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R Is for Ready: RTD Prepares for R Line Launch

As Passenger Transport went to press, Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) was preparing to commemorate the launch of its newest light rail line, the R Line, with a ­ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony Feb. 24 at the Iliff Station, followed by free rides and celebrations at stations along the line.

The 10.5-mile R Line, part of RTD’s FasTracks construction program, extends existing track and connects the A Line (commuter rail) with the H Line (light rail), serves the city of Aurora and provides easy connections to Denver International Airport, the Denver Tech Center and downtown Denver. The route includes eight new stations and four new park-and-rides.

The official ceremony is scheduled to include remarks from RTD General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Dave Genova, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, RTD Chair Larry Hoy, Kiewit Infrastructure Co. Company Senior Vice President and District ­Manager Craig Briggs and Aurora City Manager Skip Noe.

Revenue service begins the following day. To help passengers navigate the light rail system, RTD ambassadors will be at all R Line stations to answer questions during the first week of regular service.

Members of the media interview RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova during a preliminary run on the R Line. RTD's new R Line train in advance of the introduction of service.

MBTA Opens Sustainable Intermodal Center

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has incorporated numerous environmentally friendly features into its newest intermodal facility, located on a portion of the historic Hingham Shipyard site in Boston.

Among the sustainable features in the newly opened Hingham Intermodal Center are a green roof with low-growth, self-supporting vegetation and a geothermal well system for energy-efficient heating and cooling. MBTA selected interior and exterior materials and the ventilation system based on building use, occupancy, life cycle, waterfront environmental conditions (wind, UV radiation, high saline concentration in the atmosphere) and energy saving.

The facility, located in a mixed-use community, serves MBTA Commuter Boats to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, ferries to the Boston Harbor Islands and an MBTA bus route. It replaces outdated commuter boat offices and ticket sales functions, which are currently operating at an adjacent building. It also provides new office space for the MBTA and other agencies.

MBTA shares the two-story, 8,400-square-foot Hingham Intermodal Center with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, Boston Harbor Islands Cruises, Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Hingham Harbor Master.

The former Hingham Shipyard site has been redeveloped into The Launch at Hingham Shipyard, which offers residences, office, retail, entertainment and recreational spaces.

The terminal is dedicated to Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Herbert L. Foss, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, and includes his bust and a plaque noting his accomplishments.

Visibility is a major component of MBTA's new Hingham Intermodal Center, with large glazed areas providing views to surrounding outdoor pedestrian areas.

APTA Search Task Force Seeks Members' Views on Next CEO

The APTA CEO Search Task Force is seeking members’ views on the most important attributes needed for APTA’s next president and chief executive officer.

Members’ input is a critical part of the open and inclusive process, which is currently underway. Members can submit their views in two ways:

First, APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, urges all members who are attending the upcoming Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, to participate in a listening session on Sunday, March 12, 1-2:30 p.m. during the conference at the JW Marriott Hotel.

In addition, members can complete an online survey on the APTA website by clicking on "Complete Future APTA President/CEO Attributes Survey" under News Updates on the homepage.They can also directly contact Gregg Moser, ­Krauthamer & Associates.

APTA has previously held listening sessions at the Business Member Board of Governors meeting and the Transit CEOs Seminar, and another is scheduled for transit board members at their committee meeting on March 12. APTA is also soliciting the perspectives of key stakeholders and association partners.

“We encourage all members to participate and provide their views on what attributes and qualities they believe our next president should have,” Barnes said. “We are committed to finding the best person to lead APTA into the future.”

Based on the feedback, the CEO Search Task Force will develop a job description and take it into account in recruiting and selecting the individual.

The timeline calls for the APTA Board of Directors to approve the job description, compensation structure and performance appraisal process at its June meeting. Once those elements are approved, recruitment will begin and candidates will be interviewed in the fall. A final candidate is scheduled to be recommended to the board in December.

Dealing with an Unexpected Shortfall in DC, MD, VA; FTA Ruling Affects Three Jurisdictions

FTA has begun withholding 5 percent of FY 2017 public transit formula funds to Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to persuade the state and city governments to pass legislation that will establish a new State Safety Oversight Program (SSOP) for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metrorail system.

