Passenger Transport - December 1, 2017
|A map showing the route and six new stations on the Foothill Gold Line Montclair Extension.|
The city of Albuquerque, NM, opened the first four miles of its nine-mile Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) BRT line on Nov. 25.
ART operates with 60-foot articulated battery-electric buses from BYD, which are expected to provide increased reliability and simplified maintenance as well as a 50 percent savings on monthly energy and maintenance costs compared to diesel vehicles. When the route is complete by the end of the year, it will serve 19 level-boarding stations, four curbside and 15 in the median, and will address service issues in one of the city’s most congested corridors.
“We wanted to help ABQ RIDE improve mobility for all while offering a world-class transit experience,” said Dayna Crawford, deputy director and project manager for ART. “The city’s commitment and vision, combined with community participation and support, made it possible to deliver a BRT system that exceeded all objectives.”
In addition, ART recently became the first U.S. BRT system to receive the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s (ITDP) top honor, the Gold Standard. The institute evaluates BRT corridors worldwide based on commonly-shared criteria and ranks those at the highest level as either Bronze, Silver or Gold.
“This rating is the culmination of hard work and planning by transit and city staff that began in 2011 and will continue into the future,” said Bruce Rizzieri, director of ABQ RIDE, which operates ART. “But we believe what put us into the Gold Standard was attention to detail, zero-emissions buses and other touches which make ART a world-class bus rapid transit system.”
|Holding the first ITDP Gold Award presented to a U.S. BRT system on ART’s first day of service, from left: Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry; Dayna Crawford, ART project manager; and Michael Riordan, the city’s chief operating officer.|
The APTA Board of Directors welcomed Paul P. Skoutelas, the association's incoming president and chief executive officer, today at its meeting at the APTA offices after Skoutelas met with the APTA staff on Nov. 27.
|From left: Paul P, Skoutelas, APTA Vice Chair David Stackrow and APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.|
APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. and Doran J. Barnes, immediate past chair and chair of the CEO Selection Task Force, described the selection process. In introducing Skoutelas to the staff, Ford called him “one of the great leaders in our industry.”
Skoutelas, who will join APTA Jan. 3, is currently national director of WSP’s Transit and Rail Technical Excellence Center and serves as national transit and rail market leader. He joined WSP in 2005 after two successful tenures as public transit agency chief executive officer, at the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando.
|From left: Doran J. Barnes, Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., and Paul P. Skoutelas.|
Photos by Mitchell Wood
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) recently introduced the first of more than 200 new light rail vehicles being manufactured by Siemens at its Sacramento facility—the company’s largest U.S. light rail car order.
“An incredible amount of work went into making sure these state-of-the-art, once-in-a-generation vehicles are going to work well for Muni riders for many years to come,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin.
Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rolling Stock, said, “Siemens is thrilled to celebrate this important milestone not only with SFMTA and city officials, but also with the more than 700,000 passengers who use San Francisco’s world-class transportation system.” He continued, “We’re excited that these light rail vehicles are not only designed in California, but also produced in California, for Californians.”
The vehicle offers a new seating configuration that provides wider aisles for more capacity, along with better customer signage, quieter cars and improved design. The rollout is ahead of schedule, according to SFMTA: the agency originally planned to have 24 of the new vehicles in service by the end of 2019 but is on schedule to roll out 68 vehicles over the same period of time. Eventually the new trains will expand the size of the fleet by more than 70 percent.
|SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin welcomes the first new light rail car from Siemens to service on the San Francisco Municipal Railway.|
Some two months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, local reports state that, although almost 25 percent of the island’s municipalities remain without electricity, the government anticipates that 95 percent of power will be restored by Dec. 15. Current production is close to 60 percent.
APTA has collected $13,500 to help employees of Tren Urbano, the island’s rail system, including $10,000 from the Business Member Board of Governors and more from participants in the APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Atlanta and APTA staff.
The Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority will use $8.7 million in federal funds through FHWA to repair the first 720 intersections on the island with traffic lights knocked out by the hurricane. “Virtually 100 percent of the traffic lights in Puerto Rico suffered damages during the passage of Hurricane Maria,” said Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
More than 100 passenger rail professionals gathered at the APTA offices Nov. 29 to discuss strategies for advancing high-speed and intercity passenger rail in North America.
