Passenger Transport - February 10, 2017
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APTA Gears Up for New Legislative Agenda; 100 Days 'Prime Time' for Outreach

A new president’s first 100 days are often viewed as a signal for upcoming priorities, activity and tone, and President Trump’s first days are no exception.

As the new administration and members of the 115th Congress take the reins of government, APTA is also gearing up to provide its members with advocacy, information and resources aimed at reinforcing the importance of investing in ­public transportation infrastructure.

APTA’s recent “Legislative Alert” advised that while this is an exciting opportunity to make additional investments in the nation’s public transportation infrastructure, the industry must also remain vigilant against attempts to roll back the progress it has made. Further, it recommended that members engage with their elected officials in Washington, DC, and in their home districts now, as Congress and the administration begin developing the FY 2018 federal budget.

A brief recap of APTA’s advocacy toolkit and activities follows; find all these materials, including the “Legislative Alert,” at the APTA website via links on the home page.

Call to Action
Almost 200 APTA members participated in a Feb. 8 APTA “Legislative and Advocacy Call to Action” led by APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, Acting President & CEO Richard White, Legislative Committee Chair J. Barry Barker and Vice President-Government Affairs Rob Healy.

The purpose of the call was to provide an update of the current legislative climate in Washington, DC, and brief members on APTA’s bipartisan outreach to the White House, ­Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, DOT and partners.

White outlined his four central talking points: to clarify an “unpredictable” environment, to advocate for infrastructure investments and forestall efforts to cut federal funding and commuter benefits and natural gas tax incentives, work in a bipartisan fashion with the administration and Congress and roll out a comprehensive strategy that includes policy research, media relations, advertising and grassroots advocacy.

“We are leaving nothing to chance as we work both branches of the federal government and shore up our relationships with key stakeholders,” White said.

Legislative ­Conference
The annual Legislative Conference, March 12-14, Washington, DC, features remarks from key federal legislators and includes plans to engage national and local media explaining why increased investments are critical to both the nation as a whole and to local communities.

In addition, the conference includes opportunities for participants to visit their representatives on Capitol Hill; APTA advises that such visits be scheduled as soon as possible.

The association has developed the “First 100 Days of New Congress and Administration Toolkit,” an online resource to equip members as they reach out to elected leaders both in Washington and in their districts. The kit features several elements designed to take the guesswork out of outreach.

Ready-to-use resources include general messaging and talking points, links to congressional contact information and social media accounts, suggestions for social media postings, customizable invitations to members of Congress to visit your business or public transit agency, agency, APTA recommendations and funding principles.

The toolkit also includes background information members can deliver to elected representatives, including “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” a public transit primer; a FAST Act guide; “Invest in Public Transportation for a Stronger America;” “We Urgently Need to Mend Our ­Broken Infrastructure,” a Sept. 9 Newsweek ­editorial by White; and “Optimizing Infrastructure,” an HNTB white paper.

Industry Footprint
APTA’s online Industry Footprint is a perfect companion for Hill visits, in part because it offers the latest information on the extent and reach of the industry by congressional and state legislative district.

The footprint provides a wide range of information, from service provision to an overview of APTA’s diverse membership to the extensive supply chain that employs thousands of people—all delivered in a compelling, printable format. The information is continuously updated and is easily accessible on smartphones and other hand-held devices. Find the footprint quickly here by searching on “Industry Footprint.”

AC Transit Reopens Bus Facility at Historic Site; Sustainable Features Key to Redesign

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, continued to make history when it recently reopened a bus facility with such sustainable design advancements as a low flow bus wash with internal water recycling and reuse system, two industrial wastewater treatment systems, a stormwater treatment and filtration system and a high-efficiency, low-emission emergency ­generator.

The Division 3 facility, which originally opened in 1906 as the area’s first streetcar barn in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake, closed in 2011 because of economic concerns. The new facility in nearby Richmond includes 15 new maintenance bays, inspection pits and a tire shop for AC Transit buses.

“The closure of Division 3 in 2011 represented one of the most difficult decisions the AC Transit board has faced,” said AC Transit Board President Elsa Ortiz. “But much like the mythological phoenix arose renewed, so has Division 3. Now we have a bus division that returns jobs to Richmond. It’s built with unsurpassed technology and invests cap-and-trade funds for environmentally and economically sensible approaches to our transit.”

AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursh added, “Reopening Division 3 helps alleviate capacity concerns at other bus divisions and is a positive advancement toward meeting our goal to respond to increasing ridership district-wide. I am incredibly proud that our staff has diligently worked to re-engineer service from a yard we affectionately refer to as ‘D3.’ Ultimately, D3 will play a pivotal role in AC Transit’s unprecedented service expansion known as AC Go.”

The Richmond site began serving the region’s first bus-only line in the 1930s. As the number of bus lines grew, the site became the birthplace of public transportation in western Contra Costa County.

Cost controls following the 2011 closure allowed the landmark bus division to reopen following an $18 million rehabilitation project, with costs covered largely by AC Transit’s operating funds, but supported with FTA and state funds.

AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursh, fourth from left, joined local officials, AC Transit board members and union representatives at the reopening of the Division 3 bus facility in Richmond, CA.


Snowstorm Slams Northeastern U.S.; Public Transit Was Prepared

A nor’easter stormed into the northeastern U.S. the morning of Feb. 9, leaving metropolitan areas including New York City and Boston with eight inches or more of snow.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, center, led a briefing on the state’s response to the storm that day, joined by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim and Kevin Wisely, director of the state’s Office of Emergency Management. (Photo courtesy of the New York Governor's Office)

Hakim noted that the MTA began its preparations before the storm struck, allowing for a relatively smooth-running morning rush hour. “We had thousands of extra MTA staff out in our system, doing everything from running snow removal machinery, sweeping, salting, making sure our stations and our platforms are in good condition for our customers as well as being able to respond to developments as they arise,” she said.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) temporarily suspended service on several rail lines Feb. 9 and reported moderate delays on bus lines but most operations had returned to normal by the morning of Feb. 10.

