Passenger Transport - March 10, 2017
As President Trump’s $1 trillion proposal to invest in infrastructure awaits congressional discussion, Passenger Transport had the opportunity to pose several public transportation-related questions to two of the lawmakers who will be instrumental in those debates—Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.They shared their thoughts in advance of APTA’s Legislative Conference, March 12-14. Their comments follow.
Passenger Transport: President Trump has called for a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure. While many details of this proposal have yet to take shape, do you think the topic has the potential for bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress?
|About Rep. Bill Shuster
Bill Shuster (R-PA) is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, one of the largest committees in Congress, with jurisdiction over all modes of transportation. He has served on the T&I Committee since he was first elected to the House in 2001. He previously served as the chairman of two of T&I’s subcommittees. Prior to coming to Congress, Shuster worked on his family’s farm, with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Corp., and Bandag Inc. He also owned and operated an automobile dealership. He is a native of Pennsylvania.
|About Sen. Mike Crapo|
Mike Crapo (R-ID) is the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal policy concerning urban development, mass transit and economic policy, among many other financial areas. He has been a member of the committee since the beginning of his Senate service in 1999. Previously, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Idaho State Senate. Prior to his service in Congress, Crapo was a partner in the law firm of Holden, Kidwell, Hahn & Crapo. He is a native of Idaho.
Who’s Who for Both Committees
In addition to Chairmen Shuster and Crapo, both of these congressional committees include leaders and subcommittees that directly affect public transportation.
Here’s a list of each committee’s ranking members, vice chairmen and vice ranking member and subcommittee leadership:
House T&I Committee
Ranking Member: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Vice Chairman: Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-TN)
Vice Ranking Member: Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Chairman: Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Ranking Member: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Chairman: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Ranking Member: Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)
Senate Banking Committee
Ranking Member: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development
Chairman: Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Ranking Member: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
President Trump and the 115th Congress are nearing the midpoint of the 100-day mark for the new administration, setting policies and priorities that continue to shift the political landscape as the public transportation industry converges on Washington, DC, for APTA’s Legislative Conference, March 12-14.
Conference discussions will explore the president’s call to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure, among other topics.
Since the inauguration, APTA has been meeting with top decision makers in Washington, DC. Acting President & CEO Richard A. White and members of the Government Affairs staff have conducted more than 50 meetings with congressional staff, focusing on those that serve on budget, appropriations, tax and authorization committees, and the association is taking proactive steps to engage with members of Congress.
In addition, a delegation of APTA leaders met with DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao and her staff. Representing APTA were Chair Doran J. Barnes. Vice Chair Nathaniel Ford Sr., Legislative Committee Vice Chair Diana Mendes, White, and Rose Sheridan, vice president-communications and marketing.
APTA encourages its members to:
* Emphasize the importance of federal public transportation in strengthening local and the national economies and advocate for transit’s continued growth and enhancement. Further, public transit must be part of any proposal to increase infrastructure investment.
* Build on the momentum of the conference by continuing to meeting with elected officials in Washington, DC, and in their home districts.
“APTA’s advocacy depends on transit system and business members building relationships with their members of Congress and congressional staff and telling their transit story early and often,” said White.
On the Agenda: Speakers Plus
Conference attendees will start the first full day of the conference with “The ‘Insider’ Perspective for the Transit Industry,” a sit-down breakfast with Jack Howard, senior vice president, congressional and public affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The APTA Business Member Activity Fund sponsors this event.
Howard’s 25-year-plus experience in politics and government includes serving in the White House for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and with Republican leadership.
The Opening General Session, which follows the breakfast, features comments from APTA’s leadership including APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and Acting President & CEO White, and remarks from senior DOT leaders who will address the future of the department and the specific priorities of the new administration.
On Tuesday, March 14, the “Get Started with Members of Congress” breakfast session will be moderated by APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. Scheduled speakers include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), John Delaney (D-MD), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D-GA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA). The members are expected to discuss the FAST Act, FY 2017 federal spending bills and the FY 2018 budget, potential infrastructure and tax reform legislation.
A Capitol Hill reception that afternoon in the Rayburn House Office Building includes remarks from Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), chairman of the T&I Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
Previously, Passenger Transport reported on two sessions: “Welcome to Washington” with Robert Costa, national political reporter, the Washington Post, and Amy Walter, national editor, the Cook Political Report, and “Public Transportation: A Catalyst to Local Economic Development,” moderated by APTA Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall with Robin-Eve Jasper, NoMa Business Improvement District, Washington, DC; former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, Urban Land Institute; and Scott Rowe, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Other sessions include the “View from the Hill” with congressional committee staff, a lunchtime presentation by the Capitol Steps, numerous committee meetings and an FTA workshop on the Capital Investment Program.
