Passenger Transport - April 7, 2017
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DART's Thomas: Federal Government 'Important Partner' with Public Transit; Proposed FTA Cuts Would Have Significant Impact

In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on April 5, Gary Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), said proposals to eliminate FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) and TIGER programs, among other cuts, “would have a significant impact on the ability of transit agencies to get people to work and put them to work.”

Thomas testified at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on “FAST Act Implementation: State and Local Perspectives.”

“The federal government is an important partner in the surface transportation arena—­supporting public transportation, highway and commuter rail programs,” he said. “Given this long history of partnership, we at APTA were profoundly disappointed with the details of the Trump administration’s 2018 budget.” Thomas, a former APTA chair, noted that Congress has authorized the CIG program at $2.3 billion per year through 2020.

The ROI of Transit
“Public transportation is changing the way ­American communities grow. Equally important, we’re seeing a significant return on the public investment,” Thomas said, also recounting specific results at DART.

DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas recently testified before the House T&I Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, making the case for continued federal investment in public transit.
Photo courtesy of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

“Transit-oriented development along DART rail lines has generated more than $7 billion in economic impact from new or planned construction. Moreover, in 2014 and 2015, this activity was responsible for more than 43,000 jobs resulting in nearly $3 billion in wages, salaries and benefits,” he said.

“Our congressional delegation knows the federal funds invested in DART will generate ­significant economic impact and a higher quality of life. We are pleased to enjoy consistent bipartisan support. That’s a key to our success,” he said, adding that local voters are also committed to supporting transit.

“We also believe we need to bring money to the table. Voters in our 13 cities decided to dedicate a portion of sales taxes to help fund transit in their communities. We use that to leverage federal dollars. The FAST Act and its predecessors are difference makers in North Texas,” he noted.

Thomas’ testimony also noted several other DART successes. “We have built 93 miles of electric light rail in just over 20 years because the federal government has invested in us in the form of three Full Funding Grant Agreements from the CIG program, the very program the ­president proposes eliminating. Our most recent one, awarded in 2006 for $700 million, supported construction of our light rail Green Line,” he said.

“Our work is far from done,” Thomas continued, including (among other projects) building a second light rail line partially funded by a Core Capacity Grant, which would be delayed because of the proposed cuts despite strong local investments.

“Our mobility challenges are difficult but can be solved,” Thomas noted. “People in communities everywhere are working on solutions that meet their unique needs. They have the vision and the desire, but need funding. We believe there is a role for local communities and the federal government to work together to support those visions with sustainable, substantial and predictable funding.”

Thomas and other panelists were welcomed by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), subcommittee chair. “State departments of transportation, transit systems and local entities have the important task of delivering transportation projects to their communities,” Graves said in opening remarks. “As they carry out these projects, the witnesses have a firsthand view of how federal surface transportation policies are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Find his testimony here.

For details about APTA’s previous statement on Trump’s budget proposal, see the most recent Legislative Alert.

Related News
DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao told participants in a White House CEO town hall on April 4 that the administration was working on “a legislative package” related to infrastructure, which could be unveiled in late May rather than this fall.

Chao also said DOT has a budget of $70 billion and “money is not the problem.” She said DOT is emphasizing easing the permitting process to support deregulation and speeding up project timelines to help reduce risk to investors.

As the White House considers its infrastructure proposal, the need for increased infrastructure investment was further underscored this week when a slow-moving New Jersey Transit train derailed in a minor incident at New York City’s Pennsylvania Station, which handles more than 600,000 passengers daily for three railroads—NJ Transit, MTA Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak—among other transit providers.

Repairs to eight of the station’s 21 tracks continued to snarl rail travel in the New York City area and in the busy Northeast Corridor, prompting ­officials to renew calls for building a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River (the $23 billion Gateway project) and expand Penn Station.

“This is a project of national significance, not just local significance, and it simply cannot move forward without a federal commitment,” said John Porcari, interim executive director, Gateway ­Program Development Corp.

