Passenger Transport - September 1, 2017
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Texas, Louisiana Slammed by Hurricane Harvey; Transit Systems Helping to Manage Relief Efforts

Public transit systems in South Texas and Louisiana are coping with the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Among the hardest-hit agencies were Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO), Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA), Fort Bend County Public Transpor­tation and Port Arthur Transit.
CCRTA resumed regular service Aug. 31, and METRO began limited local bus service that day and full light rail service on the Red Line the next. Service is still suspended on the other two light rail corridors until further notice. Both agencies are providing medically necessary transportation on their ADA services.

“We’re in a recovery mode,” said Monica Russo, a METRO media specialist. “People have been working night and day since last Friday, trying to get people who have been displaced to shelter in safety and, on the other end, trying to get our transit services back up. That’s coming along slowly but surely. So far, we’ve transported almost 8,000 people to shelters, but that number may change,” Russo said. “It’s been a big effort and the result of a lot of hard-working people here.”

CCRTA released a statement today on its Facebook page, thanking riders for their patience and understanding.

Houston METRO moved buses out of harm's way as Hurricane Harvey approached.

“The safety of our riders is our number one concern and there were many streets that we could not drive on due to large amounts of debris on the road," the statement said. "We also utilized many resources for evacuating and returning residents in our Coastal Bend community. We are excited to say that we have returned to regular Monday through Friday service with regular hours."
Fort Bend Transit plans to resume normal service Sept. 5, but that will depend upon the ability of its vehicles to operate safely.
Port Arthur Transit remains out of service, but its vehicles are being used for emergency evacuations and to transport medical personnel. General Manager Ron McElhose said, "Ninety-eight percent of my drivers are in the shelters but I do have many coming in to help out."
Other systems, particularly along the coast, remain out of service.

APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White reached out to transit system leaders and offered the industry’s support and assistance in the recovery efforts. He also recognized "the heroic and courageous efforts of our Texas colleagues over the last week," including agencies moving their fleets to safe ground when possible.

"Even as these employees were dealing with significant personal losses of their homes and belongings," he said, "they worked to evacuate residents," especially the elderly and persons with disabilities.

With regard to offering help, the impacted systems will follow the FEMA process in assessing their needs, and the FTA regional offices will work to help facilitate resources from other systems. This process will take place over the next few weeks.

The Texas Transit Association (TTA) and South West Transit Association (SWTA), which are serving as clearinghouses for agency information, have set up donations for transit employees through distribution of gift cards.

VIA Metropolitan Transit is providing free trips to evacuees in emergency shelters in San Antonio and Bexar County and helping with evacuation deployment plans. 

Employees of Capital Metro in Austin worked with Texas agencies to evacuate people from areas affected by the hurricane.

Agencies are also assessing vehicle and facility conditions, staff availability and road conditions.

Polly Hanson, APTA's director of security, risk and emergency management, is in contact with the affected transit systems, and APTA will continue to provide updates and information on assistance being sought.

Ways You Can Help

-  Buy gift cards.
  TTA and SWTA are coordinating the purchase of gift cards and delivering them to the affected transit systems so they can distribute them directly to employees in need. Send to TEXAS ­Harvey Relief, TTA, ATTN: Meredith Greene, 106 E. 6th St., Suite 900, Austin, TX 78701. Make certain the card does not have additional fees the recipient must pay (i.e. some MasterCard®/VISA® gift cards).

Cash donations will not be accepted by TTA and SWTA.

Also, consider a donation to the American Red Cross.

National Preparedness Month
In related news, the Department of Homeland Security has designated September as National Preparedness Month, and APTA is helping share information on the theme “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

APTA emphasizes the importance of preparedness in advance of natural disasters and other emergencies that can occur in the aftermath of natural disasters and unforeseen events.

APTA’s Public Transportation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (PT-ISAC) will provide daily reports throughout September, including links to FEMA resources and information on ways ­public transit agencies can use them.

For example, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will send weekly safety bulletins matching the theme of each week of National Preparedness Month. Safety and emergency staff will visit MTA’s bus and rail systems promoting the importance of a commuter emergency plan and distributing blank copies of a plan template available from DHS. During the last week of September, designated as Rail Safety Week nationwide, MTA employees will emphasize railroad safety awareness Sept. 26 as part of Operation Lifesaver’s Operation Clear Track event.

RapidLink Brings BRT to Riverside, CA

BRT made its first appearance in Riverside, CA, with the opening of the River­side Transit Agency (RTA) ­RapidLink Gold Line, an express route in the 19-mile corridor between the Corona Transit Center and the University of California at Riverside.

RTA hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony a few days ahead of the Aug. 28 launch of service.

“People have been asking for a better way around town. We have listened. And we have delivered,” said RTA Chair Linda Krupa. “We have delivered something our community can be proud of. Something that has the potential to be big, significant and affirming. Something that has the potential to make a difference in our lives.”

