Passenger Transport - June 23, 2017
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Prime Minister Trudeau Visits Alstom Plant

During a June 16 visit to Alstom’s Belfast Yard Maintenance and Storage Facility near Ottawa, Ontario, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced up to $1.09 billion (Cdn.) in Canadian federal funding for the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Stage 2 Project, matching a previous commitment by the province with the city responsible for the balance.

“The expansion of Ottawa’s light rail transit system will make it easier for residents and visitors alike to get around and experience everything our capital city has to offer,” Trudeau said. “This expansion will help Canadians get to work and back home to their families on time, make our air cleaner and create good, well-paying middle-class jobs.”

Alstom welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to the light rail vehicle assembly area of Belfast Yard for Trudeau’s announcement of federal funding for Stage 2 of Ottawa’s light rail project.

The new funding is in addition to more than $67 million (Cdn.) committed to the project by the federal government last year.

Watson, who also attended the event, said the federal funding “puts the final piece in place,” adding, “We can now plan to put shovels in the ground in 2019 as we continue expanding our world-class LRT system.”

Future expansions of OC Transpo’s O-Train will include a link to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Airport by 2021. When Stage 2 is complete in 2023, it will bring 70 percent of Ottawa residents within 5 km (about 3 miles) of rail service, with the capability of carrying an estimated 24,000 riders per hour per direction during peak periods.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses employees during his visit to Alstom’s Belfast Yard Maintenance and Storage Facility. Behind Trudeau is Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s minister of infrastructure and communities.

Photo courtesy of City of Ottawa


Md. MTA Unveils BaltimoreLink

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland DOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn recently joined Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and other civic and business leaders to launch the BaltimoreLink system, an initiative that redesigned the regional bus network and added 12 new high-frequency routes to improve connections to jobs and other transit services.

“Just 19 months ago, our administration promised to fix Baltimore’s broken transit system, and today we are delivering on that promise,” Hogan said. “This comprehensive plan signifies the state’s long-term commitment to the future of Baltimore City by providing a more reliable transit experience that better connects people to the places they need to go. With the launch of BaltimoreLink, city residents and those in surrounding jurisdictions finally can travel conveniently, efficiently and affordably from where they live to where they work.”

The new system, which began June 18, strengthens the connections among MTA’s services (some of which were renamed with the “Link” title), including CityLink, LocalLink, Express BusLink, Light RailLink, and Metro SubwayLink and MARC trains. It also strengthens connections to Amtrak and other transit services in the region. Customers can ride for free until June 30.

“Rolling out BaltimoreLink is very exciting as we see the real-time transformation of transit into a true network that connects the entire Baltimore region to life’s opportunities,” said Rahn. “The transportation improvements linked to this project will help jumpstart economic growth for key areas of the Baltimore region.”

Quinn said, “The new BaltimoreLink services will link people to opportunities around the Baltimore area. … Baltimore-
Link provides better access to jobs, retail, healthcare and entertainment than ever before.”

The $135 million project also features expanded commuter bus service, dedicated bus lanes, signal priority, transit hubs, rebranding and replacement of more than 5,000 transit signs, shared bicycle availability and access to car-sharing options.

The agency has assigned transit ambassadors to staff key bus stops, select bus routes and various transit centers to answer questions and promote awareness of the service changes.

Agencies Nationwide Break Ground on Facilities: MBTA's 'Long-Awaited' Rail Station

Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) broke ground June 5 for the Blue Hill Avenue Station on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, which Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called “a long-awaited milestone for the Mattapan community” in his remarks at the event.

“Blue Hill Avenue Station wouldn’t have been possible without a close working relationship with the neighborhoods we serve,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. “We’re excited to provide another public transportation option to the community as we continue our major improvements along the Fairmount Line.” 

The construction is part of $130 million in Fairmount Line investments, including the opening of three stations, bridge replacements and significant rail and tie improvement work.

Blue Hill Avenue Station, scheduled to open in 2019, will be located approximately six and a half miles from Boston’s South Station. Construction work will take place on weekends and weekday nights.

State Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said the station “will serve as a vital connection to housing, jobs, retail destinations and entertainment options” and “will open doors to a whole new world for many people who have been eager to have an efficient way to travel between their homes and downtown and to other major destinations.”

MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, at podium, joined state legislators and community leaders at ground-breaking ceremonies for the Blue Hill Avenue Station.


St. Louis' P3-Funded Station

St. Louis regional leaders recently broke ground for the first new MetroLink light rail station in more than a decade and the first to be built through a P3: the Cortex MetroLink Station in the Cortex Innovation Community, an innovation hub located in historic neighborhoods of the city.

Representatives from the funding partners—Cortex Innovation Community, Great Rivers Greenway, Washington University, BJC HealthCare and the city of St. Louis—joined Metro and Bi-State Development to kick off the project, which also includes the first quarter-mile of a paved five-mile-long greenway where people can walk, run or ride a bike.

“This public-private partnership is an outstanding model for how the region, and the nation, can approach infrastructure needs in the future,” said John Nations, president and chief executive officer of Bi-State Development, whose Metro enterprise operates MetroLink. “Projects like this are … about making an investment in our community … that will help attract workers and create new jobs; an investment that will serve as a catalyst for new business and economic development; an investment that will position the city of St. Louis and the entire bi-state region for even more prosperity and success in the years to come.”

Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit, said the partnership “can serve as a model for future transit infrastructure projects.” A $10.3 million federal TIGER grant provides the majority of funding for the $15 million project, with the balance coming from the partners.

The new infill station will be the 38th on the current light rail system when it is completed next year. It is expected to provide an additional transportation option for the estimated 13,000 new permanent employees in the area over the next 10 years. Companies located in the community currently employ 4,000 people.

Metro Transit Executive Director Ray Friem, second from left, and Bi-State Development President and CEO John Nations, second from right, join representatives of public and private partners at ground-breaking ceremonies for the Cortex MetroLink Station.


Valley Metro's Light Rail Station

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton marked the beginning of construction on Valley Metro Rail’s 50th St/Washington Valley Station—the first capital project under voter-approved Transportation 2050 (T2050)—at a community celebration June 7 on the rooftop of Ability360, a facility for persons with disabilities located on the route.

The station, the first infill station in the Valley Metro Rail system, is scheduled to open in 2019.

The mayor said the project will serve, in part, this “unique community and, as such, was part of the PHX Innovation Games to create concepts that would best serve the users of this station.” The competition called for design concepts that addressed accessibility through architectural plans and demonstrated an understanding for rider comfort, safety and experience.

Station designer Gannett Fleming and construction contractor Stacy and Witbeck worked with a local firm whose design won the Innovation Games to incorporate features to improve accessibility throughout, including a wider platform, enhanced lighting and sun protection.

“The station means added convenience,” said Ability360 employee Jennifer Longdon. “Instead of driving my large van to accommodate my wheelchair, I’ll take the train to work daily and be able to more easily meet my friends downtown without the hassle of having to park.”

T2050, approved in 2015, is a 35-year citywide transportation plan funded with a city sales tax of seven-tenths of a cent. It provides a blueprint for improved frequency on bus service, expanded new light rail service and stations and major street improvement projects.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, third from right, and Phoenix Councilmember and Valley Metro Board Chair Thelda Williams, second from right, join other stakeholders in celebrating the beginning of construction of the 50th St/Washington Valley Station. Participants in the event signed a commemorative plaque that will be incorporated into the new station.

JTA's Intermodal Facility

At ceremonies June 20, the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) broke ground for the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC), a state-of-the-art transportation hub that will connect local, regional and intercity modes of transportation including fixed-route buses, First Coast Flyer BRT, the Skyway/U²C, intercity bus, rideshare, bikeshare and future Amtrak and commuter rail.

“The JRTC represents the fulfillment of a visionary plan to enhance mobility while building communities and preserving our city’s rich heritage,” said JTA Board Chairman Isaiah Rumlin. “It will be a place that residents and visitors can experience the heritage and historic treasures in the surrounding LaVilla community.”

JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., APTA vice chair, said the facility “will become an economic catalyst for the region and for the many people who worked to build the regional transportation networks we use today and rely on for our livelihood. … [I]t is an exciting time to be in Jacksonville and at the JTA.”

Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) said during the event, “This hub will be an observable testament to what can be accomplished when local, state and federal agencies work together, come together for the common cause of serving our constituents.”

The first phase of construction features the approximately 10,000-square-foot Intercity Bus Terminal, scheduled for completion in January 2018, which will offer ticketing offices, a cafeteria, nine bus bays and parking areas for use by Greyhound and other intercity carriers. Phase II, due for completion in late 2019, encompasses an approximately 40,000-square-foot administration building and a bus transfer facility with an enclosed passenger waiting area, ticket vending machines, operator lounge, lost-and-found area and customer service.

JTA is designing both phases of the JRTC to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements. A combination of federal, state and local funding sources have been identified to cover the proposed maximum total project cost of $57.3 million for both phases.

Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) was among the dignitaries who participated in ground-breaking ceremonies for the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center.


MAX Opens Central Station in Birmingham

The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (MAX) opened its MAX Central Station, part of a $32 million intermodal facility—which ultimately will also serve intercity bus, Amtrak and the city’s bike-sharing program—June 19 in downtown Birmingham, AL, in advance of formal ribbon-cutting ceremonies June 30.

“This has been a long time coming and we’re so excited to have a facility that is reflective of the service we always strive to provide,” said Executive Director Barbara Murdock.

The facility also houses the agency’s administrative offices, a Birmingham police substation, a food service area and retail space.

The section of the facility where Amtrak and Greyhound Bus will be located is still under construction and expected to open later this fall.

Birmingham's new MAX Central Station.


Lhota Named New York MTA Chairman

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has appointed Joseph J. Lhota chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In this role, Lhota will delegate CEO duties to a permanent executive officer, for which the search is ongoing.

In addition to his previous tenure in 2012 as MTA chairman of the board and CEO, Lhota was New York City’s deputy mayor for operations, budget director and commissioner of finance.

He will continue to serve as senior vice president, vice dean and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Lhota was an at-large member of the APTA Executive Committee from 2012-2013.

In Memoriam

Lolalisa DeCarlo King, Architect

Lolalisa DeCarlo King, 56, president of Architect for Life in Houston, died June 12.

King was the first woman and the first African-American woman licensed architect in North Carolina and was one of the first 100 African-American women licensed to practice architecture in the U.S. with current licenses in multiple states, according to published reports.