In addition, in the wake of the bombing in the St. Petersburg subway system that killed 14 people, a bipartisan group of 85 House members encouraged the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee not to cut funding for the Transit Security Grant Program as requested in Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal.

Referring to subway systems, the letter stated, “An attack on any of these systems could kill thousands, flood rail tunnels and stations and cripple major metropolitan areas.”

Valley Metro Scores Big With Multiple Events; Extensive Planning Effort Pays Off

The city of Phoenix hosted several large-scale, high-profile sporting events and festivals during the first weekend in April, and Valley Metro was at the heart of the action as it served an estimated 220,000 riders over three days—a 68 percent increase compared to an average weekend, with a peak of 131 percent more riders on Sunday alone.

The weekend lineup included the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest and Tournament, March Madness Music Festival, Arizona Diamondbacks home opener, Phoenix Suns game, Phoenix Pride Festival and Tempe Festival of the Arts. The events were located along the light rail system.

“Serving more than 220,000 riders over the weekend for the Final Four events and numerous local festivities demonstrates the vibrancy that transit brings to our communities,” said Scott Smith, Valley Metro chief executive officer. “The success of our system and its role in supporting the local economy is a reflection of our dedicated staff and their commitment to providing quality service every day of the year.”

The agency put on a full court press, deploying more than 350 front-line staff, called MVPs, to ensure passengers experienced safe and efficient rides.

Staff on duty included more than 75 rail operators and supervisors; 70 light rail vehicle, platform and system maintenance technicians; 45 fare inspectors in partnership with TSA specialists, Phoenix Police Transit Enforcement Unit and K9 teams; 40 bus operators and supervisors; 42 customer service representatives and 75 ambassadors.

Valley Metro also operated special bus service to the stadium, clocking an estimated 3,200 boardings over three days.

Planning Makes Perfect
Previous experience with hosting the 2015 Super Bowl and the 2016 College Football Championship laid the groundwork for successful implementation of Valley Metro Rail service during the Final Four and other events, agency officials said.
Smith said the Phoenix region invested in light rail with these types of activities in mind, and the success of the weekend demonstrated just how much the system contributes to the regional economy and overall quality of life.

Riders lined up to take Valley Metro’s light rail to the NCAA Final Four, one of several events in Phoenix during a three-day period.
Photo courtesy of Valley Metro

The extensive, highly detailed planning, which required months of preparation, involved leadership from operations, security and communications to orchestrate the process of serving many simultaneous large-scale events along the light rail line.

Several factors were key to Valley Metro’s success: maximizing the operations staff based on scheduled events, using existing resources most effectively, incorporating field support (from vehicle technicians to cleaners) and creating a proactive rail vehicle preventive maintenance schedule. Agency officials also added special event trains to the schedule, timed to support events’ egress and keep passengers moving.

Valley Metro also focused on integrating communications outreach across departments and with other agencies.
As for ensuring passenger and system safety for all three days, the agency added safety and security teams and integrated their efforts with law enforcement support from local, federal and out-of-state agencies.

In addition, Valley Metro expanded its customer service schedule to meet late evening demand and dozens of agency employees dedicated their time at key stations to guide visitors and first-time riders, adding to a welcoming experience for riders.


BJCTA Launches 'Magic City Connector'

The Birmingham Jefferson County (AL) Transit Authority recently introduced its newest service: the Magic City Connector, a revamped circulator that will further enhance a revitalized downtown area and respond to a growing demand for public transit options from young professionals.

“We conducted a series of surveys. Our customers described the service they wanted and we responded. We are transforming public transportation in our area—one bus stop at a time,” said Executive Director Barbara Murdock.

Magic City Connector, with a 25-cent fare, operates with six new CNG-­powered buses. The route runs between two ­Birmingham neighborhoods and provides connections to other routes, operating every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on Saturdays.

