Passenger Transport - August 18, 2017
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Executive Order Modifies Environmental Permit Process; Trump Cancels Planned Infrastructure Council

An Executive Order (EO) signed Aug. 15 by President Trump strives to cut the federal environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects down to two years and implement the FAST Act requirement that there be a lead agency for environmental review for major projects.

The goals of the EO are generally aligned with APTA’s regulatory reform policy “to speed project delivery and reduce costs of projects” and “implement statutory project delivery reforms.”This Executive Order follows an earlier one that instructed agencies to expedite environmental reviews for high priority infrastructure projects.

Trump’s order also revokes an EO signed by President Obama that amended federal flood risk management standards that would have taken climate change into account.

Also, published reports state that on Aug. 17 Trump decided not to move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure. Had it been established, the council would have brought together representatives from real estate, finance, labor and other sectors to study and make recommendations to the president regarding the funding, support and delivery of infrastructure projects.

Annual Meeting Keynoter Looks to Changes in Public Transit's Future

The public transit landscape is changing rapidly, as shifting demographics and rapidly evolving technology are converging to drive innovation and shape the future of the industry—a theme that will take center stage at the 2017 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO Opening General Session, ­Monday, Oct. 9, in Atlanta.

Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab, calls this trend “disruptive demographics,” which is the focus of his keynote remarks at the session. APTA leaders, including Chair Doran J. Barnes, Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. and Acting President & CEO Richard White will also share their insights at the session.

Coughlin’s research focuses on how the convergence of baby boomer expectations and technology will shape the future of public policy and drive innovation across global industries including transportation, financial services, foods, insurance, health, IT, telecommunications and retail sectors.

He serves on the Transportation Research Board’s Advisory Committee on the Safe Mobility of Older Persons and recently chaired a national symposium on the impact of changing demographics in transportation for the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

Register now
to attend the Annual Meeting & EXPO, Oct. 8-11.

In addition to educational and technical sessions, expert speakers and the products and services at the triennial EXPO, the schedule includes eight technical tours hosted by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA):

* Atlanta Streetcar/­BeltLine System: A bus tour showcasing the Atlanta Streetcar and Atlanta BeltLine—a development incorporating pedestrian-friendly rail transit, parks and affordable housing—and providing an overview of the Atlanta Streetcar System Plan.

* Atlanta Streetcar Economic Development: An overview of the development of the first segment of the Atlanta Streetcar and the development and investment that has grown along the route.

* MARTA Brady Mobility (Paratransit) Facility: The new MARTA Brady Mobility (Paratransit) facility accommodates the administrative functions, operations and maintenance needs for MARTA’s entire paratransit fleet. It is designed with sustainable features, achieving LEED Silver certification, and houses maintenance on the first floor and administration operations on the second floor.

* Relay Bikes: A biking tour to show off Atlanta’s new bikeshare system, the bicycling amenities throughout the MARTA system and the city’s rapidly expanding bicycle infrastructure

.* MARTA Integrated Operations Center & Emergency Operations Center: This facility is the hub of all MARTA command, control and communications centers.

* Safe Track: Tour participants will enjoy a firsthand demonstration and presentation of two innovative products being developed through a collaborative partnership among the FTA Office of Research, Innovation & Demonstration, MARTA and the private sector, specifically ­Bombardier and ENSCO Rail Inc.

* TOD Projects: This tour will showcase projects undertaken through MARTA’s TOD initiative at all stages of development: completed, under construction and planned.

* State Road and Tollway Authority Operations & Maintenance Facility: This recently opened facility serves as the south hub and base of operations for 13 of 27 Xpress commuter coach transit routes. It also features a separate administrative building that houses a high-tech dispatch command center.

Attendees wishing to participate in one or more of the tours can sign up on site at the host information desk in the APTA registration area in the Georgia World Congress Center.

Siemens Brings 'Internet of Trains' to Delaware Facility

With Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-DE) in attendance, Siemens opened a locomotive service facility in New Castle, DE, that will provide the latest in “Internet of Trains” digital and predictive technology for its service technicians.

The 44,000-square-foot facility will operate as Siemens’ digital service support, supply chain and technical field training hub in the region. From this location, employees will train service technicians and remotely monitor more than 140 Siemens-built locomotives for customers including Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Illinois DOT and Brightline, soon to enter service in Florida.

“When Americans have access to reliable train travel, they tend to take advantage of it. Siemens’ new center—right here in New Castle, Delaware—will help make rail service more reliable by using cutting-edge technology to service and build new locomotives at a faster pace and higher volume,” said Carper. “Our nation’s railways are critical elements to our country’s infrastructure system, which helps us to compete and win in the global economy.”

