS Divisions of Connecticut Transit; James Redeker, co-nominator and CTDOT commissioner; and Richard Andreski, CTDOT Bureau Chief of Public Transportation and co-chair of the APTA Early Career Program Task Force.


WASHINGTON, DC—WTS-DC Chapter has named Jennifer Mitchell, director, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, its Woman of the Year. She was chapter president in 2006-2007, was named the chapter’s Member of the Year in 2010, and has more than 20 years experience working on public transportation projects based in the Washington metropolitan region. Mitchell is a member of the APTA Executive Committee and serves on numerous APTA committees.


WASHINGTON, DC—The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has announced that Gwen Chisholm-Smith, a TRB employee since 1993, has been named TCRP manager with overall responsibility for the Transit Cooperative Research Program.

Before coming to TRB, Chisholm-Smith worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and earlier was a legislative aide to the Montgomery County (MD) Council.

She earned her Juris Doctor and master of arts degrees from the University of Baltimore.


KNOXVILLE, TN—Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) announced the appointments of Savannah Leeper as transit marketing specialist and Andrea Schneibel as transit communications specialist.

Leeper comes to KAT from Sun Metro in El Paso, TX, where she oversaw marketing and communications, special events and media relations. Schneibel previously was a freelancer for clients such as Scientific American and the National Audubon Society.


JACKSONVILLE, FL—Tim Rock has joined TranSystems Corporation as regional vice president for the Southeast Region, which includes 10 offices in five states. He earlier worked for TranSystems for 16 years in a multitude of roles including rail team leader, director of operations and regional vice president for the Midwest Region.


PHOENIX—Eberle Design Inc. (EDI) has appointed John Shearer as sales manager. Shearer has more than 14 years of industry experience, including more than 12 years with Iteris and, earlier, senior sales and marketing positions at Capital Engineering and Laser Industries.


STOCKTON, CA—The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) announced the appointment of Thomas Drozt as chief operating officer.

Drozt has more than 17 years of experience, serving most recently as director of bus transportation for the Maryland Transit Administration. He also held management and executive positions at Dunn Transportation, Xerox Corporation, MV Transportation and Veolia Transportation.


SALT LAKE CITY—Greg Bell, lieutenant governor of Utah from 2009-2013, has joined the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) Board of Trustees, appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Bell also is a former member of the Utah Senate and mayor of Farmington, UT, and a past chair of Envision Utah, a nonprofit organization designed to promote sustainable growth along the Wasatch Front. He currently is president of the Utah Hospital Association.

UTA also elected the following officers: Robert McKinley, chair, and Jeff Hawker and Sherrie Hall Everett, vice chairs.
McKinley, a labor and employment attorney, succeeds H. David Burton. He has served on the UTA board for two and a half years, representing municipalities within Salt Lake County and Grantsville and Tooele in Tooele County. He will serve as board chair for the remainder of his term, which expires in December 2017.

Hawker, who represents the same geographical area as McKinley, is a former assistant city manager for Riverton City and rail projects coordinator for West Valley City.

Hall Everett represents municipalities within Utah County and is the founder of Creative Stream Inc., a marketing firm.


CINCINNATI—Gary Greenberg has joined the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees. He is a shareholder with the labor and employment law firm Denlinger, Rosenthal and Greenberg Co.


STEVENSVILLE, MD—Stertil-Koni announced the appointment of Jill Kubatko as a marketing associate. She has 15 years experience in journalism, marketing and communications, including marketing strategy, news writing, web content and management, social media, graphic design and administration.


NEW YORK CITY—Paul McIlree has joined STV as vice president in the firm’s Transportation & Infrastructure Division, based in Florida. A designer and project manager with nearly 20 years of experience in the management, coordination and design of transportation infrastructure projects, he will oversee the firm’s business plan for design-build and P3 initiatives.


DES PLAINES, IL—Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., announced that Ron Miller, who began his career with MCI at its Ohio service operation, has been named director of the company’s six service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

Miller began his career with MCI 12 years ago at the former service center in Loudonville, OH. Most recently he was fleet services manager, responsible for heavy-duty collision and repair projects at MCI Service Center locations. Before joining MCI, he was an automotive technician who rose to lead service operations for dealerships.


NEW YORK CITY—Thomas Grassi has joined HNTB Corporation as senior project manager for infrastructure and transportation architecture, based in New York City.

Grassi comes to HNTB from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where his efforts included leading the reconstruction and restoration of the World Trade Center’s public transit facilities immediately following 9/11. His more than 30 years of experience include managing the planning, design and construction of some of New York City’s most architecturally significant and high profile programs, including the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and leading the planning and design of the AirTrain systems at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.