APTA is also organizing a press conference to announce the results of its new study, Who Rides Public Transportation (see related story), and a radio media tour during which industry executives will participate in news interviews.
|Doran J. Barnes||Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.||Valarie J. McCall||Richard A. White||Rep. Seth Moulton|
|Rep. Hank Johnson
||Rep. Sam Graves
||Rep. John Delaney
||Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Public transit trips are integral to the engine that powers America’s economy—according to APTA’s new demographic study, Who Rides Public Transportation—by connecting riders to employers and to retail and entertainment venues.
The study reports that 87 percent of all transit trips have a direct impact on local economies, with the following breakdown:
* 49 percent of all transit trips are for traveling to and from work,
* 21 percent are for shopping, and
* 17 percent are for recreational spending.
“Public transit riders’ impact on the economy has grown tremendously over the last 10 years,” said Acting President & CEO Richard A. White. “In addition to the work commute, Americans are taking transit to shop, dine and attend entertainment venues more than ever before. As the new Congress and administration look to boost the economy, investing in America’s public transportation infrastructure should be a key element of that plan.”
The study is the most extensive demographic report of public transit riders ever conducted and is based on nearly 700,000 passenger surveys.
To cite one specific detail that indicates an upward trend, the number of trips taken for shopping has more than doubled from 2007 (when it was 8.5 percent) to the current share of 21 percent.
The study also reports that 63 percent of riders use public transit at least five days a week and 13 percent use it for either six or seven days a week. These data reinforce the finding that commuting is the primary trip purpose for most passengers but many also ride transit for shopping, dining and other activities that boost local economies.
“These public transit trips impact communities of all sizes,” White said. “The facts speak for themselves. Investing in public transit is the obvious choice to help grow the economy.”
APTA officials say that among other findings, the study’s rider demographics indicate that the public transportation industry is serving “riders of choice”—those riders who have multiple transportation options but choose public transit for select trips.
* Create a diverse, committed and visible national alliance of local public transit coalitions;
Local Riders Have Local Clout
As APTA’s new study reports on the key demographics of who riders are, the association also helps define how riders can help advocate for and strengthen public transit.
Voices for Public Transit (VPT), is a national grassroots network of public transportation advocates—riders, business owners, environmentalists, members of community organizations and other stakeholders—who are committed to strengthening public transit at the local and regional levels.
VPT’s robust website features information and tools for calculating fuel-, carbon- and cost-saving benefits of using public transportation and supports advocates as they organize community events, create partnerships, work with local media and engage leaders in the specific benefits of transit in their communities.
The network, developed in 2013, was active in November ballot initiatives and in the run-up to the passage of the FAST Act, sending 83,763 emails and 4,590 personalized letters or faxes and making 4,025 personal phone calls to legislative offices. The network currently stands at 203,230 members.
In addition, APTA created the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA), a national organization that represents grassroots transit coalitions, rider organizations and advocates.
The organization’s objectives follow:
In a response to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which gave public transportation a D-minus grade in its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card released March 9, APTA Acting President & CEO Richard A. White called public transit “the poster child for our country’s underinvestment in infrastructure” and said the grade “underlines the need for greater investment in public transportation.”
White continued, “Transportation is the backbone of an economy and it is in our country’s best interest to make sure that public transportation projects are adequately funded.” He referred to APTA’s newly released report, Who Rides Public Transportation, which shows that 87 percent of trips taken by transit riders are for commuting to work, shopping or going to entertainment venues. (See related story in this issue.)
The ASCE report noted “a tension” between the need for expansion to meet the increased demand for public transportation services and the need to properly maintain transit systems. FTA noted in its 2015 Condition and Performance Report that a $90 billion state of good repair needs exists and must be addressed.
“Continuing to underinvest in public transportation will hurt the economic well-being of our towns and cities across the country,” said White. “We don’t need another wakeup call. Let’s move forward in implementing an infrastructure initiative that increases investment in public transportation and helps communities nationwide.”
Find the statement here.
The city of San Francisco recently broke ground on the Van Ness Improvement Project, a major civic-improvement project that will revitalize and rehabilitate one of the city’s main corridors and feature the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s first BRT line.
SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the project is “essential to reshaping how San Franciscans get around the city efficiently. Van Ness will benefit from better transit, strengthened infrastructure and safer streets for all.”
Mayor Edwin L. Lee called the effort “a significant step forward in making transit faster and more reliable on Van Ness Avenue,” adding, “When this project is completed, everyone can enjoy a safer, better Van Ness Avenue.”
BRT features on Van Ness will include dedicated center-running lanes, boarding stations and safety enhancements for pedestrians, including sidewalk extensions, protected median refuges, high-visibility crosswalks and audible countdown signals. SFMTA expects these improvements to reduce transit travel times by up to one-third and increase reliability and service for the several routes that will be incorporated into BRT.
The three-year project will overhaul two miles of the street. In addition to the transportation upgrades, the project includes replacing 1800s-era water and sewer lines, installing new streetlights and sidewalk lighting, planting landscaping and rain gardens and repaving the street.
|SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin addressed crowds at ground-breaking ceremonies for the Van Ness BRT project.|
Photo courtesy of SFMTA Photo Dept.
As part of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s BaltimoreLink plan to improve transportation connections throughout the Baltimore region, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) unveiled two new commuter bus routes March 7 and 8, one connecting Kent Island with downtown Baltimore (a distance of about 37 miles) and the other connecting the downtown areas of Baltimore and Annapolis.
Regarding the route connecting Kent Island and Baltimore, MTA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Paul Comfort said the new express Commuter Bus 210 is “a convenient and cost-effective way to connect the Eastern Shore and Annapolis to downtown Baltimore. With this new service, we’re keeping our promise to better link people to jobs, retail, healthcare and entertainment,” added Comfort, a member of the APTA Board of Directors.
“Once people who drive between Kent Island, Annapolis and Baltimore see the ease, convenience and low cost of riding Commuter Bus 210, we are confident many will choose to take transit instead,” Comfort added.
The new route features long and short runs. Buses on the longer route make morning trips starting on Kent Island, traveling through Annapolis and ending in Baltimore. Shorter runs travel only between Annapolis and Baltimore. Riders can make connections to local transit in Annapolis and to MTA’s light rail, subway and local bus routes. Comfort was joined at the ribbon-cutting event by local officials.
MTA also launched Commuter Bus 215 linking downtown Baltimore and Annapolis, with free trial rides during the first two weeks of service on both routes.
BaltimoreLink is a multi-phase plan to create an interconnected transit system by redesigning the entire local and express bus systems throughout Baltimore, including the addition of 12 new high-frequency bus routes that improve connections to jobs and to MARC commuter rail, Baltimore Metro Subway and light rail. Other elements include bus-only dedicated lanes, transit signal priority, construction of a transfer hub network, rebranding and replacement of more than 6,000 transit signs, new shared bicycle availability and access to car-sharing options.
|MTA Administrator and CEO Paul Comfort introduced new express commuter bus service connecting Kent Island with downtown Baltimore—a distance of about 37 miles—with interim stops in Annapolis.|
Monterey-Salinas (CA) Transit (MST) recently broke ground for a 31,000-square-foot operations and maintenance facility that, according to General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Carl Sedoryk, is “the largest construction project that MST has undertaken as an agency.”
The $20 million Monterey Bay project, a reconstruction and expansion of an existing facility, will add four more maintenance bays, a new tire servicing station, larger parts storage, steam engine wash, a water-efficient bus wash and a dual-sided fuel island. An improved second-floor communications center will give dispatch employees a bird’s-eye view of the entire bus yard to monitor operations and safety.
Enhanced amenities for staff will include a larger, more comfortable driver lounge, a fitness room, three training rooms for drivers and offices for operations management.
Additional bus parking for up to 88 buses, as well as support vehicles, will allow MST to provide bus service to the Monterey Peninsula without transporting empty buses from Salinas, thereby reducing fuel consumption and operating costs.
Sedoryk added, “A great team of planners and construction managers is working diligently to keep MST service running consistently and reliably throughout project construction.”
Project funding comes from the California Proposition 1B (2006) Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, Service Enhancement Account and Transit and Intercity Rail Capital programs and local funds.
|MST General Manager/CEO Carl Sedoryk, right, joined members of the MST Board of Directors to break ground for the Monterey Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility.|
Bob Schneider, executive director of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The Comet), Columbia, SC, for the past five years, is joining the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), Woodbridge, VA, as its executive director.
Schneider will succeed longtime PRTC employee Eric Marx, who has served as interim executive director since Alfred Harf retired in 2015.