The agency deployed snow clearing equipment overnight to prepare the system for the next day’s service and noted system upgrades such as a new heating system that keeps snow and ice from building up on rail switches. MBTA informed its customers by posting real-time service updates on its Twitter feed.    

New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) advised its users to follow status updates online or by text or email. Through preparation and the support of roaming crews for snow removal at stations and railyards, NJ Transit maintained regular weekday service on a majority of the system, with some rail and bus delays and route changes due to the weather and localized road conditions.

Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County noted minor issues.





Public Transit: Super Bowl MVPs

Houston Sets Ridership Records
When Super Bowl LI arrived in Houston, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) responded with record-breaking ridership as the agency tallied more than 700,000 boardings on light rail and special shuttle buses during the nine-day period of events in the run up to the Feb. 5 game.

METRORail reported four of the highest single-day ridership totals in its history Feb. 1-4, with a new one-day rail record—approximately 109,500 boardings—on Feb. 4. In addition, the newest light rail lines, the Green and Purple, set single-day ridership records for three straight days.

Packed train cars and crowded platforms were common as thousands of riders used METRORail and the system’s shuttles to reach the big game and related events.


Record crowds packed METRORail trains and shuttles during Super Bowl LI week.
“The feedback we have received has been tremendous. So many have called and messaged about their positive experiences using METRO over these past several days,” said METRO Board Chair Carrin Patman.

“We are thrilled we were able to serve the community in such a meaningful way and work in close partnership with the extraordinary leadership of Ric Campo and Sallie Sargent of the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee. We also applaud the great coordination at the city, county, state and federal levels. This was truly a team effort as Houston welcomed the world for Super Bowl LI,” she added.

METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert said, “This effort was more than two years in the planning and to see the community embrace and rely on our services in such a big way is extremely rewarding. Our expanded transportation network has grown rapidly in the last three years, and METRO’s dedicated staff proved we can deliver when it’s time for a world-class event and every day.”

Light rail passengers rode free for three days in advance of the game, ­courtesy of a local business sponsor.
The seamless METRO Super Bowl Connection service network included buses, METRORail light rail and bus shuttles and connectors operating among downtown sites.

METRO also partnered with Game City Showcase, an event that highlights a different Houston neighborhood—all within walking distance of light rail—for four nights the week before the Super Bowl. The festivities included live music, interactive art, snacks, specialty drinks, giveaways, activities and special appearances.

MBTA Shines at Victory Parade
Thousands of New England Patriots fans gathered Feb. 7 in Boston for the Super Bowl Victory Parade—and 215,000 of them traveled on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail service operated by Keolis Commuter Services, one of the system’s busiest days in its history.

Keolis officials noted that ridership was 60 percent higher than a typical weekday, requiring 15 additional inbound trains and seven coaches. Further, as snow and sleet fell across the region, system employees had to salt platforms and walkways to ensure the safety of commuters and parade attendees. Twelve additional trains on eight commuter rail lines entered service following the parade.

An MBTA surveillance camera photo showed the crowd of New England Patriots fans surrounding the entrances to Park Station.

More than 100 staff members volunteered to assist passengers at select stations, ­particularly at Boston’s North, South and Back Bay stations.

“The MBTA and its commuter rail partner worked very hard to meet yesterday’s ridership demands across all modes,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. “When there are large events in Boston, the public understandably turns to the MBTA for transportation support, and we’re pleased that we were able to satisfy the needs of not only parade-goers but also our regular weekday commuters.”

Keolis Commuter Service General Manager David Scorey said the successful response was “the result of careful planning and preparation and [it] underscores our commitment to putting passengers first no matter what the occasion, including extraordinary weekday or weekend events.”

Editor’s Note: Passenger Transport has been reporting on transit agencies’ efforts to get football fans to and from games since 1946. See photo and story in this issue.


Transit Police Attend Funeral for RTD Officer

The funeral of a Regional Transportation District (RTD) transit security guard killed Feb. 1 in the line of duty, Scott Von Lanken, was attended by representatives of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Utah Transit Authority, who joined RTD and Denver-area leaders for the service.

Von Lanken, 56, was shot and killed while on foot patrol duty near Denver Union Station. He was helping two women prepare to board light rail when the shooter fired, said police, who have a suspect in custody.

In a statement following the shooting, RTD General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Dave Genova said, “This is an incredibly sad day for us, and on behalf of the entire RTD family I extend my prayers and express my sincere condolences to the officer’s family, friends and loved ones.”

Denver Police Chief Robert White added, “It’s really disheartening when anyone loses their life, but especially when we have someone out there providing safety to the community at large.”

Von Lanken, a former pastor, was employed by Allied Universal, which works under contract with RTD Transit Police.

A DART transit officer, Brent Thompson, was killed in a sniper attack in July; three of his fellow officers were wounded. Thompson was the first DART police officer killed in the line of duty.

The Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union is accepting donations for a memorial fund here in the name of Scott Von Lanken.

KAT Improves Service; More Access to Jobs, Shopping

Knoxville (TN) Area Transit (KAT) recently implemented service improvements on 13 bus routes, including new Sunday service, increased frequencies on Saturdays and later service on many neighborhood routes.

KAT made the changes in response to passenger requests and to respond to capacity issues for its busy Saturday service.

