Passenger Transport - January 12, 2018
As Passenger Transport went to press, Brightline—the nation’s only privately funded and operated intercity passenger rail system, serving South Florida—was preparing for the Jan. 13 launch of service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Introductory service will feature 10 daily roundtrips during the weekdays and nine on the weekends; each trip takes about 35 minutes. The company expects to extend service into downtown Miami later in coming months and begin construction on Phase 2, connecting to the Orlando International Airport, later this year.
“We are thrilled to have South Florida preview Brightline with the launch of introductory service,” said Patrick Goddard, president and chief operating officer. “We believe the comfort and convenience of our travel experience paired with premium hospitality will set a new standard for passenger rail service. Our team will continue to ramp up operations as we prepare to fully launch this transformative new infrastructure asset for South Florida.”
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus introduced service Jan. 1 on CMAX, the first BRT line in central Ohio, followed by a community celebration later in the week.
COTA Interim President/Chief Executive Officer Emille Williams called CMAX “a brand new way for COTA to provide public transportation in our growing region,” adding, “CMAX represents an investment in your community, and for us at COTA it’s about public transit making a difference in our lives and neighborhoods.”
The high-frequency service covers 15.6 miles on Cleveland Avenue between downtown Columbus and the Ohio Health Westerville Medical Campus, operating limited-stop service on part of the route and enhanced local bus service on the rest. Amenities include free on-board Wi-Fi and access to USB charging ports, enhanced passenger stations with real-time information screens, and buses that sync with traffic signals to stay on time.
Funding for the $48.6 million project included $37.4 million from FTA and $11.2 million in local funds. COTA purchased 15 specially branded BRT coaches powered by CNG for the service. The CMAX project also included the construction of more than 60 enhanced passenger stations as well as a transit center and park-and-ride that will open later in the year. More than 30 of the stations on the CMAX line feature artwork produced by local artists.
|Mascots welcoming CMAX BRT in Columbus, from left: LouSeal and Krash the parrot, representing the Columbus Clippers minor league baseball team; Art Shark, mascot for the Columbus Arts Festival; and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hired by COTA for the community launch celebration.|
Photo by Toiana Almon at Shellee Fisher Photography
Of the many benefits of using public transportation, not least is ease of access: step off the street; purchase a ticket; enter the system unchallenged; ride. This is a vastly different experience than taking a flight, a fact not lost on potential terrorists who have targeted over recent years the openness of bus and rail systems in Madrid, London, Moscow, Brussels and, most recently, in the passageway linking the Times Square and Port Authority Bus Terminal subway stations in New York City in December.
Traditional airport-style security measures such as funneled checkpoints and individual bag scans are simply not practical at busy rail stations where hundreds of thousands of commuters pass through daily. Testing is underway, however, for technology that addresses the specific and unique demands of public transit hubs: for example, a device that enables operators to scan moving crowds at a distance without slowing them down.
Known as a stand-off explosive detection unit, the SPO-NX from QinetiQ can identify objects that block the naturally occurring emissions emitted by a person’s body and will trigger an alarm if an individual carrying an improvised explosive device passes by the mechanism. Security can then approach that individual without inconveniencing other riders.
The SPO-NX uses advanced passive millimeter wave technology, which means that it emits no radiation. It creates no images of the persons scanned, thereby protecting their privacy. The system can be operated by transit agency employees locally at the sensor head or remotely, for example from a CCTV control. The system is portable and easily redeployable, but can also be fixed on a wall or ceiling mount.
Agencies including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District and Los Angeles Metro have worked with TSA since 2004 to help evolve and refine this type of equipment.
|The sensor heads, top photo, can determine the presence of an improvised explosive device on a person's body. The scan can be seen on a remote screen, bottom photo.|
Photos courtesy LA Metro
The opening of the Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans’ (RTA) Cemeteries Transit Center will stimulate development in its neighborhood and around the city, New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu said at dedication ceremonies Jan. 5.
RTA Chairwoman Sharonda Williams said the opening of the $10 million facility, funded in part by an FTA grant, is part of a program of region-wide public transit improvements underway as part of the authority’s Strategic Mobility Plan.
