Passenger Transport - May 19, 2017
Rep. Sam Graves addressed APTA's business members during a fly-in on Capitol Hill to advocate for public transit funding.
An APTA delegation of more than 12 members participated in North America Day May 16, sponsored jointly by APTA and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) during the International Organization for Public Transport’s (UITP’s) Global Summit and Exhibition in Montréal.
Many APTA business members exhibited at the global summit.
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford opened the day with an assessment of his system, which he said was “fundamentally sound but somewhat stuck in the ’70s.” Even though TTC moves a lot of people, he said, chronic underfunding, archaic processes, many cynics and a lack of a strategic plan are real challenges.
Byford, CEO since 2012, immediately set about to create a five-year plan to completely modernize and transform his agency in three areas: people, processes and infrastructure. Employee and managerial accountability were a part of the change.
There was no strategic plan when he came on board so, Byford said, one of his first priorities was to create a vision statement with the “goal of a transit system that would make Toronto proud.”
By the end of this year, Byford said, “nearly all of it will come together, like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. The pieces will suddenly add up and people will be able to see the results.”
APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA), talked about the transformation of public transit in his region and the goal of giving residents “world class” solutions to public transit. Jacksonville, he said, is the largest city in the U.S. in terms of land mass “so public transportation can be somewhat challenging in terms of our size.”
JTA, he explained, is unique in that it was initially responsible for building roads and bridges and later also providing public transit.
Ford is particularly proud of the First Coast Flyer—the agency’s BRT system, the first two corridors of which launched in 2015 and 2016. When completed, it will be the largest BRT system in the southeastern U.S. and will cover 57 miles.
The “crown jewel,” Ford said, is the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center, which will house fixed-route bus service, Skyway, Megabus, Uber and ultimately Amtrak. JTA officials are expected to present a construction plan to the agency’s board at the end of May.
|Prior to North America Day, APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, spoke about his system on the panel, “Growing Electrification of the Urban Transport System,” during the summit.|
APTA Signs MOUs with International Partners
During their co-sponsored North America Day at the UITP global summit, APTA and CUTA signed a three-year cooperative agreement reaffirming a commitment between the associations. From left are Sue Connor, CUTA chair; Patrick Leclerc, CUTA president and CEO; APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; and APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes.
APTA and France-based GIE Objectif Transport Public (GIE) signed a one-year collaborative agreement on May 15. Attending the event are, from left, Jean-Luc Rigaut, GIE chairman; APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes; Acting President & CEO Richard White and Vice President-Strategic & International Programs Petra Mollet. Also attending but not pictured were Sophie Castagne, GIE general manager, and Nadine Lee, Los Angeles Metro. GIE promotes mass transit and raises awareness about sustainable mobility among industry professionals and the general public.
DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao listed railroads with other modes of “traditional infrastructure such as roads, bridges … inland waterways and ports” as central to the administration’s infrastructure proposal while noting that it might also include “energy, water, broadband and veteran hospitals” in her May 15 speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to kick off National Infrastructure Week.
Chao said the Trump administration is preparing to release its infrastructure plan, which could include $200 billion in direct federal funds to leverage $1 trillion in investment over 10 years. Published reports say Congress may draft legislation by the third quarter of 2017.
“As you know so well, infrastructure is the backbone of our world-class economy—one of the most productive, flexible and dynamic in the world,” she said at the Washington, DC, event. “It is a key factor in productivity and economic growth, which has provided millions of hard-working Americans with a standard of living that is the envy of the world. And it has provided our country with unprecedented mobility, safety and security. Yet today these gains are threatened by crumbling infrastructure that is increasingly congested, in need of repair and unable to keep pace with technological change.”
She said the administration’s proposals “will shift the focus beyond what is being built, to how projects are being funded and financed.” One goal, she added, is to use federal funds to build projects more quickly with greater participation from state, local and private partners.
Find Chao’s speech here.
Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Senate voted May 16 to confirm Jeffrey A. Rosen as the 18th deputy secretary of DOT, where he previously served as general counsel from 2003-2006.
He also served as general counsel and senior policy advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2006-2009.
Prior to his confirmation, Rosen was a senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a firm with which he had been associated for nearly 30 years. He also has published several articles on regulatory, budget and transportation topics.
BY RICHARD A. WHITE
Our long-standing notions about mobility are about to change: In the emerging mobility ecosystem, public transportation will be more important than ever. Why? Because it will function as the backbone of a multimodal system involving many different partners and interests.A convergence of new players and new technologies is making mobility synonymous with freedom, independence and personal choice. Innovative entrepreneurs have introduced a variety of new ride-sharing travel options. Global technology companies, online retail giants and traditional automobile manufacturers are investing billions in automated vehicles in anticipation of an automated future. Shifting demographics and evolving customer preferences are retiring old assumptions and creating new opportunities.
Meanwhile, public transit systems, particularly passenger rail and high-capacity bus, will continue to do what they do better than any alternative: Move large numbers of people safely, economically and quickly through high-density corridors. Public transportation is the original “shared-economy” form of transportation. It’s the great societal equalizer, connecting people to opportunities by sharing rides in vehicles that are available to everyone in the community.
A single subway or commuter train can carry as many as 1,500 passengers, while modern bus systems can perform as efficiently at different scales. With the United States population growing at three million a year, mostly in metropolitan areas, public transportation will be increasingly vital.
Public transit’s high-capacity services will continue to be the essential trunk lines of the surface transportation network of the future; however, evolving mobility systems will require traditional public transit operators to change as well. We’re already seeing it happen.
