Passenger Transport - July 7, 2017
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Sen. Murray Helps Break Ground for Community Transit BRT Line; Cites Importance of Federal Support for Local Public Transit

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) emphasized the importance of continued federal investment in public transportation projects in her remarks at the July 6 ground breaking for Community Transit’s Swift Green Line BRT project in Snohomish County, WA—the largest capital project in the agency’s 40-year history.

Murray, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies, noted that a federal grant is paying more than half the $73 million cost of the Swift Green Line. She added, “I applaud the vision and leadership that made this day possible, and I will keep fighting in Congress to make sure the federal government invests in our communities, workers and families.”

Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath called the ground breaking “a milestone in a grander vision, a vision of a high-capacity transit network serving Snohomish County and connecting with other regional service, including [Sound Transit’s] Link light rail.” The Swift Green Line is the cornerstone of a major service expansion underway since county voters approved a transit sales tax increase in 2015.

The Swift Green Line will be the agency’s second BRT line when it opens in early 2019. Buses will operate every 10 minutes on the 12.5-mile route. The route will serve the county’s two largest employment centers—one at each terminus—Canyon Park in Bothell (a high-tech and healthcare center) and the Seaway Transit Center, located across the street from the main entrance of ­Boeing’s Everett plant. The event was held at the future site of the Seaway facility, which will begin serving local routes a year ahead of the introduction of Swift service.

“At Boeing, we look for innovative ways to find solutions,” said Elizabeth Lund, Boeing vice president and general manager, 777 program and Everett site. “The Swift Green Line will deliver riders every 10 minutes to the Seaway Transit Center, making it very convenient for Boeing employees.”

The final phase of Swift Green Line work will start later this year with construction of 34 stations and several road improvements. This work will be done in late 2018.

Community Transit also announced a third Swift line connecting residents of three communities to Link light rail when it reaches the Lynnwood Transit Center in 2023. Heath said frequent, easy-to-use transit service will help local residents stay connected while strengthening the local economy.

Sen. Patty Murray, center, and Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath, to the left of Murray, join other partners in breaking ground for the Swift Green Line at the future site of the Seaway Transit Center.


DOT Issues $537.1 Million TIFIA Loan for NYC's Moynihan Train Hall Redevelopment

DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced July 6 a $537.1 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from DOT’s Build America Bureau to the New York State Urban Development Corporation D/B/A Empire State Development (ESD) for construction of the Moynihan Train Hall Redevelopment Project, located across the street from Penn Station in Manhattan.

The total project cost is approximately $1.85 billion, with the remainder coming from ESD, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak and private developers.

“This TIFIA loan will help transform the James A. Farley Post Office Building in Manhattan to include a modern, state-of-the-art train station, delivering extensive improvements for passengers in easing congestion and delays,” Chao said. “This is an important investment in the Northeast Corridor’s rail service and the economic vitality of the region.”

The project is expected to relieve congestion at Penn Station, the busiest passenger transportation facility in the U.S. with 650,000 passengers per weekday. It will deliver critical improvements and expansions to ease congestion and delays and facilitate future passenger demand. The project is expected to benefit the entire Northeast Corridor (NEC) service area, as two-thirds of all NEC rail trips currently pass through Penn Station.

The Moynihan facility, currently under construction, will become the new headquarters of Amtrak and the arrival and departure hall for all Amtrak passengers in New York City. It will also provide ticketing and other services for MTA Long Island Rail Road.

APTA Begins Recruitment for Next President & CEO

APTA has ­initiated its recruitment for its next president and CEO. In the recruitment advertisement that appears in this issue of ­Passenger Transport, APTA seeks a strong communicator with a high degree of integrity, who is open, transparent and capable of unifying a large and diverse community with varying needs and interests.

Among the major qualifications are senior and executive experience in the transportation industry, experience working with a Board of Directors in an executive capacity and extensive government relations and advocacy expertise.

The recruitment follows approval by the APTA Board of Directors of the job description, compensation guidelines and performance approval process. These critical documents form the framework for recruitment and selection of APTA’s next leader and were developed and recommended by the CEO Search Task Force, led by APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes.