“We are very excited to be starting the new year off right by providing these significant service improvements,” said Dawn Distler, director of transit for the city of Knoxville.

“The later service on neighborhood routes will give people more opportunities to get home from jobs, as well as allowing people who take transit to enjoy the many offerings of our downtown and still catch transit home. New Sunday services to … commercial locations to the northeast will provide great opportunities for both shopping and employment. We couldn’t be more pleased,” she said.

Oklahoma City Breaks Ground for Streetcar; EMBARK to Operate

Construction began Feb. 7 for “one of the most ambitious projects in Oklahoma City’s history,” in the words of Mayor Mick Cornett: the MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Streetcar line, the area’s first streetcar system in generations.

The city is constructing the $131 million modern streetcar system, funded through the MAPS 3 program voters approved in 2009 that uses a one-cent, limited-term sales tax to finance debt-free projects. EMBARK will operate the line when it opens in December 2018, connecting passengers with major employers, businesses, attractions and downtown residences at 22 stops.

“The Oklahoma City Streetcar represents perhaps the most significant capital investment in public transit since the original streetcar was built in the early 1900s,” said Jason Ferbrache, administrator of EMBARK. “We are excited to have the streetcar join our family of services in late 2018.  The streetcar will introduce public transportation to those who have never used public transit before in Oklahoma City. And while it is located downtown, the project’s pulse will be felt throughout the city as it seamlessly connects to EMBARK’s larger public transit network.”

Brookville Equipment Corp. is constructing six streetcars, of which five will operate at any given time. Each streetcar can carry approximately 100 people.

The streetcar will have two route options: a two-mile loop serving the Bricktown entertainment district in downtown and a 4.8-mile mainline serving the rest of the central urban core. The line will use overhead wires for electric power on part of the route and batteries for the rest. The project budget also includes a storage and maintenance facility already under construction.

An artist’s rendering of the Oklahoma City Streetcar.

Rendering courtesy of EMBARK

APTA Holds First Rail Infrastructure Maintenance Summit

More than 25 public transportation professionals participated in APTA’s first Rail Infrastructure Maintenance Summit at its offices in Washington, DC, Feb. 6 -7.


Acting President & CEO Richard White and Acting Vice President-Member Services Randy Clarke welcomed attendees to APTA’s first Rail Maintenance Infrastructure Summit and joined in discussions of critical challenges.
The goal of the inaugural summit was to bring together experts to discuss critical issues facing rail transit system operators and maintainers, share best practices and reaffirm priorities for standards, research and analysis. Attendees included chief engineers, assistant general managers, chief operating officers and directors of infrastructure.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Assistant Chief Engineer Andy Off and Laura Mason, director, WMATA’s SafeTrack program, spoke about the initiative’s challenges.

FTA National Transit Database Program Manager John Giorgis updated the group on guidance for developing a Transit Asset Management plan. In a peer briefing, Erick Stoothoff, deputy chief operating officer, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, shared insights into infrastructure resiliency issues at his agency.

Several roundtable discussions focused on timely issues facing rail agencies, including tunnel ventilation, stray current corrosion and mitigation, maintenance scheduling, challenges of “Buy America” products and maintenance workforce development.

APTA is developing the next forum with international transit systems to be held June 10 as part of the annual Rail Conference, similar to Maintenance Monday and BRT Tuesday at the Bus Conference.

Industry experts shared insights and best practices in a two-day gathering at APTA offices to explore the complex issues related to rail maintenance infrastructure.

Photos by Mitchell Wood

New CEOs Named

Roelfs, CityLink, Peoria

Doug Roelfs, who served as interim general manager of the Greater Peoria (IL) Mass Transit District (CityLink) since Al Stanek retired in December, has been named to the post on a permanent basis. He previously was the agency’s assistant general manager of operations.

Roelfs leads the First Transit Inc. team that manages CityLink’s public transportation services. He has worked for First Transit since 2013, serving in public transit administrative posts in cities including Davenport, IA, and Pittsfield, MA, and earlier was a 24-year employee of the public works department in Mediapolis, IA.

For APTA, he is a member of the Bus & Paratransit CEOs and Small Operations committees.

McDermott, Huitt-Zollars

Huitt-Zollars, based in Dallas, has named Robert J. McDermott, the firm’s executive vice president since 2001, as its president.

He succeeds Robert L. Zollars, co-founder of the firm, who will remain as chairman of the board.

McDermott began his career in 1977 and joined Huitt-Zollars in 1991.

In Memoriam

Broussard, USSC Group

Jesse Broussard, 80, of Houston, a senior sales consultant for USSC since 1995, died Jan. 25.

Broussard began his public transportation career in 1963 as one of the first African-American bus drivers hired by Houston’s Rapid Transit Line, predecessor to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), where he rose to become director of transportation. He became a consultant for USSC after retiring from METRO.

Tonsing, Past RTD Board Chairman

Robert L. Tonsing Jr., 86, a former chairman of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) who oversaw the launch of the agency’s light rail system, died Jan. 24 in Littleton, CO. He became board chair in 1999, a year before RTD’s first light rail line entered service.

RTD General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Dave Genova called Tonsing “a tireless leader in the fight for more transit service and especially light rail. Through Bob’s vision and leadership, the Denver metro area is today a better place to live, work and play.”


Barnes Shares Goals at BMBG Meeting

APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes reported on the goals of his term when he addressed the recent APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) Annual Meeting in Clearwater, FL, attended by almost 90 business members who also learned about APTA’s future and discussed qualities the next APTA president and CEO will need.