For example, many public transit agencies are finding new efficiencies—and new riders—through partnerships with ridesharing companies for first-mile/last-mile connections or to provide demand-response paratransit services. Uber, Lyft, Zipcar and Motivate are among the organizations that have joined APTA to strengthen this synergy.
Such innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as new public and private partnerships, are the building blocks for our transportation systems of tomorrow. Trends all point to a future with more balanced transportation choices and more public transit. Communities of every size and character are choosing to create new options for citizens rather than continue to be automobile-dependent. The long-term trend is that public transportation ridership has exceeded population growth and growth in vehicle-miles-traveled over the past two decades.
In 2016, voters from diverse locales across the U.S. approved $170 billion in new investment for public transit, with most of those investments directed to rail transit systems. In fact, in the past five years, Americans passed more than 70 percent of ballot initiatives that included funding for public transportation in communities as diverse as Flagstaff, Arizona; Greensboro, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Huntington, West Virginia; Monterey, California; and the entire state of Maine. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the public wants more public transportation.
America’s present and future “knowledge economy,” anchored by a high-tech, high-skilled workforce, is supported through the agglomeration capabilities of high-performance transit, and the appeal of communities built around transit. “Meds and eds” are a big part of this, but the spark extends further. For example, Marriott, McDonald’s, Boeing, Motorola, Google, Caterpillar and General Electric are just a few of the major corporations that have relocated their headquarters to transit-rich areas to attract and retain employees, especially younger workers, many of whom choose not to own a car.
APTA’s key message, “Where public transportation goes, community grows,” is more than a phrase; it’s a reality. Public transit spurs economic development. Almost nine out of every 10 trips on public transit directly benefits a local economy by getting people to a job or activity where they earn or spend money.
In cities across the country, investments in passenger rail projects have provided an essential boost to reinvigorate downtowns and underserved neighborhoods.
* In Seattle, Sound Transit’s expanded light rail system recorded an 89 percent increase in ridership during the last year alone, exceeding projections. The system’s University Link, which includes twin tunnels connecting the University of Washington to the city’s Capitol Hill area, was completed six months early and $200 million under budget.
Nearly 700 industry professionals gathered for APTA’s annual Bus & Paratransit Conference and some 439 participants joined in the International Bus Roadeo, May 5-10 in Reno, NV, to learn and share, network, see the latest products and services and gain insights on industry topics.
The conference featured four General Sessions that addressed overarching challenges, about 50 skills-based and concurrent programs, the Bus Safety and Security Awards and the International Bus Roadeo, where Denver’s Regional Transportation District was named Grand Champion in addition to taking home top honors for the best maintenance team.
The 2017 Bus & Paratransit Conference, one of the largest in recent years, featured four General Sessions, dozens of concurrent sessions, special events, awards presentations and ample time for networking.
The economic benefits of public transportation and the need for greater federal investment in the industry were major topics addressed during the Opening General Session, starting with APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, thanked Lee Gibson, executive director, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), and his team for hosting the conference and recognized Gibson for his leadership in electric vehicle technology.
“This is an important issue for my home agency at Foothill Transit,” Barnes said. “We’re learning together … and I’m thrilled that Lee and his team are ‘leaning in’ and thinking about what the future brings.”
APTA Releases Impact Resources
APTA unveiled two advocacy tools members can use to calculate public transportation’s positive impact on their local areas.
“My Economic Impact Tool: How to Use It” computes the number of jobs and the amount of income generated in a community from a transit system’s operations and capital investments, and “My Economic Impact: How to Talk About the Numbers” is a guide for effectively communicating data to decision-makers, stakeholders and the media.
Learn how to maximize the tools at an APTA webinar, May 22, 2 p.m. (eastern). Register here and download the reports at the APTA website.
Picture This: Bus Conference Sessions on Video
APTA has produced videos of the four General Sessions and some other conference events. Find them at www.apta.com.
FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes thanked APTA and its members for their strong support when he addressed the FTA Update General Session, specifically noting the association’s advocacy efforts for retaining public transit funding at FAST Act levels in the recently passed FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill, which will provide “stability and predictability for FTA grantees.”
He said, based on President Trump’s FY 2018 skinny budget proposal, FTA would make good on Full Funding Grant Agreements but will no longer enter into new agreements. Welbes expects the administration to release its final FY 2018 budget proposal the week of May 27, after which it goes to Congress for review.
“DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao has experience in the department,” Welbes said, “and we’re pleased to see that she has listed safety, infrastructure and innovation as her priorities.”
Regarding state of good repair, Welbes said the federal government needs to spend $26 billion a year in transit capital to maintain SGR, in addition to the $90 billion required to bring the nation’s infrastructure up to SGR levels. “We must prepare for the future while paying off debts from the past,” he said.
Welbes emphasized that “on the safety front, public transportation is the safest mode of surface transportation.” However, he cautioned bus professionals in the 30 states with rail transit systems that their agencies will be affected if their states’ State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOA) do not achieve FTA approval and certification by April 15, 2019. If a state fails to get the SSOA certified by the deadline, he said, FTA must withhold all FTA funds from all recipients in that state.
He spoke about the multi-level partnership among FTA and its state and local partners, which takes the specific needs of communities into account. In Reno, for example, FTA is working with the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County to create Lincoln Line BRT on part of the historic Lincoln Highway, a plan that incorporates sidewalks and bike lanes.
“We were providing ‘sharing economy’ experience long before that term was coined,” Welbes said. He also pointed to the need to identify innovations for public transit projects and for “statutory, legislative and guidance changes to accelerate project delivery.”