RapidLink operates with 16 specially branded, CNG-powered 40-foot buses from Gillig that can carry up to 38 seated customers and 17 standees. On-board amenities include free Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and racks that can hold up to two bikes.

Krupa said, “Having these new RapidLink buses on the streets gives us a major boost in terms of what we can offer our customers, and we are thrilled to introduce the next generation of RTA buses to members of the public who are ready to try public transit—maybe for the first time.”

The route operates weekdays during peak commuting hours, serving 14 locations and departing every 15 minutes, providing service up to 30 percent faster than other buses along the corridor.

The BRT line is RTA’s latest effort to expand service during a time of significant growth, including new buses four years ago, adding bus shelters at 55 locations earlier this year and the recent launch of a ­BusWatch app that provides real-time bus locations and arrival times for all routes at stops systemwide. Future plans may include new mobility hubs and a second RapidLink route.

RTA Chair Linda Krupa, center with scissors, and other members of the RTA Board of Directors cut the ribbon to introduce RapidLink Gold Line BRT.

SMART Commuter Rail Takes Off

Passenger rail service returned to the corridor between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, CA, for the first time since 1958 with the launch of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) service on Aug. 25.

The 43-mile system, which uses PTC technology, stretches from Santa Rosa near the Sonoma County Airport to downtown San Rafael, adjacent to a major transit hub. When several proposed extensions are complete, SMART will provide 70 miles of service, connecting passengers with jobs, education centers, retail hubs and housing.

“SMART, in just over five years, has built a complete transit system,” said General Manager Farhad Mansourian. “We replaced 43 miles of antiquated tracks with continuously welded rail, we have built 10 stations and are in the process of building more, and we have rebuilt or replaced more than 30 bridges."

Mansourian called the grand opening “a historic day for the North [San Francisco] Bay [region],” adding, “We now have a safe, reliable transportation option to sitting in traffic gridlock every day.”

A local television reporter interviewed passengers on the initial run of SMART passenger rail.


Md. MTA Breaks Ground For Purple Line; Secretary Chao, Gov. Hogan Sign FFGA

DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a $900 million FTA Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) Aug. 28 for the Maryland Purple Line Light Rail Project that will connect two Maryland counties bordering Washington, DC.

“The Purple Line is a great example of what can be achieved when federal, state and private partners work together,” Chao said at the ground breaking. “Combining U.S. Department of Transportation resources with private funds, this project is well on its way to transforming public transit in urban Maryland.”

Hogan called the Purple Line “a big win for the state of Maryland and … a major benefit to the national capital region. It is a shining example of what can be accomplished when our federal, state, county and private sector partners work together.”

FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes said, “The Maryland Purple Line will create a fast and efficient connection for its residents as well as a strong foundation for strategic development along the corridor.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao at the FFGA for the Maryland Purple Line Light Rail Project.

The 16.2-mile Maryland Purple Line, with 21 stations, will connect major activity centers in suburban Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma-Langley Park, College Park and New Carrollton to three Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail lines, all three MARC commuter rail lines operated by the Maryland Transit Administration and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line. Although the project will provide direct connections with Metrorail and MARC, it will remain physically and operationally separate.

In addition to the FFGA, funding for the line includes an $874.6 million TIFIA loan to Purple Line Transit Partners LLC, for construction, and a $5.6 billion P3 contract between Maryland DOT and Purple Line Transit Partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the system, both approved in 2016. Maryland DOT will be the owner of the project and its selected private partner, Purple Line Transit Partners, will implement the project on a design-build-finance-operate-maintain basis.

Chao said, “P3s hold great potential for revitalizing our infrastructure and demonstrate how communities’ projects can benefit through access to additional funding resources, which can accelerate project delivery and provide greater innovation.”

NTSB Calls for Inward- and Outward-Facing Cameras on Rail Transit Vehicles

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued three safety recommendations calling for the installation of crash-resistant inward- and outward-facing cameras in all rail transit vehicles, saying the cameras would greatly aid in crash investigations.

The recommendations, issued Aug. 31 to FTA and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), call for recorders with a minimum of 12-hour continuous-recording capability that can verify crew actions and train operating conditions. NTSB said the recorders must be easily accessible to review, with appropriate limitations on public release, for accident investigation and as a tool to improve operational safety.

“These devices, which are becoming cheaper and more reliable, are critical tools in our investigations,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “In 47 of the 64 rail transit accidents the NTSB investigated between 1976 and 2015, audio and image recorders would have greatly helped in learning what happened by documenting and preserving data describing the actions and conditions leading to an accident.”