In his opening remarks, BMBG Chair Jeff Wharton, president of IMPulse NC LLC, emphasized the importance of business member involvement in APTA initiatives.

APTA Vice President-Policy Art Guzzetti, joined by Sharon Greene of HDR, discussed the economic and social impact of high-speed rail in the U.S. Both stressed that the lack of full understanding of the return of investment for high-speed and intercity passenger rail has hindered funding efforts.

APTA Acting Vice President-Member Services Randy Clarke provided an overview of APTA’s safety and security initiatives (one of APTA’s five strategic goals) and explained the logistical factors and financial burdens of planning an APTA conference, from location and hotel rates to audio-visual and banquet costs.

A panel discussion centered on innovative public transit agency projects such as first-mile, last-mile partnerships with Uber and using autonomous vehicles for BRT. Panelists included Valarie J. McCall, APTA immediate past chair and board member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Brad Miller, chief executive officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL; Katharine Eagan, chief executive officer, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa; Cleveland Ferguson, vice president of administration, Jacksonville Transportation Authority; and David Stackrow, chairman, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY.

APTA Senior Director of Legislative Affairs Andrew Brady briefed the business members on the current political climate.

Join APTA for Learning, Networking

Make plans now to participate in APTA’s upcoming conferences: the 2017 Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 7-10 in Reno, NV; the Rail Conference, June 11-14 in Baltimore; and the Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 8-11 in Atlanta.

The Bus & Paratransit Conference will offer educational and networking opportunities as well as the APTA International Bus Roadeo, the Bus Display and the Products & Services Showcase. This year’s educational sessions will be organized into eight routes of study: technology and technical forums; operations and maintenance; accessibility and mobility management; safety, security and emergency preparedness; planning, sustainability and finance; capital programs; BRT (including the popular BRT Tuesday); and policy, management and workforce development.

The APTA Rail Conference will provide workshops and technical sessions covering issues of operations, technology, safety, security, planning, finance, capital projects and the technical aspects of providing all modes of rail service. The International Rail Rodeo and the Products & Services Showcase are also on the schedule.

For the Annual Meeting & EXPO, APTA has opened the call for presentations, inviting representatives of member organizations to submit ideas, case studies and best practices online by March 17. Authors will be notified of their selection by email beginning in late April.

For information about presentation topics, contact Saahir Brewington. For help with online forms, contact David Bruening.

To learn more, visit the APTA website.

Reno, the largest city in northern Nevada, is the site of APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 7-10. In addition to restaurants, shopping, museums and other city attractions, Reno and nearby Lake Tahoe offer a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities.

Photo courtesy of

APTA Award Nominations Due

APTA invites its public transit agency and business members to submit nominations by April 10 for its annual awards program, which recognizes excellence in the public transportation industry in North America.

Individual award categories are Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member, Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member, Distinguished Service Awards (state and local) and Hall of Fame. Organization award categories are Innovation Award and Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award.

All nominations should include how the nominee demonstrates APTA’s core values: leadership, integrity, excellence, diversity, inclusiveness, fairness and equity, teamwork, professionalism and accountability.

Nominations can be made by any individual employed by an APTA member in good standing. All nominators need to complete the nomination form and supporting materials here. Please submit nominations to Erin Cartwright or mail to APTA Awards Committee, Attention: Erin ­Cartwright, 1300 I St. NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005.


1946: Public Transit Scores a Touchdown

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.

This photo from the Dec. 13, 1946 Passenger Transport is the publication’s very first story depicting throngs of football fans queueing up for a bus ride home.

Here’s what editor William U. Taylor had to say about these Notre Dame fans and the innovative way the transit system in South Bend, IN, got them all boarded in record time:

“To facilitate moving the crowds, Northern Indiana Transit, Inc., has devised a system making it possible to transport between 10,000 and 15,000 fans in 30 to 40 minutes. All passengers must first pass through turnstiles, where they pay their fare, into an enclosed lot where buses are parked.

“With both doors thrown open,” the photo caption continued, “buses are fully loaded in about one minute. W.W. Waterson, general superintendent, estimates that this makes it possible to handle the crowds 15 times faster than the job could be done if all were to pay their fares aboard the bus.”

To see how ­Houston METRO and MBTA handled this year’s enormous Super Bowl crowds, see the story and photos in this issue.


State Affairs Committee

State Affairs Committee

Chair: Lisa Bacot, executive director, Florida Public Transportation Association
Vice Chair: Don Chartock, project delivery manager, Washington State DOT
APTA Staff Advisor: Rich Weaver, director-planning, policy and sustainability
140 Members   |   Find details here

What is the committee’s role for APTA and the industry as a whole?

The role of the State Affairs Committee is to provide a forum for state departments of transportation (DOTs), state transit associations and other interested APTA members to promote the importance of state investment and decision making in public transportation and to leverage the tools and resources that APTA provides to support advocacy at the state and local levels.

In addition, the committee identifies and discusses items of interest that support the interests of the states and the roles that states play in public transportation.

What are the committee’s top priorities for the year?

The development of the annual State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference in partnership with FTA, CTAA [Community Transportation Association of America] and AASHTO is a top priority. The conference provides a space for state associations and state DOTs to talk about issues of mutual interest, including state-level issues, and FTA state program issues.

Networking and coalition building efforts to build state support for transit funding are also priorities each year. Additional areas of focus for the committee include collecting information on different state mobility management approaches related to the rise of shared mobility companies like Uber and Lyft. The committee also works with agencies and state DOTs on implementing changes in the FAST Act, especially as they relate to issues around 5310, 5311, coordinated transportation services and non-emergency medical transportation.

How does the committee engage members in those priorities?