Following his remarks, Welbes introduced a panel of FTA employees who responded to audience questions. Attendees posed questions to the panel on topics ranging from ways that TOD can strengthen connections between public transit and real estate development to workforce development initiatives and the role of mobility-on-demand services compared with transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Also during the session, Welbes presented a video, “Keeping America on the Move,” describing FTA’s support of bus agencies in more than 3,000 U.S. communities of all sizes providing 5.3 billion rides in 2016. The video is available here.
|The FTA panel included Executive Director Matthew Welbes; Bruce Robinson, deputy associate administrator, Office of Program Management; Cecilia Comito, assistant chief counsel; Gwo-Wei Torng, director of mobility and innovation, Office of Research and Innovation; Monica McCallum, supervisory equal opportunity specialist, Office of Civil Rights; and Duane Weeks, director of planning, Office of Planning and Environment.|
Denver’s Regional Transportation District was named grand champion at APTA’s 42nd Annual International Bus Roadeo, having earned the highest combined team score for both operators and maintainers during the event, held May 5-9.
“Congratulations to these individuals and systems which represent the best of our industry,” said APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White.
“This event defines who we are as an industry and what we do. It highlights how we excel at delivering safe, reliable transportation to the public every day. These bus operators and maintenance professionals provide access for people to earn a living, to connect with their community and contribute to the economy.”
Among operators of 40-foot buses, Kevin Grady, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, placed second and Darvy Traylor, Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority, came in third. Robert Wood of Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA, came in second among operators of 35-foot buses and Arthur Murillo of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX, was in third place. The second-place maintenance team came from Los Angeles Metro and the third-place team represented Oahu Transit.
White was joined at the presentation ceremonies by International Bus Roadeo Committee Chair Richard “Doc” Daley, general manager, Paul Revere Transportation, Chelsea, MA.
The five-day roadeo, one of the largest in the event’s history, featured workshops, seminars and specific-skill and equipment competitions. Find a complete list here.
|Douglas Rego, bus operator for Oahu Transit (Honolulu), won first place in the 35-foot category, beating out 19 other competitors.||Kyle Jones, bus operator for the Riverside (CA) Transit Agency, was named best driver in the 40-foot bus competition, beating out 61 competitors.|
|Denver RTD also won first place in the maintenance competition, winning against 38 teams of competitors.|
|Regional Transportation District, Denver, was named 2017 Roadeo Grand Champion.|
APTA presented the annual Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards during the conference to recognize public transit agencies for innovative programs dedicated to improving safety and security for their employees, passengers and the public.
“Congratulations to these public transportation systems for implementing successful, innovative safety and security programs that serve as a model to the rest of the industry,” said Doran J. Barnes, APTA chair and executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA. “Safety and security are the top priority in the public transportation industry.”
Barnes and Acting President & CEO Richard White presented the awards. The agencies pictured below received Gold level awards.
Certificates of Merit winners follow.
The Certificate of Merit for Safety Excellence: For bus systems providing more than 20 million trips annually, the certificate was awarded to Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and Maryland Transit Administration; and for bus systems providing more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million trips annually, the certificate went to Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, MO.
The Certificate of Merit for Security Excellence: For bus systems providing more than 20 million trips annually, the certificate was awarded to Chicago Transit Authority; for bus systems providing more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million trips annually, the certificates went to Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, OH, and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, Cincinnati.
Find additional details here.
|For bus systems with fewer than 4 million passenger trips annually, the Gold Award for Safety went to Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, Birmingham, AL.
||For bus systems with more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually, the Gold Award for Safety went to Greater Bridgeport Transit, Bridgeport, CT.|
|For bus systems with more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually, the Gold Award for Security went to Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, MO.
||For bus systems with 20 million or more passenger trips annually, the Gold Award for Safety went to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.|
In a moving tribute, members of APTA’s Bus Technical Maintenance Committee recognized their colleague John Walsh with a special award during APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference.
APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White praised Walsh, who appeared via Skype, for his extraordinary achievements in the public transportation industry.
“Your strong work ethic and your passion for public transportation are legendary. In recognition of your lifetime of accomplishments, John, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we salute you for the legacy you have left us,” said White.
Friends and colleagues recalled stories and anecdotes about Walsh. Dave Lawrence, managing director, Fraser Gauge, Grosse Pointe, MI, remembers Walsh for setting high standards for his employees and for himself—from his first job as a bus cleaner in New York City (where Walsh was said to have paste waxed the roofs of his buses) to his supervisory positions at the New York Department of Buses, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro), among others.
In the aftermath of the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11, Walsh spent many days driving a tow truck and pulling vehicles out of the debris at Ground Zero.
Throughout his career he also was instrumental in promoting greater diversity in the workplace.
For APTA, he worked tirelessly as chair of its maintenance committee, established the brake committee in 1990 and worked to secure funds to begin APTA’s standards program.
Lawrence said, “We have better buses today in our industry because of John Walsh.” Many of Walsh’s other colleagues and friends offered their accolades and remembrances.
Dedicated Friend, Committed Professional
Mark Gambaccini, Gambaccini Transit Sales, Bethlehem, PA, said Walsh is both principled and committed. “His ‘kids’ were his buses.”
Andrew Skabowski, chief operations officer, Houston Metro, called Walsh the consummate professional.
Barton Betz, director, maintenance/support, MTA New York City Transit, recalled Walsh’s passion for his work and for meeting scheduled goals. “He made things happen based on target dates,” Betz said.