NTSB is currently investigating a Feb. 21, 2017, accident in Upper Darby, PA, near Philadelphia, where a SEPTA train collided with the rear of a second SEPTA train stopped on a loop track near a station. The train was not equipped with forward-facing cameras nor audio or image recorders in the operating cab. The NTSB-recommended recorders would have documented the operator’s actions, providing investigators valuable insights to how and why the crash happened.

Williams Appointed FTA Deputy Administrator

FTA has announced the appointment of K. Jane ­Williams as deputy administrator.

Williams previously was director of the Washington area transit office at Maryland DOT, where she worked closely with the leadership of the Maryland Transit Administration and ­Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. She has served at the Departments of Energy and Labor under President Reagan and the Department of Interior under President George H.W. Bush and was a senior legislative advisor to Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).

Brunswick, Maine, Gets New Express Bus Service

The Greater Portland (ME) Transit District (GPT) expanded its METRO BREEZ express bus service to Brunswick, ME, on Aug. 24, with 14 weekday round trips and seven on Saturdays.

“As many of you know, the BREEZ has been very successful with the Portland, Yarmouth and Freeport [areas],” said METRO Board President John Thompson. “This added service to Brunswick shows the success of BREEZ continues to fulfill an important and much needed express service niche in this region.”

The Brunswick Town Council voted earlier this year to join the existing service on a two-year pilot basis after receiving a reduced cost estimate from GPT of $76,000 and a $10,000 annual pledge from local employer Bowdoin College. The council earlier had rejected expanding services but reconsidered after local businesses expressed concern about employment shortages due to a lack of public transportation.

METRO Board President John Thompson, cutting ribbon, and METRO General Manager Greg Jordan, third from left, join local and state officials including Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt, second from left, at launch ceremonies for the extension of BREEZ express bus service to Brunswick, ME.


APTA Continues Recruitment of Its Next President

APTA is continuing work on the recruitment of its next President & CEO. All interested persons are encouraged to apply before the closing date of Sept. 22, 2017. APTA is also asking members to identify qualified candidates and encourage them to apply for the position.

APTA’s CEO Search Task Force released the position’s job description on July 5, marking the culmination of eight months of intense work. The APTA Board of Directors reviewed and approved the job description, performance evaluation policy and compensation philosophy at its June meeting during the APTA Rail Conference in Baltimore. APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes chairs the task force, which includes a cross-section of member volunteers.

Among the major qualifications are senior 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 task force has compiled a list of the most important attributes APTA members want in their next leader and conducted outreach with the Business Member Board of Governors, transit board members and CEOs from large, medium and small agencies. The task force held listening sessions and also gathered additional information from other APTA members.

The job description is posted here. The ad appears in the classified section of this issue of Passenger Transport.

All inquiries must be made by contacting Gregg Moser of Krauthamer and Associates.

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 & CEO will start in early 2018.

New CEOs Named

Quinn, Maryland Transit Administration

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) has named Kevin B. Quinn Jr. to be administrator. He had been serving in an acting capacity since June.

Quinn was promoted from his position as director of planning and programming and succeeds Paul Comfort, who stepped down as administrator. In his previous role, Quinn worked directly with numerous departments, from administration to operations. He also worked in the private sector as Mid-Atlantic regional planning manager for STV in Baltimore.

Quinn serves on the APTA Board of Directors and several APTA committees.

Guillouard, RATP Group

The president of the French Republic has named Catherine Guillouard president and chief executive of RATP Group, the parent organization of RATP Dev International.

Guillouard started her career at the Treasury Department of the French Economy Ministry before working 10 years in executive positions at Air France, followed by tenures at communications and infrastructure firms.

Kawada, Interim, SANDAG

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has named Kim Kawada, chief deputy executive director since 2013, as interim executive director following the announcement of Gary Gallegos’ retirement.

Kawada joined SANDAG in 1995 and has served in numerous leadership roles for almost 19 years. She is a member of the APTA Policy & Planning Committee and Metropolitan Planning Subcommittee.


GCRTA's Brookpark Station Reopens After Renovation

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) celebrated the completion of renovations to its busiest station, the Brookpark Station on the Red Line, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 23.

“The station is now modern, accessible, convenient, safe and first-class,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese at the event. “Our customers love that this station is big, it’s bright and has an open feel; they love the use of glass and bright lights and they truly appreciate the amenities.”

RTA serves more than 750,000 annual customers at Brookpark, with 200 trains each day.

New elements of the $16.5 million project include a tunnel underneath the existing RTA and freight railroad tracks that connects the east and west entrances; a new rail platform; a convenient bus interface where three bus routes connect to and from the Red Line; expansive sidewalks and entrances with new landscaping; enhanced passenger indoor and outdoor waiting areas; additional emergency call boxes in the station and parking lots; real-time information signage; and 1,300 parking spaces.