The funds will be withheld until the jurisdictions pass identical legislation and meet related requirements so FTA can certify a new SSOP for WMATA Metrorail.

“By law, states have the primary responsibility for overseeing the safe operation of their rail transit systems, not only for riders but for transit operators and workers,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “FTA has been providing oversight for WMATA Metrorail since October 2015, but the role is temporary. We will continue to direct safety oversight of Metrorail only until the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia step up and establish an FTA-certified State Safety Oversight Program.”

However, Metrorail isn’t the only public transit system to be affected.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), which serves six independent cities in southeastern Virginia, is “caught in the middle of a situation we didn’t precipitate and we have no control over,” said Brandon Singleton, HRT chief financial officer.

FTA’s action has left HRT short about $600,000 in federal funds, Singleton said, and the agency does not have a dedicated funding source or an operating or capital reserve. “Every dollar that comes into HRT is accounted for, not set aside for any future use,” he said.

Singleton said he understands why FTA is taking this action related to the state and city governments regarding Metrorail, but the issue for HRT is how to minimize the impact of the shortfall on a heavily transit-dependent population. He cited a recent report showing that three-quarters of the agency’s riders depend on the service.

“We’re trying not to affect the core services, so we look at other areas,” he said. “We may have to adjust the cleaning schedule for shelters or go a bit longer in terms of maintaining buses. Any ripple in what we count as revenue is a significant issue.”

FTA noted that, under the current continuing budget resolution through April 28, the total amount being withheld is approximately $8.9 million for the two states and the district. Based on a full-year appropriation, the total amount that may be withheld in FY 2017 is estimated at approximately $15 million.

Passenger Transport contacted Maryland DOT and WMATA for this story. They were unavailable for comment.

$50 Million More in State Funds for CTrail; Final Approval with FTA, State Legislators

Connecticut DOT has announced an additional $50 million for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHSS) Rail Program, which will operate as the CTrail Hartford Line, as the state considers final budget numbers that might affect the project.

The current funding from the State Bonding Commission will support the design and environmental permitting for six new passenger rail stations, 7.5 miles of new double track and approximately 4 miles of double track already under construction.

“The funding approved by the State Bond Commission reinforces our state’s continued commitment to providing new regional passenger rail service on the Hartford Line, which will become the newest component of a robust and vibrant multimodal regional transportation system,” said Conn. DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker.

As for next steps, Richard Andreski, Conn. DOT bureau chief, public transportation, remains optimistic. “The Hartford Line is one of the governor’s highest priorities. We see no reason the service won’t launch in 2018,” he said.

Andreski explained that the capital program for the CTrail Hartford Line—including vehicles, track and stations—is fully funded and scheduled to enter service in 2018. Operational funding for the line is included in the biennial budget for 2018-2019 released earlier this month by Gov. Dannel Malloy, which is being considered by the state legislature.

The CTrail Hartford Line will increase the number of daily round trips on the route from the current six daily Amtrak intercity and regional trains to 17 round trips to Hartford and 12 to Springfield. The majority of the existing rail stations will be replaced and several new stations will be built.

New CEOs Named

Baker, DASH, Alexandria, VA

Josh Baker is the new chief executive officer/general manager of the Alexandria Transit Company, operator of the DASH bus ­system, following the retirement of Sandy Modell.

Baker has 17 years of experience, serving most recently as general manager of the Greater Lynchburg (VA) Transit Company. He began his career driving a bus while a student at Virginia Tech.

Hardy, DDS Wireless International

Scott Hardy, president of the StrataGen division of DDS Wireless International Inc., has been named chief executive officer of the parent company, succeeding its founder and original CEO, Vari Ghai. Hardy joined DDS in April 2016 when he became president of StrataGen and previously had a 30-year career with IBM, where he held several senior executive positions in Canada and the U.S.


1965: When Big News Breaks...

This ad promoting ­Passenger Transport to potential advertisers and subscribers declared that PT is worth every penny.

“Busy transit executives depend on ‘PT’ to bring them the news of the week,” and “if you’re a supplier or manufacturer … it would be advantageous to advertise in ‘PT’,” and “if you are an urban bus company official … contact ‘PT’ now for a subscription."