Scanlon, Interim, SolTrans
Solano County Transit (SolTrans), Vallejo, CA, has named Michael Scanlon interim director. He succeeds Mona Babauta, the agency’s first permanent general manager and later executive director, who joined SolTrans in 2012 and has taken a job with Golden Gate Transit.
Johnson, Interim, Harrisburg CAT
Capital Area Transit (CAT), Harrisburg, PA, has announced the appointment of Anthony Johnson as its interim general manager after the resignation of William A. Jones following nine years in the job.
Johnson, an employee of McDonald Transit Associates, has 29 years of transit experience, most recently as chief operating officer/executive vice president at the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and director of bus operations at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. The CAT board has contracted with McDonald Transit to provide interim management while the board reviews future options.
Thorne, Interim, Connect Transit
Isaac Thorne, chief operating officer at Connect Transit, Normal, IL, has been selected as the agency’s interim general manager following the resignation of Andrew Johnson to join the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. (See People on the Move in this issue.)
Thorne joined the agency in 2007 as a member of the transportation operations team, becoming procurement director in 2011 and chief operating officer, a newly formed position, in 2015.
For APTA, he serves on the Procurement & Materials Management and Small Operations committees.
As part of a system overhaul that includes acquiring alternate-fuel vehicles, Solano County Transit (SolTrans) broke ground March 3 for a CNG fueling facility at its operations and maintenance facility in Vallejo, CA.
The agency is replacing its existing fleet of clean diesel-powered commuter buses with CNG-powered vehicles and introducing 100 percent electric buses from BYD to service. The CNG buses require a special facility for fueling and maintenance and currently SolTrans operators use a facility about five miles from their home base.
Local artist Miro Salazar designed a custom exterior wrap for the electric bus on display at the event, which also included vehicle tours and brief rides.
|Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), right, presents a proclamation acknowledging SolTrans’ use of alternative-fuel buses to SolTrans Executive Director Mona Babauta and Board Chairperson and Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan.|
Photo by Robert Briseno, BB&B Business Group
Wabtec Corporation has entered into a $97 million contract to provide signaling and communication services for TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter rail line being developed by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA), scheduled to open in 2018.
Paul Ballard, FWTA president/chief executive officer, said communications are an essential component of the TEXRail project. “We look forward to working with Wabtec to deliver a modern and efficient signal and communications system that operates at the highest level of safety and efficiency for our passengers and the communities we serve,” he said, also noting that the line’s first Stadler railcars are currently being finished in Salt Lake City.
Raymond T. Betler, Wabtec’s president and chief executive officer, said, “We already have a strong presence in the Fort Worth region and we look forward to our role in this important expansion of commuter rail service there.”
When complete, the TEXRail line between downtown Fort Worth and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will operate with nine stations and is projected to carry more than 13,600 daily riders.
What attracted your interest in the industry?
I became interested when I had the opportunity in 1998 to work on the Southeast Corridor light rail in Denver. With that move, I solidified my future in transit because I knew that our broader goals for economic, fiscal and environmental sustainability can only be addressed by finding new ways to use existing capacity more efficiently and effectively. In addition, I felt strongly that people who are dependent on public transportation for mobility independence deserve high quality transport. I still believe that we can provide that quality through partnerships between the public and private sectors. It is an exciting time in transportation. In addition to determining how best to use current technologies, we have the opportunity to guide the creation of new technologies.
Please describe your involvement with APTA.
I have been a member of APTA since 2006, when I attended my first Rail Conference as a new employee with Denver RTD. From my first participation at that conference to my recent work with the Leadership APTA Committee, I have had tremendous experiences learning about other systems, meeting industry experts and delving into the policy issues that affect our work.
I’ve also been fortunate to have opportunities to share my own experiences. APTA is a wonderful organization to help transit geeks like me stay on top of current trends and issues.
Which APTA benefit or resource helps you do your job and why?
One of the biggest benefits is the network of colleagues and friends I can rely on no matter what I am encountering. There are resources at my fingertips to serve as a sounding board for career dilemmas, provide perspective on operational challenges or advocate for important policy issues. At a moment’s notice, APTA facilitates information exchange and connects me to people I need to know.
Also, I would not be where I am today without Leadership APTA. The program is a transformational experience that opens your eyes to the opportunities that lie before you when you are at that tipping point of your career. Leadership APTA gave me the exposure, development and lifelong friendships that serve as an essential foundation for the rest of my career.