STATE COLLEGE, PA—The Centre Area Transportation Authority announced that Mark Parfitt has joined the board of directors, representing Patton Township. He succeeds Wendy Pardee, who stepped down from the board.

Parfitt is the founder of Mark Parfitt Consulting, a management and marketing company. Earlier he spent nearly a decade in strategic marketing for higher education.


DALLAS—John Adler, vice president, procurement, for Dallas Area Rapid Transit and chair of the APTA Procurement and Materials Management Committee, recently received the Giulio Mazzone Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO).

The award recognizes service, on a continuing exemplary basis, to the public purchasing profession. Adler received recognition for 40 years of leadership in public procurement, including serving as a NASPO board member and past president. He has spent nearly 20 years as a certified instructor and wrote two procurement textbooks.


ISELIN, NJ—Mary Cay O’Malley has joined Mott MacDonald as a senior vice president and project delivery leader, based in the firm’s Cleveland office. She has 28 years of experience in managing and supporting large, complex transportation projects including Seattle’s East Link light rail extension and Denver’s T-REX light rail and highway expansion project.


SAN ANTONIO, TX—Hope Andrade, chair of VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Board of Directors, recently received the 2016 Russell H. Perry Award co-sponsored by Texas DOT, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the Texas Good Roads Transportation Association, to recognize individuals for their significant contribution to the field of transportation.

In 2004, Andrade became the second woman in the history of Texas DOT to serve on the Texas Transportation Commission; she became the commission’s first woman chair in 2008. Later, then-Gov. Rick Perry appointed her Texas secretary of state, the first Latina in that post.


PHILADELPHIA—Craig L. ­Martin has been elected chairman of Hill International’s Board of Directors. He joined the board in February 2016 and has almost 45 years of experience in the international engineering and construction industry.

Martin retired in 2014 as president and chief executive officer of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. He became the company’s president in 2002 and CEO in 2006.


CHICAGO—The Metra Board of Directors has elected Norman Carlson, an accounting professional with extensive experience in the rail industry, its chairman. He joined the board in 2013.

Carlson worked 34 years with Arthur Andersen Co., where he provided audit, income tax and financial consulting services to numerous railroads as head of the North American rail industry practice. In 1990, he was named worldwide managing partner of Andersen’s Transportation Practice, serving in that capacity until retiring from the firm in 2000. That same year he formed Carlson Consulting International, serving as a short-term executive in challenging situations.

Also, the Metra board appointed ­William (Skip) Benz the agency’s acting chief audit officer, taking over an internal auditing function that has been handled by an outside auditing firm since 2014. He is currently Metra’s ethics officer, a position he will retain, and associate general counsel.

Benz came to Metra in 2013 from the Office of Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor, where he served as assistant inspector general for the Regional Transit Board Division since 2010. Earlier he was an attorney in Washington, DC, with a private law firm and for the U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.


JACKSONVILLE, FL—Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has reappointed ­Isaiah Rumlin to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority Board of Directors. He joined the board in 2012 and previously served from 1987-1991.

The JTA board later elected Rumlin to chair the board in 2017, succeeding Scott L. McCaleb. Also elected were Kevin Holzendorf as vice chairman, Ari Jolly as secretary and Denise Wallace as treasurer.

Rumlin is the managing member of Rumlin Insurance Agency and president of NAACP Jacksonville, Mayor Alvin Brown appointed him to the JTA board in 2012 and he was reappointed by Mayor Lenny Curry in October. Rumlin previously served on the board from 1987-91.


WASHINGTON, DC—The Council of Minority Transportation Officials recently elected Warren Montague, general manager for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s MARTA Mobility contract with MV Transportation, as its national chair.

Other officers are Freddie Fuller II, mid-Atlantic transit and rail market leader, CH2M, first vice chair; Dianne T. Mendoza, vice president, Office of Diversity and Federal Compliance, and DBE liaison officer for VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, second vice chair; and Loretta Kirk, deputy general manager-finance and administration, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, secretary-treasurer.

Members-at-large include Tanya Adams, assistant vice president and manager, community relations and diversity, for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in Chicago; Clinton B. Forbes, executive director of Palm Tran, West Palm Beach, FL; and Emille Williams, vice president, operations, Central Ohio Transit Authority, Columbus.


CAMBRIDGE, MA—Cambridge Systematics announced the promotion of Karen Nocito to chief financial officer after 19 years as the company’s controller. She has served as interim treasurer since the departure of the previous CFO in June 2016.