This ad also kicks off Passenger Transport’s special section commemorating its 75 years of reporting industry news and insights, including a retrospective of PT’s other birthdays and interesting and—we hope—fun-to-read timelines that track some of the industry’s key moments as recorded in the pages of PT. While we can’t feature all of the industry’s history-­making milestones (75 years is a lot of reporting …), we hope the few we’ve noted represent their era and help call attention to some of ­public transportation’s ­significant achievements. Find it all here.

'Passenger Transport' Celebrates Seven Decades of Public Transit Milestones

Click here to see a special section devoted to the 75-year history of Passenger Transport, including a Commentary quoting  the 50th-anniversary and 10th-anniversary issues, a brief overview of the newspaper's changing look during its history, quotes on timely issues from 1943 to 2014 and timelines that track events from the industry's past, organized by decade and aligned with APTA's current strategic goals plus association milestones.


Transit CEOs Meet to Discuss Industry Issues and Opportunities

Chief executives and deputies from public transit agencies across North America gathered in San Diego at APTA’s Transit CEOs Seminar to discuss their systems’ most important challenges and opportunities. With 147 attendees, it was one of the largest seminars in recent history.

APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes thanked Paul Jablonski, CEO, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, for hosting the event. “As the head of one transit agency to another, it’s good to be among so many colleagues who share common goals, challenges and aspirations for their systems,” Barnes said.

After outlining his major goals as chair for the year, Barnes led discussions on proposed changes to APTA’s governance structure and engaged the audience in a dialogue about the desired attributes for APTA’s next CEO. APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. and Art Guzzetti, APTA vice president-policy, also participated.

Acting President & CEO Richard White described how APTA is moving from “good to great” by redefining the association’s value proposition, managing resources strategically, investing in improved customer service initiatives and emphasizing safety and security.

Attending the Transit CEOs Seminar were, from left, David Stackrow, chair, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY; Jeff Wharton, president, IMPulse NC LLC, Mount Olive, NC; Acting President & CEO Richard White; APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel Ford Sr., CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, FL; and Paul Jablonski, CEO, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, host agency.
White encouraged attendees to make greater use of APTA’s safety and security resources, forge new relationships with newly elected government officials and find ways to bring together public transit CEOs of every size system to ensure all voices are heard.

The session titled “Industry Perspectives” expanded on this last theme by generating what White called “a true integration of ideas” that cuts across the concerns of public transit CEOs, board members and business members.

“Generational Shifts in Transit Safety,” featuring leaders from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority, described examples of what every transit CEO can learn about improving safety. Barnes and White noted that APTA will conduct a study mission to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore in April to learn about different types of safety cultures.

How changes in mobility management and autonomous technology are impacting public transportation was the topic of “Future Transit Challenges and Opportunities.” Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar, addressed the audience from London in an online interactive session. She told attendees that changes in business models coupled with innovation can benefit the public transportation industry.

Sheri Nasim, a leadership consultant and contributor to Forbes, challenged attendees to examine their agencies’ “return on purpose” or ROP. “Managers as well as front-line workers need to understand their organizations’ mission statement and how their jobs contribute to success,” she said.

This theme was reinforced during the “Reimagining Leadership for the 21st Century” session, in which CEOs considered ways to improve their effectiveness by embracing change.

The session titled “21st Century Policing and Special Event Planning” highlighted the difficult decisions often required to keep an agency safe and unite a public transportation community in times of crisis and loss. Special tribute was paid to two public transit safety officers at Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Denver Regional Transportation District who recently lost their lives in the line of duty.

J. Barry Barker, chair of APTA’s Legislative Committee and executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, and Rob Healy, APTA vice president-government affairs, explained efforts to push for new infrastructure funding and reach out to the Trump administration and new Congress.

Other highlights included workforce development presentations focused on the challenges of filling front-line positions, using social media to improve the customer experience in good times and in bad and a primer on APTA’s membership services for new transit CEOs and deputy CEOs.

Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. and ELERTS sponsored the seminar.

Members Encouraged to Vote on Proposed Bylaws

APTA reminds its member organizations to vote on recommended changes to the association’s governing structure submitted to the membership in January.