The reworked Magic City Connector is only the first service update in store for BJCTA. The agency is exploring other ways to provide better customer service, including route overhauls and a new intermodal facility, which will serve Greyhound and Amtrak in addition to the agency’s buses when it opens later this year.

This new service is one of several projects planned through a new partnership between BJCTA and Birmingham Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola also will provide support for the new facility.

“Birmingham Coca-Cola is excited to be involved with an effort that helps connect residents and visitors with some of our city’s finest attractions that highlight the diversity, history and richness of our community,” said Bo Taylor, vice president, central region, Coca-Cola Bottling Company United. “Birmingham has been our home for more than 115 years and we love the development and energy taking place downtown,” he added.

BJCTA’s Magic City Connector.


MARTA Sees Increased Ridership After Bridge Collapse

As Passenger Transport went to press, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) was reporting increased ridership—preliminary numbers show a jump of up to 34 percent over the weekend—and additional service in the aftermath of the March 30 fire that caused a section of a heavily-traveled bridge on I-85 to collapse.

“We are pleased to be able to support the citizens of the Atlanta metro area during this time of increased difficulty in going from point A to point B,” said MARTA General Manager Keith Parker. “MARTA has been able to successfully thus far carry tens of ­thousands of new people safely, reliably and on time.”

System employees at MARTA parking facilities provide ongoing reports on available parking spaces to the agency’s app and Twitter feed, Parker said, and MARTA has begun running 60-foot articulated buses on the five routes affected by the bridge collapse.

Parker also has kept in contact with MARTA riders through Twitter. He promoted the MARTA On the Go app for trip planning help, saying, “We’re all in this together,” and the day after the incident he tweeted, “It’s been a full day at MARTA. Headed home on the Red Line. Clean & on-time, with a good crowd. Thanks MARTA family for keeping ATL moving.”

DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced the release of $10 million in “quick release” federal Emergency Relief funds to help begin bridge repairs and Georgia DOT and its partners have announced that they are working to reopen the bridge by June 15.

Bus Conference Features Tech Tours; APTA Issues Housing Notice

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), host system for the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Reno, NV, May 7-10, has scheduled two technical tours for Wednesday afternoon, May 10, following the conclusion of the ­conference. To participate in the free tours, sign up on site at the host information desk in the APTA registration area in the Grand Sierra Hotel.

Tour 1: Tesla Gigafactory.
The Tesla Gigafactory—the largest building in the world, with more than 5.5 million square feet—will supply lithium-ion batteries to support the projected vehicle demand. The facility supports cost reductions through economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, waste reduction and optimization from locating most manufacturing processes in one place.

Tour 2: BRT.
RTC opened its first BRT line, the RAPID Virginia Line, in 2009 and is currently constructing a second route, the Lincoln Line, along the historic Lincoln Highway (U.S. 40). The ­Virginia Line extends nearly five miles and operates with eight 60-foot New Flyer hybrid-electric buses; plans are underway to extend the route another two miles to the University of Nevada campus. The Lincoln Line project, which will connect downtown Reno with neighboring Sparks, will use four all-electric Proterra Catalyst buses.

Register for the conference here.

APTA Issues Notice
APTA has learned that unauthorized housing companies have been contacting conference exhibitors and attendees and identifying themselves as being affiliated with APTA.

APTA reminds its exhibitors and attendees that the only company officially sanctioned and certified by the association to book hotels on their behalf is Expovision. APTA has no affiliation with other third-party hotel room brokers that might be soliciting conference exhibitors and attendees.

AC Transit Launches 'Flex' Program Following Test Period

Following eight months of beta testing, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, launched its Flex service March 27 on a one-year pilot basis.

    This reservation-based service operates with accessible 12-seat buses in service areas with lower demand for ridership. Navigation software installed on each vehicle gives operators turn-by-turn directions to reach a reserved rider faster.