For APTA, King was vice chair of the Business Member Business Development Committee and a member of numerous committees including Business Member Workforce Development, Awards, Legislative, Sustainability Steering and the Sustainability Commitment Signatories Subcommittee. She was an integral part of helping develop corporate sustainability commitment processes.

Ed Gill, Transit Lawyer, APTA Counsel

Ed Gill, Oakton, VA, a partner with Thompson Coburn LLC in Washington, DC, until his retirement in 2014 and previously APTA assistant chief counsel and executive director of regulatory affairs, died June 18.

Gill was a member of Thompson Coburn’s Public Transit Group from 2001-2014. In addition to his tenure with APTA, he was deputy chief counsel of the former Urban Mass Transportation Administration and an attorney in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition, for APTA, he was a past member of several committees and chaired the Legal Affairs Committee in 1998-99.


Rail Conference Highlights Policies, Practices, Trends

More than 1,800 industry professionals gathered in Baltimore for the 2017 APTA Rail Conference and International Rail Rodeo, June 8-14, to share best practices, discuss trends and innovations, network, learn about industry products and services and explore issues and challenges.

The conference featured four General Sessions and dozens of concurrent sessions, technical forums, committee meetings, awards presentations and special workshops.

APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and Acting President & CEO Richard White presided at a banquet to celebrate the International Rail Rodeo award winners. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Oakland, CA, took home the Team Achievement Award for earning the highest combined score and the award for the top maintenance team, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority won first place in the operator category.

To see videos of General Sessions, click here.

Following is coverage of the four General Sessions held during the conference.

Opening Session Focuses on Growth of Rail Systems and Need for Federal Funding

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, ­Maryland DOT Deputy Secretary R. Earl Lewis and Maryland Transit Administration Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn all welcomed APTA members and guests to the Rail Conference on Monday morning, June 12.

Along with APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and Acting President & CEO Richard White, the speakers all raised the need for more investment, especially at the federal level, in public transportation.

Commenting on APTA’s efforts to preserve federal funding for public transit, Pugh said, “It is important that the federal government invest in our transportation systems because local governments just don’t have that luxury.” She urged attendees to “let Congress know that … we need to continue the expansion [of our transportation system] so people can get to work and where they need to go.”

Opening General Session speakers, from left, APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; Tom Waldron, HDR, sponsor; APTA Vice Chair Nat Ford Sr.; APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes; Jim Smith, city of Baltimore; and MTA Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn.

Lewis provided a state perspective. Citing a lengthy list of public transportation projects underway or completed, he said the state’s leaders “are committed to strengthening support for our transit rail workers and to maintaining our infrastructure.” He added, “I applaud the work you do every day to better provide the service that riders and the public deserve and expect.”

Quinn expressed pride in MTA being the conference’s host agency. He showed a video about BaltimoreLink, a complete overhaul and rebranding of the city’s core transit system that will expand service within the downtown area and create a grid of high-frequency routes. “Safety, reliability, efficiency and world-class service are the four cornerstones,” said Quinn, “but the common theme across all of these is the customer.”

In opening remarks, Barnes updated the attendees on the status of his priorities for the year, one of which is to ensure APTA is a valued, influential resource to the new administration and Congress. “APTA will continue to advocate for the resources you need from Washington for state of good repair, capital investments, long-term planning and much more,” he pledged. Barnes also emphasized the association’s focus on safety and security, more effective governance and the search for the next CEO.

White showed the dramatic growth of passenger rail during the past 50 years, contrasting a U.S. map of systems in 1970 with one from today. Using examples of rail investments from across the country, including approval of more than $170 billion of transit ballot measures in 2016, he said, “This is more than a renaissance; it’s more than a rebirth; this is a movement.”

He told attendees that the public transportation industry is under threat of budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration and urged APTA members to remain actively involved in advocacy activities. White said, “To win this battle, we must continue to tell our story.”

The session was sponsored by HDR, represented by Tom ­Waldron, global transit marketing director.

FTA, FRA: Public Transit ‘Original Sharing Economy’

FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes recognized public transit as “the original sharing economy,” providing shared rides long before the creation of transportation network companies and other innovations, at the “Federal Partners Perspectives” General Session during the APTA Rail Conference.

Using the terminology of comic book superheroes, Welbes referred to passenger service on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O), beginning early in the 19th century, as the “origin story” for the “superhero” that is the public transportation industry. He pointed to the launch of the B&O as an example of innovative technology—at the time, canals rather than rail were the standard intercity mode of travel—and of P3s in its partnerships with private business.

“Constructing that first rail line was a challenging moment for Baltimore,” he said, adding, “Over the past 200 years, you’ve innovated a lot. You have a constant need to innovate.”

From left: moderator Leanne Redden, FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes and FRA Executive Director Patrick Warren.

Welbes reported on FTA’s support for public transit safety programs, including the federal State Safety Oversight (SSO) rule. He noted that safety is the top priority of DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao and reminded attendees that states that do not complete their SSO program certification by April 15, 2019, will lose access to all FTA funds. This program affects 30 states.

Congress’ approval of maintaining FY 2017 appropriations at FAST Act levels “gives reliability” to public transit agencies preparing for the future, he said, adding that an apportionment notice will be released soon. He said the proposed FY 2018 budget includes $11.2 billion for public transportation, with a 4 percent increase for rail formula funding, and would complete existing Full Funding Grant Agreements while cutting all funds for new projects.