Committee Vice Chair Don Chartock, with the Washington State DOT, and I hold monthly calls or webinars to facilitate networking, best practice sharing and information exchange on various items of interest with the committee. We also facilitate in-person meetings at the yearly State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference, APTA’s Legislative Conference and the Annual Meeting. We have even held dinners with committee members at other APTA events to stay up-to-date.

APTA’s committees play an important role in fulfilling the association’s commitment to developing industry leaders, especially young professionals. Please share how your committee encourages young professionals to participate in its work.

Because our monthly calls and in-person meetings are open to any APTA member, young professionals have an opportunity to engage with the committee regularly.

The annual State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference also provides an opportunity for young professionals to share their work during one of our roundtable discussions or to participate on a panel. The conference also presents a great oppor­tunity to network with other members of the committee.

Please share how an individual’s service on this committee can add value to his or her career.

Given that the members are primarily state association leaders and state DOT staff, the value individuals will gain is in the information that is shared among committee members. There have been many occasions where ideas, procedures or even documents are shared from one state to another.

The committee evaluates and gives greater attention to items that have particularly high impact at the state and federal levels on the public transportation industry, state DOTs and state associations. These items include, but are not limited to, state legislation and regulations, state administration of federal programs, funding and structure of state programs and organization and operation of state associations.

The information presented at our monthly meetings is vital to each of our organizations and keeps us in the loop of activities.

Please describe the committee’s work to advance the goals in APTA’s strategic plan.

Our committee touches on nearly all aspects of APTA’s strategic plan, as these are issues that each state faces. Members of the committee review and provide key insight on the various legislative, funding and policy initiatives coming from the states and regions and use APTA’s resources to advocate for public transportation as well.

As we all know, state-level actions have an enormous impact on the success and advancement of public transportation across the nation. I firmly believe that the information and knowledge shared at our committee benefits not only those participating, but APTA members as a whole.


A Lesson in Engaged Citizenship: How One Agency Links Community Involvement With Its Long-Term Success

Capital District Transportation Authority
Albany, NY
I believe, in order to be successful, you have to be invested. From my perspective, I am CDTA and CDTA is me. We’re one and the same. You can’t separate them. When you live somewhere, raise your family in an area and are committed to the area, you have to be part of the community. It’s as simple as that.

We’re lucky to have a forward-thinking board of directors led by a chairman who sees the value and importance of being relevant in the communities we serve. CDTA Board Chair David Stackrow believes that to be successful, you have to have a seat at the economic development table.

Economic development is not one person, not one agency. More than 20 years ago, economic development professionals contacted CDTA after development was in the planning stage. We wanted and needed to shift that and be part of the conversation before decisions were made. So, we’re involved at that early level now much more so than we were in the past.

There are many examples of this kind of pre-planning or community engagement, but two of the more notable projects at CDTA are with the largest medical campus in Albany and a new multi-use development in nearby Schenectady that includes a casino, two hotels, commercial space and an apartment complex.

The medical facility expanded its campus to include housing, restaurants and shops. It serves students attending the medical college, employees and people who want to be part of the renaissance of urban living.

We were involved in the planning of that residential component five years before a shovel hit the ground. That partnership led to a universal access agreement with the medical center where its more than 10,000 employees now have unlimited access to our route network by simply using their employee identification cards. Every ID card is live on our buses, meaning cardholders ride for free under a prearranged agreement.

And this agreement is just one of about 20 we have with colleges and businesses across the Capital Region. Universal access agreements account for about 30 percent of our total ridership, which hit a new record last year, 17.1 million. Our ridership is 25 percent higher today than it was five years ago.

Another example of how being relevant in your community matters is our project in Schenectady—a mixed-use development complex featuring a casino, hotels, housing, office and commercial space, restaurants and shops that opened on the edge of downtown.

The developer and the operator of the casino have been engaged with us since day one. We will have two bus routes serving the casino and we are establishing new shuttle service between the complex and downtown Schenectady. Once again, employee ID cards at the complex will be turned on as part of the partnership.

Customers Come First
Over the past several years, Chair Stackrow and our board have also set a clear direction and expectation about the customer and the customer experience. You have to deliver a product that is attractive to customers. So, how does that tie into economic development?

It’s pretty simple. It’s hard to sell people on a business relationship—one where they’re going to write checks to you—if you tell them the bus is only going to arrive every hour, we’re going to provide a bus that’s 15 years old and it shows up not as clean as it needs to be.

Over the last several years, we have concentrated our efforts on making our fleet clean and comfortable, and most importantly, making our service frequent and reliable.

Because we have taken steps to enhance our community image, CDTA is becoming more than just a bus company. Last year we began oversight responsibility for taxi services in the Capital Region and this summer we will launch a regional bike share program that allows people to get out and enjoy our area in a fun and healthy way.

We’re also busy in other ways: We’re building transit centers in Troy, Schenectady and Albany; working toward a goal of 40 miles of BRT service by introducing two new lines; adding more articulated buses; developing new downtown shuttle services; and negotiating more universal access partnerships. All of these initiatives are part of CDTA’s vision for a bigger and better system.

Eventually, these services will be tied together with our smartcard prepayment system Navigator. The launch of our smartcard was more than just flipping the switch; it was about opening up a wider menu of travel options for the region. This project has also been a priority for our board, which has worked for the past decade to make CDTA innovative and inclusive, to serve as an industry leader.

In order to be more than just talk, you have to be accountable and measure your success. And we do.

We look at ­critical factors every day—ridership, on-time performance, safety and maintenance of our fleet. At the end of the day, you have to perform, be cognizant of your fiduciary responsibility, serve your customers and community and be invested.

