Passenger Transport - January 27, 2017
|APTA representatives who joined Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, and his wife Karen at the Indiana Society Inaugural Ball, from left: David Cangany, South Bend Public Transportation Corporation; APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes; APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; and Paul Jablonski, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.|
Photo by Reflections Event Photography and Video Production
|From left: APTA Vice President-Policy Art Guzzetti, Doran J. Barnes, Indiana Inaugural Ball Chair Jan Powell, Richard White and David Cangany.|
After nine months of work by APTA’s Task Force on Governance and Bylaws Review, the Board of Directors has overwhelmingly approved recommended changes to the association’s governing structure. These important changes and clarifications were submitted to APTA’s voting membership this week.
If two-thirds of the nearly 1,500 members approve the changes, they will begin being implemented to coincide with the seating of the new board and Executive Committee in October.
The task force, chaired by Nuria I. Fernandez, general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and co-chaired by David Stackrow, chairman of the Capital District Transportation Authority, and Chuck Wochele, managing partner/owner of TransitConsult LLC, reaffirms the necessity of a broad-based board while defining clear responsibilities for both the board—as the strategic governing body—and the Executive Committee—as the operational governing body. In addition, the group aligned the seats on the Executive Committee with the strategic segments of APTA’s membership, providing at-large seats so all APTA members are eligible to hold a seat.
“Addressing our governance issues is critical to moving APTA from ‘good’ to ‘great’,” said APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes. “Gaining our members’ approval of the proposed changes is one of my top priorities this year because it will make our association stronger, more unified and inclusive.”
The most significant bylaws changes approved by the board this month address two major areas:
1) The composition of the Executive Committee, which increases from 18 to 25 members, will assure representation from key APTA constituencies, including bus and paratransit CEOs, commuter rail CEOs, rail transit CEOs, legacy systems, mid-size operations, small operations, highest dues transit CEOs, transit board members, business members, officers, at-large members and Canadian member representative.
2) The responsibilities of the board and Executive Committee are greatly clarified with the board focusing on approval of a strategic plan, approval of an annual budget, legislative strategies and the hiring, extension and, if necessary, dismissal of a president and CEO. The Executive Committee will serve as the performance oversight and decision-making body of the board, will evaluate the performance of the president and CEO and will regularly report to the board.
Other changes clarify what constitutes a quorum for the Executive Committee and the role of APTA’s legal counsel.
APTA bylaws require weighted voting for this vote. This means each APTA member is entitled to one vote for each $100 of the last annual dues paid to the association. Members will be able to vote electronically and paper ballots will be available at APTA conferences. The goal is to obtain two-thirds favorable votes by the end of June, prior to the nominating committee meeting. For more details, see the Summary of Recommended Changes here.
Dignitaries in Charlotte, NC, joined by then-DOT Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, gathered Jan. 14 for ground-breaking ceremonies for the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) CityLYNX Gold Line Phase 2 modern streetcar project.
The $150 million extension will add two miles to the west side of the existing 1.5-mile route, beginning at the Charlotte Transportation Center and serving historic neighborhoods, and one-half mile on the east side, along with 11 new stops.
CATS also will replace the existing vehicles with six S70 Siemens modern streetcars with hybrid technology.
CATS Chief Executive Officer John Lewis called Phase 2 construction “a monumental step in building out our overall transit system” that will “strengthen transportation choices for the Charlotte region.”
The first phase of the CityLYNX Gold Line entered service in 2015 and surpassed ridership projections from the outset.
|CATS CEO John Lewis, fourth from left, and then-DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, right, join Charlotte area officials at ground-breaking ceremonies for CityLYNX Gold Line Phase 2.|
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently opened the Arthur Kill Station—the first new Staten Island Railway station built by the MTA since it incorporated the private rail line into its network in 1971.
The $27.4 million station replaces two others, Nassau and Atlantic, which will be demolished. It is ADA compliant and offers a new 150-spot parking lot and a bus transfer point.
The MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program includes $386 million of investments and improvements to Staten Island Railway, including replacement of the car fleet and three new power substations to increase supply to the line, allowing for service flexibility and reliability. More than 16,000 customers ride the 29-mile railway on an average weekday.
|A test train arrived at the new Arthur Kill Station in advance of service beginning Jan. 21.|
Photo courtesy of New York MTA
Metrolinx, serving the Toronto metropolitan area, recently opened GO Transit’s newest commuter rail station, the Gormley GO Station in Richmond Hill, ON, the new terminus of the Richmond Hill Line.
In advance of the opening, Metrolinx hosted a community event at the station including a free scenic ride on a GO Train, safety handouts, stickers and fake tattoos for younger riders and a visit from GO Bear, the system’s mascot.
Station amenities include 850 parking spaces, electric vehicle charging stations, a bus loop, a kiss-and-ride area, heated shelters and a platform snowmelt system for customer convenience.The Gormley GO Station is fully accessible and has been built to achieve LEED Silver certification. Green building features include rainwater harvesting technology and innovative roofing that is made from 95 percent recycled materials. The station’s design also preserves the natural environment around the station, including a creek, a forested area and a small meadow.
Public transportation agencies throughout North America are planning a busy 2017 as officials prepare for openings and ground breakings for new service and extensions.
Passenger Transport previously reported on many of these milestone events in the Jan. 16 issue; coverage continues below.
Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) plans to break ground this spring to restore service on the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line. SEPTA discontinued service on the three-mile line in the 1980s.
After completing significant infrastructure construction, including stabilized embankments and rehabilitating or replacing track, signals, catenary and structures, SEPTA will build a 600-car parking deck and an intermodal connection before the line opens in 2020.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year for the nine-mile, five-station Redlands Passenger Rail Project (which will be called the Arrow) in the San Bernardino-Redlands, CA, corridor. Omnitrans in San Bernardino and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (formerly San Bernardino Associated Governments) entered into an agreement that Omnitrans will operate the line when it opens in 2020.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston plans to break ground this spring for the Blue Hill Avenue Station, a commuter rail station on the Fairmount Line that will provide single-seat access to downtown Boston.
Metrolinx, which serves the greater Toronto region and includes GO Transit bus and commuter rail service, plans to begin construction by mid-year on Finch West LRT, an 11-km (six-mile) light rail line. The Ontario government has invested $1 billion (Cdn., 2010 dollars) in the project to expand public transit in Toronto.
Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul recently received FTA approval to begin engineering on the Southwest LRT Project, which could begin construction this year. The line will open in 2021 as the Metro Green Line Extension, connecting downtown Minneapolis to various suburbs with 15 new stations.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority plans to open the seven-mile Alum Rock/Santa Clara BRT line. The $148 million line, which features 11 new stations, will extend service to downtown San Jose. The line, the first of three, will be followed by the El Camino Real and Stevens Creek BRTs.
The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, Oakland, CA, will open its first BRT as part of a 9.5-mile roadway construction project that includes station platforms and infrastructure improvements. Agency officials anticipate launching service in November.
The line will run with 60-foot articulated diesel-electric hybrid buses manufactured by New Flyer and will directly connect to 46 bus lines and five BART stations.
The City of Fresno DOT will open Q, a 15.7-mile BRT system that features 27 stops connecting the city’s major north-south and east-west corridors.
The line, set to open in the fall, features 51 stations, including two terminal stations and one transit center. It will operate with 17 40-foot low-floor CNG buses.
New York City DOT and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority will launch the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard Select Bus Service (SBS) in early to mid-2017, a two-part project to provide service to Queens.
The first part features several transit improvements, including signal priority, median bus stations and new bus-only lanes, and the second phase focuses on a longer-term capital initiative to construct additional improvements, including bus stations.
Metrolinx will open the Mississauga Transitway, a BRT project that will link GO Transit commuter rail and buses with local bus service and subway systems maintained by TTC.