“The U.S. public transit industry has many gifted bus vehicle operations and maintenance professionals. John was in the upper echelon of that rarefied group,” said Dave Turney, chief executive officer and founding principal, EEI Strategic Consulting LLC.
Long Career of Service
Walsh is founder and chief technical officer, Clean Air for the People Inc. in Marco Island, FL. In addition to his previous positions already noted, his distinguished career includes a tenure as chief research and strategy officer, Clever Devices.
As a long-serving APTA member, he has been engaged in several committees: Bus Technical Maintenance (where he served as vice chair, 2013-2014, and immediate past chair, 1998-2000), Bus Operations, Legislative, Bus Safety, Research and Technology, Security Affairs, Bus Standards Policy & Planning and Clean Propulsion and Support Technology.
He has also been active on business member committees, including Procurement, Legislative, Liaison and Outreach, Programs and Small Business.
|White presided at a special ceremony honoring longtime transit leader John Walsh, shown on the screen, calling him a “giant in our industry.”|
With the growth of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft and the increasing presence of autonomous vehicles, public transit agencies are seeing the landscape shift around them, issues a panel of experts—including representatives of agencies, FTA and Uber—considered during a May 9 General Session.
Allison Wylie, transportation and mobility policy associate for Uber Technologies Inc., compared the rapid change in transportation technologies over the past few years to the introduction of the automobile more than a century ago. As an example of the connection between modes, she described how patterns of Uber use changed when Transport for London extended service hours for the Tube: fewer riders in the heart of the city, more at outlying Tube stations.
Speakers also discussed the relationship between ridesharing services and paratransit, including a concern that many shared-ride vehicles are not equipped for riders with disabilities.
Michael J. Lambert, deputy administrator of transit with Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, described how his agency partners with cab services, overseen locally, where the agency pays a fixed amount and the user pays the balance—a major savings compared with operating traditional paratransit.
Lambert suggested that the increased convenience of transportation network companies will lead first to significant changes in paratransit, then in regular service. “Our riders will expect and demand these services,” he said.
Jameson Auten, chief, regional service delivery and innovations, Kansas City (MO) Regional Transportation Authority, pointed to his agency’s “Ride KC Free” partnership with cabs and its service provider, Transdev, which provides door-to-door services at a lower cost than paratransit. Beyond that, he said the addition of ridesharing services is causing public transit agencies to expand or modify their services to more closely meet individual rider needs.
Gwo-Wei Torng, FTA director, mobility innovation, described FTA’s Mobility on Demand Sandbox program, which provides funding for innovative projects. The term “sandbox” denotes that “there’s no wrong way to play” in trying out new technologies, he said, and that participants can “learn from success or from failure in a dynamic process.”
Torng said FTA has awarded 11 grants out of 78 applications. He mentioned program ideas, including “social carpooling,” not a prearranged carpool but a more impromptu arrangement with different riders each day, reserved parking as an incentive for carpool drivers and integrated payment programs for diverse modes.
Brian Duggan, Reno Gazette-Journal, moderated the session.
|From left: moderator Brian Duggan, Michael Lambert, Jameson Auten, Allison Wylie and Gwo-Wei Torng.|
A public transit system should change its routes according to “what makes sense for riders” rather than just doing what it has always done, W. Curtis Stitt, president and chief executive officer, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus, told the May 10 Closing General Session.
Stitt, a panelist at the session “Reimagining Bus Service in Your Region,” said a COTA staff member found a 1974 route map that was “almost identical” to the map the agency replaced with a comprehensive redesign earlier this month. Additional research showed that some of the routes dated to the era when horse-drawn coaches provided service in Columbus.
The question an agency must consider, Stitt said, is “Is this the best service we can provide to our customers?” The route overhaul provides improved region-wide service while staying within fiscal constraints. The issue of effective service is especially important, he said, because Columbus is the fastest-growing city in the Midwest, estimated to gain one million new residents by 2050.
Henry Li, general manager/CEO, Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT), said the city’s opening of a new sports facility was one catalyst for its route overhaul, but another was the need for a “bold, comprehensive transformation” of service to keep the system economically viable. About 10 percent of visitors to the city’s new sports arena use RT, he said, citing extensive positive media coverage that touched on concerns about nearby parking.
“Our riders asked us to optimize the entire system, so we began a study,” he said. He also noted other ways RT has “stabilized its service by cutting costs without cutting service,” such as its partnerships with Uber, Lyft and a local cab company to enhance first- and last-mile connections and its recent testing of autonomous vehicles. Li also said the agency currently receives little local funding and hopes to place a sales tax measure on the ballot in 2018.
Christine O’Claire, assistant general manager, planning and customer service, King County Metro Transit in Seattle, said the agency’s new strategic plan turns a bus agency into a “mobility provider.” Instead of maintaining its long-standing hub and spoke route configuration, she said, King County Metro operates the largest vanpool program in the nation and an extensive employer transit pass program and has received a federal Mobility on Demand sandbox grant to help it develop first- and last-mile connections.“We need to make sure people are working together on this process,” she added.
Todd Hemingson, vice president, strategic planning and development, for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, TX, said his agency’s primary inspiration was to “match service to the market … enhancing the customer experience is the most important factor.” He said Capital Metro is working to “make transit more valuable for the community” by examining how the pieces of the network fit together.