If two-thirds of the nearly 1,500 association members approve the changes by the end of June, APTA will begin implementing them to coincide with the seating of the new board and Executive Committee in October. The most significant bylaws changes approved by the board address two major areas:

* 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.

* Clarification of board and Executive Committee responsibilities. The board focuses 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 Jan. 30 Passenger Transport story, which includes a link to a summary of recommended changes.

HR Committee Renamed

APTA’s Executive Committee recently approved the name change of the Human Resources Committee to the Workforce Development Committee to reflect the growing shift in the committee’s scope of work from one focused mainly on HR policies and regulations to one that more broadly supports the current and future workforce, from emerging students to the front line, mid-level managers and executives.

Committee Chair Paul Larrousse, director of the National Transit Institute, led the initiative to change the name on behalf of the committee leadership.

“The Workforce Development name more precisely reflects the work and direction of the committee, which provides a forum to promote leadership, innovation, collaboration and information sharing among public transportation professionals at all levels,” he said.

This name change also more closely aligns the committee’s work with APTA’s mission. In 2014 APTA released the 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, which identifies workforce development as an area of both challenge and opportunity for the industry. The committee and its subcommittees will continue to help APTA members identify and promote industry best practices, develop and share resources, broaden partnerships with higher education programs to develop and offer skills development programs and encourage people to consider career opportunities in public transportation.

Community Development Is Subject of Panel at Legislative Conference

A March 13 General Session focusing on the connection between public transit investment and community development is on the schedule of this year’s APTA Legislative Conference, March 12-14 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC.

“Public Transportation: A Catalyst to Local Economic Development” will bring together regional leaders to discuss how strategic investments in BRT, light rail and heavy rail have spurred significant residential and commercial development along and in proximity to these transit projects.

The moderator is APTA Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall, member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, and the panelists are Robin-Eve Jasper, president, NoMa Business Improvement District, Washington, DC; Tom Murphy, former mayor of Pittsburgh and senior resident fellow, Urban Land Institute; and Scott Rowe, planning coordinator, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Upper Marlboro, MD.

Also on March 13, the Capitol Steps will return to the luncheon session to present their musical satirical view of the political scene.

For additional program details and to register, click here.

Apply for Emerging Leaders, 2018

APTA is accepting ­applications through March 27 for the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), previously known as the Early Career Program, for young public transit professionals and those who have recently changed careers to public transportation.

The program, now in its fourth year, brings together public transit professionals early in their careers with industry leaders and experts through a mentoring program at both the national and local levels. Members of the current class will give presentations on transit trends and career development issues at their capstone workshop in May.

For program details, click here or contact ­Rachelle Jezbera.


Commuter Rail Continues to Make PTC Progress

Commuter rail agencies continue to make significant progress on implementing PTC and are on schedule to meet the congressional deadline of December 2018, according to APTA’s recent updated analysis based on information available as of Dec. 31, 2016.

Some results from APTA’s analyses follow:

* 23 percent of the 3,150 route miles are either in service or in full PTC demonstration mode while awaiting FRA approvals;
* 30 percent of 3,400 locomotives and cab cars have been installed with PTC hardware;
* 40 percent of the 35 back office control systems are ready for operation;
* 70 percent of spectrum has been acquired and 50 percent of 1,000 radio towers have been erected;
* 24 percent of 13,000 employees have been trained in PTC; and
* 19 percent of commuter rail agencies were 100 percent PTC equipped by the end of 2016.

“The progress on this complex safety technology demonstrates the industry’s relentless focus on safety,” said Acting President & CEO Richard A. White.

“The installation of PTC is challenging for a number of reasons, including from a technical perspective. PTC was not a mature technology when Congress mandated it in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Beyond the technological challenges that have to be addressed, there are significant issues in regard to the costs, scarce qualified resources and adequate access to track and locomotives for installation and testing,” White added.

APTA’s analyses were based on surveying its members and assessing the quarterly reports submitted to FRA for the last quarter of 2016. APTA’s report also showed that given the priority of PTC, significant investment backlogs for state of good repair (SOGR) and expansion projects remain. Since APTA’s previous quarterly report, FTA announced that the industry’s SOGR investment needs had increased to $90 billion.