He also reported on President Trump’s proposed infrastructure investment initiative, which the administration says would leverage $200 billion in federal funds into a $1 trillion investment.

FRA Executive Director Patrick Warren focused on the importance of forging connections between public transit systems and government agencies at all levels. Commuter and intercity rail can be the backbone of local economies, he said, and creating complementary plans can provide “seamless interconnectivity” at the multistate level.

“The administration is beginning to solidify its ideas on infrastructure,” he said. “You have to let them know what you want.”
Warren also addressed other topics including the legal requirement to implement PTC before Dec. 31, 2018, which involves 28 passenger railroads out of a total of 41 railroads implementing the technology, and the importance of random drug and alcohol testing and fatigue management programs for rail employees.

Leanne P. Redden, a member of the APTA Board of Directors and executive director of Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority, moderated the session.

The ‘ABCs’ of Winning Elections: ‘Always Be Campaigning’

Election consultant Marnie O’Brien Primmer boiled down successful public transit-related ballot initiatives into three words—“Always be campaigning”—at a Rail Conference luncheon session with leaders of four of the U.S. agencies that had successful ballot initiatives in 2016.

Primmer, chair, National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates, and founder and CEO, Connected Consulting, said agencies and their employees must maintain a relationship with the public if they are going to achieve excellence. “Focus on issues that resonate with the community,” she added. “Your aim is to sell a better quality of life.”

Keith Parker, general manager/chief executive officer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), said last year’s ballot measure was the first to succeed since MARTA’s founding in 1971. By “chang[ing] the conversation about public transportation in the Atlanta area,” he said, the agency gained the support of its community; the measure passed with 72 percent of the vote, the highest in the nation.

MARTA has gained support, Parker said, by focusing on the positive aspects of its service, including quoting statistics that show it is the nation’s second safest public transit system. He also showcased the agency’s “Ride with Respect” rider code of conduct with a television spot featuring hip-hop artist Ludacris.

Luncheon speakers, from left: moderator Scott Smith and panelists Keith Parker, Grace Crunican, Peter Rogoff, Richard Clarke and Marnie O’Brien Primmer.

Peter Rogoff, chief executive officer of Seattle’s Sound Transit, emphasized the critical importance for public transit agencies to “work on the details and inform the public” of the components of upcoming ballot measures. His agency, which serves 51 cities in three Washington State counties, holds hundreds of public meetings to make sure its priorities coincide with those of its customers.

Different agencies have different priorities. Grace Crunican, general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), said the regional rail system is 45 years old and maintenance and ongoing investment are among its major concerns. Again, community outreach is key to BART’s efforts, incorporating both public meetings (more than 300 before last year’s vote) and continuing the conversation via Twitter.

“We let the public know that BART carries twice as many people as the Bay Bridge,” Crunican said. “We can measure traffic congestion with and without BART.”

Richard Clarke, executive director, Metro program management, Los Angeles Metro, recognized the strong support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other coalition partners for its 2016 ballot measure, which instituted a new sales tax for public transit purposes with no expiration date and continued an existing tax in perpetuity. He said Metro produced a video after the election describing where the tax money goes and amended Primmer’s recommendation to “Always be communicating.”

The moderator was Scott Smith, chief executive officer of Phoenix’s Valley Metro.

Voters on Nov. 8, 2016, approved 34 of 49 local and statewide public transit measures totaling $170 billion for investments. An additional 21 out of 28 measures passed ­earlier in 2016, for a total passage rate of 71 percent.

AECOM sponsored the session, represented by Carolyn Flowers, senior vice president.

GM Executive Shares Vision for Future of Mobility

Peter B. Kosak, executive director, Global Urban Mobility, General Motors Corporation, and keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Closing General Session, discussed GM’s vision for the future of mobility: the upcoming transformational changes in transportation, specifically the company’s development of autonomous vehicles and mobility services.

For example, General Motors launched its car-sharing service, Maven, in January 2016, Kosak said, noting that the service is now offered in more than 15 major U.S. cities.

Users download the app and register to become a member. Customers reserve a car through their smartphone and pick it up at a central location. The vehicles are locked and unlocked through a smartphone and a push button starts the car.

Closing General Session speaker Peter B. Kosak, executive director, Global Urban Mobility, General Motors Corporation, left, shared the stage with David Genova, general manager and CEO, Regional Transportation District, Denver, who presided over the session.

Users have the options of Apple Carplay and Android Auto, versions of smartphone systems that run on a car’s computer interface allowing drivers and passengers to control music, navigate and communicate using voice commands and the car’s manual controls. To date, more than 20,000 customers have used the service, which offers autonomous technology without the burden of ownership.

Seventy-five percent of Maven’s members are millennials. “Their entire lives revolve around the smartphone,” Kozak said. “Their expectation is that they think they can do just about everything from their smartphone.”

The cars offered through Maven range from the compact Spark to the high-end Cadillac Escalade. The vehicles incorporate features that are familiar and make the user comfortable, unlike rental cars “where they are trying to figure everything out.”

Kozak said his company recently deployed Bolt electric vehicles into a ride-sharing taxi platform in California. “We’re seeing how they are used, observing charging behaviors and infrastructure needs,” he said. The vehicles have a 240-mile, all-electric range and drivers travel about 140 miles per day. The next step to fall in place is to go driverless, he said.