The 50-­member task force represents the many facets of APTA membership including all sizes of public ­transit systems and business members as well as governmental and nonprofit organizations.

The CEO Search Task Force ensured that APTA’s diverse membership was represented during the deliberative process to help frame the association’s recruitment and selection of its next president and CEO.

Photo by Mitchell Wood

“I am pleased that we have begun to recruit for APTA’s next CEO,” said Barnes. “Over the last eight months, we conducted a deliberate process and resolved outstanding issues to position ourselves so that we can recruit the best person to lead us into the future.”

APTA has hired Krauthamer and Associates to conduct the search, with Gregg Moser, a Leadership APTA graduate, as the lead recruiter. Barnes has appointed a 13-member working group from the CEO Search Task Force to interview the candidates and recommend an individual to the APTA Board of Directors.

During the first phase of the recruitment, Krauthamer obtained input from its members, partners and stakeholders on skills and attributes desired in APTA’s next CEO. Input gathered via direct communication, focus groups at recent conferences and surveys was reviewed carefully and used to develop a comprehensive position description, which is available here.

Krauthamer will advertise and recruit for the position with partner associations and stakeholders through September. Initial interviews will occur in October with final interviews to take place in November. A candidate is scheduled to be recommended to the board at its Dec. 1 meeting. It is expected that the new president and CEO will start in early 2018.

APTA Invites Your Involvement

Are you interested in becoming APTA’s next president and CEO? Do you have recommendations of individuals for the position? See the job advertisement here and contact Gregg Moser of Krauthamer and Associates.

FTA Announces Funding Availability; Agency Also Issues Supplemental Guidance

On July 5, FTA posted to its website the Supplemental Fiscal Year 2017 Apportionment Notice and tables making available more than $12 billion in formula and discretionary funds for public transportation.

The supplemental notice provides additional guidance to FTA’s interim guidance (published in the Jan. 19 Federal Register) in three key areas:

* It reminds all states with operating rail transit systems that FTA is legally prohibited from obligating any funds to public transportation agencies in states that have failed to establish an FTA-certified State Safety Oversight Program by April 15, 2019.

* It implements and provides guidance on an amendment to the “100-bus rule” permitting an alternative approach to determining a public transportation agency’s operating assistance cap. The amendment is to Section 165 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, under the Urbanized Area Formula Program.

* It extends the period of availability of FY 2017 Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grant program funds through Sept. 30, 2021.

Additional Information
FTA’s website features a range of additional information and resources on this topic. Find it here.

Hall Named to FRA Leadership

Heath Hall, former president of Strategic Marketing Group, a public relations firm, was sworn in as FRA deputy administrator by DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao on June 23. He is also serving as acting administrator; the deputy position does not require Senate approval.

Hall, formerly of Mississippi, was also vice president of external affairs and marketing at the Mississippi Technology Alliance. During this time, he founded and served as publisher of a magazine focused on technology and innovation in Mississippi.

In addition, he was senior vice president of external affairs at the Mississippi Economic Council, the State Chamber of Commerce. In 1998, Hall ran for Congress from Mississippi’s fourth congressional district.

He also served former Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice as director of public affairs and deputy press secretary.

Hall previously worked at FRA as an intern, moved into the office of the DOT deputy secretary and was an intern in the White House Office of Political Affairs during the George H.W. Bush administration. He was also a staff assistant to the director of the Peace Corps.

FRA has a $1.8 billion budget, more than 900 employees and eight regional offices.

Maywood Opens New Metra Station

Metra commuter rail in Chicago recently opened a new station in the village of Maywood, replacing an existing, smaller outdoor shelter.

In addition to providing protection from the elements, the 878.5-square-foot building on the Union Pacific West Line is heated, including its floor. The $2.1 million project also features 40 nearby parking spots.

“I am so pleased to cut the ribbon for our new Metra commuter station,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins. “The station is lovely and quaint and harkens back to the glory days of Maywood that we will bring back. It will shelter our citizens as they wait for the train, and it will give others riding through another look at our town.”

Metro Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno added, “We couldn’t be happier that the village of Maywood has provided this wonderful new facility for the benefit of their citizens and our customers. … We hope this furthers Maywood’s economic development efforts and grows our ridership.”

Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno spoke at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new Maywood Station.