PTC implementation is expected to cost the commuter rail industry more than $3.5 billion in capital expenditures, which includes more than $16 million in spectrum acquisition, and $100 million in annual maintenance costs.

Funding remains a critical concern. Currently, commuter rail agencies have been awarded $75 million in federal grants designated for PTC implementation. Additionally, $199 million were authorized by Congress but have yet to be appropriated. And DOT provided a $967 million loan to one commuter rail agency for PTC implementation.

“On behalf of the commuter rail industry, I urge Congress to quickly make available the $199 million authorized by the FAST Act for FY 2017 and consider providing additional resources to support industry efforts to meet the congressional deadline,” White said.

Industry Logs Nearly 8 Billion Trips in First Nine Months of 2016

Public transportation agencies nationwide reported providing nearly 8 billion trips on all modes in the first nine months of 2016, APTA recently reported.

The report notes that this is a decrease of 1.6 percent over the same period last year, representing 125 million fewer trips across all modes. “With a substantial drop in gas prices, some people may have returned to driving,” said Acting President & CEO Richard A. White. “However, considering the cost of owning and maintaining a car, public transportation still offers an economical way to save money.”

The national average price of a gallon of gas during the first nine months was $2.22, a drop of 15 percent. On the east coast, the price of a gallon of gas averaged 35 cents less than a year ago, and on the west coast it was 53 cents less. Beyond gas prices, many local factors can have an impact on ridership that vary from place to place.

Ridership by Modes

More specifically, light rail ­ridership nationwide increased by 4.3 percent, with systems in Seattle, Houston, Baltimore, New Orleans and Phoenix recording double-digit increases.

Ridership on commuter rail systems nationwide increased by 1.7 percent, with systems in Portland, ME, and Seattle logging double-digit growth. Paratransit ridership increased by 1.1 percent and trolleybus ridership increased by 3.3 percent.

Overall, heavy rail ridership decreased by 0.6 percent nationwide, and bus ridership in communities of all sizes decreased by 3.5 percent, with some large bus systems showing increases.

Find the full report here.

FTA Delays Funding Decision on Caltrain Electrification Project

FTA has delayed a decision on whether to approve a $647 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that originally was intended to advance ­Caltrain’s core capacity electrification project to the next step.

In a previous statement, Jim Hartnett, executive director of Caltrain (known formally as the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board), San Carlos, CA, said the FFGA was eligible for a signature from FTA on Feb. 17, the day FTA issued the decision in a brief letter from Executive Director Matthew Welbes. Hartnett had said a signed FFGA is necessary by March 1 to maintain the terms of active contracts, issue a full “notice to proceed” to the design-build contractor and prevent costly penalties and project delays. Caltrain is exploring options for extending this deadline in light of the delay.

Welbes stated in the letter that the agency was aware of the deadline, but the project required “additional time to complete review of this significant commitment of federal resources.” The letter added that FTA was deferring a ruling so the project could be considered as part of President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget and the companion “FTA Report to Congress on Annual Funding Recommendations for the Capital Investment Grant Program.” The letter did not specify a timeline. The FFGA would be funded through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program.

After two years of review by FTA, the Caltrain FFGA has met all the statutory requirements needed to receive a signature, agency officials said, adding that approval would leverage more than $1.3 billion in secured local, regional and state commitments. Hartnett said the electrification project is eligible to receive $73 million already appropriated by Congress in prior years.

In September 2016, Caltrain awarded two contracts, one to install the infrastructure to electrify the corridor and the other to deliver the electric trains. Caltrain has issued a limited notice to proceed to those contractors; a full notice to proceed requires a signed FFGA.

Caltrain spokesman Seamus Murphy said the delay could put the project at risk, jeopardizing up to 10,000 jobs in several states.

Agency officials said the electrification project is benefiting from the California legislature’s decision to direct $713 million in high-speed rail funds to improve commuter rail service on the Caltrain corridor. If the high-speed rail project is approved, additional infrastructure would be needed before the operation of high-speed trains on an electrified Caltrain corridor would be possible.

Consortium to Fund New Flyer Hydrogen Buses to AC Transit, OCTA; Project Sponsored by State's 'Cap and Trade' Program

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) will each receive 10 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses from New Flyer through the state Fuel Cell Electric Bus Commercialization Consortium.