Justin Augustine III, vice president of Transdev, which operates the RTA system, said, “This is not just about RTA operations, but also about riders, motorists and pedestrians who now have a more efficient and safer way to get from Canal Street across City Park Avenue to Canal Boulevard.” He cited covered walkways and shelters and better signalization among the improvements at the site, along with the extension of streetcar track from Canal Street across City Park Avenue to the transit center on Canal Boulevard and a bus turnaround area.
Original plans for the transit hub were included in the Canal Streetcar project, which was completed in 2004. The RTA revised the design several times over the years before beginning work last year.
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently awarded approximately $7 million in Specialized Transportation Grants through a program that includes funds from the FTA Section 5310 program and the Senior Mini-Grant Program authorized under the TransNet Extension Ordinance funded by local taxes.
Grant recipients included the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and several local nonprofits. For example, the program provided 13 new buses and six minivans, all wheelchair accessible, to Home of Guiding Hands, which provides specialized transportation services to individuals with developmental disabilities and significant physical and/or medical challenges.
“The 19 vehicles awarded to Home of Guiding Hands are just the first of the 43 wheelchair accessible vehicles to hit San Diego streets. They will provide much needed transportation to our seniors and disabled population in the region,” said Del Mar Councilmember and SANDAG Chair-Elect Terry Sinnott.
FTA recently awarded approximately $5 million in grants through the Tribal Transit Program for 36 public transit projects on American Indian and Alaskan Native lands in 19 states.
“Transportation is a lifeline in tribal communities, many of which are in rural areas of the country,” said DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The Tribal Transit Program makes a real difference for residents in these communities by helping to fund convenient, efficient and affordable public transportation.”
The largest individual grants were for $250,000 each, while the smallest was for $14,020. To see the list of grant recipients, click here. A video describing the tribal program is here.
This federal program makes funds available to federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages, groups or communities to support capital projects, operating costs and planning activities for public transportation services on and around Indian Country.
Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains recently announced plans to acquire two zero-emission buses from Proterra, becoming the first U.S. national park to incorporate the vehicles into its shuttle fleet.
Ryan Popple, chief executive officer of Proterra, said, “Yosemite was the first wildland protected in the United States, by President Abraham Lincoln, over 150 years ago. … The Proterra team is especially proud to directly contribute to the preservation of Yosemite National Park. We believe that upholding the environmental integrity of our nation’s most precious resources is of paramount importance.”
With more than five million visitors each year, Yosemite has seen its free shuttle service travel 436,000 miles annually with 3.8 million boardings. In 2001, the park began replacing its diesel bus fleet with diesel-electric hybrid vehicles.
As part of an ongoing series of webinars on Transit Asset Management (TAM), FTA will host an hour-long webinar Jan. 31, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern, to review how two public transit agencies use decision support tools to support TAM efforts.
Topics addressed by presenters Debbie Swickard, grants manager, Stark Area Regional Transit Authority, Canton, OH, and Daniel Holdsworth, budget analyst, Capital District Transit Authority, Albany, NY, will include using the TAM small provider tool and developing agency-specific decision support tools.
APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority, outlined his priorities for the year during the Jan. 10 Transportation Research Board Executive Committee meeting in Washington, DC.
Ford described the public transportation industry as evolving at a pace never before seen. He spoke about a shared vision of mobility that benefits all public transit systems and delivers on customers’ expectations in a world of options that grow more interconnected and interdependent every day. He also spoke about the importance of investing in the workforce of the future, the need to leverage big data, the issue of enterprise risk management and the need to positively influence public policy and secure increased federal resources.
APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas was introduced to the Executive Committee and later in the day made a presentation on the challenges and opportunities facing the public transportation industry.
|APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., left, and APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas addressed sessions at the recent TRB Annual Meeting in Washington.|
Photos by Risdon Photography
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) honored William W. Millar, APTA president from 1996-2011, with the 2018 Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation Jan. 10, during its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
The biennial award, first presented in 2002, recognizes innovative and successful leadership in people-oriented initiatives in transportation sustained over an extended period of time. It is given in memory of Banks, who was general manager of AC Transit, Oakland, CA, from 1991 until her death in 1999 and chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998.