Coons said, “The fourth industrial revolution is happening right now with Siemens in Delaware. … America deserves a great transportation network and I believe that companies like Siemens will help get us there.”

Sens. Tom Carper, left, and Chris Coons speak with Siemens USA CEO Judy Marks at opening ceremonies for the company’s locomotive service facility in New Castle, DE.

Siemens USA Chief Executive Officer Judy Marks called the new facility “a key investment for Siemens in our largest market in the world.” She continued, “Siemens’ locomotives now come out of our U.S. manufacturing plants born digital; they’re computers on steel wheels that constantly collect data. Now, in New Castle, our technicians and engineers will make this data actionable for our customers. That’s major value added for railroads striving for even higher levels of safety and reliability.”

Members of Siemens’ Digital Rail Services team will remotely collect and analyze more than 800 data points from each locomotive every day, including information on equipment health, operational metrics and environmental data made available by automatic, continuous streaming from the locomotive.

The team will also use virtual reality technology for maintenance training on locomotive equipment running worldwide. Using virtual reality goggles and handheld controls, the service technician can virtually stand inside a locomotive and use the controls to work on switches, components and panels.

St. Louis Metro Reopens Expanded Civic Center Transit Center

Representatives of FTA, the city of St. Louis and other partners participated in St. Louis Metro’s ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the newly expanded Civic Center Transit Center in advance of the facility’s Aug. 14 opening.

The completely redesigned facility serves all 23 MetroBus routes that operate in downtown St. Louis, connecting them to MetroLink light rail and Metro Call-A-Ride paratransit with easy access to Amtrak and Greyhound. The renovation triples the number of indoor bus bays from six to 18, can accommodate 60-foot articulated buses and could serve as a future BRT terminal. The building also includes a new indoor waiting area, concessions and security and transit personnel offices.

“Our team at Metro is committed toward making smart, fiscally responsible investments to improve and expand the region’s public transit system,” said John Nations, president and chief executive officer of Bi-State Development. “In just 14 months, they have transformed the Civic ­Center Transit Center, and tourists, transit riders, residents, employees, sports fans and concert-goers will now be able to enjoy a first-class transit facility.”

Federal funding secured through FTA paid for 80 percent of the $10.5 million total project cost, with the remainder paid through local funding. 

“Every day, tens of thousands of passengers travel right here through downtown St. Louis from all parts of our region,” said Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that they not only have a more efficient, more comfortable and safer experience, but also ensure that they have the best transportation options we can provide.”

Officials at the redesigned Civic Center Transit Center in downtown St. Louis include the city’s Mayor Lyda Krewson, fourth from left; FTA Region 7 Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad, fourth from right; and Bi-State Development President and CEO John Nations, third from right.

APTA's Ford Tells Mayors: Invest in Public Transit; 'Major Economic Driver' Needs Federal Support

APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority, stressed the importance of increased public transportation investment, including continuation of FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program, in remarks at the United States Conference of ­Mayors’ (USCM) recent Leadership Meeting in New Orleans.

“People understand that public transportation is a major economic driver,” Ford said, citing voters’ approval of a record $170 billion in long-term public transit investments in November 2016. Despite this public support, he said, “the Trump administration has proposed phasing out federal funding for new starts, small starts and core capacity programs [in] a retreat from the federal-state-local partnership that supports infrastructure and the American economy.”

He continued, “Communities have lined up their local share for projects with the expectation that the federal share would be there. It is imperative that the Federal Transit Administration honor its trust through the Capital Investment Grant program.  To do otherwise is to put a ‘red light’ on infrastructure investments” that would put at risk 800,000 jobs, 54 transit projects in 23 states worth $38 billion and $90 billion in economic output nationally.

APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors
Ford emphasized the importance of APTA and USCM standing together shoulder to shoulder for the continuation of federal-state-local roles and as Congress considers its FY 2018 appropriations measures and an infrastructure bill. In addition to the proposed FY 2018 cuts, the administration has expressed in broad terms that public transportation should be a local responsibility without a federal role.

Ford spoke as part of a panel discussion on infrastructure funding and finance, which also included remarks by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed presided at the session.

Lime Line Opening Marks 20 Years of LYNX LYMMO

The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando recently launched service on its third LYMMO line, the Lime Line—joining Orange and Grapefruit—with an event that also commemorated the 20th anniversary of LYMMO, the nation’s first limited-stop express fixed-route bus service of the type now called BRT.