This comprehensive initiative is sponsored by an $8.5 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) through California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local tailpipe emissions and improve the environment and health for some of the state’s most vulnerable communities.

Both AC Transit and OCTA have previous experience with fuel cell buses. AC Transit unveiled its first fleet of zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell electric buses in 2005 and now operates 13 of the buses, which have provided more than 1.8 million miles of service and carried more than 15 million passengers. Linde North America currently operates two hydrogen production and dispensing stations for AC ­Transit’s hydrogen fleet.

OCTA’s one current hydrogen fuel cell bus entered service last year as part of a two-year demonstration project funded by FTA under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program and fueled at the University of California, Irvine. OCTA also operates a fleet of almost 530 natural gas-powered buses.

“We are excited to receive this new award of innovative green technology buses,” said AC Transit Board Member H.E. Christian Peeples. “AC Transit has already operating a small fleet of next-generation buses and this award will allow for a dramatic leap forward in meeting the Advanced Clean Transit Regulations target of operating all zero-emission buses by the year 2040.”

Additionally, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is providing $1 million for the project, which will deploy the hydrogen fuel cell buses in the AC Transit service area and make upgrades to an existing hydrogen fueling station at AC Transit’s Emeryville operating division. The agency is also providing local funds and funding from bridge tolls through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District will fund an additional $1 million toward OCTA’s buses and a new hydrogen fueling station, with the agency providing an approximately $10 million match. Each bus costs approximately $1.2 ­million.

OCTA Chairman Michael Hennessey said, “I’m proud to say that OCTA continues to proactively make a positive impact on the environment. We’re excited to further our efforts to provide cleaner transportation options for all Orange County residents and visitors.”

New Flyer has partnered with Ballard Power Systems in the design and installation of the fuel cell power plant in each of the 40-foot buses. The consortium aims to have all the buses delivered and in service for everyday use by December 2018.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses are powered by oxygen and hydrogen, which are combined to produce electricity, heat and water. The buses use fuel cells to convert chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel into electricity. As the zero-emission fuel cell electric buses operate, they will emit only water, creating cleaner air and a healthier environment.

VIA's New Safety Message Builds on Area's Heritage

Just as Texans would never forget the Alamo or deny their Spurs pride, VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio wants its riders to add one more thing to their “never do” list: Don’t chase the bus.

VIA’s new safety campaign spreads the word in a memorable way by building on the region’s heritage and traditions as part of its core messaging. “Chasing the bus is like forgetting the Alamo,” the campaign poster says. “You just don’t do it.”

The campaign also reflects the agency’s partnership with Vision Zero San Antonio, a community-wide effort to advance public safety.

“There’s always another bus,” said VIA President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt at the campaign roll out. “There’s only one you.”

Arndt added, “The safety of our customers, employees and the traveling public remains VIA’s top priority as we work each day to connect our region. Through this campaign, we are calling attention to the potential danger associated with chasing a bus as part of our ongoing work to expand community awareness of safe travel practices.”

Others at the event included Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales and VIA Vice President of Safety, Training and System Security Tremell Brown, who reiterated the value of regional safety initiatives, including Vision Zero San Antonio, part of a national safety effort.

The VIA event was broadcast live on Facebook, and the agency asked riders and community members to share the safety message on social media platforms using the hashtag ­#DontChaseTheBus, and add their own “never-dos” to the list.

Flint MTA Honored for Jobs Partnership

The Mass Transportation Authority (MTA), Flint, MI, recently received the Innovation in Transportation Award from the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce for a new program that transports 300-400 new employees the 39 miles from the Flint/Genesee area to jobs in neighboring Howell/Livingston County.

Additional employers are working with the MTA to expand service further and address the needs of several hundred workers who will commute to the Howell area daily.

“It’s my estimation that, within the next year, our work-related commuter services, now serving seven counties, will grow to 5,000 unique riders per day and 10,000 individual trips, generating two to three million work-related trips annually,” said Ed Benning, MTA general manager/chief executive officer. “The Howell Chamber has been a great partner in this new service expansion and we appreciate this opportunity.”