All of these advancements will not only change the way people ride in the Capital Region, it will change the way people think about public transit.

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


FTA Schedules TAM Roundtable

FTA invites Transit Asset Management (TAM) practitioners from U.S. public transit agencies to gather in Cambridge, MA, beginning Aug. 28 to participate in a two- to three-day TAM roundtable.

FTA welcomes input in developing the roundtable program and invites TAM professionals to email topics of interest here.

Additional details on the roundtable, including the agenda and registration process, will appear online over the coming months. Click here and search on “FTA 2017 TAM roundtable.”

New Study: 'HealthLine' Generating High-Paying Jobs in Growth Sectors

The data are in: The number of jobs has nearly doubled along one of Cleveland’s main thoroughfares—Euclid Avenue—since the 2008 completion of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s BRT HealthLine, often cited as a “gold standard” for BRT in the U.S.

What’s more, as of 2014, most of the new jobs—56 percent—paid $40,000 or more a year compared to roughly one-third paying that salary level in 2002, according to the study from the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University (CSU).

A key theme of the report is that forward-thinking investments in public transit can spark and support “new economy” jobs in urban areas, such as those in health care and education (both sectors provide employment along the HealthLine Euclid Avenue corridor), rather than traditional manufacturing jobs, which tend to be clustered in suburbs.

RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said the CSU report confirms trends in his city and elsewhere. “It’s consistent with major capital improvement projects in transit around the country,” he said. “This was the hope and the goal, and it’s great to see it’s the reality as well.”

The report, which reviews population, migration and economic patterns in the Greater Cleveland area, also recounts previous studies that confirm the $200 million BRT’s positive economic impact, including more than $6 billion in additional investments along the corridor, an increase in ridership for the line and growth in the downtown area’s residential population.

HealthLine, one of the first BRT lines in the country, has been joined by the Cleveland State Line, extending the region’s “BRT backbone” from the Westlake neighborhood to East Cleveland.

RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese with a HealthLine bus.

Photo credit: David Kidd/Governin


DART Community Spirit Captured In Award Winning Photo

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Officer Elmar Cannon shows his big community spirit by reaching out to one of Dallas’ smallest citizens. This 2015 photo, taken while Cannon was on patrol in downtown Dallas, is one of 12 winners in the third annual photo contest conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to highlight positive interactions between police departments and their communities. Cannon was wounded in a sniper attack in July 2016 that killed a DART police officer and injured two others; he has since returned to duty. DART was the only public transit police agency selected among the winners. The winning photos will appear in social media and on the COPS Office website during the year.

Photo by Lupe Hernandez, DART

'Ride with Pride' in Greensboro, NC

The Greensboro (NC) Transit Authority (GTA) invites the community to “Ride with Pride” during February, Black History Month. The GTA bus—customized both inside and out—displays photos and stories recounting the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in local, national and world history. The vehicle will rotate among routes throughout the month and is available at no charge to schools, community centers and other groups.

Same Day Medical Transportation in Flint, MI

The Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) in Flint, MI, recently partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop and launch a new Same Day Medical Transportation Service, funded through DHHS. More than 2,000 individuals used the service in December and MTA expects that figure to increase. Individuals can receive service within 30 minutes of their call to the agency.

Bus Manufacturers Off to Busy Start

MCI: Commuter Coaches for Houston, Connecticut
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc. based in Des Plaines, IL, recently entered into contracts with public transit agencies in Connecticut and Houston to provide commuter coaches.

In Houston, the Metropolitan ­Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) awarded MCI a three-year contract for 139 coaches, including 10 options per year that would bring the total number to 169, with an approximate total value of $84 million. The new vehicles will replace older models, operating from park-and-ride locations and running on HOV lanes.

The relationship between METRO and MCI dates back to 2001 with the purchase of 391 commuter coaches during that period, including 122 coaches powered with a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system.

Connecticut DOT has a $56 million contract with MCI for up to 112 45-foot commuter coaches, with the first 40 vehicles set for delivery later this year. The coaches, replacing older models and expanding capacity on CT Transit Express routes, will be delivered to private operators in urban areas statewide that provide commuter express services to CT Transit, the state-owned bus service.

Philip Scarrozzo, transit manager, Conn. DOT, said the order is the department’s largest. “Because we value our public-private working relationships, we want to assure these operators and the passengers they serve have coaches with the best technology available today,” he said. MCI provided Conn. DOT 41 commuter coaches in three previous orders.

Proterra Increases Manufacturing, Production
Proterra, the manufacturer of electric vehicles based in Greenville, SC, recently announced plans to open a second manufacturing facility and increase production at its Greenville facility while entering into the largest electric bus order in North America in Seattle.

The expansion plans, which include opening the second facility in the Los Angeles area and boosting production by 300 percent in Greenville, follow Proterra raising $140 million from private investors. The company also is developing a new generation of heavy-duty ­electric vehicles.

Proterra Chief Executive Officer Ryan Popple said, “2016 was a year of remarkable growth and technological achievement for Proterra, and we’re expecting this progress to continue unabated as more cities, communities and transit agencies across the country transition from diesel to clean, quiet battery-electric transport. … As 2017 continues, we’re looking forward to expanding electric mobility for the masses and supporting our partners in the transition to EV [electric vehicles].”

The arrangement between Seattle’s King County Metro Transit and Proterra includes the purchase of up to 73 battery-electric buses for up to $55 million and $5.5 million to $6.6 million for charging stations—part of a plan for the agency to acquire 120 all-electric buses by 2020. The initial order will be for 20 buses totaling $15.1 million, of which eight will enter service this year and the other 12 in 2019. The 73-­vehicle order is part of the county’s Green Fleet Initiative.