What do you like most about your industry involvement?
People in this industry are a tight-knit bunch who will jump on demand to help a colleague. Perhaps this is because we have a very specific and unifying mission. No one idea is a panacea for all our problems.
The exchange of information and best practices gives us a place to start problem solving. In this industry, we are one big family that helps each other achieve success because our successes are good for everyone.
What would readers be surprised to learn about your agency?
One unique thing is that Metro administers funding for local and state roadway improvements, so we have the ability to influence how money can be spent to benefit high capacity rapid transit operations. This is something most transit agencies don’t have. Some other interesting things to know about Metro:
The Office of Extraordinary Innovation was created in late 2015 to bring ideas and private sector partnerships to Metro in a completely open way. We’re not just testing any random idea, though. We are working with private sector partners to address our problems head on and incorporate learning in the areas of equity and accessibility so we ensure that new services are available to people of all abilities and socioeconomic status.
In November, Metro passed Measure M, a $120 billion package that has no sunset—the first of its kind in the U.S.
Metro is in the throes of writing a transformational strategic plan for LA’s mobility future, which will set an aspirational vision for how we provide a seamless, accessible and convenient mobility network for residents and visitors. If we can accomplish this in LA County, it can be done anywhere.
Educational sessions covering a wide variety of topics—including the popular day-long “BRT Tuesday”—are a major component of the 2017 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 7-10 in Reno, NV.
Topics to be addressed throughout the conference will center around 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; and policy, management and workforce development.
North America’s best bus operators and maintenance teams will gather Sunday morning, May 7, to compete in the International Bus Roadeo Competition. The winners will be announced the evening of May 9 at the International Bus Roadeo Awards Banquet.
Other highlights include the Bus Display, the Products and Services Showcase and the APTA Bus Safety and Security Awards. General sessions will focus on the news from FTA, integrating rideshare and public transportation and ridership trends.
Learn more and register now by clicking here.
|Reno waits to welcome guests to APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference.|
APTA reminds its members to vote on changes to the association’s governing structure, which, if approved by two-thirds of APTA’s nearly 1,500 members, will be implemented to coincide with the seating of the new board and Executive Committee in October.
The most significant bylaws changes approved by the board last month 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.
* The responsibilities of the board and Executive Committee are greatly clarified. The board will focus 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.
More details, including a link to a summary of recommended changes, appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of Passenger Transport and can be found here.
Looking for the perfect take-along resource packet to support your trip to Capitol Hill or hand off to a member of Congress visiting your agency or business?
APTA has what you need. In addition to the new report, Who Rides Public Transportation featured in this issue, APTA offers several publications and online tools to help convey public transit’s impact on communities and the nation as a whole. Here’s a summary of some of the resources available at the Advocacy Resource Center during the conference or from the APTA website.
FAST Act authorizes funding for federal transit, rail and highway programs through Fiscal Year 2020, and this guide summarizes the act’s key provisions.
The law includes many APTA’s recommendations on federal public transportation authorizing law, developed by the association’s Authorization Task Force, High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee and Legislative Committee and approved by the Board of Directors.
What’s the impact of public transportation in your area? Find out quickly by using APTA’s Industry Footprint portal, which delivers the latest information on member locations, highlights the breadth and depth of public transportation services offered and presents key facts and statistics—all searchable by state and congressional district levels. The interactive map was sponsored by the APTA Business Member Activity Fund.
Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows
This brochure underscores the need for federal investment by highlighting the industry’s basic value messages, its role as a catalyst for job creation and economic opportunity and for enhancing global economic competitiveness, enhancing energy efficiency and sustainability and national security.
Invest in Public Transportation For a Stronger America
This booklet summarizes APTA’s recommendations for infrastructure initiative recommendations, as approved by the Board of Directors.
It also makes the case for the Trump administration and Congress to dramatically increase current federal investment levels to support the nation’s public transportation and intercity passenger rail systems.
The Business Case for Infrastructure Investment
This publication describes how public transportation spurs economic development in large and small communities across the country.
Using examples from a variety of transit-friendly communities, it makes the case that private and federal support can address state of good repair needs, create jobs, enhance public safety and promote new technologies. The brochure was funded by APTA’s Business Member Activity Fund.
The latest edition of APTA’s Public Transportation Fact Book is available in print and electronic editions.