Capital Metro Breaks Ground for TOD

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) recently marked the beginning of construction for the Plaza Saltillo District, a TOD project adjacent to the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail Station, with a “flag-planting ceremony” representing the three organizing partners: the agency, the city and a local real estate firm.

Capital Metro President/Chief Executive Officer Linda Watson reported on the trajectory of the project and the agency’s efforts to guide development in a way that serves its needs as well as those of the neighborhood and the entire region.   

While the 10-acre tract has been vacant since the 1990s, it will become the site of 800 residential apartment units, almost 20 percent of which will be reserved as affordable housing; more than 110,000 square feet of retail space; 140,000 square feet of office space; and one and a half acres of open space with public art and connections to a range of transportation options. In addition to Capital MetroRail and MetroBus services, the district will be served by a bikeway and two historical walking paths, with access to bike-sharing and car-sharing facilities.

Remediation work is underway on the former brownfield site with construction of an underground parking structure to begin shortly. The project is expected to be completed in about 30 months.

Planting flags at the site of the Plaza Saltillo District are Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson and Pio Renteria, a member of both the Austin City Council and the Capital Metro board.

DCTA Launches Voucher Program in Collin County

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), Lewisville, TX, recently introduced taxi voucher service in neighboring Collin County under an agreement with the city of McKinney, county seat of Collin County, and the McKinney Urban Transit District (MUTD).

Through the one-year agreement with renewal options, DCTA provides public transit services for eligible residents for trips within Collin County through a subsidized taxi voucher program for participating cities served by MUTD. For customers whose mobility devices cannot be accommodated through this program, DCTA will directly provide demand-response service.

“We’re excited to partner with the city of McKinney and McKinney Urban Transit District for the launch of Collin County Transit,” said DCTA President Jim Cline. “Our goal is for this new service to be an efficient mobility solution for residents who need transportation to medical appointments, work and everyday destinations.”

DCTA’s contractor operates and manages the taxi voucher program, which is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The service operates with a variety of taxis, including wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

The one-way taxi fare is based on the origin and destination requested by the customer. Customers pay the fare using a pre-issued taxi debit card that they can load up to $100 in $5 increments. The city and MUTD will match the customer contribution three-to-one for a total value of up to $400 maximum per month.

APTA Supports Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Security

Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and ­Barbara Comstock (R-VA), co-chairs of the U.S. House ­Public Transportation Caucus, have introduced the bipartisan Securing America’s Facilities, Equipment and Rail: Taking Responsibility for American National Security in Transit (SAFER TRANSIT) Act to strengthen public transit systems and infrastructure.

Both are members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Lipinski also serves on T&I’s Highway and Transit Subcommittee.

“Critical passenger rail safety requirements from the 9/11 Act have yet to be implemented, including a regulation for rail carriers to complete security assessments, a regulation for rail security training and a program for conducting background checks on rail employees,” Lipinski said. “With ever-growing security concerns across the nation, my bill directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a process to follow through on critical security provisions.”

Comstock said she joined Lipinski on the legislation to “make sure our rail and bus carriers are safe as we see an increased threat level to our transportation systems. With a constantly evolving threat environment, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs to take the lead in the proper oversight of critical transportation systems.”

TSA deploys Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) at high-risk transportation locations to increase the level of law enforcement visibility and terrorism deterrence. The legislation would reauthorize this program.

“As public transportation systems continue to face the threat of terrorist and cyber-attacks and regularly respond to other security emergencies in and around public transit facilities, this bill would provide vital federal support to enhance transit security throughout our nation,” said APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White. “The act would develop a Public Transit Security Police Training Program to train law enforcement personnel and continue essential funding for security related research and development.”

New CEOs Named

Anderson, Amtrak

Airline industry executive Richard Anderson has been named Amtrak president and CEO, effective July 12, succeeding Charles “Wick” Moorman, who is stepping down at the end of the year. The two will serve as co-CEOs until the end of December, when Moorman will become an advisor to Amtrak.

Anderson, a 25-year veteran of the airline industry, is the former chief executive officer of Delta and Northwest Airlines, among other positions. He also served as executive vice president of United Healthcare.