When complete this year, the 18-km service (about 11 miles) will feature 12 stations linking high-density development and employment centers in the city of Mississauga, located south of Toronto. Metrolinx is constructing the western segment and Mississauga is constructing the eastern segment. The project is a partnership among the Canadian government, the province of Ontario, GO Transit and Mississauga.
By the end of the year, Pace Suburban Bus, Arlington Heights, IL, will launch the Milwaukee Line, the first BRT service in its extensive rapid transit system, Pulse, which will provide enhanced express bus service to commuters along heavily traveled corridors in the greater Chicago area.
The line will operate along Milwaukee Avenue between a shopping center and a transit center in Chicago, where passengers can connect with Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line trains, Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest Line trains and numerous Pace and CTA bus routes.
Pace is currently planning the second Pulse line, the Dempster Line, scheduled to break ground in 2018 or 2019.
The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) is making plans to launch its third First Coast Flyer BRT line, the East Coast Corridor.
Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County broke ground on its 4th Street/Prater Way BRT project, to be called the “Lincoln Line” in honor of its route on the former Lincoln Highway. The line is scheduled to enter service in 2019.
IndyGo in Indianapolis plans to break ground this summer on Red Line BRT, contingent upon congressional appropriation.
Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, will break ground this fall on its second BRT line, the Swift Green Line, expected to enter service early in 2019. The route covers approximately 12.5 miles with 15 stations. The agency will begin work this spring on the Seaway Transit Center, the northern terminal of the BRT line.
JTA will break ground this spring for the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center, a multimodal hub that will include an 8,000-square-foot intercity bus terminal, a 13-bay bus transfer facility and an administration area.
Michigan DOT will unveil its 6.6-mile streetcar, QLine, by the end of the year. The streetcar will operate on a loop throughout Detroit’s downtown area.
Seattle DOT is preparing to break ground for the five-mile Center City Connector, the newest segment of the Seattle Streetcar. This route will contain 23 stations when it is complete, creating new north-south connections, including those to Pike Place Market and Sound Transit’s Link light rail at Westlake.
Valley Metro in Phoenix plans to break ground later this year on the three-mile Tempe Streetcar project, projected to have 14 stops. The project is currently in the design process.
Smith, West Virginia DOT
Tom Smith, senior transportation advisor for the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, DC, since 2016, has been named secretary of West Virginia DOT and commissioner of the Division of Highways. Smith worked for FHWA for more than 37 years, most recently with more than 16 years as division administrator for the West Virginia Division.
Graham, Brookville Equipment Corp.
Brookville Equipment Corporation, Brookville, PA, has promoted Rick Graham to president after 14 months as chief financial officer for the 99-year-old company. He succeeds Marion Van Fosson, who served as president since December 2014.
Graham has 20 years of financial leadership experience in industries including manufacturing, distribution and healthcare. He also held CFO positions with two organizations and was an independent consultant for more than 15 years.
Scaer and Nowicki, Gannett Fleming
Gannett Fleming Inc., headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, has named two company veterans to its top leadership positions: Robert M. Scaer, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, and Paul D. Nowicki, president and chief operating officer.
Scaer, the company’s eighth chairman and CEO in its 100-year history, was its president and chief operating officer from 2009-2016, leading the firm through a reorganization in 2016. He joined Gannett Fleming in 1982.
Nowicki succeeds Scaer as president and COO. He joined the company as an intern in 1982 and recently served as director of its southeast and northeast regions.
Rosenfeld, Interim, Memphis Area Transit Authority
The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) has named Chief Administrative Officer Gary Rosenfeld its interim chief executive officer following the Jan. 26 resignation of Ron Garrison, CEO since 2014, who cited personal health issues.
Rosenfeld joined MATA in March 2016 after 13 years as general manager of the Delaware North-Yosemite Transportation System at Yosemite National Park, CA.
Sound Transit in Seattle broke ground earlier this month on the Northgate Link Station, one of three light rail stations set to open in 2021 with the completion of the Northgate Link Extension.
“This project is evidence of the amazing community-driven results from creative collaboration between many partners—Sound Transit, the city of Seattle, King County and neighborhoods,” said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson.