Calabrese also noted the station’s convenient location and quick access to downtown Cleveland. “It has become one of our customers’ favorite places to park and board the Red Line to head downtown to see the Indians, Cavs and the Browns, or to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” he said. “The ride on the Red Line has definitely become part of the fun of attending an event downtown.”

Greater Cleveland RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese, third from left, and board President George F. Dixon III, right, join other board members and local officials at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new Brookpark Rapid Station near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.


San Joaquin Replaces BRT Vehicles with Electric Buses

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA, recently converted one of its BRT Express routes to 100 percent electric, operating with four zero-emission vehicles from Proterra—becoming the nation’s first 100 percent electric BRT route.

“We at RTD are proud of our history of commitment to clean energy initiatives,” said Chief Executive Officer Donna DeMartino. “With the nation’s first all-electric BRT route, RTD and Stockton are now leading the charge in providing safe, efficient, reliable and exceptionally clean transportation to people who live and work in south Stockton.”

The four new electric buses join two already in regular RTD service, with two more entering service in the near future and an additional four by the end of the year.

RTD has also extended the route to serve additional educational and employment locations including Pacific Gas and Electric, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the Economic Development Department.

RTD will launch a second all-electric BRT route in January 2018 along the MLK corridor in South Stockton. That route will connect with RTD’s three existing BRT corridors.

The electric buses can travel up to 40 miles or two hours on a single charge, which takes about 10 minutes to complete at RTD’s charging stations.

San Joaquin RTD CEO Donna DeMartino joins Proterra President and CEO Ryan Popple, center, and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs at the announcement of all-electric BRT service.


VVTA Route Extends Service

The Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA), Hesperia, CA, recently introduced a new hourly route that connects the agency’s major transfer point at Victor Valley College (VVC) to previously unserved key locations including the VVC Regional Public Safety Training Center, Walmart Distribution Center and High Desert Juvenile Detention Center.

VVTA board member and Apple Valley Council Member Barb Stanton called the route “a milestone for the community,” noting that the center offers training for future firefighters, police officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians and Walmart employs more than 1,000 people.

VVTA Chair and Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia said the new service “opens significant opportunities for those families, students and senior citizens who had few public transportation options previously.”

Capital Metro Expands Service

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX, is joining the city of Round Rock to introduce bus service on three new routes.

Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan noted that the bus service is a one-year pilot program “to gauge ridership and work with the community to meet transit needs. We want to offer a network that will provide simplified routes, increased frequency, connections to more places and service to more jobs.”

Capital Metro President/Chief Executive Officer Linda Watson said, “Our goal is to provide real transportation alternatives for Central Texas. We’re proud of our partnerships with the cities and agencies in the region and are thrilled to be able to provide public transit for the people of Round Rock.”

The expansion was developed from Round Rock’s Transit Master Plan, adopted in 2015, to provide a blueprint for improving local mobility and regional connectivity over the next 10 years. The city’s population grew by more than 44 percent in the last decade and the number of residents and jobs continues to grow.

Agencies Served Eclipse Riders

Public transit agencies in four communities shared how they prepared in advance for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

In Salem, OR, Cherriots Director of Communications Patricia Feeny said the agency provided riders with digital and print information about the eclipse, and as a safety precaution, paused all bus service for five minutes during the totality period.

On the opposite coast, the Greenville Transit Authority (Greenlink) prepared for the nearly two million visitors expected in South Carolina. Nicole McAden, marketing and public affairs specialist for Greenlink, said the agency avoided a staff storage by hosting a pizza party and giving away commemorative T-shirts to employees who worked throughout the event. Only one operator was away from the job.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (RideKC) distributed information about how to view the eclipse safely. To ensure safety on the roads, RideKC halted all operations for the duration of the natural phenomenon and allowed passengers to get off buses for a better view.

St. Louis Metro External Communications Manager Jerry Vallely said his agency held all its MetroLink light rail vehicles at stations for a few minutes during the eclipse “out of an overabundance of safety.”

He continued, “Everything went well with the solar eclipse in St. Louis. It consumed everyone in the region. We don’t have ridership numbers yet, but a lot of people did choose to ride Metro to get around and avoid the anticipated traffic that everyone was worried about.”

Maintenance employees at Cherriots in Salem, OR, watched the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse through their special glasses.


TCAT Provides Real-Time Information

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Inc. (TCAT), Ithaca, NY, has begun providing real-time information to its passengers via free mobile apps and its website as part of a $1.5 million Information Technology/Intelligent Transportation System contract with Avail Technologies.

TCAT also is working with third-party developers to make data available in other mobile apps including the internationally available TransitApp, which offers a trip-planning function.

“Everyone has preferences about what types of interface they like to work with and what they’re really trying to get out of an app. We are especially pleased and very grateful that Transit[App]’s team went above and beyond to have their app available to TCAT riders at the start of the real-time rollout,” said Service Development Manager Matt Yarrow, manager of the agency’s side of the project.