AC Transit Board President Elsa Ortiz said, “I am keenly interested in ensuring that any alteration of service occurs with our riders as the central focus and functions seamlessly. Our rigorous beta testing revealed that Flex is off to a strong start. In fact, Flex’s trip success is currently at 92 percent and two-thirds of Flex riders are now return customers.”

General Manager Michael Hursh said, “During beta testing, we collected eight months of data that revealed that nearly 30 percent of Flex riders completed their travels in as few as 10 minutes. Equally impressive is that eliminating the multiple stops of a traditional bus route now means 20 percent of Flex riders are completing their daily trips in less than five miles.”

Flex service operates weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in four cities in the AC Transit service area. Riders can reserve trips online or by phone as little as 30 minutes in advance, reserve an itinerary every weekday for up to three months and reserve trips for family or traveling companions.

Warm Springs: BART's 'Crown Jewel'

Grace Crunican, general manager, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), and BART Director Tom Blalock joined hundreds of city leaders and community members to celebrate the opening of the Warm Springs/South Fremont BART Station at the end of the 5.4-mile Warm Springs Extension. The station, which Blalock called “the crown jewel of the BART system,” is BART’s 46th and, Crunican said, “the pivot point where we head down to Santa Clara County” to connect with future Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority service. The new line reported 1,577 boardings on opening day. See a story that appeared in the March 27 Passenger Transport here.

New CEO, Interim Named

Duklewski, TAM
The Transportation Association of Maryland (TAM) announced the promotion of John Duklewski to ­executive director. He joined TAM in 2015 as the executive assistant and ­previously was a writer and editor for Maryland Business for Responsive Government, a lobbying organization. Lenny Howard, the previous executive director, retired in December.

Jensen, Interim, Metrolinx
Metrolinx in Toronto has named John Jensen, chief capital officer since 2016, as interim chief executive officer effective April 14, succeeding Bruce McCuaig.

Jensen began at Metrolinx as vice president, rapid transit, capital products group. He previously was director, rail implementation, for the city of Ottawa.

McCuaig, who was Metrolinx’s president and chief executive officer for more than six years, is stepping down to accept a new federal role in the Canadian Privy Council Office as executive adviser (infrastructure bank) to support the launch of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. McCuaig went to Metrolinx following 26 years in Ontario government, culminating in three years as deputy minister of transportation.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Rosen's Nomination

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nomination of Jeffrey A. Rosen as deputy secretary of transportation by a 15-12 vote on April 5. The nomination now goes to the full Senate.

Sales Tax Passes in St. Louis

With a preliminary tally of 60 percent in favor, voters in St. Louis voted April 4 for a half-cent sales tax to fund MetroLink light rail expansion and other economic development purposes.

This measure will provide approximately $12 million per year to secure bonds of an estimated $250 million toward expanding current MetroLink lines. The project would be eligible for an additional $250 million in federal matching funds. Cost of the project, which would connect north and south St. Louis County, has been estimated at $2.2 billion.

MPO Rule Repeal Means No Changes to Process

The recent repeal of the “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform” rule by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) means no changes to the operations of adjoining MPOs in an urbanized area.

The T&I Committee said the rule exceeded legal requirements, was contrary to congressional intent and increased burdens on MPOs and states. In practice, it would have required the consolidation of many MPOs in metropolitan regions.

Todd Lang, co-chair of the Metropolitan Planning Subcommittee of the APTA Policy and Planning Committee, added, “MPOs support increased planning coordination at all levels, but this final rule has significant drawbacks that prompted more than 600 comments to the docket that asked this rule be withdrawn or substantially modified. MPOs stand ready to work with the administration and other transportation stakeholders to work through the issues the rule attempted to address.”

In Memoriam: Coleman, Past DOT Secretary

William T. Coleman Jr., 96, the second African-American to serve in a president’s cabinet as transportation secretary under President Gerald Ford (1975-77), died March 31 in Alexandria, VA.