Millar, a friend and mentor to Banks, was chief executive officer of Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County and an active APTA member before taking the top position. He received APTA’s Jesse L. Haugh Award (now Outstanding Public Transportation Manager) in 1987 and is a member of the APTA Hall of Fame.
For TRB, he was a leader in establishing the Transit Cooperative Research Program, for which he received the Founding Father Award for his leadership, and also was recognized with the W.N. Carey Jr. Distinguished Service Award, Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lectureship and the establishment of the William W. Millar Award for the best research paper addressing public transportation issues.
|TRB recognized former APTA President William W. Millar, second from left, with the 2018 Sharon D. Banks Award. Joining Millar were, from left, TRB Executive Director Neil J. Pedersen, Chair Katherine F. Turnbull and Immediate Past Chair Malcolm Dougherty.|
Photo by Risdon Photography
APTA partnered with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to showcase public transportation careers at the “Careers in Motion” networking fair, Jan. 7, during TRB’s 97th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
The fair provided an opportunity for attendees—ranging from recent graduates to seasoned executives—to meet with APTA staff and prospective employers from across the APTA membership, who reviewed resumes, offered advice and explained the many career opportunities available in public transportation.
Executives from APTA member organizations in attendance included APTA Immediate Past Chair Doran Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA; Mike Loehr, chair, APTA Business Member Board of Governors Workforce Development Committee, and global practice leader, transit and rail, track and civil, CH2M; Ferdinand Risco, vice chair, APTA Workforce Development Committee, and assistant executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY; and Lana Ilyina, senior talent acquisition and onboarding specialist, Trapeze Group.
APTA recognized the participating members for their help, along with Los Angeles Metro, Clever Devices and HNTB, which contributed materials.
|Hundreds of public transit professionals participated in the "Careers in Motion" networking fair at TRB's 2018 Annual Meeting.|
The International Association of Public Transport (UITP), based in Brussels, announced the promotion of Mohamed Mezghani to secretary general following the retirement of Alain Flausch. Mezghani has worked at UITP for more than 18 years, serving as its deputy secretary general since 2014. Flausch headed the organization for the past six years.
Michael Stubbe is the new executive director of the Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD), Rockford, IL, succeeding Rick McVinnie, who headed the agency for 25 of his 42 years with RMTD before his retirement.
Stubbe, Rockford Mass Transit District
Timbes, Interim, Capital MetroThe Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, has named 31-year employee Elaine Timbes interim president/chief executive officer following the retirement of Linda Watson. Timbes, currently deputy CEO and chief operating officer, will serve until Watson’s successor joins the agency. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2002 and a member of the Clean Propulsion and Support Technology Committee.
Anderson, Past Cleveland Board Member
Jesse O. Anderson, 80, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board of Trustees from 1990-2014 and a longtime member of APTA committees, died Dec. 7.
Schuster, Former CEO, ITS America
Neil Schuster, 65, president and chief executive officer of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) from 2001-2007, died in late December. Schuster was executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association and held senior management positions with the American Automobile Manufacturers Association and America Waterways Operators before joining ITS America. He subsequently was president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators until 2014.
Fry, Agency Executive
Philip Lee Fry, 65, of West Hartford, CT, assistant general manager, planning and marketing, with Connecticut Transit HNS Management Inc. in Hartford and longtime general manager of Amtran, Altoona, PA, died Dec. 27. Fry began his public transit career in his hometown of Marion, IN, and served Amtran for 20 years, 17 of them as general manager, before joining CTTransit in 1997.
Willhoite, Pierce Transit Employee
Zack Willhoite, 35, an IT customer service support specialist with Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA, since 2008, died Dec. 18 in the Amtrak train derailment near Tacoma, WA.
In a statement, the agency noted that Willhoite “has always been deeply appreciated and admired by his colleagues, and played an important role at our agency. He will be sincerely missed.”
BRT Service Expands in Albuquerque
The city of Albuquerque (NM) Transit Department (ABQ RIDE) will debut service on 5.5 miles of Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) BRT in the first quarter of this year, following the launch of the first four miles late in 2017. The service will operate with 20 60-foot all-electric buses manufactured by BYD in Lancaster, CA.