For example, the 67th edition of APTA’s compendium of industry facts and figures reports that nearly 6,800 U.S. public transportation agencies provided 4.8 billion revenue miles of service with 180,000 vehicles. Systems of all sizes—ranging from large urban subways to rural single-vehicle providers—are represented, showing the importance of public transit to communities large and small.
The Infrastructure Investment Tool
As Passenger Transport was going to press, APTA was preparing to launch a web-based tool that enables members to see the impact of proposed investment in public transportation infrastructure on the nation and local communities.
The data are organized by congressional districts, report current and potential levels of federal funding and note specific projects affected by the funding. This web-based resource will be updated on a continuing basis.
Find these resources here by searching on the publication or tool title.
APTA conducts several smaller, audience-specific conferences throughout the year to provide professional development and networking opportunities for transit leaders by profession.
Two recently wrapped up. Summaries follow:
Marketing & Communications Workshop
APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, participated in a panel discussion with two other agency general managers during the three-day workshop, held in Tampa, FL, to discuss how public transit communicators can serve their organizations as strategic advisors.
The also panel featured Katharine Eagan, chief executive officer, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), the host agency, and Brad Miller, chief executive officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL, who fielded questions from Marketing & Communications Committee Chair Morgan Lyons, assistant vice president, external relations, Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Barnes opened the workshop with a moving video his agency produced recounting the lasting, positive impact of civil rights activist Rosa Parks on public transit and the nation. “It’s not only what public transit does,” Barnes said, “it’s how it makes riders feel.”
In addition to sessions covering topics such as ridership, social media and research, the workshop also featured the 2017 Call Center Challenge Finals, during which five finalists competed for the top honor, which went to Illiana Mena, Access Services Inc. in Los Angeles, and recognition of the 2017 First Place AdWheel Award winners. (See the list in this issue. Grand Award winners will be recognized at the 2017 Annual Meeting.)
Other special presentations included the Joint Information Center (JIC) Workshop with experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, during which attendees participated in discussions and a tabletop exercise on crisis communications; presentations by communications experts Lloyd Brown, AASHTO, and Amy Ford, Colorado DOT, on ways to work with state DOTs; and special guests from FTA, Dave Longo and Angela Gates.
Legal Affairs Seminar
The seminar in Savannah, GA, welcomed numerous first-time participants interested in learning more about the industry’s legal issues that might arise in the new administration and Congress.
During the program, APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority, and Executive Committee Member Dorval R. Carter Jr., president, Chicago Transit Authority, discussed the role of the public transit agency general counsel and FTA Acting Chief Counsel Dana Nifosi reported on executive orders issues by the Trump administration.
Other sessions examined legislative initiatives proposed by Congress and President Donald Trump and offered legal opinions related to safety management systems, procurement practices and transportation network companies.
Also, Fred Wagner of Venable LLC and Bruce Smith of Apperson Crump, both conference sponsors, conducted interactive ethics training.
Next year’s seminar will be held in Santa Barbara, CA.
|Agency GMs shared their wisdom with participants at the Marketing & Communications Workshop. From left, APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes; committee Chair Morgan Lyons; Katharine Eagan, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority; and Brad Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
||Illiana Mena, Access Services Inc., fifth from left, won top honors at the 2017 Call Center Challenge Finals, in a close contest with four other contenders. Longtime event emcee Tom Costello, far left, retired communications officer with Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, hosted the competition.|
APTA’s AdWheel Awards recognize the marketing and communications efforts of association members and showcase the strategic value of communications and marketing in the industry.
Public transportation systems and businesses compete within their peer group, based on number of annual passenger trips or in the separate business member group. The awards are further organized into three categories and seven subcategories. Judges did not award winners in all groups or subcategories.
Click here to see the 2017 first-place winners, announced at the recent Marketing and Communications Workshop. Grand Award winners will be announced at a special ceremony during the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 8-11 in Atlanta.
Rose Gandee, an information specialist at APTA for 36 years, died Feb. 14.
Gandee managed APTA’s Information Center. She was an invaluable resource for other librarians around the country who depended on her to help support their work in the public transportation area.
As APTA members gather in Washington, DC, for the annual Legislative Conference, let’s take a look back to the association’s first such conference in 1976.
Passenger Transport reported that more than 200 public transit professionals “representing large and small transit systems from across the nation marched on Washington to elicit congressional support for future transit legislation” attended the first conference.
The story said the two-day event provided various opportunities for industry leaders to hear from and speak to “senators and representatives from rural and urban areas who are at odds on many issues, yet who are in general agreement on the importance of public transit and the need for increased federal support.”