“These bus rapid transit enhancements on LYMMO are designed to improve the ever-changing lifestyle for the thousands living, working or simply visiting the heart of downtown Orlando,” said LYNX Chief Executive Officer Edward Johnson. “This new alignment will be the impetus of major economic development including the University of Central Florida and Valencia College downtown campuses.”

The new 2.1-mile line, with nine stops, serves locations including the U.S. Courthouse, Florida A&M University College of Law, the 68-acre mixed-use TOD Creative Village and future University of Central Florida-Valencia Downtown Campus, the Amway Center sports and entertainment venue and LYNX Central Station.

Johnson said that when LYMMO entered service in 1997, the service was designed “to provide opportunity and access for our community. This commitment continues today as we celebrate a significant anniversary and the opening of our newest LYMMO line.”

The Lime Line, funded through a federal TIGER grant, is expected to move 1,500 passengers daily.

LYNX CEO Edward Johnson, center, on board the first LYMMO Lime Line vehicle.

Rep. Lieu Tours LA Metro's Expo Line Phase 2

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) recently toured Los Angeles Metro’s Expo Light Rail Transit Phase 2 project, which extended service from Culver City to Santa Monica when it opened last year. The line has the second highest ridership of LA’s entire light rail system.

At an event during the tour, Lieu said, “It was a pleasure to see firsthand the completed Expo 2 line, which connects many diverse neighborhoods in California’s 33rd District. The project demonstrates the value of supporting trans­portation infrastructure investments.”

Lieu was joined by Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip A. Washington, who said the line “continues our track record of building projects that are not only successful but showcase our commitment to sustainability.”

Also on hand at the La Cienega/­Jefferson Station event was Brian Freund, vice president of operations at Skanska USA Civil, design-build contractor for the line.

The group, which included several Metro officials, discussed the need to increase transportation infrastructure investments. In particular, speakers emphasized the importance of the federal Capital Investment Grant and TIGER grant programs that support local public transportation infrastructure projects like the EXPO 2 line.

The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, which coordinated the program, earlier honored Expo Phase 2 as its 2016 Large Project of the Year.  It is also the first U.S. public transit project to achieve Envision™ Platinum certification from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Rep. Ted Lieu, second from left, and Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington, center, join other officials on a tour of Expo Light Rail Transit Phase 2.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Metro


New CEOs Named

Derwinski, Metra

The Metra Board of Directors in Chicago unanimously selected James M. Derwinski, the commuter rail agency’s current chief mechanical officer, to succeed the retiring Don Orseno as its next executive director/chief executive officer.

After a six-year stint in the U.S. Navy as an electrician on nuclear submarines, Derwinski began his railroad career as a locomotive electrician with the Chicago & North Western Railroad in 1993. He joined Metra as an electrician in 1997 and rose through the ranks, serving as a foreman, general foreman, shop superintendent, director of systems maintenance, locomotive superintendent, Rock Island Division director, Milwaukee Division director and senior director of mechanical operations. He was named chief mechanical officer in September 2013.

Ramírez, MBTA

Luis Manuel Ramírez will become general manager/chief executive officer of Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Sept. 12, succeeding interim General Manager Steve Poftak.

During a three-decade career, Ramirez has worked on turnarounds with divisions of some of the nation’s biggest corporations, including 12 years with General Electric. Most recently he has run his own strategic consulting firm.

Middleton, GoDurham
GoDurham, Durham, NC, has hired 25-year public transit veteran Doug Middleton as general manager.

Middleton, most recently executive director of maintenance for Pierce Transit in Tacoma, WA, also worked at Los Angeles Metro and the Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority. He serves on the APTA Bus Operations Committee.

He succeeds Sean Smith, who stepped down in November to join Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL. Finance Director Tonya Dupree, who has been serving as interim general manager, will return to her previous post.

Vanderpool, TCAT, Ithaca, NY
The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) Board of Directors, Ithaca, NY, has named its operations manager, Scot Vanderpool, general manager effective Aug. 11.

Vanderpool, who joined TCAT in January, succeeds the late Joe Turcotte, general manager since 2005, who died in May 2016. The acting general manager—Alice Eccleston, TCAT assistant general manager and human resources manager—is returning to her previous job.

Vanderpool has 34 years of transportation experience at the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (CENTRO) in Syracuse and Syracuse University. He began his career in 1983 as a part-time bus operator for CENTRO, working his way up to manager of operations and planning, and joined Syracuse University in 2003 as manager of parking and transit services.

In Memoriam: William Lhota, Retired COTA CEO

William J. Lhota, 77, president/chief executive officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus from 2004-2012, died Aug. 10.

Lhota joined COTA after retiring from American Electric Power as president-energy delivery and executive vice president, American Electric Power Service Corporation, after 37 years with the company. He also briefly owned a consulting business.