In a forum titled “Getting to a Tipping Point for High-Performance Passenger Rail,” domestic and international passenger rail service providers described new developments and service improvements.
Attendees were briefed on pending projects being coordinated through the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, California, Texas, Nevada and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, along with international developments in Japan, Spain, Germany and France.
Vanessa Perez represented the International Union of Railways (UIC), the global association of high-speed rail systems. APTA works closely with UIC to share experience and expertise in an international forum.
A luncheon presentation by FRA Acting Administrator Heath Hall emphasized the overarching importance of safety, opportunities to expedite projects via regulatory reform and the need for high-performance rail as part of a balanced transportation system. Attendees also heard from congressional staff on pending legislative issues including budget, appropriations and prospects for a federal infrastructure bill.
|Speakers at the APTA High-Speed Rail Policy Forum included, from left, APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; Anna Barry, chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee; and APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.|
Photo by Mitchell Wood
David A. Riddy has joined APTA as the senior managing editor of Passenger Transport.
Riddy comes to APTA from the Direct Selling Association, where he was in charge of communications to members and external audiences.
John Patrick Walsh, 65, of Marco Island, FL, died Nov. 14.
The photo shows the APTA Bus Technical Maintenance Committee and Acting President & CEO Richard White honoring Walsh, who participated via Skype, with a special award during the 2017 Bus & Paratransit Conference in Reno, NV.
Walsh was a longtime APTA member who served on several committees: Bus Technical Maintenance (where he was vice chair, 2013-2014, and immediate past chair, 1998-2000), Bus Operations, Legislative, Bus Safety, Research and Technology, Security Affairs, Bus Standards Policy & Planning and Clean Propulsion and Support Technology, along with business member committees including Procurement, Legislative, Liaison and Outreach, Programs and Small Business.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) will host a networking fair Jan. 7 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. during the 97th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
Called “Careers in Motion,” the fair will support the transportation community’s efforts to build awareness of and expand the workforce, providing an opportunity for prospective employers to meet with people interested in working for their organizations It is open to TRB Annual Meeting participants ranging from recent graduates to executives. Hiring managers will be onsite and ready to offer career information and advice.
For more information regarding this event, contact Brandon Roccio.
To reserve a table, contact Bradley Eubank
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) is soliciting nominations through Jan. 19, 2018, for individuals to serve on oversight panels for Fiscal Year 2018 projects selected by the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection Committee.
To access the project announcement, click here. The projects are as follows:
Public transit agencies including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), top, and the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) are getting into the holiday spirit with decorated vehicles. Santa sits on his sleigh in the middle of CTA’s six-car Holiday Train, which travels across the city and into neighboring communities. In Jacksonville, Santa’s behind the wheel of the Holiday Bus, where passengers can ride free as it operates on routes throughout the JTA service area.
Joint Venture to Boost LA Metro — Los Angeles Metro has selected a joint venture of STV and WSP USA to provide consulting services for the acquisition of heavy rail vehicles and associated equipment connected to Metro’s contract with China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. for a base order of 64 new railcars, with five options to potentially order an additional 218 heavy rail vehicles. The joint venture will provide project control, management and oversight of the contractor.
Des Moines Launches Fare Purchasing App — The Des Moines Area (IA) Regional Transit Authority’s new app, MyDART, allows riders to purchase bus passes on their smartphones, which they will show to the operator when boarding any DART fixed-route or paratransit vehicle.
LTD’s EmX Expansion Receives Public Works Award — The Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association recently presented its Project of the Year Award to the Lane Transit District (LTD)’s West Eugene EmX BRT expansion, the city’s largest public works project in 10 years. The $100 million project also included road improvements, new and rebuilt sidewalks and other amenities.
RTD Welcomes First K-9 Officer — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver recently welcomed its first canine officer: Thor, a 2-year-old English cream golden retriever, whose partner is Transit Police Sgt. and K-9 Handler Amy Homyak. Together they finished a 12-week training academy and then completed certification through the National Police Canine Association.
BY BILL LUCIA
Government Executive’s Route Fifty
WASHINGTON, DC—Lawmakers are making a mistake by not combining the tax rewrite effort in Congress with a significant infrastructure investment package, a Democratic congressman suggested here [Nov. 16].