Moderator Timothy Kelly, executive vice president of Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, said his agency was operating the same hub and spoke system as 50 years ago, when the region was smaller and had a single downtown, at the time of its comprehensive route overhaul in 2015. “We were not serving our riders well,” he said, leading to a replacement of the entire system at one time. “The new service is good, but there’s more to do,” he added.
|Closing Session participants, from left: moderator Timothy Kelly, Henry Li, Christine O’Claire, Todd Hemingson and W. Curtis Stitt.|
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and APTA and conference leaders met informally prior to Heller’s remarks to attendees and the conference’s official start. Attending were, from left, Nathaniel Ford Sr., APTA vice chair; Doran J. Barnes, APTA chair; Heller; Lee Gibson, executive director, Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County (conference host system); Ron Smith, RTC chair and mayor pro tem of Sparks, NV; and Acting President & CEO Richard White.
Benito Zavalza, Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA, won first place in the annual Customer Service Challenge, which tests participants’ professionalism, customer service and problem-solving skills. APTA presented the award during the roadeo banquet. The competition, held earlier in the conference, features bus operators’ responses in a simulated bus setting to challenging passengers and situations.
APTA’s business members, including representatives of OEMs, A&E firms, suppliers, consultants, DBEs, small businesses and contract operators, gathered for a popular networking breakfast during the conference to strengthen their existing relationships and find new partners in a special session that provides an opportunity to connect, business-to-business. Public transit agency procurement officials were also encouraged to attend and discuss current and pending procurement opportunities.
In addition to the four large General Sessions covered elsewhere in this issue of Passenger Transport, the conference featured approximately 50 smaller sessions on a wide range of topics, including special technical workshops affiliated with the International Bus Roadeo, BRT Tuesday, programs for mid-level managers and training co-hosted by the National Technical Institute. Summaries of a few sessions follow:
Safety in the Spotlight
Richard Czeck, director of safety, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, spoke about how his agency works with external stakeholders to identify operators who might be at risk and so need additional training during a session on implementing FTA’s Safety Management Systems (SMS).
Czeck explained that transit systems can use data—collected by observation, from accident reports or with on-board cameras—to curtail unsafe behavior. Operators found to have safety issues undergo individualized training sessions.
Sheldon Cody Shaw, safety manager, Utah Transit Authority, reported on the National Public Transportation Safety Plan included in MAP-21. SMS, he said, is a “formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risks that requires management commitment.” An accountable executive must sign off on policy statements related to this policy, he added.
Lisa Staes, director, transit safety and workforce development programs, Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), and vice chair, APTA Bus Safety Committee, cited the efforts of the Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network, which comprises CUTR, Florida DOT and the Florida Public Transportation Association.
As an example, Staes reported a problem with vehicles running into stopped buses. Through the evaluation process, the network realized that making a change in the bus’ rear lighting configuration would increase visibility and reduce accidents, ultimately leading to a change in state law.
Protecting Bus Operators
Three-quarters of U.S. bus operators fear for their safety daily, according to an Amalgamated Transit Union survey cited by Cordell Surrett, member, APTA Bus Operations Committee, at an educational session titled “Bus Operators Are the Front Line Representatives—Let’s Train and Protect Them.”
Surrett presented a holistic approach for bus agencies to equip their operators to deal with potential assault situations: prepare (the workforce) through specialized training, prevent (attacks) with media campaigns and surveillance cameras, protect (operators) with an on-board police presence and driver security barriers and prosecute (offenders), making assaults a felony.
Other presenters were Joel Volinski of CUTR, who stressed educational efforts; Denise Maderas and Elmer Coppage Jr., Maryland Transit Administration, who described an evaluation program to help operators improve their performance; and Robert Raheb, FAAC Inc., who noted that hearing, seeing and hands-on experiences are all needed to make an impression on the operator.
Innovation: New Ways of Working
Innovation is an important part of bus system operations, according to public and private sector speakers, but session moderator Jonathan McDonald of CH2M emphasized that innovation goes beyond technical changes to incorporate new ways of doing business.
Wulf Grote of Valley Metro described how the Phoenix public transit system saw a tripling of its route miles and a quadrupling of ridership when it expanded its service in the 1990s. “We had to embrace enhancements because our riders expected them,” he said, noting that the agency is looking at smaller and semi-autonomous vehicles for some routes and updated mobility platforms that incorporate private-sector partners.
Brad Thoburn described how the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority—under the leadership of Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., APTA vice chair—transformed from a “mom-and-pop shop” to a forward-looking agency incorporating feedback from customers, employees, the community and elected officials.
Frederic Bean, GIRO Inc., noted that future public transit projects may begin integrating tech-related products not designed specifically for the industry. Specifically, he said, planning and scheduling tools might allow for new collaboration.
Women in the Trades
With the aging of the public transit workforce—23 percent of employees are ages 55-64 and 12 percent are 65 or older—and an anticipated 500,000 job openings in the next 10 years, women are advised to consider jobs in the vehicle maintenance shop.
“Bringing women into this field would be good for women and good for the industry,” said Lauren Sugerman, national policy director, Chicago Women in Trades, at “Career Pathways for Women in Transit.” She noted that 35 percent of public transit employees are women, mostly office workers and bus operators, of whom 48 percent are women.
She said a lack of outreach and information, stereotypes in training and fear of being the first woman in the field, among other barriers, might keep women from seeking jobs in the skilled trades.
Sugerman, joined by Jack Clark of the Transportation Learning Center, encouraged public transit agencies to “go out of their way to connect to underrepresented applicants,” participating in high school career fairs and otherwise “going where women are.” If the transit industry creates a message targeted to women and pairs outreach efforts with education, they said, the rewards will benefit both the workers and the agency.
Click here to see a page of photos from the Bus & Paratransit Conference.
The Williamsburg (VA) Area Transit Authority (WATA) Board of Directors has named Zach Trogdon its new executive director, starting in mid-June.