COTA named its administrative headquarters in honor of Lhota following his retirement. He also was a former member of the APTA Legislative, Mid-Size Operations and Bus & Paratransit CEOs committees.


LANTA Is Partner in Airport's Intermodal Facility

Owen P. O’Neil, executive director of the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), Allentown, PA, was among the speakers at dedication ceremonies Aug. 8 for the Multi-Modal Transportation Center at Lehigh Valley International Airport, which also provides connections to intercity buses and rental cars. “The most common reason that people use these routes is to get to jobs, either here at the airport or at employment locations in the industrial parks and retail centers nearby,” O’Neil said. “As development continues around the airport, this intermodal center will serve as a modern and convenient facility for LANTA riders.”

NTI to Host Webinar on Onboard Camera Applications for Buses

The National Transit Institute (NTI) will host a 90-minute webinar on the findings of Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 123: Onboard Camera Applications for Buses Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

The webinar, led by Barbara Thomson, author of TCRP Synthesis 123, will review the findings of the report and explore current technologies, research and opportunities. It will include practical examples currently in operation at large, medium and small U.S. public transit agencies and methods to keep up with the advances of surveillance technology being used to improve operations, safety, security, training and customer satisfaction.

Register here.

MetroLINK Hosts Summer Program for Students; Uses APTA Career Tools

The Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK), Moline, IL, recently hosted a career seminar for middle school students at its Operation and Maintenance Center as part of a summer enrichment program called “Lights On for Learning."

Students received a behind-the-scenes look at public transit jobs including dispatch, information technology, maintenance, safety and security, operations and marketing. They also toured the facility, learned about its sustainable and eco-friendly operations and watched a sheriff’s deputy and his K-9 partner sweep a room for explosives.

Jennifer Garrity, MetroLINK manager of administration, called the program “a fantastic opportunity for us to introduce students to the various careers available within the public transit industry. Throughout our presentation, we were able to incorporate a number of the career tools APTA has developed that specifically engage youth. The students were amazed at the number of opportunities available to them that really require a broad range of educational backgrounds.”

APTA created the career tools as part of its commemoration of National Public Transportation Career Day in May. To learn more, click here.

Karen Heaton, a teacher at John Deere Middle School, said, “We thought it was interesting to see the actual people that do the various jobs. We feel this gave our students a more realistic view of what these specific jobs entail.”

Middle school students attended a career-awareness seminar at MetroLINK’s Operation and Maintenance Center.

WMATA Expands, Updates Paratransit Fleet

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recently introduced the first of 207 new vans for its MetroAccess paratransit service. Fifty of the vans will expand the size of the fleet by 7 percent, while the rest will replace aging vehicles. Manufactured by Ford with modifications by TransitWorks in Akron, OH, the vehicles have enhanced safety features including, rear cameras providing operators with a rearward-facing view when backing up, a collision avoidance system and improved LED lighting. WMATA Assistant General Manager of Access Services Christian Kent said the new vehicles and larger fleet size “will better position MetroAccess to serve customers with door-to-door service ensuring regional mobility for all.”

Ringing the Bell in San Francisco

For the seventh time, Byron Cobb, a cable car operator for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, took top honors at the agency’s recent 54th Annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. Last year’s winner, Leonard Oats, placed second and Singh Balraj Rai came in third. A second competition, for community representatives, raised funds for charity.


Preparing for Transportation Innovations, San Francisco's Way; Applying Guiding Principles to Emerging Mobility Services, Technologies BY ED REISKIN

Director of Transportation
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Not since the advent of streetcars and automobiles have we seen such tremendous change in the ways people get around in cities. After decades of little change to transportation technology, recent advancements raise important questions that we all need to address.

Technological advances underlie most of the innovation that’s happening in transportation. New smartphone apps and payment systems make it a lot easier to get directions, plan and pay for trips and receive real-time transit updates with a couple of clicks. These changes are coming to all forms of transportation. Even the vehicles that move us are getting smarter and more sophisticated, allowing us to more easily detect problems and navigate our streets while keeping us safer.

Transportation innovations are happening at speeds that were unimaginable just a few years ago. While we can’t fully predict what changes the future will bring nor how fast they will come, we can make sure city policies shape and dynamically plan for them in this evolving environment. Rather than be reactive, we should ensure innovative changes happen in a way that respects our unique city, its communities and values.

Building a Framework
To that end, we at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) have developed a framework of guiding principles we can apply to emerging mobility services and technologies. Based on relevant city policies, the Emerging Mobility Guiding Principles framework (visit and search on “Emerging Mobility Services”) was approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors at its meeting [in July].