The $174 million construction contract includes an elevated station, a 0.8-mile elevated guideway and a 450-space parking garage. Other elements will include a transit island below the south end of the platform, connecting to bus service, bicycle parking and space for a future mezzanine connection from the city’s planned pedestrian and bike bridge.
The entire Northgate Link project, estimated at $1.9 billion, includes 4.3 miles of new track. King County and the city of Seattle will invest $20 million in TOD, including 200 units of affordable housing, on land owned by King County Metro Transit at the Northgate Transit Center.
|Speakers at ground-breaking ceremonies for Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Station, from left: Peter Rogoff, CEO; Paul Roberts, Sound Transit vice chair and Everett City Council member; and Rob Johnson, ST board member and Seattle City Council member.|
The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Lansing, MI, unveiled one of its seven newest hybrid buses at a Jan. 23 event that also marked the 10th anniversary of the agency’s introduction of hybrid buses—all from New Flyer. CATA Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Sandy Draggoo contrasted one of the original 2006 buses, at left, with the 2016 New Flyer Xcelsior. “Over the past 10 years, the hybrid design has helped CATA maintain fuel consumption, despite an increase in services and service area. In other words, while we offer more service and cover more miles throughout our region, fuel consumption has not increased,” Draggoo said. The new buses increase CATA’s hybrid fleet to 60 vehicles.
Special to Passenger Transport
Early this month, Reno, NV, faced the most severe weather it had seen in more than a decade following months of drought, prompting the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) to mobilize.
Snow and ice, which melted amid days of continuous rain, caused a major flood event on Jan. 9. Working with local first responders, the RTC put its emergency plans into action, operating all public transit services free to make evacuation from the affected areas easier for residents.
Of particular concern was the Truckee River, which runs through downtown Reno and adjacent to the industrial center of the neighboring city of Sparks. The local school district used its buses to transport homeless individuals away from the river and downtown in advance of the river reaching flood levels; RTC buses returned them to a homeless shelter once the flood danger had passed.
Many employees of RTC and its fixed-route and paratransit contractors worked long hours to keep the system operating while coordinating with the Regional Emergency Operations Center and disseminating information to the public through the Joint Information Center. Transit dispatchers and coach operators adjusted routes on an ongoing basis as a growing number of streets became flooded.
The flood of 2017 stretched local resources to their limits, but the RTC’s personnel, through regional partnerships and planning, made a major contribution to protecting the community and its residents.
|RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson, center, briefed Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, third from left, on flood impacts to RTC transit services and projects during a regional tour with local officials and media.|
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), has nominated Reps. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-TN) as vice chairman of the full committee, Sam Graves (R-MO) as chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and Jeff Denham (R-CA) as chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.
These appointments will be confirmed Jan. 31 when the T&I Committee convenes for its organizational meeting.
Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) is the Democratic vice ranking member, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and Michael E. Capuano (D-MA) ranking member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.
Metra Tests Real-Time Information Screens — Metra commuter rail in Chicago has begun testing new real-time travel information digital screens at downtown and suburban stations. The 55-inch, high-resolution digital screens provide real-time train arrival and departure information, notices of train service disruptions, weather information, public service information such as Amber Alerts and other emergency information.
SamTrans Breaks Ground in San Carlos — The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) recently began construction on the San Carlos Multimodal Transit Center Project, located on the west side of the railroad corridor at the site of the existing San Carlos Caltrain Station. The project will transform an existing parking lot at the Caltrain station into a multimodal transit center that will improve safety and accessibility among SamTrans fixed-route buses, Caltrain commuter rail, local shuttles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Cincinnati Metro Introduces New Commuter Buses — Cincinnati Metro recently added 22 new commuter-style buses to service on four express routes. Amenities in the new vehicles include high-back reclining seats, charging ports and outlets for laptops and phones, and larger windows.