Jean Aubin has been appointed president and chief executive officer of GIRO Inc., effective in July, succeeding Paul Hamelin, who previously had served for more than 10 years. Aubin began his career with GIRO in 2002, serving as executive vice president. Hamelin will serve as chairman of the Board of Directors.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) International Executive Council elected John Samuelsen its 10th international president during its May meeting in Las Vegas following the unexpected retirement of incumbent President Harry Lombardo.
Samuelsen, previously TWU executive vice president, continues to serve as president of the union’s largest affiliate, Local 100 in New York City, the nation’s biggest transportation local union with 42,000 active members.
August, Interim, The Comet, Columbia, SC
The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The Comet), Columbia, SC, has named Ann August its interim executive director, succeeding Bob Schneider, who became executive director of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, Woodbridge, VA. August has 15 years of experience as executive director/chief executive officer of public transit systems in Birmingham, AL, and Sumter, SC. She served almost 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Donahoe, Interim, Port Authority, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County has named David L. Donahoe interim chief executive officer, effective June 1. The current CEO, Ellen M. McLean, is stepping down May 31, when her contract expires. Donahoe has more than 45 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, most recently serving six months as interim CEO of the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority.
WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering and professional services firm, is now operating as WSP worldwide and WSP USA in the United States.
Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and management organization founded in 1885, was acquired in 2014 by WSP. Since then, firm has operated as WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in the U.S.
The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) expanded its service to the state’s beach resorts with ribbon-cutting ceremonies May 12 to open the first phase of the Lewes Transit Center, attended by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and state Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan.
“We’re so excited to open the Lewes Transit Center for this season’s Beach Bus service,” said John Sisson, DTC chief executive officer. “This year we’ve tripled the service levels, making it much more convenient to hop on the bus to get to work, to the beach, the shops, the boardwalk and the nightlife. With the bus lane on State Route 1, we’ll get you there faster than all the cars stuck in beach traffic.”
At the event, Cohan said, “The Lewes Transit Center is a much-needed addition to our transportation system as it will provide a convenient hub for improved transit service, connecting local passengers with job opportunities, recreational activities, medical appointments, shopping and more throughout the county.”
The facility includes electric car charging stations, a 248-space park-and-ride with security cameras, bicycle racks and repair station, and temporary passenger amenities such as a ticket booth. Additional features including a large canopy equipped with LED lighting and phone charging stations will be installed this fall and a three-bay maintenance facility, designed for both gas-powered and alternate fuel buses, is slated for completion mid-2019.
|Local and state officials join DTC/DART First State CEO John Sisson, center; Delaware Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan, next to Sisson; and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, next to Cohan, at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Lewes Transit Center.|
Metra commuter rail in Chicago broke ground May 16 for the system’s first new station since 2011—the Romeoville Station on the Heritage Corridor Line—and earlier this month began construction on renovations to the Healy Station on the Milwaukee North Line.
Romeoville also will be the first new station on the Heritage Corridor Line since Metra’s creation in 1984. The agency expects to complete construction this fall on the first phase of the $4.9 million project, which will support an advanced parking system that allows commuters to pay parking fees with their mobile phones.
“We look forward to the day in the not-too-distant future when we’ll be able to add ‘Romeoville’ to our system maps and to the list of communities served by Metra,” said Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno. He recognized Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Romeoville Mayor John Noak for their support of the project.
The previous week, Metra began a $7.3 million renovation project at Healy that will make the station ADA compliant and will feature new platforms, shelters with on-demand heat, canopies, retaining walls, ramps (including a ramp to the outbound platform), stairs and LED lighting.
The Healy Station will remain open during construction, which should take about one year. Funding comes from Metra’s share of proceeds from the state bond program.
|Metra board member John Zediker spoke at ground-breaking ceremonies for the new Romeoville Station. Seated at left are Rep. Dan Lipinski, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Public Transit Caucus, and Romeoville Mayor John Noak.|
Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD), Oxnard, CA, broke ground May 10 for an operations and maintenance facility that will serve a fleet of up to 125 buses with an eight-bay maintenance and repair building, a CNG fuel station and bus wash while meeting LEED certification requirements.
“We have to keep our buses, equipment and facilities in good shape so that people can rely on public transit to get to work, school and appointments,” said GCTD General Manager Steven Brown. “This new facility is an example of how investing in transit will help us meet the needs of our riders for decades to come.”
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) called the facility “an investment in both the future of transit serving Ventura County and the transit workers we depend on to keep a modern, efficient transit fleet in good working order.”
When it opens in late 2018, the new facility will replace a bus garage originally built in the 1970s for a much smaller fleet.
Architects Maintenance Design Group and RNL have designed the facility to meet California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) requirements and expect it to be LEED certified. It will feature energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water fixtures and day lighting for office areas and bus maintenance bays. In addition, the building will take maximum advantage of the sun and wind to decrease lighting, heating and air conditioning costs.
|Breaking ground for the Gold Coast Transit District’s new operations and maintenance facility are, from left, GCTD General Manager Steven Brown; Darren Kettle, executive director, Ventura County Transportation Commission; Rep. Julia Brownley; GCTD Board Vice Chair and Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza; and board Chair and Oxnard Councilmember Bryan MacDonald.|
The city of Calgary, Alberta, recently broke ground for the 17 Avenue S.E. BRT, the first stage of a two-part project to build the line with dedicated, bus-only lanes that will connect the southeast region of the city to its downtown.
The project also will refresh the corridor (International Avenue) with wider sidewalks, landscaping and enhanced crosswalks.