General Motors has also begun deploying lightly used former rental vehicles and off-lease vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers who either do not have or do not want to use a personal vehicle. Drivers can pay a weekly fee or, if they meet a certain number of rides a week, there is no charge to rent the vehicle.

At the end of the day, Kozak said, his company’s goal is to offer valuable, accessible and integrated options for travelers in cities so customers can make the choices they need and want to make.

In conclusion, he said, “It’s fun to dream about the future, to envision it, but there is still a lot to learn, and there is a lot to be learned working with constituents like you and with cities.”

David Genova, general manager and chief executive officer, Regional Transportation District, Denver, presided over the session and moderated questions from the audience.

MTA: Many Jobs, One Goal of Excellence

Employees of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) described the “Four Cornerstones of Transit” that underlie their efforts—safety, efficiency, reliability and world-class customer service—at the Host Session during the Rail Conference.

Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn began by presenting an overview of MTA as both the multimodal public transit provider for the Baltimore region and a state agency that provides $100 million in capital grants to agencies throughout Maryland. The MTA has an $820 million operating budget and a $3.1 billion capital program and, at the time of the conference, was days away from launching BaltimoreLink, an overhaul of bus operations in the city.

MTA Police Chief John Gavrilis described his force’s extensive community outreach efforts as part of its mission to protect the system and its users. “Our officers interact every day with thousands of riders,” he said, “so we get to know what’s good for them.”

The police force hires only the top applicants, he said—only 2 percent of candidates become officers—and MTA has had the lowest reported number of major crimes among the 12 largest U.S. public transit agencies for the past three years, with no homicides, rapes or shootings during that time.

Gavrilis also reported on the agency’s use of computerized statistics to manage incidents, its police monitoring facility that allows officers to respond immediately and increased training in investigative efforts.

In describing the agency’s maintenance initiatives, Erich Kolig, deputy chief operating officer, described MTA’s shutdown of the center of the 34-year-old Baltimore Metro Subway for 21 days to overhaul three major ­interlockings and make additional repairs. “We planned the shutdown hour by hour,” he said, including hiring a contractor to operate a bus bridge to keep customers moving.

Another MTA maintenance priority is keeping track workers safe. Michael Ollinger, project manager, said the system has begun to install train detection and alert modules, subsidized with an FTA research grant, which will send notifications to workers who will receive the information through wearable devices.

MTA employees also discussed:
* Staff education to result in improved on-time service and call center operation;
* Mandatory customer service training for all employees, leading to a 75 percent decrease in complaints over a two-year period;
* Maintaining a light rail fleet up to 25 years old and a 35-year-old subway fleet while improving reliability and increasing durability; and
* Media outreach including an MTA-operated radio station that provides system information, traffic news and features interspersed with smooth jazz; podcasts; social media; and a monthly local television program.

MTA Police Chief John Gavrilis addresses the Host Session.

APTA Honors Rail Agencies for Safety, Security

APTA recognized four rail agencies for their safety and security efforts during the conference.

The top honor is the Gold Award, which is given to agencies with the best overall rail safety or security program selected by an independent panel of judges. A Certificate of Merit is given to public transit systems in recognition of exceptional achievement in safety or security.

Four agencies received Gold Awards:

* Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid ­Transit Authority (MARTA), heavy rail, safety, for improving employee and contractor safety on the right-of-way and its Wayside Access Procedure manual/Standard Operation Procedures. MARTA has had no employee or contractor fatalities on the right of way since 2001;

* Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, heavy rail, security, for its Transit Homeless Action Plan to improve safety for passengers and employees and coordinate outreach and engage with homeless people. The plan includes a hotline that aligns with a program created by the L.A. Sheriff’s Department and other organizations;

* Metro Transit, Minneapolis, light rail/streetcars, safety, for its public outreach and engineering program to enhance pedestrian safety around light rail. The initiative reached more than 2 million people; and

* Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, light rail/streetcar, security, for using data to analyze crime and fare evasions, resulting in greater enforcement measures and contributing to a 43 percent reduction in serious crime.

Three agencies received Certificates of Merit: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA.

APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and Acting President & CEO Richard White presented the awards.

The Rail Safety Gold Award for heavy rail went to MARTA, accepted by General Manager/CEO Keith Parker, center; Elayne Berry, assistant general manager, safety and quality assurance; and David Springstead, assistant general manager, capital development and programs.
The Rail Safety Gold Award for light rail/streetcars went to Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, accepted by Mark Fuhrmann, deputy general manager, transit system development.

The Rail Security Gold Award for heavy rail went to Los Angeles Metro, which was accepted by CEO Phillip Washington and Alex Wiggins, chief, system security and law enforcement division.
The Rail Security Gold Award for light rail/streetcars went to Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore. Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn accepted the award with Police Chief John Gavrilis and Phillip Thomas, chief safety officer.

Gala Awards Banquet Celebrates Rail Rodeo Participants

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) received the prestigious Rail Transit Team Achievement Award at the 25th annual APTA International Rail Rodeo, held just before the Rail Conference.

The award goes to the public transit system with the highest combined score for rail operators and maintainers teams. The overall winning team members were Mike Gross, Gary Crandell, James Moon, Tenikia Jackson and John O’Connor.