The primary issue facing public transit at that time was a need for $8 billion in federal aid in addition to $11.8 billion provided by the National Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1974 for “limited expansion” of U.S. transit agencies, PT reported, citing an APTA funding needs survey.
RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova, fifth from right holding scissors, joined board members, representatives of local government and business partners in launching service on the agency’s newest light rail, the R Line, Feb. 24 at the Iliff Station. The 10.5-mile line features eight new stations and four new park-and-ride facilities. Passenger Transport reported on RTD’s opening-day preparations in the Feb. 27 issue.
Photo courtesy of Denver RTD
Public transit agencies in Houston and Chicago are putting the spotlight on rail safety through community partnerships and outreach programs.
At a March 3 event in Houston, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) introduced representatives from Bike Houston, Rice University, the Texas Medical Center and city of Houston Public Works as its partners in making safety on and around METRORail light rail a community priority.
“METRO is making safety enhancements. Also, everyone who walks, drives or rides a bike is responsible for safety. We all must be alert. We must pay attention when we are moving around. If you see track, think train,” METRO Board Chair Carrin Patman said at the event.
The agency has conducted a comprehensive study of intersections as part of its safety effort, along with introducing louder horns, reflective paint and brightly colored vehicle wraps to increase public awareness. It is using social media to spread the public safety message as part of its community education and engagement campaign.
METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert said, “Nothing—and I repeat, nothing—is off the table. We are looking at things that have traditionally been done and some things that are outside the box.”
In Chicago, Metra commuter rail has scheduled safety blitzes in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver at 51 train stations across the six-county region this year as part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen safe behavior around trains and tracks.
“Safety is always Metra’s highest priority,” said Don Orseno, Metra executive director/CEO. “These safety blitzes allow us to reach our customers directly to ensure that we all stay vigilant about safety around the railroad.”
During a blitz, Metra safety employees will visit a commuter rail station during the morning commute, distributing educational materials about train and grade crossing safety, answering questions and listening to commuters’ safety concerns. Customers can also watch a short video on grade crossing safety while they wait for their train. While the program is primarily educational, Metra’s Police Department will conduct additional enforcement blitzes at locations where they have previously issued citations and warnings to pedestrians and drivers who ignore gates and warning devices.
Metra also promotes safety through its annual poster and essay contest for schoolchildren and conducts almost 1,000 free Operation Lifesaver presentations annually to schools, community groups, school bus drivers, professional truck drivers, emergency responders and others.
Thanks to an investment of more than $100 million in overhauling its winter resiliency efforts, Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has been receiving applause in recognition of its successes in keeping its buses and trains operating during this winter’s severe conditions.
In the aftermath of historic snowfalls two years ago that dumped 8 feet of snow on the greater Boston area and shut down MBTA service for parts of four days, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker organized changes to help the system keep moving despite the region’s bad weather.
The state’s two-year Winter Resiliency Project invested $83 million in the first phase, which focused on public transit infrastructure, equipment and operations improvements on two rail lines to more effectively mitigate the frequency, length and magnitude of system disruptions, including third rail and heater improvements along 13.6 miles of track. For the second phase, completed in December, $18.5 million in state funds paid for upgrades along 9.9 miles of two additional rail lines, including replacement of all third rail and heating systems, track and tie renewals, signals, track structure and conduit installations.
Published accounts quote Baker as saying MBTA has devised better ways to clear snow off railroad tracks; employees designed snowplows that can be attached to the front of existing equipment and others manually cleared tracks with snow shovels. “We bought a ton of snow removal equipment and put it to work,” he said. “We didn’t lose a single traction motor in the recent storms because we kept the tracks clear.”
MBTA now operates two snow blowers powered with jet engines, a 50-ton locomotive with auger (plow) and other snow-removal vehicles, and it permanently installed plows on vehicles that clear snow between the running rails. The agency also created a “Stay Connected” campaign that provides service information via text alerts, its website and app and on Twitter.
The Indianapolis City-County Council recently voted 17-8 to enact a 0.25 percent income tax hike dedicated to public transit expansion that voters approved in November.
The tax hike, which takes effect in October, could raise $56 million annually to fund improved IndyGo service such as shorter wait times, longer service hours and easier transfers, and construction of three BRT lines.
IndyGo President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Terry said the additional taxes will support “a 70 percent increase in service—our biggest project to date.” He added, “We have laid the groundwork and will begin development of the implementation plans and timeline for the transit enhancements.”