The new line is one of the city’s four major cross-town BRT projects, noted Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “We’ve been working with the community to make sure the design complements this vibrant part of our city and creates great spaces for Calgarians to explore everything that International Avenue has to offer.” The city owns and operates Calgary Transit.
|Among the officials attending the BRT groundbreaking were Mac Logan, left, city of Calgary transportation general manager; Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci, giving the thumbs-up sign; Russell Davies, right, acting director, Calgary Transit; and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, third from right.|
Photo courtesy of Calgary Transit
Keith Parker, second from right, general manager/chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), joined other agency representatives and project partners to break ground at “Trackside,” a $25 million TOD project near the Chamblee MARTA Station, on May 10. The 2.16-acre site, scheduled for completion in spring 2018, will include two buildings with approximately 70,000 square feet of mixed-development space and 4,300 square feet of greenspace.
Luminator Technology Group, a provider of passenger information systems based in Plano, TX, has acquired Apollo Video Technology, a supplier of public transit bus mobile video surveillance systems headquartered in Bothell, WA.Avi Zisman, chairman of the board of Luminator Technology Group, said, Apollo Video’s commitment to state-of-the-art technology solutions is “a perfect match” to support offerings and services to mutual customers. Rodell Notbohm, founder and chief executive officer of Apollo Video Technology, said the collaboration strengthens its goal of providing transportation providers with access to fully integrated solutions.
Until May 12, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s (BART) Union City Station had only one entrance, requiring pedestrians to walk a half mile to reach fare gates.
All that changed when BART completed a new entrance into the station with fare gates and ticket machines, two new elevators, a modernized station agents’ booth and other amenities. BART and city officials marked the opening with a private event.
The new entrance is part of the city’s 17-year effort to transform the once isolated station, then surrounded by environmentally contaminated land, into a vibrant, modern facility with multiple points of pedestrian access and to anchor TOD, an area now called Station District. The new entrance also allows pedestrians to walk through the BART station to access TOD elements including housing and retail without going through a fare gate.
To complete the final connection between the station and the surrounding neighborhood, Union City is waiting for Union Pacific Railroad and the California Public Utilities Commission to issue the final permit to construct a pedestrian crossing over the railroad tracks.
The Station District comprises 120 acres of formerly vacant, industrial land surrounding the BART station with more than 1,000 new residential units, a scenic pedestrian promenade, a 24-foot pyramid play structure and a community plaza with public art. A future project will provide 1.2 million square feet of office space in three buildings at the station.
At ceremonies May 18, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) marked the completion of a new multimodal facility in Arlington that offers increased bus capacity, enhanced street infrastructure and improved access to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Crystal City Metrorail Station, located in suburban Washington, DC.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, also a member of the NVTA board, joined NVTA Chairman Martin E. Nohe and other officials at the Crystal City Multimodal Center.
“With these infrastructure improvements, Arlington is making it easier and safer for people traveling to and through Crystal City—whether they are arriving by bus, Metro, on foot or by car,” said Fisette. “It’s the latest example of how the county continues to invest in Crystal City and continues to build on the community’s vision of enhanced access and connectivity.”
The new facility expands bus capacity around the Metro station with four additional bus bays that serve both regional and local routes. Improvements include rebuilt sidewalks, new crosswalks and new lighting, as well as new designated curb space for shuttles and kiss-and-ride, bus shelters and bicycle racks.
NVTA provided $1.5 million in regional transportation funds to finance the center.
|Celebrating NVTA’s new Crystal City Multimodal Center are, from left, Dennis Leach, Arlington County director of transportation; NVTA Executive Director Monica Backmon; NVTA member Mary Hughes Hynes; Jay Fisette, Arlington County Board chair and NVTA member; NVTA Chairman Martin Nohe; Christian Dorsey, Arlington County Board member; and Angie Fox, chief executive officer, Crystal City Business Improvement District.|
The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART), Winston-Salem, NC, dedicated the Coble Intermodal Transportation Center in Greensboro at ribbon-cutting ceremonies May 17. PART named the facility after the late Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), a member of Congress for three decades and a supporter of mobility choices in the Piedmont Triad region. When it opens to the public in July, the transportation center will be the main hub for PART Express bus routes and Airport Area Shuttles that connect the region to Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, Amtrak, Greyhound and city public transit agencies. In his remarks, PART Executive Director Scott Rhine, at podium, called Coble “a great man, congressional leader and enduring friend.”
With Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito in attendance, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) opened its newest commuter rail station—Boston Landing, financed in full by New Balance at a site near its world headquarters—with a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 17. Regular service to the station begins May 22.
“The opening of Boston Landing Station highlights a successful collaboration between the state, city and New Balance to expand development and transit opportunities for the Allston-Brighton community,” the governor said. “Rewarding projects such as this one spur local economic development and community growth as we continue to prioritize investments that make our public transit system more reliable for riders.”
MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve added, “Through this public-private partnership and the use of pre-existing rail infrastructure, we’re able to provide a new transit option that makes it easier than ever for people to travel to and from downtown Boston.”
The opening of the station, the 17th on MBTA’s Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line, returns commuter rail to the Allston-Brighton neighborhood for the first time since the 1960s.
New Balance financed construction of the $20 million station and will continue to pay for all its maintenance costs for the first 10 years of service. The Boston Landing Station is part of the 15-acre, 2.15 million square foot Boston Landing Development site, which at full buildout will include new office, lab, retail, restaurant and open space, a 295-unit mixed-use residential complex, a 175-room hotel and the practice facilities of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics.