Leriche, Transdev North America

Transdev North America has named Yann Leriche to succeed Mark Joseph as chief executive officer, based in Chicago, with responsibility for all Transdev subsidiaries and operations in the U.S. and Canada.

Leriche was deputy chief operating officer of the North American Division of Transdev in 2012-2013 and for the last three years, was global chief performance officer for the Transdev Group. Joseph, who served as CEO for the past 16 years, is taking on a new role as global chief development officer for the Transdev Group.

Reynolds, Interim, CAT, Harrisburg, PA

Tom Reynolds has been named interim general manager of Capital Area Transit (CAT), Harrisburg, PA, succeeding Anthony Johnson, who also served as interim.

Reynolds, a consultant with McDonald Transit Associates, has more than 30 years of experience in public transit management. He previously served as assistant general manager of bus operations, Charlotte Area Transit System, NC, and chief operating officer, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, IA.

FRA Issues Draft EIS for Hudson River Tunnel Project; Project Leaders Hold Press Conference

On July 6, FRA published the draft Environmental Impact Statement review (EIS) for the Hudson River project to construct an additional tunnel to alleviate congestion in the Northeast Corridor and replace the existing 106-year-old tunnel damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

FRA released the document on the same day the Gateway Program Development Corp. (GPDC), which is overseeing the project, held a press conference to discuss the EIS and the project.

The EIS identified the tunnel project’s “preferred alternative,” which includes constructing a new tunnel, refurbishing the existing ones and strengthening the rail crossing between New Jersey and New York. Current estimates for the tunnel project range from $11.7 billion to $12.98 billion.

“It will be the responsibility of the project sponsors to identify their funding sources and plan,” stated the FRA news release. “The department notes that all projects that apply for federal funding must meet the appropriate criteria and that all projects will be individually evaluated on their merits, without prejudice against or partiality in favor of particular projects.”

John Porcari, GPDC interim executive director, called the draft EIS a “major milestone” at the press conference. He said the original tunnel estimate of $8 billion to $10 billion was “a very conceptual number” based on the project that was about 1 percent designed. The project now stands at about 10 percent designed, he noted, adding that further delays could mean further cost increases.

FRA noted that the review was completed in 14 months and estimated that the final statement would be released in March 2018, about 22 months after initiation, noting that this shortened timeframe demonstrated “the department’s commitment to streamline the project review process.”

In related news, DOT withdrew its membership on the GPDC Board of Directors on June 30, noting that the withdrawal is “consistent with the department’s provision of effective and objective oversight in instances where we provide financial assistance.”

For details about the draft EIS and the project, click here and here.

SNC-Lavalin Acquires WS Atkins

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., a design, engineering and project management firm headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, has completed its acquisition of WS Atkins plc, a company that offers similar services based in the United Kingdom.

Both companies serve clients in the public transportation industry, among others. The acquisition creates a global, fully integrated professional services and project management company—including capital investment, consulting, design, engineering, construction, sustaining capital and operations and maintenance—company officials said.

Heath Drewett, Atkins group finance director and executive director, is now president of Atkins, SNC-Lavalin’s fifth business sector, and a member of SNC-Lavalin’s executive committee.

Hampton Roads Receives 'Super Grant'

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Hampton, VA, has received a series of federal, state and local grants totaling $49.2 million to help rebuild, repower and purchase public transit buses, improve the quality of bus stops and invest in information technology.

The funds come from a combination of several transit-oriented federal grants that HRT would normally seek over time, but with technical assistance from FTA, the Virginia-based agency applied for them all at once in a “super grant.”

“This is a significant development for HRT,” said William Harrell, president and CEO. “Assembling the necessary funds for capital investment is an ever-present challenge for us. Our capital needs far exceed our ability to raise money.”

The super grant funds, which became available July 1, include $27.7 million from federal sources, $17.2 million from Virginia and $4.2 million in local matching grants.

HRT does not have a dedicated source of revenue for capital investments, and the four revenue sources upon which it relies—farebox and local, state and federal funds—are directed primarily to operations with a small percentage devoted to capital investment. Consequently, the agency heavily relies on grants to make critical capital investments, including bus purchases.