Our idea is to develop consensus on the principles that are important for our city to adhere to as we evaluate and guide innovative transportation changes developed by us or by others.

These principles include safety, transit priority, equity, accessibility and sustainability. They also factor in congestion, accountability for transportation providers, impacts for workers and consumers, as well as financial impacts.

Technology-based transportation changes are already having a significant impact on our city. For-hire transportation services such as Uber and Lyft, which are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, have brought convenience to their users, but that convenience could impact congestion, safety and sustainability if not incorporated responsibly.

A recent SFCTA report indicated that our city sees more than 170,000 ride-hail trips each day, and that’s a very conservative estimate. Most of the cars providing those trips are coming from outside the city, and some of the increased traffic congestion we are seeing is likely related to that. Aside from adverse impacts on air quality, added transit delays and traffic congestion, more motor vehicle trips statistically lead to more traffic crashes.

Setting Mutually Positive Goals
In a future that promises more technological advances, the convenience that new technologies and services are bringing to some should not have negative impacts on San Francisco as a whole. We can help move the city forward by establishing principles based on city policies, and we can better evaluate and guide these kinds of services so that they complement our transportation system and support the city’s goals.

We have seen how new technology-driven services can do that, and we’ve led groundbreaking efforts to facilitate them. Since June alone, we’ve approved two new on-street parking permit programs for shared vehicles and electric mopeds, and we helped shepherd the San Francisco launch of the new, quickly-expanding regional Ford Go Bike bike-share system. These kinds of affordable, shared mobility options are proven to help reduce the need to drive and make streets less congested.

In our growing city and in these interesting times, we want to ensure that all people, especially those with the fewest options and the greatest needs, can get to where they’re going safely and reliably. We have to manage the ways cars are used to benefit the greatest amount of people in the most equitable way. That may require some hard trade-offs, but we have strong San Francisco values to guide us and a lot of exciting technology with the potential to make it better for all of us to get around the great city that is San Francisco.

This “Commentary” was originally ­published on SFMTA’s blog, Moving SF. Reprinted with permission.

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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Gallegos to Retire from SANDAG
SAN DIEGO—Gary Gallegos, executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) since 2001, has announced his retirement by the end of 2017. Before joining SANDAG, he was director for Caltrans District 11, covering San Diego and Imperial counties in California.

GRAPEVINE, TX—RailPros Field Services announced the appointments of Ron Zullig as manager of communications and signals and Terry Tate as assistant vice president of rail operations. Zullig, who has more than 30 years of railroad experience, will oversee the company’s signal department and provide expansion of the signal inspection, maintenance, training, cutover and testing services. Tate has more than 35 years of experience in transportation operations management with Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, serving most recently as general director of quality service for Union Pacific.

NEW YORK CITY—The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced the appointment of Cedrick Fulton as president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

Fulton comes to the MTA after 24 years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, most recently as director, bridges and tunnels, responsible for managing all six Port Authority bridges and tunnels, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and George Washington Bridge Bus Station.

Tim Mulligan
, who has been serving as acting president, will return to his prior position as executive vice president of MTA New York City Transit.

BOTHELL, WA—Rodell Notbohm, chief executive officer of Apollo Video Technology, recently was honored as 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year in the media, entertainment and communication category in the Pacific Northwest. The awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who excel in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

MUNICH, GERMANY—Knorr-Bremse AG has named Ralph Heuwing to succeed Lorenz ­Zwingmann as chief financial officer. ­Heuwing will join the company Nov. 9 and will succeed Zwingmann on Jan. 1, 2018, when he will join another company.

Heuwing previously was chief financial officer of Dürr AG, a technology company, since 2007 and was an international consultant in Germany and India.

LAKE COUNTY, OH—Dennis M. Lafferty and Lane H. Sheets recently joined the Laketran Board of Trustees, appointed by the Lake County Commissioners, and board President Brian Falkowski was reappointed to the board. Each will serve a three-year term. Lafferty is vice president, strategic operations and community relations, at the Bernie Moreno Companies. Sheets is owner and president of Diversified Business Systems. Falkowski has been a board member since 2011.

PHOENIX—The Valley Metro RPTA and Valley Metro Rail boards of directors recently elected new officers for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.

Valley Metro RPTA, the regional public transportation agency, elected Scottsdale Vice Mayor Suzanne Klapp chair, Glendale Councilmember Lauren ­Tolmachoff vice chair and Chandler Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke treasurer.

Valley Metro Rail, which plans, operates and maintains the region’s light rail system, elected Mesa Councilmember ­Christopher Glover chair and Phoenix Councilmember Thelda ­Williams vice chair.