BART’s maintainer team also won first place for that category. Those team members include Gross, Crandell and Moon.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, won first place in the operators category. Team members were Rick Fredriksz and Pedro Diaz.

The overall second place finisher was the Dallas Area Rapid Transit team and third place was won by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Boston.

“Our maintainers and operators strive to make our rail systems among the safest and most convenient forms of transportation in the world,” said APTA Acting President & CEO Richard A. White. “The accolades they have received this weekend are the result of years of hard work and training.” He and APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes presented the awards.

This year’s competition included 14 teams with operators from 16 transit systems and 15 maintainer teams from the U.S. and Japan.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican, second from left, agency employees, friends and family accepted the Team Achievement Award for winning the top spot at the International Rail Rodeo.

BART also won the rodeo’s first place award in the maintainer category.
VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez, second from left, joined the VTA team and an agency representative to accept the first place award in the operators category.

Safety, Security on the Agenda

Prior to the conference’s official start, APTA convened two special sessions focused on safety and security challenges in public transportation.

The two-day Security and Emergency Management Roundtable, cosponsored with TSA, June 9-10, focused on common challenges facing transit police forces, security directors and emergency managers. Participants discussed such topics as terrorism and security, technology, large events, multiagency policing models and active attackers.

It also featured a CEOs panel; a review of technology applications by Robert Pryor, director, intermodal security technology division, TSA; a discussion of recent terrorism incidents and security concerns in Europe by Christine Halvorsen, deputy assistant director, FBI; an update from the FTA Office of Safety Review; and a discussion of recent safety and security incidents with representatives of TriMet in Portland, OR, Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Focus on Safety Management Systems
In addition, APTA convened the Safety Management System (SMS) Workshop and Safety Seminar on June 10, cosponsored with the Transportation Research Board. The workshop, attended by more than 70 participants, began with a keynote address by Robert Sumwalt, acting chair, National Transportation Safety Board.

It featured two panel discussions on SMS—one that provided an industry update with transportation company and agency executives and one that presented a regulatory update with representatives from FTA, FRA and the Canadian Transportation Safety Board.

The workshop also included a roundtable discussion related to setting up and managing an SMS and the challenges transit agencies and others are having with SMS implementation.

Transit police officers, security officials, emergency managers and other safety and security personnel were out in force for APTA’s Security and Emergency Management Roundtable.


More Conference Sessions: TOD, High-Speed Rail

TOD and high-speed rail were among the topics of numerous educational sessions during the Rail Conference.

Moving Beyond TOD

A session on “Transit-Oriented Development and Transit-Oriented Communities” considered the interaction between public transit projects and the communities they affect.

Toby Fauver of PennDOT noted that his department is investing in new or rebuilt Amtrak stations on the Harrisburg-Philadelphia Keystone Corridor to help strengthen depressed downtowns and increase access to Penn State’s Harrisburg Campus.

Charles Di Maggio, Greystone Management Solutions, reported on the increasing role of transit agency real estate departments in keeping track of the value of investment in facilities compared with the costs. “Good things happen when you proactively manage the process,” he said, reporting on Boston-area TODs that benefit the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Jim Frazier, Michael Baker International, described the creation of a task force to design and build a new rail station in Ranson, WV, to replace an existing station served by Maryland MTA’s MARC Brunswick Line. Representatives of Maryland, West Virginia and CSX are working with planning and development agencies to make the new station a hub for future development.

Benjamin Limmer, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, moderated the session, sponsored by HNTB.

High-Speed Rail from Many Perspectives

High-speed rail is coming to the U.S. in a variety of forms, according to presenters at a session moderated by Charles Quandel, Quandel Consultants LLC.

Beth McCluskey, Illinois DOT, reported on the $31.5 billion CREATE program, which encompasses 70 projects over 30 years, of which 28 of the projects have been completed. She emphasized that 25 percent of all U.S. rail traffic goes in or out of Chicago and the city is the nation’s top recipient of off-loaded containers as of 2014. CREATE is funded by the federal, state and local governments and participating railroads.

Frank A. Vacca, California High-Speed Rail Authority, showed how the project will first connect San Francisco and Los Angeles and ultimately will operate between Sacramento and San Diego. The authority will use the first 119 miles in the Central Valley as a test track while the rest of Phase 1 is being completed.

Rob Kiernan, the Northeast Maglev LLC, said his organization is working with the Central Japan Railway Company to build an elevated track that will allow maglev trains to run at 311 mph for a one-hour trip between Washington, DC, and New York City. He explained that the Northeast Corridor accounts for 17 percent of U.S. population and 20 percent of the nation’s jobs in just 2 percent of land area.

Chris Brady, Texas Central Partners LLC, said the privately funded 240-mile route between Dallas and Houston would operate on an elevated track with a catenary. The $10 billion investment, he said, would yield a $36 billion direct impact over 25 years, including $2.5 billion in tax revenues to the state.

All About Rail

More than 1,800 industry professionals attended APTA’s 2017 Rail Conference and International Rodeo in Baltimore for listening and learning in General Sessions and educational programs, award presentations, tours, networking, workshops, roundtables and committee meetings. Participants also visited exhibitors at the Products & Services Showcase to see demonstrations and learn more about the latest innovations in the passenger rail marketplace. Click here to see more scenes from the conference.