The station, designed to provide easy access for employees, visitors and residents, features a canopied single platform centered between the eastbound and westbound tracks and includes accessible elevators and ramps.
|Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker joins workers at the opening of the MBTA’s Boston Landing Station, fully financed by New Balance.|
The Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA) in Nashville broke ground May 10 for a new Music City Star rail station in Hamilton Springs, TN, as part of the state’s first TOD.
The rail station, scheduled for completion in early 2018, will cover 3.2 acres of the 220-plus-acre Hamilton Springs TOD property, including a park-and-ride with 160 lighted parking spaces. Other elements of the development will include apartments, single-family houses, retail, a large central park with access to a future regional greenway and multiple bicycle and pedestrian connections.
“We’re delighted to see the Music City Star be the focus of this new and ambitious mixed-use development site in Wilson County,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland. “As Middle Tennessee continues to experience unprecedented growth, transit-oriented development projects like Hamilton Springs are essential to provide increased mobility options through the creation of livable, walkable communities that encourage riding the train and other multimodal transportation options.”
Funding for the station totals $4.1 million, not including the land donation by local developers. In addition to RTA, partners in the project include FTA, the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the city of Lebanon, Tennessee DOT’s Long-Range Planning Division and Horn Springs Development Inc.
|RTA CEO Steve Bland speaks at ground-breaking ceremonies for the Hamilton Springs rail station.|
TransLink, Vancouver, British Columbia, recently began a three-month pilot program to test an electric battery-powered bus, the latest effort in several environmentally friendly bus technology initiatives the agency is conducting to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The demo bus, supplied by BYD Canada at no cost to the agency, uses slow-charge technology and has a range of approximately 250 kilometers (about 155 miles) on a single charge. The bus will operate on routes in Vancouver and will be charged nightly at the Vancouver Transit Centre where the agency’s electric trolley fleet is based.
The agency is developing a low-carbon fleet strategy to reduce emissions as part of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s 10-year vision to develop regional transportation.
“The launch of this electric bus trial is part of TransLink’s commitment to innovation, from finding better ways to deliver customer service to capitalizing on new technology that reduces our environmental impact,” said Kevin Desmond, TransLink chief executive officer.
“Transit already removes thousands of cars off the road each day, and through developing a low-carbon fleet strategy we aim to accelerate the progress we’ve made in helping the region meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets,” he added.
TransLink’s fleet of approximately 1,400 buses includes 368 CNG and hybrid diesel vehicles and 262 electric trolleys.
“BYD applauds the leadership of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond and CMBC [Coast Mountain Bus Company, part of TransLink] President Haydn Acheson. This trial is all about proving that you can put a long-range, zero-emission battery-electric bus into regular service and challenges the need for fossil fuel,” said Ted Dowling, regional vice president, BYD Canada.
Agency officials said they will launch a second electric bus trial next year.
Joe Calabrese, center, general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), recently cut a ribbon to mark the extension of RTA’s C-Line trolley service to the Flats East Bank neighborhood starting May 26. “Nationally, 87 percent of all trips on public transit are to take customers to make money or to spend money,” Calabrese said, citing APTA’s recent report, Who Rides Public Transportation. “We hope that this new service will transport locals, and tourists, to the Flats East Bank to fill the jobs at these establishments and to enjoy the fine food and drink.” Find APTA’s report here.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is seeking nominations by July 31 for the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation.
TRB inaugurated the biennial award in 2002 with the support of DOT, APTA and other partners, and will present it next in 2018 during the TRB 97th Annual Meeting.
Banks was the general manager of AC Transit, Oakland, CA, from 1991 until her death in 1999 and chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998. She was nationally known for her integrity, mentoring young transportation professionals and bringing together people of diverse backgrounds. To learn more, visit the TRB website.
Learn how 2016 became a record year for public transit ballot measures at a General Session at the 2017 APTA Rail Conference, June 11-14, Hilton Baltimore.
The program, “Appealing Directly to the Voters,” will review how voters around the country approved more than $170 billion in public transportation investments in local elections last year.
Scott Smith, chief executive officer of Valley Metro in Phoenix, will moderate a discussion with King County (WA) Executive and Board Chair Dow Constantine; Sig Hutchinson, Research Triangle Park, NC; Keith T. Parker, APTA board member and general manager/chief executive officer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Phillip A. Washington, past APTA chair and CEO of Los Angeles Metro; Nuria I. Fernandez, member of the APTA Executive Committee and general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA; and Marnie O’Brien Primmer, chair, National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates, and founder and CEO, Connected Consulting, Irvine, CA.
Click here to register.
The Global Grid, an online website for daily news related to urban planning, has named APTA’s website one of transportation’s Top 10 “most essential and most visited” sites for 2017.
The Global Grid ranked APTA in the fifth position, citing its services to members, who have “access to unlimited networking, research and educational and professional development opportunities” and several member-only services, resource library, reports, publications and committee membership.
Other websites on the list include those of the Transportation Research Board, U.S. DOT, Remix and Streetblog Network. Find the list at the Global Grid website and visit the APTA website.
Deadlines for two APTA programs are approaching.
Leadership APTA 2018: Apply by June 2 to be considered for the 2018 Class of Leadership APTA, the industry’s premier professional development program to develop and support experienced managers and leaders aspiring to hold senior and executive leadership positions in APTA, their organizations and the industry.
National Dump the Pump Day: Celebrate the 12th National Dump the Pump Day on June 15 by encouraging your riders to start the summer by taking public transit to save money, reduce their commutes and relieve congestion.
Find additional details at the APTA website.