PSTA Joins with Uber, Taxi to Get People on the Bus

Residents of Pinellas County, FL, can use ride-hailing apps and taxis to connect to Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus stops through the agency’s new Direct Connect program—the nation’s first P3 to connect passengers to bus stops—and all for only about $1.

“The solution to most transit-related issues lies in our ability to get the right people working together at the right time,” said Brad Miller, PSTA chief executive officer. “PSTA identified a solution to a problem and got all the players together, but our transportation partners are a big key to our success.”

Direct Connect uses Uber and a local taxi service to pick up bus-stop-bound riders within eight specific zones. ­Riders who remain within their embarking zone and either begin or end at a bus stop receive a $5 discount off their ride, meaning the final cost for most users will be about $1. PSTA has also partnered with a paratransit service to offer similar discounted rides for passengers with disabilities.

“We are about making life easier for our riders,” said Miller. “If we can take a time-consuming, exhausting and sometimes dangerous part of their day out, then consider it gone.”

PSTA CEO Brad Miller, fourth from left, and Cesar Fernandez, public policy manager for Uber, fourth from right, join local officials including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, third from right, at the launch of Direct Connect service.

UITP Summit Kicks Off in May

Public transportation ­leaders and policymakers from around the world will convene in Montréal May 15-17 for the biennial International Association of Public Transport’s (UITP) Global Public Transport Summit.

Speakers at the event will focus on the changing mobility world and the emergence of innovative services such as shared use of vehicles, autonomous vehicle technology, digitalization and the need for new skills and energy-efficient technology.

Learn more here.

Industry Briefs

Texas HSR Reaches Milestone — Texas Central, private developers of a 240-mile high-speed rail line that will connect North Texas and Houston in a 90-minute trip, has announced it has reached option agreements on about 30 percent of the land parcels estimated to be needed for the route. This action follows the withdrawal of legal measures regarding property access. Negotiations have resulted in option agreements in 10 counties, according to Texas Central, including half the parcels in two of the counties at roughly the midpoint of the proposed route. The option program compensates owners today in exchange for the right to acquire a parcel at a future date at an agreed price. “This is a significant step in the progress of the high-speed train and it reflects the positive dialogue we have had with landowners along the route,” said Texas Central Chief Executive Officer Carlos Aguilar.

Metra Seeks Customer Help with ‘Ride Nice’ Campaign — Metra commuter rail in Chicago invites its customers to help choose the next topics of its “Ride Nice” courtesy campaign through an online vote at the agency’s website. Participants can select from a list of suggestions or write in their own. The topics with the most votes will be covered in future campaign posters.

Rochester’s New ‘Fast Pass’ — Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester, NY, recently introduced the “Tap & Go! RTS Fast Pass,” a farecard that allows customers to pay their fares by tapping it on a target on the farebox when boarding. RTS offers the passes in five-day unlimited, 31-day unlimited and stored value versions.

Clean Energy Contracts with ­Torrance — The city of Torrance, CA, has entered into a six-year CNG fueling contract with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. that will allow the city to use Clean Energy’s Redeem™ brand of renewable natural gas.

Transit on Campus — Four public transit organizations have entered into new agreements with college partners.

Transdev has entered into a contract with North Carolina State University in Raleigh to operate and maintain free campus shuttle service beginning in August. The university will purchase 40 new buses and Transdev will employ 77 people for the $7.6 million annual contract.

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX, retired its fleet of burnt orange and white UT Shuttles on the University of Texas at Austin campus, replacing the buses with new blue Capital Metro-branded vehicles. The previous fleet had been in operation since 1998.

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Canton, OH, and Stark State College provide express bus service from downtown Akron to the college’s main campus in North Canton. In addition, all Stark State students and staff can ride any of SARTA’s 34 fixed routes for free by showing their college ID when boarding.

BYD is supplying the University of California, Irvine, with 20 all-electric buses for $15 million for its student funded and operated Anteater Express service. BYD is manufacturing the buses at its plant in Lancaster, CA, and plans to deliver them for the 2017-2018 academic year when they will join a hydrogen-electric bus already in service.

Real-Time Information in Delaware
— Delaware DOT’s new mobile and web apps allow DART First State customers to view real-time bus arrival information. Users can select a bus stop, get arrival times and view live updates as a bus icon travels along its designated route. Delaware DOT staff members developed the app using data collected by DART’s existing statewide transit dispatch operational system.

NYC Cellular, Wi-Fi Connections Ahead of Schedule
— Travelers in MTA New York City Transit’s underground subway stations now have access to cell phone coverage on all four major carriers—a year ahead of schedule—and Wi-Fi—two years ahead of schedule. The project included the installation of 120 miles of fiber optic cables, 4,000 antenna connection points and 5,000 Wi-Fi access points.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

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

Laketran’s Jurkowski to Retire

LAKE COUNTY, OHIO—Raymond Jurkowski, general manager of Lake­tran since 2003, will retire July 31.

Jurkowski came to Laketran after serving Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority as assistant general manager of organizational development. Earlier he worked with St. Louis Metro and was deputy commissioner of transportation in Westchester County, NY.

LOS ANGELES—AECOM has announced the hiring of Carolyn ­Flowers, former acting FTA administrator, to lead the firm’s North American public ­transit practice.Before joining FTA, Flowers was chief executive officer of the Charlotte Area Transit System and worked 19 years for Los Angeles Metro, ultimately serving as chief operations officer. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2003, a co-chair of the APTA Authorization Task Force and a former member of the board of directors and numerous committees.