The age of HRT’s bus fleet is 10.5 years on average—nearly four years older that FTA recommendations—with 65 percent of the fleet even older. Additionally, 33 buses have traveled between 700,000 and 950,000 miles. To extend the life of the fleet, HRT launched a program in 2013 to refurbish and rebuild its buses.

NTI Announces Safety Webinar Based on TCRP Report

Public transit professionals can learn about safety efforts and training initiatives in a 90-­minute webinar hosted by the National Transit Institute (NTI), July 19, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Lead authors Lisa Staes and Jodi ­Godfrey of the Center for Urban Transportation Research will discuss their work to collect and document effective training initiatives and practices, including bus operator training programs, as reported in Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 126: Successful Practices and Training Initiatives to Reduce Accidents and Incidents at Transit Agencies. The authors developed case studies from 10 U.S. public transit agencies as part of their research.

The webinar will address safety hazards, including technology applications, infrastructure modifications, driver incentive programs and close call/near miss reporting.

FTA sponsors both NTI and TCRP.

To register, click here.

July 4 in Vancouver: Star-Spangled Bus, Beautiful Summer Day

C-TRAN, the public transit agency in Clark County, WA, provided free shuttle service to this year’s Independence Day celebration at historic Fort Vancouver, a longtime tradition in the city. C-TRAN shuttles provided service from the Vancouver Mall to the celebration (which also included live entertainment) every 15 minutes from 6-8:30 pm. Passengers were returned to the mall immediately following the fireworks event.

Photo by Walt Gordon/C-TRAN

St. Louis Metro Bus Celebrates Farming, Fresh Food

Metro in St. Louis recently invited the public to help turn one of its buses into a “rolling work of art” by painting two murals on the exterior of the vehicle. The event at the Independence Day Festival in suburban Ferguson, MO, celebrated farming, fresh food and the Ferguson Farmers’ Market as part of the agency’s Art in Motion program, allowing children, families and festival-goers to express their creativity. The murals include images of fields, fruits and vegetables to highlight the benefits of farming and the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to farm-fresh produce. The murals will remain on display for a year on various routes.

TCRP Report on P3s

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) recently released Research Report 191, Public Transportation Guidebook for Small- and Medium-Sized Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), which provides information on why and when public transit agencies should consider P3s for small- and medium-sized initiatives, what types of initiatives may be undertaken and how to effectively undertake these initiatives. Access the report here.

APTA Nominations Process Open

The APTA Nominating Committee continues to accept nominations through July 17 to fill leadership positions on the recently expanded Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

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.

Nominations must be submitted entirely online. Candidates must upload all materials—including letters of support—to the APTA website for delivery to the Nominating Committee, chaired by APTA Immediate Past Chair Valarie J. McCall. Find materials, a list of open positions, guidelines and a list of committee members here.

The APTA Executive Committee set the following guidelines for candidates:

* 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.

Riders 'Dump the Pump'

More than 135 public transit agencies and organizations participated in APTA’s 12th National Dump the Pump Day. Here are a few examples.

In Chicago, the Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace Bus partnered to distribute commemorative tote bags, “I Dumped the Pump” stickers and free coffee—provided by Cubic Transportation Systems, developer of the Ventra™ regional farecard—during the morning rush hour at prime locations.

Laketran joined the city of Painesville, OH, and a radio station to host an educational event promoting the benefits of using public transportation and biking.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV, operated fare free and invited riders to register their green trips at its TripMatch website for an opportunity to win prizes.

Employees of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority provided ridership information—and an opportunity to tour the agency’s new “TryTransit” bus—outside its customer service office in Jacksonville, FL.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District asked riders to share their photos of how they “dumped the pump” on the agency’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Riverside Transit Agency marked the day by handing out giveaways and a limited number of free one-day passes outside City Hall in Riverside, CA.

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) provided free rides throughout the system. Employees at park-and-ride lots and transit centers provided help to first-time riders and thanked current customers.

In Stockton, CA, the San ­Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) hosted a “birthday party” for its mascot, “Artie D.,” in ­addition to offering free rides on bus routes in the county.

Thousands of public transit enthusiasts participated in the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) Fifth Annual Dump the Pump Scavenger Hunt. Sponsor Outfront Media donated prizes for the winners.