The partnership among businesses, nonprofits and transportation officials began in December 2015 to connect job openings in Livingston County to Flint residents who wanted to work but had no transportation. This partnership is the latest version of MTA’s regional transportation efforts, which began in 1997.

McDonald Transit to Operate Service in Lake County, FL

McDonald Transit, a ­division of RATP Dev, will begin operating public transit services for Lake County, FL, March 6 under a three-year contract with the county commission that includes four additional one-year renewal options.

The firm will manage operations and vehicle maintenance for Lake County’s LakeXpress fixed-route service and Lake County Connection paratransit. McDonald Transit will also provide recruiting and training for bus and maintenance service staff, will assist with FTA National Transit Database and Florida DOT reporting and will oversee fare security functions and labor relations.

Blaine Rigler, president of McDonald Transit, said, “We provide our services to several systems within Florida and will leverage our extensive knowledge and experience operating within the state and internationally to bring about our commitment of improving services and being responsive to the communities we serve.”

Congress Members Tour Proposed GO Triangle Light Rail Route

Reps. David Price, left, and G.K. Butterfield (both D-NC) recently joined local elected officials, business leaders and education leaders for a bus tour of GoTriangle’s proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project corridor. The proposed 17.7-mile corridor with 18 stops will connect University of North Carolina Hospitals with North Carolina Central University and serve major employers and universities. GoTriangle is awaiting both local government approval of an updated plan and federal approval to move the project into the engineering phase.

Incentive Pay in South Bend

The South Bend (IN) Public Transportation Corporation (Transpo) has introduced an incentive pay program to help the agency attract and retain full-time service line employees for vehicle cleaning, fueling and maintenance.

David Cangany, Transpo general manager and chief executive officer, said this program “provides us the opportunity to be more competitive with the overall salary and benefits package while investing in top talent.”

Cubic, TfL Honored for London Fare Payment System

The contactless public transit fare payment system created by Cubic Transportation Systems and Transport for London (TfL) recently received its ninth award since 2015: the London First Award for Innovation, presented by London First, a nonprofit organization that promotes business interests in the English capital.

London First supports transport infrastructure and services that enable business and employees to move around the city efficiently, including increased investment in London’s transport infrastructure, coupled with greater efficiency and innovation from TfL.

Cubic and TfL launched the contactless bankcard system in 2012 and two years later extended its reach to cover London’s entire transit network, including Tube (subway), rail, bus and tram services. The system has accounted for more than 800 million contactless trips since its introduction.

In 2016, Cubic and TfL agreed on a licensing deal for the use of London’s contactless ticketing system worldwide, making it accessible to cities around the world.

“We are honored that London First has named our technology as one of the major achievements in the last 25 years.” said Shashi Verma, TfL’s chief technology officer. “London’s transport system is renowned around the world, from the first Underground railway network in 1863 to now introducing world-leading contactless bankcard technology to make travel around the city simple and convenient for our customers. Our pay-as-you-go fare collection system has completely transformed the way millions of commuters pay for travel every day.”

Time to Get Ready for 2018 Ballot Initiatives

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

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

Public transit officials will find such resources as examples of ballot language and sample campaign materials, an interactive map showing the location of recent transit votes, extensive research and original reports regarding the connections between communities and their public transit agencies and information on training and webinars. CFTE also keeps a running year-by-year list of ballot issues and tabulates the percentage of measures that pass. It’s all here.

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

San Francisco Opens First 'Protected Intersection'

The city of San Francisco recently completed work on its first “protected intersection,” which San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, left, called “a step towards making San Francisco streets safer and accomplishing our Vision Zero goal of reaching zero traffic deaths.” He called the intersection at 9th and Division streets—designed with concrete islands at corners to help car and bus drivers make safer, slower turns, separations between drivers and bicyclists as they approach the intersection, raised crosswalks to slow drivers and a new island on the north side of the intersection to improve pedestrian access, “an example of how we can target our engineering investments and construct innovative, high-quality infrastructure that will create safer streets for all San Franciscans.” Joining Lee are, from second from left, Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation; Mohammed Nuru, director of San Francisco Public Works; and Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. This intersection was one of  the city’s streets where 70 percent of severe and fatal crashes occur.