Photos by Steve Barrett Photography unless otherwise noted.


APTA Nominations Open for Expanded Executive Committee and Board Seats

The APTA Nominating Committee is accepting nominations through July 14 to fill leadership positions, recently announced APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, who added that the committee will recommend individuals to stand for election at the APTA Business Meeting, Saturday, Oct. 7, in Atlanta, prior to the 2017 Annual Meeting & EXPO.

Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall, board member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, is chair of the Nominating Committee.

Barnes distributed a letter to all APTA members in May announcing the opening of nominations and providing a link to all the necessary information. To review that information, click here. The information also includes a link to the Nominating Committee roster, the list of open positions and guidance to the nominations committee.

Consistent with APTA’s sustainability commitment, this year’s nominations will be submitted entirely online, including all letters of support. All materials must be uploaded to the APTA website for delivery to the Nominating Committee.

The APTA Executive Committee has set the following guidelines for candidates seeking election to the APTA Board of Directors and Executive Committee:

* Personal letters, emails, personal conversations and phone calls are acceptable campaign strategies;
* Campaign events and distribution of campaign materials are not permitted during or in conflict with any APTA meeting or conference event. Campaigning may occur before or after an APTA meeting or conference event;
* APTA staff members or other APTA resources cannot be used in campaign activities; and
* Serving on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee requires a substantial personal and financial commitment. Interested individuals should ensure that their organization will permit their travel to meetings up to four times a year for board members and up to eight times a year for Executive Committee members. APTA reimburses travel expenses for two meetings.

For additional details, contact Linda Ford.

APTA Introduces Youth to Transit

Participants in the biennial APTA Youth Summit toured a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority rollover vehicle used for emergency management training. The summit introduces high school juniors to potential careers in public transportation during a week-long program of classroom activities, tours and presentations by Washington, DC, area industry leaders.

Photo by Joe Niegoski

EXPO Certified by IAEE

APTA’s International ­Public Transportation EXPO, Oct. 8-11 in Atlanta, has been certified by IAEE (the International Association of Exhibitions and Events™) for demonstrating the “Gold Standard” in exhibition management.

This honor recognizes the partnership and collaboration between APTA and National Trade Productions.


Cutting Transit Funding Risks Jobs, Hinders Economic Growth, Say APTA Members

In conjunction with the 2017 Rail Conference, APTA convened a national press briefing with senior public transportation leaders who expressed concerns regarding the Trump administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal to phase out the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program and cut Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA). These moves, if enacted, will jeopardize jobs, critically important public transit projects and state and local economies.

“APTA and its 1,500 members are very concerned about the Trump administration’s FY18 budget proposal to phase out federal investment of public transit programs that are vital to our local communities and millions of Americans,” said APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, who presided at the event.

The press conference featured public transit leaders with broad experience in both the public and private sectors, including three who previously served in leadership positions at U.S. DOT and FTA. Their full remarks are excerpted below. Find the audio here.

These cuts to public transit will impact more than 50 projects in 23 different states worth $38 billion in planned project activity. Of this $38 billion, only $12 billion is the federal funding share for the CIG program.

So again, we have a 35-year history of federal funding for the program. The federal funding share is the minority funding share. State and local governments have historically been carrying the more than 50 percent burden, yet they can’t continue to do it if the federal government is going to pull back on its share. Based on a recent analysis, this would put 800,000 jobs at risk and result in a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output.

Voters around the country want more investment in public transit, not less, and the federal government needs to remain an important funding partner.

— Richard White
APTA Acting President & CEO

With the voters of the Puget Sound region having stepped up to tax themselves, it was incredibly disheartening and frankly mystifying to see the new administration proposed to zero out funding for the very kind of investments that will give people a shot at getting out of congestion.

It’s mystifying that the new president has talked a great deal about the importance of infrastructure and the administration just recently put forward principles to govern some of the things that it wants to accomplish in their new infrastructure package: [A]ward projects that exhibit self-help [and] reward projects that are transformative to the local community. … We’ve been working for years, frankly, with the FTA to move [two] projects along.

Are these projects transformative? We extended our light rail system as part of the U Link program. It was federally funded. U Link extended just to two stops, but they were two of the densest communities in the entire state of Washington, and as a result our light rail ridership spiked 70 to 80 percent.

When the Obama administration came into office, we at DOT honored every project that was started under the Bush administration. And the Bush administration honored every project that came in through the Clinton administration. That is the only way a program like this can work. You cannot plan, design and construct a program in the four-year duration of a single presidential administration.

— Peter Rogoff
CEO, Sound Transit, Seattle
FTA Administrator, 2009-2014
DOT Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, 2014-2015

[W]e set forth a visionary plan over two decades ago through partnership with the community, the stakeholders, the business sector and state government, working cooperatively with FTA, to build an extension of the BART service into Silicon Valley.

This project has been at the core of transit-oriented development plans and master plans in two counties and four major cities in Silicon Valley, so not funding the second phase undermines that foundation. Not to forget job creation. For every dollar invested, we see a result of $4 to $10 in returns of economic growth and commerce. We cannot realize the full benefits of a regional connection if we’re not able to bring this service into the heart of downtown San Jose.
We are in one of the fastest-growing segments of our nation, and congestion is not something that we just talk about. It’s something that we live with every day, in and out.