ART operates on the city’s Central Avenue, which comprises one of the longest urban stretches of historic Route 66 in the U.S. The route originally covered 2,448 miles between Chicago and Santa Monica, CA. Design elements reference this history: the buses feature a unique design like a 1950s diner and the stations’ signage are reminiscent of an iconic neon sign on Route 66.
The line is also the first U.S. BRT system to receive a coveted Gold Standard from the Institute of Transportation Development and Policy, joining nine other BRT systems outside the U.S.
|Albuquerque’s ART BRT line recently became the first U.S. system to receive the Gold Standard from the Institute of Transportation Development and Policy.|
AC Transit Launches ‘Transbay Tomorrow’
In preparation for its move into the new Salesforce Transit Center (formerly Transbay Transit Center) in San Francisco and its launch of service with double-decker buses, AC Transit in Oakland, CA, is implementing service improvements on its Bay Bridge transbay network under the name “Transbay Tomorrow.”
AC Transit is testing new buses that will accommodate more passengers on these routes, beginning in December 2017 with a new 45-foot vehicle from Motor Coach Industries (MCI) featuring an ergonomically designed spiral entryway, curb-level ramp and second door that opens into a first-of-its-kind low-entry vestibule seating for passengers using mobility devices. A “Transbay Bus Pilot” was launched in December in which all rides were free; in return, riders were asked to complete a short survey that will help the agency better determine whether to consider this bus for its future Transbay fleet. The agency currently operates MCI buses on its Transbay lines and is considering the new model as replacements for the aging fleet.
Double-decker buses will begin serving the Salesforce Transbay Terminal once the terminal is deemed operational, with AC Transit anticipating the launch of service in June 2018.
BART to Welcome ‘Fleet of The Future’
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) has received the first 18 railcars in its Fleet of the Future from the manufacturer, Bombardier in Plattsburgh, NY, with another two en route as Passenger Transport went to press. Pending testing by the California Public Utilities Commission, the new railcars are expected to enter service this month.
|BART has received the first 18 railcars in its Fleet of the Future from the manufacturer, Bombardier in Plattsburgh, NY.|
Over the next few years, BART plans to add 775 new train cars.
This year will also bring the start of two new BART services: “eBART” in Contra Costa County in the East Bay, with two stops and approximately 10 miles of track, and an extension into Santa Clara County through a partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. BART expects to launch eBART, which operates with diesel multiple units rather than its traditional electric railcars, in May.
Capital Metro to Implement Sweeping Route Changes
In Austin, TX, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) will launch additional commuter service for MetroExpress and MetroRail riders in January, to be followed later in the year with the most sweeping route changes in the agency’s history. The redesigned bus network will allow Capital Metro to improve service for its riders throughout the region, more than doubling the number of routes in its High-Frequency Network.
The changes will include 14 routes that operate at 15-minute frequencies, seven days a week. Also, the agency’s Project Connect team will present for public review multiple options for projects that will make up an improved system of high-capacity transit.
Charlotte Area Transit System: A Landmark Year
The Charlotte Area (NC) Transit System (CATS) is preparing to make 2018 a landmark year with the opening of a major light rail extension, continuation of rail project studies and the launch of innovative transit technologies.
CATS will open a 9.3-mile extension to LYNX Blue Line light rail in March. This extension will include 11 stations and four park-and-ride facilities while connecting the University of North Carolina Charlotte Campus to vibrant Uptown Charlotte.
|An artist’s rendering of the LYNX Blue Line Extension opening this year in Charlotte, NC.|
Further advances scheduled throughout 2018 will include continued construction of Phase 2 of the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar project, which will add 2.5 miles to the existing Gold Line. While this extension is not scheduled to open until 2020, CATS expects to complete significant construction in the coming year.
Studies for two possible rail lines, the LYNX West Corridor and LYNX Red Line, will be completed this fall. CATS will then present refreshed rail visions for Charlotte’s west and north corridors, as well as a Center-City rail integration plan, for adoption into the agency’s 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan.
CATS is also preparing to continue implementing its Envision My Ride initiative, which launched in 2016. This redesign of the bus system will add crosstown connections, increase frequency and reduce travel times.