Urban transportation decision makers and suppliers will gather May 15-17 in Montreal for the UITP’s (International Association of Public Transport) Global Public Transit Summit.
All speakers and sessions at the international event will be organized according to these seven themes: service excellence; decarbonization; digitalization, governance, planning and funding; mobility as a service and combined mobility; bus and rail. The schedule features more than 50 sessions.
Find details here.
BY DIANA MENDES
Increasingly, agencies are reconciling these trends to incrementally improve capacity and enhance the customer experience without significant investments. A key strategy is to step beyond traditional operational boundaries—and the desire to “own the customer’s trip” in its entirety—and successfully partner with others to pursue mutual goals.
Pursuing Common Goals
At the highest level, this strategy entails broadening the view beyond transportation to understand the overarching goals and challenges facing the region or municipality in which the transit system operates.
Local leaders—of public, private and nonprofit organizations alike—have goals for their constituencies that often overlap. … By initiating conversations with a diverse set of local leaders, transit leaders can identify specific shared goals and brainstorm ideas for mutually beneficial solutions.
What might this kind of collaboration look like? Every case will be different. But, envision a mayor and commuter-rail operator collaborating to co-fund bike lane and bike-sharing initiatives, pursuing the mayor’s goal of combating obesity while helping to reduce parking demands at the transit system. Similarly, imagine a large local business collaborating with a transit station manager to co-fund pathway and lighting upgrades nearby, meeting their shared desire to enhance security and the travel experience for hundreds of local workers. Such collaborations, beyond reducing the transit agency’s estimated costs for such improvements, may create opportunities to compete for supplementary grants from government or nonprofit agencies.
One example of such a broad-based collaboration is taking place in Dallas, Texas, with the Texas Department of Transportation’s Dallas City Center Master Assessment Process—better known as CityMAP. HNTB led the CityMAP team through more than 80 one-on-one listening sessions with hundreds of stakeholders … .
Although the process is ongoing, the final CityMAP document, which included research, stakeholder analysis and conceptual designs, provided TxDOT and its partner agencies an important foundation for moving forward. It has received unanimous support from stakeholders involved. With the momentum CityMAP has established, partnering agencies now are encouraged to work together with TxDOT to prioritize projects and to define the sequencing and funding packages supportive of stakeholder needs and desires.
Focus on Mobility Management
As a complement to this higher-level strategy, transportation leaders are collaborating among themselves to integrate modes in ways that boost system capacity while enhancing the customer experience. This focus on integration, broadly called mobility management, starts with the premise that when fixed-route operators synchronize their offerings, they can offer improved, more efficient service. It can be achieved through a number of methods:
1. Consider ‘complete streets.’ We see mobility management at work when transit authorities work with departments of transportation and local officials to transform streets to accommodate more diverse traffic. For example, when road lanes are narrowed from 12 feet to 10 feet, it creates more space for sidewalks, bus lanes, bike lanes and transit stations. Users have more choices, transfers between modes are more seamless, and overall system capacity is increased.
2. Look at systems from the perspectives of a broad range of potential users. This requires answering tough questions about the ease with which people can gain access to, and interlink, various mobility options. For example:
* Are there unbroken routes that bicyclists can use to get to and from transit options?
* Are bike-sharing options readily available?
* Are pedestrian pathways within a mile of transit stations clearly marked, well-lighted and safe to walk? Are rideshare companies being treated as symbiotic allies, or sworn enemies? Is it easy for people to be picked up and dropped off at stations—or are rideshare drivers excluded from certain transfer lanes? Similarly, are rideshare company managers at the table at discussions regarding transportation strategy? They should be.
3. Take a different approach. All of us in the public transportation sector understand that we cannot address the dual trends of rising demand and tighter budgets without doing things differently. As a first step, this means broadening our view beyond transportation—learning about the goals of other local and regional leaders and looking for potential synergies to meet common goals while sharing the cost burden.
As a second step, this means working with all the players in the transportation sector—from non-profits and public agencies to for-profit rideshare providers—who can all build transit’s success while meeting their own unique goals.
Ultimately, by pursuing our specific goals while helping others achieve theirs, we can ensure that transit remains a vital, responsive and efficient asset for our communities.
Mendes, AICP, is vice chair of the APTA Legislative Committee. This “Commentary” is excerpted and reprinted with permission from HNTB’s publication, InTransit, winter 2017. Find details here.
"Commentary" features points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
See a PDF of this story, which includes photos, here.