Photo courtesy of SFMTA

Artfully Created Bus Shelters

Tolar Manufacturing Company recently created custom art glass panels for 15 bus shelters the company previously built for Hall Area Transit in Gainesville, GA. The Bus Shelter Art Project, using works created by local artists, is a partnership among the city, the local Chamber of Commerce and a visual arts center and was financed with a federal grant. Tolar used digital printing technology to reproduce the artworks on the panels, which were installed on the back of each shelter. “The Gainesville art project was exciting because it really aligns with our mission of assisting our clients in creating a sense of place,” said President Gary Tolar, company founder. Depicted above is “Musical Vision” by Larry Griffeth.

Industry Briefs

First Transit Extends Longest-Running Partnership — First Transit recently extended its longest-running partnership, with the Duluth (MN) Transit Authority, for an additional five years. The company has provided transit management for the Duluth system for more than 46 years.

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 updates, public service announcements such as Amber Alerts and other emergency news.

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.

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.

Valentine’s Gift for Riders — The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) provided all-day free rides Feb. 14 for customers who showed the driver the RTA app on their smartphones. More than 1,000 customers downloaded the free app during an RTA promotion late last year.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

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

LOUISVILLE, KY—Ferdinand L. Risco Jr. has joined the Transit Authority of River City as assistant executive director. He has nearly 20 years of logistics and transportation experience, serving most recently as executive director-EEO officer for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

NEWARK, NJ—New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) has named Michael P. Kilcoyne vice president/­general manager of bus operations, a position he has held as interim.

Kilcoyne has more than 30 years of experience, beginning in 1984 as a bus operator with a private industry bus carrier. He joined NJ Transit in 1998, first running various field locations and, starting in 2003, serving as director of transportation for the northern and central divisions. He also was deputy general manager of bus operations.

SEATTLE—Zonar has promoted Larry Jordan to senior vice president of product management.

Also, Arun Jacob has joined the company as vice president of software development and Chad Maglaque as vice president of program and partner management.

NEW YORK CITY—Gannett Fleming announced the hiring of Michael A. Shamma as northeast transportation DOT/tolls business line leader, based in the New York City office.

Shamma has almost 30 years of experience, most recently as president of a mid-size construction management and engineering company based in New York. He is a former chief engineer of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation and worked 24 years for New York State DOT.

ATLANTA—Alicia Ivey, Al Pond, Thomas Worthy and Bill Floyd have joined the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board of Directors.

The Fulton County Commission appointed Ivey, president of Goldbergs Concession Services, and Pond, chairman of the board for Pond and Company, was selected by North Fulton Mayors to represent northern Fulton County.

Worthy, vice president of government and external affairs for Piedmont Healthcare, became the first MARTA board member appointed by the governor of Georgia under new legislation. Floyd, a former mayor of Decatur, was appointed by North DeKalb Mayors to represent that county.

OXNARD, CA—Robert Lurie retired from Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD) after almost 35 years, most recently as director of fleet and facilities.

Reed Caldwell, director of engineering and construction, is taking on the additional oversight of fleet and facility maintenance following Lurie’s retirement. He joined GCTD in 2014 as facility project manager and has 16 years in the industry, working as deputy executive director of the North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA, and deputy public transit director for the city of Phoenix.

The GCTD Board of Directors announced the appointments of Port Hueneme Councilmember Jim Hensley and Ventura Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann to the board, succeeding Doug Breeze and Carl Morehouse respectively.

DENVER—Larry Hoy has been elected chair of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors, succeeding Tom Tobiassen, Hoy joined the board in 2010 and served as first vice chair in 2016.

Tina Francone, elected to the board in 2014, serves as first vice chair; Barbara Deadwyler, a board member since 2010, is second vice chair; Jeff Walker, board member since 2011, secretary; and Natalie Menten, board member since 2012, treasurer.

Four new members also joined the RTD board: Kate Williams, Doug Tisdale, Ken Mihalik and Bob Broom.

BURNSVILLE, MN—The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) Board of Directors re-elected Scott County Commissioner Jon Ulrich, chair; Rosemount Mayor William (Bill) Droste, vice chair; and Apple Valley City Councilmember Clint Hooppaw, secretary/treasurer.