The majority of funding came from the city of Ithaca, with partial support from federal sources.

In coming weeks, TCAT will install electronic monitors displaying real-time information at its two main hubs in Ithaca and two stops on the Cornell University campus. Additional monitors will be added as funding becomes available.

FTA Seeks Applications for $30 Million in Ferry Funds

FTA is seeking applications through Oct. 23 for approximately $30 million in Fiscal Year 2017 competitive grant funding under the Passenger Ferry Grant Program.

“Waterways define and shape the economies of many of our communities, and in these places passenger ferry service is essential,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Ferry services provide a crucial lifeline, and we must ensure that they are safe and dependable for the people who rely on them.”

FTA will award competitive grants to states and public entities to repair and modernize ferryboats, terminals and related facilities and equipment, support existing passenger ferry service and establish new service. ­Eligible applicants must be designated recipients or eligible direct recipients of Section 5307 funds, which include public entities engaged in providing a public transportation passenger ferry service in urbanized areas.

Learn more here.

FTA Launches Joint Procurement Clearinghouse Online

FTA recently launched a new online procurement tool that allows federal grant recipients to purchase rolling stock jointly. The Joint Procurement Clearinghouse, required under the FAST Act, will enable small public transit providers to pool purchases of buses, railcars and ferries to create economies of scale.

The user-friendly site, developed with input from the public transit industry, allows procurement staff to post detailed information (such as bus size, engine type, etc.) on potential opportunities for joint procurement. To access the clearinghouse, click here.

UK Prime Minister Visits Alexander Dennis Plant

In recognition of Alexander Dennis Limited’s £44 million ($56 million) contract to deliver 90 low-emission double-decker buses to Mexico City, British Prime Minister Theresa May toured the company’s bus manufacturing plant in Guildford, Surrey, UK, with Chief Executive Colin Robertson. The order is the company’s largest initial order from a single customer in a new market.

PSTA Partners with St. Petersburg Police

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL, recently joined the St. Petersburg Police Department to create a police workstation at PSTA’s Grand Central Station where officers can type reports and take meal breaks near the business district. “PSTA and the city of St. Petersburg have a long-standing partnership with mutual support for initiatives and projects of all sizes,” said PSTA Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller, second from right. “What this partnership is really about is it solidifies the significant role that public transit has in our communities. This facility is not only a hub for our riders, it is a resource for the entire neighborhood.”

Industry Briefs

Making a Difference in Denver — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver focuses on the pride of longtime employees in its current recruitment campaign. The ads speak directly to potential job applicants about the specific, meaningful differences employees can make in the lives of the individuals they serve. RTD developed the campaign by surveying hundreds of employees to determine the aspects of their work that led to job fulfillment.

NCTD Contracts with MV Transportation — MV Transportation recently began providing revenue operations for the North County Transit District’s paratransit, fixed-route and specialized transportation services in Oceanside, CA, under a contract for a seven-year base term with one three-year option.

Stertil-Koni Marks a Milestone — Stertil-Koni USA recently commemorated the manufacture of its 7,500th heavy duty vehicle lift at its facility in Streator, IL, by painting four lifts including the 7,500th with a custom silver paint coating and adding a commemorative brass plaque signed by the entire production team. The set of four lifts was then auctioned off at the company’s annual distributor meeting, with a portion of the proceeds allocated for charity.

Urban Solar’s LED Lighting for Tempe — Urban Solar has entered into a five-year contract with the city of Tempe, AZ, to provide solar-powered LED lighting for ­public transit shelters, including a stop recognition feature.

College Students Ride Free on OCTA — Beginning with the fall semester, students at Santa Ana College can take unlimited free rides on Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority buses as part of a three-year pilot program. The program is intended to encourage the use of public transportation through the agency’s OC Bus system and to take cars off the road.


Annual Meeting & EXPO: Something for Everyone

Thousands of public transportation professionals will convene in Atlanta Oct. 8-11 to participate in APTA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO. The EXPO, a triennial event, is the industry’s premier trade show and will feature more than 780 manufacturers and suppliers. The Annual Meeting schedule begins Oct. 7 with committee meetings and the Annual Business Meeting and election of APTA officers.

At the Opening General Session Oct. 8, Joseph F. Coughlin, founder and director, AgeLab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will speak about how shifting demographics and rapidly evolving technology are converging to drive innovation and shape the future of the industry—a trend he calls “disruptive demographics.”

That afternoon, a session on integrated and innovative management will focus on strategies agencies can use to think outside the box as they cultivate and collaborate with new partners in the world of shared mobility.