“If you make a decision to move forward with tax reform and you specifically decide not to include infrastructure in that tax reform, you are almost definitionally acknowledging that you have no serious intention of doing infrastructure,” said Rep. John Delaney (D-MD).
“There’s really going to be no way of paying for it in the future,” he added. “Unless we introduce some new source of revenues.”
Delaney made his comments [the] morning [of Nov. 16] at a forum held by the Progressive Policy Institute and Common Good.
Later in the day, the U.S. House passed major tax legislation with only Republican support. And the Senate Finance Committee continued to debate a GOP-backed tax measure of its own.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has indicated that one of its leading priorities, along with the tax code revamp, is a major infrastructure investment program. But the administration has yet to reveal a formal proposal for how they’d like that program to look.
From Delaney’s perspective, the tax overhaul could use federal revenue produced from changes to the corporate tax code, specifically for businesses with overseas interests, to boost infrastructure spending. He said legislation he has introduced “basically launches a trillion-dollar infrastructure program” and that “it’s fully paid for by pairing it with the international tax reform.”
Perspectives On P3s
Jeremy Ebie, chief executive officer of Phoenix Infrastructure Group, who also spoke at [the] event, noted that increasing pressure on government finances from sources like pensions and health care is making it difficult for U.S. states and localities to fund infrastructure.
“I don’t see how the government, on any level, is going to continue to finance infrastructure, period, as well as they did back when,” he said.
Private capital, in his view, will be important going forward.
“There’s about $150 billion sitting on the sidelines, of dry powder, for investment in infrastructure. For U.S. infrastructure,” Ebie said.
He explained that this money is held by pension funds, insurance companies and other investors.
But John Porcari, a former deputy secretary at U.S. DOT, who now directs consulting services for the firm WSP USA, highlighted an obstacle he sees with infusing more private money into public infrastructure deals.
“The single biggest problem in public-private partnerships is, in the U.S., you can’t price the political risk,” he said. “Every local jurisdiction, every regional jurisdiction, every state does it differently.”
This can create problems, Porcari added, when state or local governments block deals at the last minute, when a private entity has spent millions of dollars on a proposed project.
A fix, according to Porcari, would be for the federal government to require jurisdictions accessing federal loan programs to have a “defined process” for approving projects. “Where you can say ‘no,’” he said. “But you can’t say ‘no’ at the 11th hour and 59th minute.”
Ebie and Porcari both highlighted tax-exempt private activity bonds as a crucial tool for financing public-private partnership, or P3, deals.
The income tax exemption for interest earned from the bonds would be eliminated under the tax bill that the House passed [Nov. 16]. But it’s maintained in the Senate tax proposal.
“It’s critical that they keep that,” Ebie said. “That’s how P3s get done.”
Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty, where this article originally appeared Nov. 16, 2017, and is based in Washington, DC. Reprinted by permission.
"Commentary" features points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
STEVENSVILLE, MD—Stertil-Koni announced the appointment of Jacob Rosendale as a service technician, based in the company’s warehouse in Stevensville. Rosendale also has experience in sales, electrical installation and HVAC technology.
CINCINNATI—Timothy Pfizenmayer has joined Cincinnati Metro as director of accounting and financial planning and analysis. An active CPA since 2007, he previously worked nearly 12 years in various roles for First Student Inc.
Misiak comes to WSP from U.S. DOT, where she was a senior advisor to the secretary for the Build America Bureau (formerly the Build America Transportation Investment Center) and a director of project and program development. Previously, she directed Maryland DOT’s Office of Innovative Project Delivery.
NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA announced the appointments of Brian Kim, a supervising engineer in the Minneapolis office; Jodie Misiak, service area manager, strategic initiatives for alternative delivery advisory services, based in Washington, DC; and John Maloney, civil manager in the Portland, OR, office.
Kim is a transportation engineer with extensive experience in public transit and roadway design and management. Most recently he worked for a national engineering firm as task lead for system-wide electrical for a light rail project. For APTA, he is a member of the Innovative Funding, Finance and P3 and Rail Transit committees and the Streetcar Subcommittee.