Reno’s RTC Introduces ‘Token Transit’ App — The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV, debuted Token Transit, a free Apple and Android app that enables customers to buy their bus passes on their phones. App users can also use their smartphone screen as a bus pass, eliminating the need for a paper ticket or cash fare.
COTA Live Updates Available on Google Maps — Passengers on the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus now can access live departure and arrival times, as well as service alert information, through Transit on Google Maps. This trip planning option is accessible through Google Maps on a desktop computer or through the Google Maps app available for download for Apple and Android devices.
STV Designs Maintenance Facility in Worcester, MA — An $84 million, 150,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance, storage and operations facility designed by STV recently opened in Worcester, MA, for the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. STV included bioswales, catch basins and other elements to deal with building in a floodplain and remediation and cleanup of the 11-acre site, designated as a brownfield for past industrial uses.
Big Blue Bus Discounts Youth Pass — The Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, CA, is offering its 30-day youth pass at a discounted price of $19 under a two-year pilot program approved by the Santa Monica City Council as a way to encourage ridership among young people.
Chicago RTA Launches Procurement ‘E-Portal’ — The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Chicago has introduced an online, interactive procurement portal, or “e-portal,” designed to make the procurement process easier and more transparent for vendors. The new e-Bid procurement software offers self-registration, vendor database management, electronic bidding, review of proposer/bidder submissions, contract management and tracking of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise vendor payments.
Download Miami-Dade App, Win a Free Trip — The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works is giving complimentary one-day public transit passes to the first 2,017 customers who download the free EASY Pay Miami smartphone app by Jan. 31.
Dayton’s ‘RideTime’ Upgrades Bus Tracking — The Greater Dayton (OH) Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently introduced “RideTime,” which offers texting, call-in and online features along with an app to provide riders with reliable and accessible bus tracking options. RideTime is part of RTA’s $13 million investment to upgrade its on-board technology across the fleet.
VIA Expands Pass Access to Trade Schools — VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio is adding trade schools to its Semester Pass program, which allows students to take unlimited rides on the system’s buses through July 31 for $38.
Agencies Provide Free Wi-Fi on Board — Several public transit agencies have begun making free Wi-Fi available on board their vehicles, including Knoxville (TN) Area Transit, the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority and LYNX in Orlando, FL.
Delaware Transit Corporation Partners with Dover Air Force Base— The Delaware Transit Corporation is working with Dover Air Force Base to improve and expand a DART First State bus route to improve access to points of interest along the route, adding new stops on the base. “At Delaware DOT, we’re all about making connections between employees and employers, customers and businesses and members of the community,” said state Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan.
LANTA Receives Environmental Award — The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), Allentown, PA, recently received the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Environment Award in honor of the partnership between LANTA and the city of Easton, PA, to develop the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center, which also houses the new City Hall.
APTA has recognized Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for their outstanding achievements in sustainability initiatives as part of the association’s Sustainability Commitment program.
Foothill Transit achieved APTA’s Platinum Level, the highest award in the program, which only five public transportation systems in North America have attained.
“I congratulate Foothill Transit on reaching the Platinum Level in our Sustainability Commitment Program, the first bus-only transit system to do so,” said APTA Acting President & CEO Richard A. White.
“This achievement demonstrates tremendous leadership in developing and implementing significant sustainable processes that are good for business, good for the environment and good for the community,” he added.
APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, said, “Responsible stewardship of all the resources entrusted to us is an important value at Foothill Transit. It makes good business sense and exposes another facet of how we can positively impact the quality of life in our communities.”
Foothill Transit earned the honor for several reasons, including leading the shift to clean fuels by operating one of the largest electric fleets in the U.S. and committing to an all-electric bus fleet by 2030.
Foothill Transit, a founding signatory of the Sustainability Commitment in 2009, achieved Gold Level recognition in 2015.
The Greater Cleveland RTA has attained the Silver Level, one of five public transit systems in North America currently at that level.
“I congratulate the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority on its leadership in developing and implementing significant sustainable processes that are good for business, good for the environment and good for the community,” White said. “RTA is leading the way and serving as a model for the public transportation industry.”
RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese said, “We’re proud to receive this significant honor. Our commitment to sustainability is evident in the many ways our employees serve the community with a focus on meeting or exceeding our environmental, societal and financial objectives.”
Calabrese added that the RTA staff made the program a success and the agency has integrated sustainability efforts into its strategic plan. “We will continue to maintain sound fiscal management and advance our safety and security initiatives—all while reducing the use of and dependence upon natural resources,” he said.
RTA, also a founding signatory, received Bronze Level recognition in 2012.
For details about the program, contact Mark Teschauer.
APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White, second from right, and Acting Vice President-Member Services Randy Clarke, second from left, recently met with several commuter rail agency senior leaders in Philadelphia. Among the topics they discussed were progress and best practices on PTC, fatigue management and legislative strategy. The meeting also included a review and demonstration of the PTC system at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) during an onboard tour led by SEPTA GM Jeffrey Knueppel.
BY MAX FINKELPEARL
Editor’s Note: Max Finkelpearl, a participant in the 2015 Youth Summit, worked as an APTA intern in January. He is a student at Oberlin College, interested in transportation, government relations and policy, and a “student advisor” to the 2017 APTA Youth Summit Advisory Committee.
APTA is accepting proposals through Feb. 17 for possible presentations at APTA's Sustainability & Multimodal Planning Workshop, Aug. 6–9 in Minneapolis, hosted by Metro Transit with support from FTA.
This workshop combines two previous APTA workshops, Sustainability & Public Transportation and Multimodal Operations Planning, into a single comprehensive forum for advancing cutting-edge practices in sustainability, multimodal operations planning and scheduling.
Topics for both traditional panels and peer-to-peer roundtables will include multimodal planning and operations, sustainability, interrelated themes and topics and innovations in practice.
Additional information will be posted on the APTA website.
As Passenger Transport celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding, we will feature short articles summarizing some of the important news, people and events from past issues.
As the Trump administration and a new Congress get down to business after a busy inauguration, Passenger Transport took a look in its archives to find its very first coverage of a presidential transition. Here’s a snapshot of that report:
Following the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter on Jan. 20, 1977, Passenger Transport ran several stories related to changes at DOT and FTA, then known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA).
“Former Congressman Brock Adams was sworn in as Secretary of Transportation Jan. 23 at a White House ceremony along with seven other members of President Jimmy Carter’s cabinet,” PT reported in a front-page story in the Jan. 28 issue. “As Adams takes his seat at the helm of DOT, wholesale changes are underway at UMTA.”
The issue also included a farewell letter from outgoing UMTA Administrator Robert E. Patricelli, who called himself “a faithful reader of Passenger Transport,” and the text of a letter to Carter from APTA Chairman James J. McDonough.
“APTA members have been greatly heartened by your campaign stands and by your statements and actions since your election on the issues of most concern to the transit industry,” McDonough’s letter stated. “We stand ready to be of assistance to you.”
Passenger Transport regularly covered presidential transitions in subsequent years, with its first Inauguration Day ridership report in 2005.
BY ANDY BYFORD
When I spoke before you in March 2012, I had just been promoted to CEO and my theme was built around the challenge of renewing people’s faith in the TTC.
I listed the 10 steps needed to modernize our infrastructure, processes and culture, set out our vision of “A transit system that makes Toronto proud” and described key performance indicators.
Upon my second appearance in January 2014, I described progress on system cleanliness and customer information, and how the first Customer Charter, along with the then-new station management structure, was helping to increase customer satisfaction.
We are now in the final, pivotal year of our five-year plan built around seven strategic objectives.
On safety, the need for vigilance is greater than ever in an increasingly troubled world as we continue to carry more customers on an ever aging system. We are taking action to maintain the TTC in a state of good repair, but we also have laid far deeper foundations than just physical upgrades.
In a first for North American transit systems, TTC has installed a completely new, risk-based Safety, Health and Environmental Management System with a corporate risk register and governance structure to support it. Subway stations have been made exponentially safer via locally accountable station staff and a zero tolerance approach to fire code violations.