Other sessions throughout the week will include a panel of procurement experts with more than 100 ­combined years of industry experience who will field questions and talk about how they have successfully navigated through tough situations; a session on ­capital programs/major projects covering extraordinary projects in the U.S. and overseas; officials from FTA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency reporting on how transit agencies have managed resources in the wake of catastrophic events; and representatives from the Center for Urban Transit Research speaking about a recent research project regarding successful practices and training initiatives to reduce accidents and incidents at transit agencies.

Also, an executive roundtable will highlight how leaders today are transforming the cultures of their organizations and a session will showcase lessons learned from members who participated in APTA’s April 2017 study mission to Asia.

These are just some of the many sessions at the Annual Meeting. To see all the sessions, click here.

Sustainability, Multimodal Planning Experts Share Ideas at Joint Workshop

APTA recognized signatories of the Sustainability Commitment for achieving new levels during the recent Sustainability and Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop in Minneapolis.

Honored were Amtrak, a founding signatory that advanced from Bronze to Gold Level; TRC Companies, Gold Level; Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority and Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, both of which moved from Entry Level to Silver; Louis Berger, Silver Level; Transit Authority of River City (TARC), Louisville, KY, which advanced to Bronze Level from Entry Level; and Wendel, Bronze Level.

Also, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) achieved top honors in a competition critiquing and judging paper transit agency system maps. SFMTA staff received the Stephen T. Parry Memorial Award, named after the late transportation manager who spent much of his career with the former Los Angeles Rapid Transit District, AC Transit in Oakland, CA, and CHK America.

APTA Sustainability Committee Chair and TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker and Multimodal Operations Planning Subcommittee Chair Paul Bignardi, principal transportation planner, SFMTA, welcomed the more than 300 attendees on Monday morning.

During the host forum, Alene Tchourumoff of the Metropolitan Council and Adam Harrington, Pat Jones and Lucy Galbraith of Metro Transit, host system for the workshop, provided attendees many best practices reflecting the agency’s accomplishments with specific take-aways that can be used at other agencies.

The Multimodal Operations Planning Committee elected Cyndi Harper of Metro Transit chair, Dan Boyle of Dan Boyle and Associates first vice chair and Michael Abegg of Solano County Transit second vice chair.

Sustainability and multimodal planning experts participated in the recent workshop in Minneapolis.


Bongiorno Named APTA Assistant VP

Deborah Bongiorno, senior managing editor of Passenger Transport for the past four and one-half years, has been promoted to APTA assistant vice president-member services, responsible for APTA’s membership and meetings groups.

Bongiorno has extensive association management experience including twice serving as a vice president for associations. Her background includes work in membership, meeting planning, external relations, marketing and communications, as well as membership recruitment and retention and managing programs to strengthen their value to the membership.

APTA Issues Standard on Fatigue Management Program Requirements

As a response to the issue of public transit worker fatigue, APTA recently published a standard on Fatigue Management Program Requirements.

FTA called attention to the issue of transit worker fatigue in 2014 by tasking the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) to develop recommendations on the key elements that should comprise a Safety Management System (SMS) approach to a fatigue management program. TRACS issued its final report the following year.

The APTA standard is designed to help rail systems establish and implement fatigue management programs using an SMS approach, which will ensure that management, supervisory staff and all employees understand fatigue and how to proactively deal with it. The standard also includes recommendations regarding the usage of fatigue risk management systems.

The goal of a fatigue management program is to implement policies and procedures that support optimal personnel alertness and performance. Managing fatigue also promotes health and safety while reducing the likelihood that impairment due to fatigue will compromise public safety.

This standard was developed to help individual rail systems create formal programs that, at a minimum, apply to train operators, operations controller center controllers and any other person identified by the system as relevant and/or safety-critical. It applies to systems that operate heavy rail (subway systems), light rail, streetcars and heritage trolley systems, but not to commuter railroads.

Read the standard here.


Public Transportation Is Key to Dealing with Climate Change


Cities, states, organizations of all sizes and everyday Americans are stepping up to fight climate change.

We know that making the switch to public transportation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a low-emission alternative to driving. The average passenger vehicle produces about 1 lb. of carbon dioxide per mile traveled whereas bus transit only produces .18 lbs. of carbon dioxide at full capacity. By 2020, it’s estimated that more than 50 percent of carbon emissions could be abated by “the combined impact of second-generation biofuel, traffic flow, shifts to public transportation, and eco-driving measures.”

Yet, each day, millions of Americans reverse out of their driveways in concert and begin their commute to work. The majority of them—77 percent—do it alone, despite their neighbors often traveling to a similar location.

A report from Deloitte estimates that a simple switch to “car sharing” could reduce nationwide car ownership by nearly 2.1 million. It could save $185 million in wasted fuel and result in almost 1 million metric tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions. If simply increasing the passenger load ­factor in a four-person vehicle can reduce such a significant amount of emissions and wasted fuel, imagine the impact of switching to public transportation.