After he left DOT, Coleman appeared before the Supreme Court on behalf of APTA and a transit system in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, arguing that transit workers be treated equally to police and fire department employees. He won the argument, but lost the case when the Court decided to treat police and fire employees the same as transit workers.

Coleman, active in civil rights, worked with Thurgood Marshall on Brown v. Board of Education to strike down segregation in public schools.

Learn About 'Hot Companies'

Click here to learn more about "Hot Companies" in the public transit sector.


Research You Can Use: TCRP Issues New Reports

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) announces the release of these reports, all designed to help public transportation agency and business leaders strengthen operations and implement best practices.

Synthesis 125: Multiagency Electronic Payment Fare Systems. This report describes the current practice, challenges and benefits of using electronic fare payment systems such as smartcards. It reviews current systems and identifies their major challenges and benefits; describes the use of electronic fare systems in multimodal, multiagency environments; and reviews next-generation approaches through existing case examples.

Legal Research Digest 48: Legal Issues Concerning Transit Agency Use of Electronic Customer Data. This digest explores the advantages, disadvantages, risks and benefits for public transit agencies moving to electronic, cloud-based and other computerized systems for fare purchases and for communicating with customers.

Synthesis 127: Addressing Difficult Customer Situations
. This report explores issues surrounding difficult customers or passengers and the circumstances that can arise when they use transit system facilities or vehicles. It identifies current practices used by public transit agencies to prevent, prepare for and deal with these incidents.

Report 189: Manual to Improve Rail Transit Safety at Platform/Vehicle and Platform/Guideway Interfaces. This report offers strategies to prevent incidents and improve safety at platform/guideway and platform/vehicle interfaces. The research focused on rail transit systems with vehicles whose floors are level or near level with platforms, resulting in level boardings.

Synthesis 126: Successful Practices and Training Initiatives to Reduce Bus Accidents and Incidents at Transit Agencies
. This report documents current practices and training initiatives, including bus operator training and retraining programs that have been effective in reducing accidents and incidents at transit agencies. It also focuses on other safety-improvement approaches, such as technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and programs and initiatives including driver incentive programs and close call/near miss reporting.

Find these and other reports here.

Apply Now for Leadership APTA Class of 2018 Program

Leadership APTA is accepting applications for the Class of 2018 through June 2.

Leadership APTA is the association’s premier professional development program, designed to develop and support experienced industry professionals who aspire to hold senior and executive leadership positions in their organizations, the public transportation industry and APTA.

Each year, the Leadership APTA Committee selects 25 individuals from member organizations to participate in an intensive year-long program that includes executive roundtables, skill-building workshops, site visits and tours, team leadership projects, teleconferences, online meetings and web-based events. Members of the Class of 2018 will be selected and notified soon after mid-July.

When the 2017 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO concludes in Atlanta, Leadership APTA will have graduated 500 leaders who serve in a broad range of leadership positions in APTA and the industry.

Each member organization can submit only one candidate as an applicant. To apply, click here. For more details, contact Joseph Niegoski.

Fare Collection/Revenue Management/TransITech Conferences Address Practices, Policies, Standards

APTA’s 2017 Fare Collection/Revenue Management Conference, co-located with the association’s TransITech Conference, recently concluded in San Antonio following three busy days of information, educational programming, committee meetings, networking and an informative host property tour.

The joint conferences represent a significant value for attendees and include a wide range of best practices and developments related to revenue collection, operational management and back office technology.

Further, organizers said that as technology changes, the conferences give both new and veteran professionals an opportunity to engage industry experts, other practitioners and technology pioneers knowledgeable about trends and innovations.

Presiding at the joint conferences, attended by 335 transit professionals, consultants and business leaders, were Fare Collection Systems (FCS) Committee Chair James Capozzi, president, CAPtech Inc., White Plains, NY, and Information Technology Committee Chair William Tsuei, Access Services, El Monte, CA.