Photo by Adam Shumaker
Board members of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority in Cincinnati—from left, Heidi Black, operator Ella Holloway, Gwen Robinson and Mary Miller—spent Dump the Pump Day conducting a “Women on the Move: A Transit Forum” bus tour.



GCRTA's Journey to Performance Excellence BY JOE CALABRESE

CEO and General Manager
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)

Winning awards—especially awards for performance excellence—is a wonderful affirmation for everyone in an organization that they’re doing the right things at the right time, day in and day out.

That’s how we feel at GCRTA about receiving the prestigious Gold Award for Commitment to Excellence from the Partnership for Excellence (TPE), a nonprofit organization that supports and celebrates performance excellence in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia based on the Baldrige National Quality Program’s seven criteria.

We were one of six high-performing organizations named in May for “performance excellence through innovation, results and visionary leadership using the Baldrige Excellence Framework.” This honor represents a step up for GCRTA after the agency received the Silver Award in 2015, and it motivates us to strive to win the Platinum Award—the highest rating—next.

In June, we received a comprehensive report from a team of judges who visited Cleveland a few months ago. The report includes recommendations on ways that GCRTA can improve its programs and operations. Work will begin immediately to assess and prioritize opportunities for improvement where feasible.

The Work Behind the Award

Importantly, this award is not just a reflection of our achievements as an organization, nor is it just about the outstanding service we deliver every day and the 44 million passenger trips we provide each year.

At its core, the award acknowledges that GCRTA’s success becomes the success of all who share the mission of delivering outstanding public transit throughout our communities. It’s about the positive impact these achievements mean to the image of public transit.

It’s the hard work and commitment to excellence exhibited by our 2,400 employees every day that is making GCRTA one of the most well-respected public transit agencies in the nation.

As we reach this outstanding milestone and are recognized for having great business practices, the bigger picture is that our customers—the public that we serve—know with greater confidence that we are outstanding stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars and we are putting every penny to work to deliver the service they need.

GCRTA’s Gold Award also points to the outstanding relationships with our civic, community, corporate and government partners. They invest in and benefit from public transit, and our commitment to excellence only accelerates those investments.

Our Journey to Excellence
Two years ago when the Partnership for Excellence issued its 2015 Feedback Report, it was very helpful as GCRTA senior leadership identified 12 actionable opportunities to improve processes and programs. The results? GCRTA staff is now implementing three critical priorities:

* Employee engagement and ­satisfaction goals;
* Market research, with a focus on customer satisfaction and improved ratings; and
* Budget and planning processes that align with our strategic plan.

Our leadership team looks forward to receiving the 2017 Feedback Report to update and align current organizational excellence initiatives with new opportunities. GCRTA officials will then reapply and seek the Platinum Award.

No doubt this is a significant accomplishment, and it marks yet another step in our excellence journey toward the Baldrige National Quality Program Award, given by the president of the United States to businesses and education, health care and nonprofit organizations judged to be outstanding in seven areas of performance excellence.

One of our partners on this journey is TPE, which assists organizations in using the internationally recognized Baldrige Excellence Framework to develop a comprehensive assessment that helps organizational leaders better understand and prioritize key strengths and opportunities for improvement.

While the assessment is the foundation, TPE’s main focus is on organizational learning, innovation, resource optimization, continuous improvement and results.

All applicants are rigorously evaluated by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership, strategy, customers, measurement, analysis/knowledge management, workforce and operations/results.

The evaluation process includes more than 1,000 hours of review and a three-day visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the application.

By providing this framework, organizations have a greater focus on customers, process management, innovation, work systems and organization-wide results. These organizations typically experience lower costs, improved productivity and increases in both employee and customer satisfaction leading to growth in market share. As a result, they can have an enormous ­positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.

The next step on our journey is a celebration when GCRTA will be among those honored at TPE’s annual Quest for Success Conference, Sept. 11-12 in Columbus.

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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

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

MONTREAL, QUEBEC—Members of the International Association of ­Public Transport (UITP) recently elected Pere Calvet Tordera to a two-year term as its president, succeeding Masaki Ogata.