Big things also are happening on the technology front at CATS, such as the replacement of all ticket vending machines and the introduction of contactless farecards with UNC Charlotte and further expansion to other fare media. CATS will also launch a pilot first-mile/last-mile project through a partnership with a transportation network company (TNC) that will allow customers to purchase certain passes via a mobile ticketing app that will provide payment for the TNC ride in the project zone.
COTA Begins Year with BRT Launch
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus kicked off 2018 with the launch of CMAX, the first BRT line in central Ohio (see related story in this issue). The 15.6-mile line provides high-frequency, limited-stop service for most of the route and connects downtown Columbus with the Ohio Health Westerville Medical Campus.
Also on COTA’s calendar for 2018: a new crosstown route, a new fare collection system with mobile and smartcard payment options, a first-mile/last-mile study and the openings of the new Northland Transit Center, Northern Lights Park-and-Ride and a satellite CNG station in partnership with the city.
Denver RTD to Upgrade Most Popular Bus Route
This year, Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) is finalizing the design of improvements to the 15L Line, the most popular bus route in the entire metro area. Construction will begin late this year and continue over the next several years, incorporating stop upgrades to include enhanced shelters with lighting and security cameras, queue bypass lanes, transit signal priority and bus bulbs at key locations along the corridor.
Metrolink Prepares for Station Opening
Metrolink commuter rail in Southern California plans to open the new Burbank Airport-North Station in 2018. Other projects during the year will include new double tracking, grade improvements and rehabilitation projects throughout the entire system and continued introduction of the Tier 4 locomotives into service.
Palm Tran: New Buses, Route Extension to Ballpark
|Dignitaries including Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes, second from left, and Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay, third from left, cut the ribbon Jan. 5 to launch Palm Tran’s new route 4 extension, creating new service to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.|
On Jan. 7, Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, opened the extension of a bus route that provides additional service to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, home to spring training for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, and offers more direct service to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. Also, the agency is preparing to introduce a dozen new 40-foot Gillig buses to service.
Palm Tran will conduct a robust outreach process throughout the year as part of its Route Performance Maximization Project (RPM), a comprehensive initiative to identify and implement efficiencies system-wide.
The agency is in the final design stage for its new administrative facility in Delray Beach, which will include a public meeting space, accommodations to charge electric buses and dedicated professional development space. Construction will likely be completed in 2020.
San Francisco Ferry to Add Three New Vessels
|Breaking ground for the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, from left: Tim Donovan, former WETA board member; Jim Wunderman, vice chair; Jody Breckenridge, chair; Anthony Intintoli, board member; Nina Rannells, executive director, WETA; and Jeff DelBono, board member.|
To cope with unprecedented changes to the Bay Area’s transportation landscape, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) will introduce three new passenger ferries in 2018 as part of its long-term plans for a system that will seamlessly connect cities in the region. WETA plans to launch service from Richmond to San Francisco in September and open the Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility in June 2018; ultimately, the agency expects to operate 44 vessels and 12 services by 2035.
Sound Transit to Begin Work on Two Light Rail Lines
Sound Transit in Seattle will break ground in 2018 for two light rail projects: a line between Northgate and Lynnwood, scheduled to open in 2024, and an extension of Tacoma Link, scheduled to open in 2022. Construction will continue for the extension of light rail to Northgate, scheduled to open in 2021, and to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area, scheduled to open in 2023.
Final design will continue for line extensions between SeaTac and Federal Way and between Redmond’s Overlake and downtown areas, both scheduled to open in 2024.
Also, Sound Transit will begin the planning process for two additional light rail lines, between West Seattle and downtown Seattle and on to Ballard and between Federal Way and Tacoma, and for BRT on the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington.
Spokane Transit Continues Moving Forward
The Spokane (WA) Transit Authority (STA) will complete several projects in its 10-year STA Moving Forward Plan during 2018. STA expects to complete construction in September on Phase 1 of the West Plains Transit Center, created to improve connectivity, accommodate increased bus frequency, significantly reduce travel times and improve local service while providing approximately 200 park-and-ride spaces.