An added bonus to taking public transit is, of course, the reduction of teeth-grinding gridlock—especially if you’re an urbanite. City dwellers assume that buses and trains take longer, but the truth is that driving is most often the transportation mode that causes delays.

While public transit represents an immediate action that individuals and organizations can take toward combating climate change, it also represents the beginning of a more sustainable future. In the last century, cities were designed with personal automobiles in mind. Now, these same cities, with the support of their mayors and other elected officials, can become key actors in the transition to sustainable practices—in particular by enacting policies that favor alternative transit modes built around public transportation.

According to APTA, public transportation could play a larger role in saving the environment but “only 54 percent of households in the U.S. have access to public transportation.” As such, the critical first step is for the U.S. to expand coverage so more Americans can “take full advantage of transit’s environmental and economic benefits.”

As CityLab points out, cities and transit authorities must provide residents with transportation options they like and will use. This doesn’t mean relying on ridesharing or introducing autonomous vehicles; it’s uncertain that AVs will have an immediate impact on congestion or emissions problems. What it does mean is providing the public with mobility options that fit their needs.

First Step: On-Demand Transit
Public transit agencies’ essential first step to providing residents with desirable transportation options is incorporating on-demand transit. Ridesharing companies have reshaped the public’s expectations of transportation.

It’s possible for municipal public transit agencies to supplement their current services with a demand-driven microtransit option that addresses the needs (and newfound expectations) of riders while leveraging the existing infrastructure of fixed-route services. As an added benefit, microtransit is flexible enough to address today’s coverage issues while adjusting along with demand in the future.

The combination of mobile phones, sensors and GPS tracking, traffic data feeds, data analytics and mapping software can put all the options at commuter’s fingertips—including the multimodal combinations that are quickest and cheapest.

It’s estimated that if demand-driven transit could facilitate 30 percent of New York City’s trips, vehicle miles traveled would be reduced by 52 million trips per year, or 431.2 million vehicle miles eliminated. That reduction signifies congestion savings to commuters of $495 million per year and 14 million hours in delay saved.

For the city of New York, the same reduction in vehicle miles traveled would save the city $959 million on road construction over 25 years and result in a 139,000-metric-ton annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Imagine these same results applied in cities all over the United States. Imagine the time, money, and frustration that public transportation could save you and your community. Now, imagine how significant the impact could be across the globe. Throughout the world, public transit is the key to building tomorrow’s sustainable future.

Dave Kirkpatrick is managing director and co-founder of SJF Ventures, a positive impact venture fund with offices in ­Durham, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. He is also the board chair of TransLoc, an APTA member, a technology provider of flexible agency-owned micro­transit solutions.

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared Aug. 15, 2017, in The Hill. 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

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

 ATLANTA—Shelton Goode has joined the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority as executive director of diversity and inclusion. Goode has more than 20 years of human resource and business development experience, most recently as director of diversity and inclusion at Oshkosh Corporation.

WASHINGTON, DC—Operation Lifesaver Inc. announced that six new members have joined its board of directors.

From Union Pacific Railroad, John Allberry, general director safety, succeeds John Simpson, senior manager grade crossing compliance; from Norfolk Southern Corporation, John A. Irwin, assistant vice president-safety and environmental/chief safety officer, succeeds Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director; from BNSF Railway Company, Mark A. Schultz, vice president, safety, training and operations support, succeeds Steven Neubauer, director, field safety support; and from Kansas City Southern, Jeffrey M. Songer, chief operating officer/executive vice president, succeeds Danny Lites, public safety director.

Steven Covey, chief of police and chief security officer, Canadian National Railway, and Kenneth Glover, senior vice president of safety & compliance, Genesee & Wyoming, were named to at-large seats.

NEW YORK CITY—Elliot (Lee) Sander, a former executive director and chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and commissioner of New York City DOT, has joined Hatch as managing director, transportation, and a director of Hatch USA.

JACKSONVILLE, FL—The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has announced the permanent appointment of Gregory B. Hayes as vice president of finance and chief financial officer, a job he previously held on an interim basis. Hayes joined JTA in 2016 as senior manager of financial planning and analysis.

ST. CLOUD, MN—Sunny Hesse has joined Metro Bus as director of human resources after serving as human resources director with Wright County, MN.

PITTSBURGH—The Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC) recently elected new officers to one-year terms: James Robinson, president; Leonard Locke, vice president; Andrew Hussein, secretary; and Stu Strickland, treasurer. ACTC is a volunteer organization created to communicate rider questions and concerns to the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

PHOENIX—Valley Metro announced the appointments of Mary Modelski as internal auditor and Paula Novacek as controller to the agency’s Finance Division.