Calvet is a trained civil engineer with more than 30 years of experience in both metropolitan and suburban railway systems. He has served since 2011 as general manager of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya in Spain and has been active with UITP for the past two decades, serving in posts including vice president and chairman of the Metropolitan Railways Assembly.

CHICAGO—Megan Van Pelt has joined WSP USA as a senior vice president and director of human resources based in ­Chicago. She previously worked for Starwood Retail Partners, where she led all facets of human resources for the company’s corporate headquarters and 30 properties and was a member of the executive leadership team.

ONTARIO, CA—Sam Saghafi has joined HNTB Corporation as principal engineer in the Inland Empire region, based in Ontario. He has 20 years of experience in civil engineering, specializing in transportation engineering with an emphasis in roadway design, and was a design oversight engineer for 10 years with Caltrans.

NEW YORK CITY—Shawn Kildare has joined CH2M’s global transit and rail practice as a vice president and senior program manager based in New York City. He joins the firm after 30 years with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where he worked on the $2.1 billion extension of the No. 7 Flushing Line subway and the East Side Access project to bring MTA Long Island Rail Road commuter trains into Grand Central Terminal.

KANSAS CITY, MO—Jeffrey Boothe, president of Boothe Transit Consulting LLC in Washington, DC, has been appointed to the board of directors for TranSystems Corporation. He is a member of numerous APTA committees; chair of the Capital Investment Grants Working Group (formerly New Starts Working Group), which includes transit properties, cities and private-sector companies that support expansion of transit capital projects; and executive director of the Community Streetcar Coalition.

NEW YORK CITY—The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has named Sally Librera vice president and chief officer for the Staten Island Railway. Librera, the first woman in the Staten Island post, succeeds ­Douglas Connett, who retired in 2016.

She is a longtime employee of MTA New York City Transit, serving most recently as a vice president for subway operations support. Librera joined the MTA in 2004 as a transportation planner and advanced to leadership positions in logistics and employee development.

SACRAMENTO, CA—California Assembly member Joaquin Arambula has joined the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors as an ex officio member, appointed by Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon. He was appointed under legislation passed in 2016 that added two non-voting ex officio members to the board; the first, Jim Beall, was appointed earlier by the Senate Committee on Rules.

PLEASANTON, CA—Mott ­MacDonald has named Joe O’Carroll senior vice president and regional tunnels practice leader. He has more than 35 years of experience in heavy civil and underground construction, specializing in tunneling with tunnel boring machines and project risk management.

SAN CARLOS, CA—Gillian Gillett has joined the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the governing body for Caltrain commuter rail, as a representative of the city and county of San Francisco, where she is director of transportation policy.

LOS ANGELES—Michael Baker International has promoted Don Sepulveda to vice president and deputy national market lead in the railroad and transit practice for the firm’s west region. He has more than 22 years of railroad infrastructure experience and joined Michael Baker in 2016 as vice president, rail and transit practice lead in the firm’s west region, after five years as executive officer of regional rail for Los Angeles Metro.

SAN FRANCISCO—WTS International recently honored Catalina Alvarado, senior public information officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), with the Rosa M. Parks Diversity Leadership Award for her 30-plus year career with the agency.

Alvarado’s accomplishments include helping craft MTC’s principles on environmental justice, launching the High School Internship Program, advancing partnerships with nonprofit groups to involve residents in low-income communities and communities of color in MTC’s long-range plans and developing MTC’s first plan to help non-English speakers access its documents and services.

ATLANTA—David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, has named Rhonda ­Briggins, senior director of external affairs for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, to the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. This commission will study the challenges regarding public transit in the state and will provide recommendations. Briggins is also president of both the Georgia Transit Association and COMTO Atlanta.

MARTA General Manager/Chief ­Executive Officer Keith T. Parker is an ex ­officio member of the council, along with leaders from Georgia DOT and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. In addition to the ex officio members, the council will consist of six members of the state House, four representatives of transit systems or counties and four residents of the state.

NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA announced the appointments of ­Kenneth (K.R.) Marshall, a vice president and senior transportation technical manager based in Baltimore, and Wilson Wong, Texas structural/bridge engineering manager based in Houston.

Marshall has more than 35 years of experience in traffic engineering, traffic operations, ITS, transportation infrastructure design, transportation planning and telecommunications. He joins WSP after serving as a vice president and local operations manager for a large international engineering consultant.