The conference opened with remarks from APTA Secretary/Treasurer Kim Green, executive director, Genfare, Elk Grove Village, IL; Jeff Arndt, chief executive officer, VIA Metropolitan Transit, the host system; and VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade.

General sessions focused on best practices and technology issues related to purchasing fare collection systems and cybersecurity challenges. Breakout sessions featured discussions of big data, ITS technologies, technology solutions for small- and mid-sized agencies and state of good repair.

The conference also highlighted the recognition of the FCS Committee’s 31st anniversary; an overview of VIA; roundtable discussions; a tour of VIA Villa, a TOD project including the agency’s headquarters and new transit hub, Centro Plaza; and receptions sponsored by Genfare and VIA.

FCS, founded in 1986, is an affiliate committee of APTA’s Financial Management Committee.

Next year’s conference is scheduled for April 9-11 in Jacksonville, FL, and will be hosted by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. For details, contact Beverly Hill.

Conference leaders gathered to express their appreciation to VIA Metropolitan Transit, the host agency. From left: Information Technology Committee Chair and APTA Board Member William Tsuei, VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade, VIA liaison Jennifer Serold, VIA CEO Jeff Arndt and Fare Collection Systems Committee Chair James Capozzi.



Making Federal Policies Work at the Local Level: Reflections from Both Vantage Points By Peter Rogoff

Chief Executive Officer
Sound Transit

I always thought that it would be a lot harder to actually do this business than it would be to talk about it in Washington, DC.

Both jobs are very different. When you’re in Washington, DC, you’re regularly trying to craft a federal policy that spans all 50 states and is applicable across the board. When you get to the local level, you have to find a way to make federal policies and programs best suit the needs of unique circumstances at the community level.

At the federal level, the focus is on funding—often in terms of making or breaking the trajectory of transportation at the local level. At the local level, that’s not entirely the case.For example, in this region we were successful in passing a $54 billion ballot measure this past November. In terms of our capital program over the next 25 years that the voters endorsed, the federal funding is important, but it’s hardly the lion’s share. Local dollars—paid for by taxes the voters endorsed—will drive public ­transit in this region.

I have a better understanding of why processes exist, having headed the federal agency that did the regulating, but again, there’s a tension between a one-size-fits-all approach and the unique circumstances of each agency.

There’s a saying that if you’ve seen one transit agency you’ve seen one transit agency. No two are governed the same, funded the same, or have identical operating profiles. Locally, you have to figure out how to make the federal processes work for you, or at least get through, in a way that optimizes federal funds for your unique needs.

Short- and Long-Term Challenges
. Day-to-day, our biggest challenge, as it should be for all operators, is maintaining the quality of the passenger experience—making sure that passengers get a reliable and desirable service. That has not always been an easy feat, so this past year we expanded our light rail network to include three additional stations, two to the densest communities in the entire state. As a result, we’ve seen our light rail ridership increase 89 percent from February 2016 to ­February 2017.

Such rapid ridership growth is a challenge. For example, we now serve light rail right to the stadium where the Washington Huskies play football. On game days, a lot of riders were boarding light rail for the first time. Every one needed to be educated on the basics of riding transit. Those are the kinds of quality issues I’m talking about.

Long-term, our biggest challenge will be to deliver the projects promised to voters on time and on budget. These are great problems to have, but we will be expanding into many cities not accustomed to having transit construction in their back yard. We’re going to need to work with every one so we can launch projects on schedule and not incur additional costs to taxpayers.

Federal Investments. It’s not at all clear where transit fits into President Trump’s vision for infrastructure investment. We were greatly disappointed that the president’s skinny budget excludes funding for new major transit expansions. That’s a real departure from the policy of prior administrations, Democrat and Republican.