DAYTON, OH—Nikol Miller has joined the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority as community relations manager. Miller started her career in community and government affairs working for the city of Dayton. In Chicago, she worked for the Metropolitan Planning Council, U.S. Census Bureau and as chief of staff to a city alderman.

LOS ANGELES—HNTB Corporation announced the appointment of Enrique (Hank) Alonso as construction management program manager and vice president, based in the firm’s Orange County office. Alonso has more than 33 years of
experience, serving most recently as vice president for construction management for another consulting firm.
PORTLAND, OR—Patrick Preusser has joined the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon as executive director of transportation, overseeing bus, light rail, commuter rail and paratransit operations.

Preusser has 19 years of experience, including serving as operations manager for the Saudi Railway Company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Earlier he was executive director of rail operations for Los Angeles Metro and worked for Amtrak and FRA.

TAMPA, FL—Hillsborough County Commissioner Patricia (Pat) Kemp and City of Temple Terrace Councilperson Cheri Donohue have joined the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Board of Directors.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA—Community Transit has hired Molly ­Marsicek to head its new Customer Experience Department. She joins the agency after serving as senior manager of customer experience at a healthcare company.

SAN ANTONIO, TX—The VIA Metropolitan Transit Board of Trustees has re-elected Hope Andrade as its chair, Stephen P. Allison vice chair and Lester Bryant secretary.

Andrade was first elected to chair the board in 2015. Allison joined the board in 2009, appointed by the Greater Bexar County Council of Cities, and was originally elected vice chair in 2015. Bryant, appointed to the board by the city of San Antonio in 2014, also serves on the APTA Board of Directors and on several APTA committees.

PHOENIX—Paul Hodgins has been named chief financial officer of Valley Metro after serving as interim CFO. He has worked in the industry for 25 years and will be responsible for the operating and capital budgets of the two boards of directors, Valley Metro RPTA and Valley Metro Rail.

OAKLAND, CA—The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Directors elected Rebecca Saltzman its president and Robert Raburn vice president, succeeding Tom Radulovich and Gail Murray respectively.

Saltzman has represented BART’s District 3 since 2012 and Raburn has represented District 4 since 2010.

DES PLAINES, IL—Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., announced the promotions of Ian Smart, executive vice president, aftermarket of New Flyer, to president, motor coach business, of MCI, and Brian Dewsnup, vice president and general manager of MCI’s aftermarket business, to president, parts business, for both New Flyer and MCI.

Smart joined New Flyer in 2011 from an independent aviation repair and overhaul company.

Dewsnup, based in Louisville, KY, will oversee the combined New Flyer and MCI aftermarket parts businesses. He formerly was chief financial officer of North American Bus Industries, which was acquired by New Flyer in 2013.

ASHEVILLE, NC—Jeff Popovich, most recently director, information technology, for APTA, has joined KL2 Connects LLC as its fifth principal.

Popovich has more than 20 years of consulting and information technology experience. He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2012 and a member of the Information Technology and Research and Technology committees.

PETALUMA, CA—The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Board of Directors named Debora Fudge, mayor of the town of Windsor, its chairwoman, succeeding Judy Arnold. The board also selected Kate Sears, a Marin County supervisor, as vice chairwoman.

LITTLE FALLS, NJ—Stanley Rosenblum has joined SYSTRA as chief operating officer after 14 years with Jacobs Engineering. He previously worked for New Jersey Transit Corporation and New Jersey DOT.

NEW YORK CITY—Babu Veeregowda has joined HNTB Corporation’s Northeast Division as chief transportation/traffic engineer and vice president. He has more than 28 years of experience, serving most recently as a principal and chief traffic engineer with another engineering consulting firm.

SAN DIEGO—Dirk Van de Meerssche, Cubic Transportation Systems sales and marketing director of intelligent transport systems and tolling for Asia Pacific, has been appointed to the board of directors for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Australia.

DALLAS—The Dallas City Council has appointed Patrick Kennedy to the ­Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors. Kennedy, founder of an urban planning, landscape architecture and consulting firm, has more than 15 years of experience.

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors welcomed three new members and noted the re-election of a current member.

Two members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, succeeded Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe as members of the Metro board, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia succeeded Diane DuBois. Ara Najarian, a Glendale City Council member, was re-elected to the board, on which he has served since 2006.

SACRAMENTO, CA—Blair ­Thompson has joined Caltrans in the newly created position of chief of innovation, risk and strategic management. He previously worked for the California Department of Motor Vehicles since 1998, most recently as acting enterprise planning and performance branch chief.

KANSAS CITY, MO—TranSystems Corp. has named Tim Rock and David Maas to its freight rail and intermodal sector, Rock as market sector leader and Maas senior vice president. Both are principals with the company.

Rock, a senior vice president, also serves as regional vice president for the company’s Southeast Region. His previous positions with TranSystems include rail team leader, director of operations and regional vice president for the Midwest Region.

Maas joined TranSystems in 2006.

LOWELL, MA—TRC Companies Inc.announced that Doug Massih, senior vice president, has been appointed the new leader for the firm’s infrastructure sector. He was previously the sector’s deputy director and senior vice president and has more than 30 years of technical services and business-related experience.

DALLAS—Texas Central, developers of the state’s high-speed train that ultimately will connect Dallas and Houston, announced that business leader Drayton McLane Jr. has joined its board of directors. He succeeds former Ambassador to Japan and Australia Tom Schieffer.

LEWISVILLE, TX—Eric Jensen has joined the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) Board of Directors, representing small cities. He is president of Control Products Corporation, designer and manufacturer of lighting systems and simulators for air, land and sea.
DCTA also announced the reappointments of three board members: Connie White and Skip Kalb, also representing small cities seats, and Carter Wilson, ­representing the city of Frisco.