Modelski has more than 18 years of experience auditing diverse business processes, operational efficiency and effectiveness. Novacek has worked in governmental accounting and auditing for more than 24 years.

WASHINGTON, DC—Former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has joined the AlphaVu Board of Advisors. Kirk served five terms in the House before joining the Senate in 2010.

MEDFORD, MA—Bob Skinner, executive director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) from 1994 until his retirement in 2015, has joined the Cambridge Systematics Board of Directors. Before becoming executive director, Skinner led TRB’s policy study activities.

Cambridge Systematics also announced that Principal and Executive Vice President James Brogan will oversee a consolidation of the firm’s planning practices in four national practice areas: planning and policy, freight and economics, safety, and transit and rail. Brogan is a 17-year employee of the company.

Tracy Selin, a principal of the firm based in Atlanta, will serve as operations manager for the new group. She has 21 years of transportation planning experience.

COLUMBUS, OH—Michael Stevens has joined the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Board of Trustees for a three-year term, appointed by the city of Columbus. Stevens was recently named the city’s first chief innovation officer, responsible for the Smart Columbus initiative. He previously was president and chief executive officer of Lake County Partners, an economic development corporation, and the city’s deputy development director.

Also, COTA announced the appointment of Terri Eyerman as director of finance. Eyerman has served as treasurer/chief financial officer at two Ohio school districts was area treasurer for Columbus City Schools for 16 years.

OWOSSO, MI—The Byk-Rak LLC subsidiary of Midwest Bus announced the hiring of Hayden Wheeker as a national sales representative and Chuck Rodman as a technical sales manager. Wheeker joined the company following his graduation from the University of Dayton in May and previously interned there for two summers. Rodman spent more than 46 years as a service and sales representative for Thermo King.

TAMPA, FL—Kathleen Shanahan, a member of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) Board of Directors, has been selected to represent the board on the newly reconstructed Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) board. Director John Melendez will serve as the alternate representative to the TBARTA board.

NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA has announced two new vice presidents: ­Stephen Bonina, based in Newark, NJ, and Kevin Cox in the ­Murray, UT, office.Bonina serves as the eastern region fleet manager for WSP’s transit and rail technical excellence center. He has more than 33 years of experience and serves on several APTA committees.

Cox has 25 years of industry experience. He returns to WSP from an international engineering organization where he served as deputy director of construction for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation rail project.

LOS ANGELES—Milo Victoria, a 41-year public transit industry veteran, has been named general manager for BYD Coach and Bus, based in Lancaster, CA. He began his career as a transit bus mechanic at Los Angeles Metro, ultimately becoming chief operating officer/assistant general manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrobus division and chief executive officer of Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA.

BYD also announced the promotion of Bobby Hill, previously Midwest regional sales manager, to vice president of U.S. sales for BYD Coach and Bus.

DAYTON, OH—The Greater ­Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has promoted Daron Brown, deputy director for the maintenance department since 2016, to director of maintenance.Before coming to Dayton, Brown spent more than 26 years in various jobs at the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. He is a member of the APTA Technical Maintenance Committee.

PHILADELPHIA—Michael A. ­Carroll, deputy managing director for the Philadelphia Office of Transportation and Infrastructure, has been appointed by the city to a five-year term on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Board of Directors. He has more than 25 years of transportation experience.

LOS ANGELES—WSP USA has named Steven Wolf business development director for the acoustics, vibration and air quality (AVAQ) group in its Los Angeles office. He has more than 35 years of experience in public transit, rail, highway, construction and building acoustics.

SPOKANE, WA—Brandon Rapez-Betty, customer and community relations manager for the Spokane Transit Authority (STA), recently was honored as a Rising Star by the Spokane Journal of Business. During his three and a half years with STA, Rapez-Betty was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 1 in November 2016 to fund the 10-year STA Moving Forward plan and led public outreach and communications for other STA projects.

Also, Emily Arneson, STA community ombudsman and accessibility officer, received the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the Washington State Bar Association for her contributions to the professional community, especially the young lawyers, within her initial years of practice. Emily joined STA in 2017.

LOS ANGELES—Kelly Hines has joined the Los Angeles office of CH2M as a senior payment systems manager. She previously served Los Angeles Metro as deputy executive officer and director of TAP technology systems.

FRANKLIN, TN—John R. Wingo, member attorney with the Business Litigation Service Group at Stites & Harbison PLLC, has joined the TMA Group (Transportation Management Association) Board of Directors.

ISELIN, NJ—Mott MacDonald announced the appointment of Grant Holland as a vice president in the firm’s advisory practice, based in Austin, TX. Holland has more than 32 years experience in project management and business development on both sides of P3s and design-build projects.

GERMANTOWN, WI—WAGO announced the appointment of Andy Chesla to its sales force serving southern Minnesota and South Dakota. He joins the company after 10 years in sales positions with Power/mation.