Salesforce Transit Center to Open in June
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has begun operating one bus line out of the unfinished Salesforce Transit Center (formerly the Transbay Transit Center). Construction is expected to be largely complete by late March or early April for the intermodal facility, which will replace the former Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco with a modern public transit hub.
|SFMTA is already operating one bus line out of the Salesforce Transit Center at street level and is preparing to begin bus testing and training at the facility for the remainder of its bus operators.|
Revenue service is expected to begin in June at the center, which ultimately will provide public transit connections from eight Bay Area counties and the state of California through 11 transportation systems including bus, heavy rail, commuter rail, Greyhound Bus, Amtrak and future high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim.
CTA: Renovations and a New Hub
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has a busy schedule in 2018 with the renovation of a century-old station, completion of a historic terminal and modernization of one of its busiest stations.
Dating from 1897, Quincy Station, one of CTA’s oldest and most well-preserved stations, is undergoing an $18.2 million renovation that will maintain its historic elements while making the station accessible for customers with disabilities. Improvements include the installation of two elevators.
CTA is completing construction of the $280 million 95th Street bus and rail terminal, which will create a safer, more efficient transit environment. The facility provides 24-hour Red Line rail service and transports more than 20,000 bus and rail passengers daily.
Passenger improvements include wider sidewalks and larger waiting areas for increased comfort. The facility will also provide wider bus lanes and increased space between bus bays, which will reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
The station, comprising two terminals, will feature new canopies and light-filled, glass-enclosed structures and provide customers with a much larger, more comfortable and easier to navigate transit facility.
The 95th Street Terminal project is the latest in more than $8 billion of transit investments made by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA since 2011, including numerous investments in services and infrastructure on the city’s South Side and Far South Side communities.
CTA also is renovating one of the busiest rail stations on the Blue Line Forest Park Branch, the Illinois Medical District (IMD) station. The $23 million modernization will further improve accessibility to all three station entrances, including the addition of an elevator to the main station house, and represents the largest renovation to the station since it opened 60 years ago in 1958.
This strategically located rail station provides affordable and convenient access for the more than 29,000 employees and 50,000 daily visitors to the Illinois Medical District, home to four major hospital systems and the nation’s largest urban medical district and state’s largest biotechnology/medical complex. The IMD Station also provides convenient access to Malcolm X College and United Center.
As demands grow for more responsive travel options, public transit agencies (and the manufacturers on whom they rely) have the potential to revolutionize public transportation as we know it. In an environment of congested roads and aging infrastructure, public transportation agencies can get users where they need to go—and in a time and fashion of their choosing—by capitalizing on new technologies and forging holistic partnerships with complementary service providers.
Passenger Transport asked a broad cross-section of industry leaders to share their thoughts on the changing priorities of commuters, communities and service providers in the year ahead in this one-question interview:
What demands and opportunities do you anticipate for 2018, and what issues do you expect the industry to face?
JTA: Responding to the Changing Mobility Marketplace
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
Chief Executive Officer
Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority
RTC: Integrating Services for Seamless Travel
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC)
Technology has revolutionized every industry, and for transportation, technology is the new asphalt. As we look to 2018, technology will be a driving force behind new opportunities, initiatives and issues facing public transit agencies.
In Southern Nevada, our community continues to grow—from new professional sports teams and stadiums to neighborhoods, businesses and medical centers—but our roads are already congested. So, in 2018, how do we improve mobility so we can move people safely, efficiently and reliably?
To that end, we have embarked on developing a comprehensive and forward-thinking strategic plan called “On Board.” The goal of this plan is to identify a long-term roadmap of how enhancements to the current bus system, new high-capacity transit services and emerging transit technologies can improve future mobility and accessibility for our residents and visitors.
As we further develop this plan in 2018, our community will be in the driver’s seat to shape it. In addition to giving hundreds of presentations and hosting dozens of community meetings, we will drive a retrofitted engagement bus to various community events to serve as a centerpiece of our effort to encourage the public to provide input. We also have an opportunity and an obligation to our transit riders to improve the customer experience by pursuing “Mobility as a Service” options that allow users to plan and pay for transportation trips across multiple services, such as bus, bikeshare, monorail and transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. Commuters in Southern Nevada already have access to all of these transportation options, but we will work toward developing our “rideRTC” transit app and the technology necessary to integrate services so people can travel between systems seamlessly.