During my tenure at FTA, serving as the deputy administrator, I signed over a dozen Full Funding Grant Agreements for rail systems that are currently not only experiencing extensions, but have seen the result and the vibrancy that public transportation brings to communities. [M]any of those systems are in cities where there was only a hope for public transportation. Now they’re not only realizing that dream, but they also are extending it.

— Nuria Fernandez
General Manager
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA
FTA Acting Administrator, 1999-2001

[T]hree years ago we cut the ribbon for the Green Line connecting our two central business districts from St. Paul to Minneapolis, and those projects today see a weekday ridership of 70,000 passengers. [W]e’ve been tracking what the station area development is within a half mile of each of the stations of our two existing light rail lines, and it’s approaching $6 billion. That is transformative.

[O]ur vision is to double the scope and size of our system. As we’ve been going through our design and engineering processes, we’ve already seen $900 million worth of station area development.

We’re now approaching 20 years in Minnesota’s New Starts partnership with the FTA. They’ve always said to us that they are looking for a stable and reliable funding stream. Well, we need and we depend on their partnership. Without the Capital Investment Grant program to match the $1.6 billion that we have already approved for our two light rail extensions, our projects will not move forward.

When we were in construction for the Green Line, we looked at where all those construction workers’ paychecks were sent. [It] wasn’t just Minneapolis or St. Paul. [T]hose folks resided from the Canadian border to the Iowa border and from the Dakota border even into western Wisconsin. We expect we’ll see similar benefits region-wide, approaching 14,000 workers to actually construct these extensions.

— Mark Fuhrmann
Deputy General Manager, Transit System Development
Metro Transit, Minneapolis

[T]he most urgent infrastructure project in America is at risk because of the loss of federal Capital Investment Grant funding. It’s the Gateway project, which starts with replacing a 106-year-old bridge and a 106-year-old tunnel.

They’ve served us well, but it’s a single point of failure for 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product. In the very spot in the northeastern United States where you need rail capacity the most, it narrows to two tracks.

The good news is that we have a project that’s ready to go today. The portal bridge is 100 percent designed. It’s 100 percent permitted. We have three local funding partners. The only thing we’re waiting for is the federal portion of the project.

We can’t, however, put the full construction contracts out to bid without the federal funding commitment.

[W]e’re actively encouraging private sector input and collaboration and the best ideas around the world to get that tunnel to construction. None of that can happen without federal participation. Consistency, predictability and reliability in our federal partners are paramount to getting these projects built.

This is a sea change that’s being proposed in terms of federal commitment, and what you see represented in front of you today is only a sampling of the projects that will screech to a halt without a federal funding commitment.

— John Porcari
President, U.S. Advisory Services, WSP USA
DOT Deputy Secretary, 2009-2013

In Dallas we’ve already attracted more than $10 billion in transit-oriented development. We’ve leveraged substantial voter-approved local dollars to help secure federal funds enabling us to build the longest light rail system in the country and to convert our bus fleet to clean natural gas.

DART has three projects in various stages of the federal funding pipeline right now. Our light rail platform extension is in the FY17 budget, but we need a contractual mechanism to get the federal funds to Dallas to line up with the overmatch of state funds already committed to us. We also need to build a second light rail line through downtown Dallas. It will be very difficult to build this project without the federal match.

And then the third project is in one of the fastest-growing parts of the entire country. We’re bringing a century-old railroad corridor back to life with our Cotton Belt commuter rail project. This will be partially financed through an FRA Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan. It creates new connectivity to our light rail network, and another rail connection to DFW International Airport, and we’ll have that ready for submission in the spring.

In each of these cases we need to know that the federal government is still ready to work with us.

— Gary Thomas
President and Executive Director
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
APTA Chair, 2011-2012

While we support the administration’s focus on financing and public-private partnerships, there’s a critical difference between financing and funding. P3s and financing can’t replace the federal funding that’s critical to America’s public transit infrastructure projects. Funding is critical to be able to repay financing and attract private sector investment.

Our businesses serving these projects are in small communities across the country. They’re in manufacturing and in the supply of the goods and services needed to build these projects and to equip them. Our jobs are in rural and urban areas, and our employees support Main Street in every district across the country. [B]udget cuts will lead to a loss of jobs in communities across the country, not just in the places where these projects are located.

Our businesses have made investment decisions and provided job training based on a more than 35-year commitment and partnerships—federal, state, local and private—to invest in the nation’s transit infrastructure. And this partnership was reiterated in Congress’ $2.3 billion a year annual commitment made in the FAST Act.

Reneging on that partnership by removing federal funds will have severe impacts. It will force agencies to renege on projects. Direct federal funding must underpin any new initiative. Using the existing public transit program is an excellent way to continue that type of partnership that we count on in our industry.

— Sharon Greene
Senior Vice President, Director Finance Market Sector
HDR/Sharon Greene + Associates

Press conference participants, from left: Fernandez, Furhmann, Rogoff, Barnes, White, Porcari and Greene.

Photo by Mitchell Wood



Who's Doing What in the Industry

NEW YORK CITY—Joseph J. Giulietti, president of MTA Metro-North Railroad since 2014, has announced his retirement effective the end of August.

Giulietti has 46 years in the railroad industry.

He served the APTA Executive Committee as an at-large member from 2011-2014 and is a member of numerous other committees.