Customer service has received similar focus and we’ve had record customer satisfaction scores.
Working with Metrolinx, we delivered on our promise to have every TTC vehicle and at least one entrance at every subway station enabled for PRESTO smart card by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, rapid progress is being made to complete installation of Wi-Fi to all stations by the end of this first quarter.
Subway performance is only as good as the reliability of the assets and people that support it. To that end, we have delivered year-over-year reductions in the number of delays and in their duration, including a 21 percent reduction in delays due to subway infrastructure and a 44 percent decrease in signal failures.
Critical to subway performance is the ongoing renewal of worn out track, signals and other key infrastructure assets. In 2016, we replaced over 5km of rails and nearly a kilometer of power rail.
In addition, we laid more than 180,000 meters of cabling and installed hundreds of track transponders in preparation for the new automatic train control (ATC) signaling system that will go live this fall. New buses and streetcars have entered service and we have dramatically reduced the number of short turns.
Ground-breaking work is being done to change the way we serve our Wheel Trans customers, one that will save millions of dollars by migrating those customers who can use the conventional system, while continuing to provide personal service for those with special mobility needs.
Our growth portfolio is busier than ever. We will open the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension this December. Our Easier Access program continues to make the TTC even more accessible.
Our cultural transformation is making huge strides. We secured four four-year negotiated deals with our unions. New training programs are helping to hard wire a customer-first ethos into new recruits from day one and we have made great strides on succession planning.
Progress is never easy, but we have built an in-house team to help employees through radical changes, including the introduction of one-person train operation, the most challenging overhaul of subway functions in a generation.
Culture change also means making the TTC more diverse and more reflective of the city it serves. In just five short years, we have moved from having never had a woman on the TTC executive team to nearly 50 percent representation—all on merit—and the next levels down show increasing numbers of women and people from diverse groups rising through the ranks.
In terms of finance, we are in a much stronger position, thanks to Public Transit Infrastructure Fund support from Ottawa and my board.
Finally, reputation. In a city where transit is always the talk of the town, the TTC team has improved the way it is perceived by customers, media and stakeholders. Successful delivery of the 2015 Pan Am Games was a triumph for us.
What remains to be done?
Job one is to finish what we set out to do in our first five years. The key deliverables include opening the Spadina Subway Extension, installing new signaling, completing the introduction of PRESTO and at least 40 more new streetcars in 2017.
So what’s to come, after 2017?
The next five-year plan is already being drafted. We will complete the rollout of ATC, push on with the implementation of one-person train operation and other more efficient ways of working.
We will continue to work on fare integration, both with GO and across the GTHA and we will complete our thinking on a possible cashless TTC of the future.
The biggest challenge—and opportunity—will be to expand the transit network with big projects. Who leads and operates these projects must also be clarified.
A second challenge is funding. While we welcome the increased capital money from Ottawa and the increase in operating subsidy from the city, the TTC remains the lowest funded system in North America. If we are to expand to meet present and future needs, we must continue to invest.
The future is bright for North America’s third largest transit system. My strong belief is that the job of a leader is to present a vision of the possible, to map out a journey, a compelling vision of what can be achieved with determination and a common goal. That’s what we did back in 2013 and my executive team and the 14,000 men and women of the TTC have risen to the challenge. I remain convinced that we will deliver on our vision of a transit system that makes Toronto proud.
"Commentary" features points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
See a PDF of this story, which includes photos, here.
Bacigalupo most recently was federal legislative affairs manager and federal transportation liaison at the Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority and previously was general counsel and later chief executive officer of Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority. He began his career in Washington as a transit litigation attorney for DOT and later served as FTA’s regional counsel in Chicago.
VANCOUVER, BC—Ron Aitken has joined Mott McDonald as vice president-strategic transit development, based in Vancouver. He has more than 35 years of experience, working in engineering, vehicle manufacturing, project management and development, and transit system operations and maintenance.