Wong has more than 19 years of experience in project management, communication and budgeting, with an emphasis on transportation projects, civil and structural/bridge designs. Most recently he was interim office manager/structural department manager for a transportation engineering consulting firm in Texas.

NEW YORK CITY—Josée Danis has joined RATP Dev North America as vice president of business development in ­Canada. She has almost 20 years of finance and rail industry experience, beginning her career at Canadian National Railway and serving as vice president of corporate and business development for Genesee & ­Wyoming Canada Inc., a freight railroad.

BEAVERTON, OR—STV has named Ja-Mie Luey a vice president and West Coast rail and transit systems lead, based in Beaverton. Most recently he spent more than 15 years as a project and engineering manager for a large transportation design firm, overseeing passenger rail systems designs in cities including Portland, OR; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Houston; and Denver.

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA—New Flyer Industries Inc. announced the appointment of Rick Glaston as transit bus regional sales manager for central/southwest U.S., based in Fort Collins, CO. Glaston transferred from the New Flyer aftermarket sales team and has more than 30 years in the transportation industry. He was western regional director with North American Bus Industries (NABI) until 2013, when New Flyer acquired NABI and he became a territory sales representative.

CHICAGO—Transdev has named general managers for two contracts in Phoenix: Dave Todd for bus service with Valley Metro and Kate Riley for Valley Metro East Valley, Northwest Valley and regional paratransit, or Dial-a-Ride, service. Todd, most recently the agency’s assistant general manager under the Transdev contract, began his career in 1998 as a bus operator in Phoenix and held successively more responsible positions in several areas.

Riley has spent nearly 10 years with Transdev, serving most recently as assistant general manager and general manager for Sun Tran and Sun Van in Tucson, AZ. Before joining Transdev, she was Sun Tran’s human resources director for more than 25 years.

DENVER—Rich von Luhrte, senior principal, past president and emeritus board member of RNL, has announced his retirement this ­summer following 39 years with the firm.

Von Luhrte has been an architect and urban designer for 50 years. His designs include the Regional Transportation District’s East Metro Bus Maintenance Facility in Denver. He will continue to serve the firm as a consultant for specific projects.

PHOENIX—Mike James has joined the city of Phoenix’s Public Transit Department as its first BRT administrator. He has more than 20 years experience, including past work with Valley Metro and the city of Mesa. Most recently, he worked in Seattle planning and managing rail and public transit corridors, including streetcar and BRT operations.

WASHINGTON, DC—Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) announced three new members of its board of directors.

Kenneth (Andy) Elkins
, manager of hazmat compliance, Association of American Railroads (AAR) Bureau of Explosives, succeeded Michael J. Martino, who retired from AAR as senior director, operations; Martin Conway, deputy chief of Amtrak Police Department, New York Division, succeeded Michael Logue, Amtrak’s chief safety officer, who stepped down in advance of his retirement; and Suzanne Te Beau Rohde, vice president of government affairs and policy for the American Bus Association (ABA), succeeds ABA’s Clyde Hart.

KANSAS CITY, MO—HNTB Corporation announced three new employees in its Tampa, FL, office: Shawn Stover, principal engineer; Danielle Moran, public involvement manager; and Chloe Coney, public involvement specialist.

Stover has nearly 29 years of industry experience, including 12 years at HNTB, serving most recently in the Austin, TX, office as senior project manager and program management engineering manager. Moran has more than 10 years of experience as a communications professional. Coney has nearly 40 years of experience advocating for community building and neighborhood revitalization, most recently working as district director for Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL).

The firm also announced the addition of two PTC and rail experts in its Denver office: Michael Bogonovich, a senior systems project engineer with more than three decades of experience, and Michael ­Haverstick, a PTC ­systems project engineer.

Prior to joining HNTB, Bogonovich was program manager for Los Angeles Metro and program manager and senior rail systems engineer for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. ­Haverstick’s 26 years of experience, most recently with Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Dallas Area Rapid Transit, include communication system design, specification development, project management, system installation and maintenance management.

Also, HNTB Executive Vice President Paul Yarossi has been named chairman of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) Board of Trustees.