Technology, no doubt, will hold a key to unlocking solutions that will help communities address their mobility challenges. So, we will continue to pursue partnerships with private industry to learn how technology and innovation can help solve mobility challenges.
For example, the driverless shuttle pilot program currently operating in downtown Las Vegas is giving us great insight into the customer experience as well as best practices for operations, logistics and data sharing. Since the RTC manages Southern Nevada’s transit system, traffic management, and roadway planning and funding as well as implementing Southern Nevada Strong, a regional plan to build complete communities, we are well positioned as an ideal location to test new technologies and cutting-edge transportation breakthroughs.
In 2018, transit agencies need to be flexible and committed to exploring, evaluating, developing and ultimately implementing new technologies while continuing to improve traditional transit services, so we have the right mix of transportation options to meet our changing mobility needs.
Stadler: Manufacturing & Supporting Sustainability
President & Chief Executive Officer
Stadler U.S. Inc.
Stadler has been offering a comprehensive range of vehicles for the commuter, light rail, metro and urban transport segments for more than 75 years. Our number one priority continues to be identifying and providing new solutions with our design, construction and maintenance of the trains and fleets of the future.
Public transit issues will become increasingly important in the U.S. as the existing infrastructure requires extensive upgrades or full replacement. As an innovative and forward-thinking manufacturer of rail vehicles, Stadler is excited to have this opportunity to share some of the advances we’ve developed and are supporting:
Lightweight commuter rail technology. We believe in lightweight technology, combined with low-floor design, with a modular power source, which will support the rapidly accelerating commuter rail market based upon growing population and urbanization.
Our DMUs are equipped with Tier 4 Final compliant diesel engines and, based on their weight and maintenance-friendly design, operation costs are considerably lower than with traditional rolling stock. As the power unit is independently localized in the middle of the train, we are able to replace diesel engines with almost every available power technology option.
Zero-emission technology. One of the most significant developments in our industry is zero-emission power generation. Last year, Stadler introduced the WINK, a German acronym which stands for “Convertible Innovative Short Train for Local Transport.” The vehicle’s power unit contains components for energy generation, traction elements and auxiliary systems, which may then be fitted with either traditional components for energy generation and storage or with elements that allow zero-emission operation. In the current hybrid version, the WINK is powered by a diesel engine fueled with hydrogenated vegetable oil and includes onboard batteries to store regenerated brake energy.
Electrification. In response to aging fleets and rail infrastructure needing to be upgraded, Stadler has become experienced in rail vehicles for electrified corridors for our customers, such as Caltrain in San Carlos, CA. During the electrification of networks, which often occurs incrementally, Stadler’s advanced technology allows for the continuation of the journey in the same vehicle beyond the electrified corridor. Unlike with conventional systems where only diesel could substitute for electric traction, our hybrid system allows for traction systems that use electricity where available and alternative traction where not. As a benefit to both the customer and the operator, passengers do not have to change trains, thus reducing the length of the journey.
Finally, due to the unique challenges involved in the electrification process, not least the high initial capital cost of track and electrification, we see many opportunities to work together on the challenge with P3s and strategic joint ventures to help grow electrification and public transit as a whole in the U.S. and North America, as this process will only strengthen the quality and reliability of transit in our communities and benefit all riders.
SEPTA: Building the Future
Jeffrey D. Knueppel
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Every general manager has a vision for his or her organization; mine is “Building the Future,” thanks in large measure to the passage of the Pennsylvania Transportation Bill (Act 89).
The bold action taken by the state legislature in Harrisburg to establish a long-term funding solution for public transit made it possible to aggressively address our state-of-good-repair backlog. In turn, these investments created a more stable environment to advance new initiatives to enhance our transit services.
We also recognize that SEPTA does much more than simply transport people. You just have to look around and see all the construction cranes and building sites to know that southeastern Pennsylvania is on the move, and our multimodal transportation network is the backbone for an efficient, productive and economically dynamic five-county region.