This current administration has turned the spigot off rather abruptly, ­saying that they’re not going to fund new projects. We’ll be working hard to help Congress reject those proposed cuts, but we’re sort of dumbfounded, coming from a president who just a few weeks earlier gave a speech on the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Sound Transit and Washington state are well served in the Senate with Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and in the House of Representatives with Reps. Adam Smith, ranking member, Armed Services Committee, and Rick Larsen, a senior member, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. They have all been extraordinarily supportive of transit investments and have vowed to try to reverse the cuts, but it’s an uphill battle. We hope that our investments and others like them in new expansions won’t be left on the cutting room floor.

Increasing Ridership
. Our first tool to get our ridership to increase has been providing a trip to places where people want to go. We certainly discovered that this past year. We opened just three new rail stations this past year, but ridership increased because we were going to two very popular destinations. By the time our full system is built out as a result of the ballot measure, more than 80 percent of residents will have high capacity transit near where they live. More than 90 percent of workplaces, more than 90 percent of employees will have high capacity transit close to where they work.

It’s about connecting people from where they are to where they want to go. Once you do that, ridership happens.

About Sound Transit
In addition to serving as FTA administrator and DOT undersecretary for policy, Rogoff served for 22 years on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as the Democratic staff director of its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Sound Transit, based in Seattle, plans, builds and operates express bus, light rail and commuter train lines. Formed in 1993, the agency serves the urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Ridership on its trains and buses has grown to nearly 43 million riders a year.

This “Commentary” is a summary of a 27-minute interview with Bernie Wagenblast on “ITE Talks Transportation,” a podcast of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Published with permission.

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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.

WASHINGTON, DC—Robert L. Sumwalt has been named vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) by President Trump and will serve as the agency’s chairman until a new chairman is named. He joined the board in 2006 and was named to a second five-year term in 2011.

Sumwalt previously worked 32 years as a pilot. He chaired the Air Line Pilots Association’s Human Factors and Training Group and was a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System.

Bella Dihn-Zarr, who had served as NTSB vice chairman since 2015, was the acting chairman between the end of ­Christopher A. Hart’s term on March 15 and Sumwalt’s appointment March 31. Both Dihn-Zarr and Hart remain on the five-member board.

CLEVELAND—The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board of Trustees elected George F. Dixon to his 24th consecutive one-year term as its president. Dixon, a past APTA chair, is the longest-serving transit board president in Ohio and one of the longest-serving in the nation; he joined the board in 1992 and was first elected president in 1994. He was named APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member in 2006 and has served on numerous APTA committees.

Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, a board member since 1999 and vice president since 2011, also was re-elected. He has been mayor since 1986 and represents the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers’ Association on the RTA board. Clough serves on the APTA Transit Board Members Committee.

SAN DIEGO—Cubic Transportation Systems has named Tony Gale vice president and general manager of NextBus®, the company’s real-time passenger information business. Gale has more than 20 years of experience in Software as a Service (SaaS) as well as domestic and international IT/Geographic Information System (GIS) markets. He formerly was general manager of a business unit of Trapeze Software.

NEW YORK CITY—Dominick M. Servedio, executive chairman of STV, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) “for leadership and effective advocacy on behalf of the engineering and construction professions.” Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Servedio joined STV in 1977 and rose through the ranks, becoming president and chief operating officer and then chief executive officer and chairman.

Also, STV announced the promotion of Scott McIntyre from senior project manager to senior vice president. His career of more than 35 years has included work on the multimodal World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan, AirTrain JFK and New Jersey Transit Corporation’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit project.

Tyler Bonstead, the firm’s West Coast deputy regional manager in the Transportation & Infrastructure Division in Los Angeles, has been named vice president. He joined the firm as a transportation planner in 2005 and worked his way up to heading its national planning practice. Bonstead is a former member of the APTA Board of Directors.

ARLINGTON, VA—The National Transit Institute (NTI) recently named Diana Mendes, HNTB Corporation transit/rail practice leader and senior vice president, its 2017 Training Professional of the Year in recognition of her more than 15 years of providing training for both NTI and FTA.

Mendes co-chairs the APTA Legislative Committee and serves on the APTA Board of Directors and numerous other APTA committees. She regularly speaks at transportation-related conferences.

ITHACA, NY—The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) Board of Directors elected David Howe, assistant dean at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as its chairperson. He has served on the board since 2012 and succeeds Bill Gray, who is immediate past chairperson.

Ducson Nguyen, a TCAT board member since 2016 and an Ithaca alderperson, was elected secretary/treasurer and Peter Stein, a county legislator who joined the board in 2013, is vice chairperson.

SEATTLE—Julie Honeywell has joined Sound Transit as chief human resources officer. She previously was chief human resources officer for a building and sustainability consulting firm and earlier worked eight years for a publisher of education and trade publications.

LOS ANGELES—The Southern California Regional Rail Authority Board of Directors, the governing body of Metrolink commuter rail, elected Riverside County Transportation Commission representative Andrew Kotyuk its chair. He is a council member and former mayor of San Jacinto and succeeds Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who represented the Orange County Transportation Authority and had chaired the board since 2015.

Ventura County Transportation Commission representative Brian Humphrey was elected first vice chair, while Los Angeles Metro representative and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian was named second vice chair.

PHOENIX—The Phoenix Public Transit Department has promoted Joseph Bowar to deputy director of the Facilities and Oversight Division. Bower served as interim public transit director for nine months and has worked for the city for almost nine years.

He has 36 years of experience in the public and private sectors, including serving at the South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources and as an environmental consultant.

KANSAS CITY, MO—HNTB Corporation announced the following:

Jacob (Jake) Agiro joined the firm as Connecticut office operations manager and associate vice president, based in Rocky Hill. His more than 18 years of transportation management and operational experience includes a tenure with Connecticut DOT and serving as civil engineering department manager for another consulting firm.

Amit Bose, a former FRA deputy administrator and chief counsel, has joined the firm’s Arlington, VA, office as mid-Atlantic district transit and rail director and associate vice president. He also was associate general counsel and deputy assistant secretary for U.S. DOT and worked for New Jersey Transit Corporation and New Jersey DOT.

Lisa Ives, based in Seattle, joined the firm as a senior project manager and associate vice president. She has 28 years of project management experience and has been an instructor for the National Transit Institute’s course on project management for transit professionals.

Mark Niles joined the Washington, DC, office as senior project manager and associate vice president. He has 30 years of transit planning experience and has worked extensively on projects in the Washington region. Niles is a member of the APTA Policy & Planning Committee.

Rob Troup, a company vice president based in Philadelphia, was named transit and rail market sector leader for the Northeast Division. He previously was deputy general manager of operations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority and has worked in the field for more than 35 years.

NEW YORK CITY—WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the appointments of Victor Martinez as area manager for its Orange and San ­Bernardino, CA, offices and Kevin Reed as operations manager for the west region, based in San Diego.

Martinez has 37 years of transportation industry experience in California. Reed joins WSP | PB from another international engineering organization where he was a vice president responsible for the operations of five offices in Southern California.

BURLINGAME, CA—Ryan Popple, chief executive officer of Proterra, has been named to the board of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). As a Silicon Valley-based public policy organization, SVLG represents nearly 400 companies on issues, programs and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in the region.

NEW YORK CITY—Dan Suraci, lead transportation planner for SYSTRA in New York City, received the 2017 Emerging Leader Award from the League of American Bicyclists for exceptional leadership and advocacy on bicycle mobility.
Suraci is working on a recommended practice for bicycle accessibility to public transit through the APTA Standards Development Program. He is also a member of the APTA Research & Technology Committee, Sustainability Committee and Urban Design Working Group.

Before joining SYSTRA, he worked in New York City DOT’s bicycle program and was communications manager for Bike New York.