“Building the Future” defines how SEPTA is working to be part of the growth of our region by focusing on five areas of strategic effort: Customer Experience, Employee Development, Rebuilding the System, SEPTA Is a Business, and Safety as the Foundation. These fundamentals comprise the roadmap of initiatives that SEPTA has focused on over the past two years, with the goal of making our transit system robust, safe, accessible and attractive. It also provides a framework that encourages the organization to be innovative and creative problem solvers while continuing to improve our core business: transit and customer service.
SEPTA has dubbed 2018 the “Year of Communications” for its customers and employees. We will continue to provide new information tools for riders through newly enhanced mobile apps and the real-time vehicle locator feature. We will launch a new initiative to connect with a highly mobile workforce, including real-time digital information screens at work locations and “SEPTANow,” a text messaging system that sends news and alerts directly to agency employees.
SEPTA will focus on the customer experience by completing the transition away from tokens to the SEPTA Key Fare program for Transit (bus, trolley, high-speed service) and beginning the rollout of SEPTA Key for regional rail.
With the installation of PTC on our regional rail system, SEPTA is now focused on a comprehensive Operational Safety Improvement Program master plan as part of our commitment to safety for customers, employees and the communities surrounding our system.
We will continue to make strategic capital investments in our vehicle and infrastructure assets, adding our first multi-level cars to improve capacity on regional rail, and supporting “Rebuilding the System” projects including the 30th to Arsenal, a catenary and interlocking replacement effort located at a critical nexus for regional rail service.
The growth of SEPTA depends on a strong, productive and motivated workforce. Through our Workforce Development and Support program, 2018 will see the launch of new training programs and tools—including training simulators for rail equipment—and the development of new hiring and orientation programs.
Teleste: Seeking Solutions for Multiple Challenges
Teleste, Video Security & Information Solutions
Two of today’s most exciting technology challenges in public transportation concern ways to improve safety and operations and how to reduce fare evasion. Teleste is focusing on both of these issues in 2018 with new solutions that have four core components: Awareness, Deterrence, Data Driven Enforcement and Behavior Adjustment.
Safety and Operations: Teleste’s integrated video display and information solutions provide situational awareness through an embedded, covert HD IP camera. Positioned to capture facial images for forensic identification, the displays use developing technologies such as biometric and video analytics for alarms and subject recognition. Security cameras typically are installed above pedestrian traffic areas, making searches difficult when reviewing footage due to physical obstructions. Having HD cameras positioned at eye level where people are looking at relevant information offers the opportunity for faster assessments following events of interest. Visual information provided by the displays can be accessed and analyzed in an easy-to-use visual dashboard.
Fare Evasion: Public transportation agencies suffer significant revenue losses every year due to fare evasion. This chronic problem also is a factor in passengers’ transit experience, creating frustration among paying riders. Previously little could be done to prevent evaders, but leveraging existing systems and new technologies now can quickly address this issue, thereby having a rapid ROI by increasing agency revenues. When installed above public transit gates and entrances,
Teleste’s covert HD video security cameras can display attention-getting content such as passenger information, advertising, images of entering or boarding passengers or any combination desired. The Fare Evasion Reduction Solution uses existing gate traffic counting data, compared to video analytic counting data from the covert/existing cameras providing the variances in passengers/revenue numbers. As a result, public transit agencies can easily gather data about evasion percentages, track weekly and monthly changes and provide comparisons for ongoing metrics. The Data Dashboard of when and where offenders are most active can be leveraged by security personnel as predictive policing data that guide where staff can be placed at the most impactful times.
NTSB: Making Transportation Safer by Conducting Objective, Precise and Independent Accident Investigations
Robert L. Sumwalt
Transformational advances in transportation technology present both solutions and challenges for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and as we begin a new year we look forward to helping the transportation industry leverage technology to improve safety and to broadening our understanding of the latest tools and technologies that help us analyze transportation accidents.
The broader use of driver-assist technologies on our nation’s highways, and the push to the broad use of autonomous vehicles, has the potential to prevent accidents that claimed nearly 40,000 lives in 2016, a number that represents 95 percent of all transportation fatalities in that year. To truly capitalize on those technologies, there needs to be a systemic means of capturing the data collected through those systems, which is why the increased use of data recorders is an NTSB Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements issue area.
Our need to conduct comprehensive accident investigations amidst the myriad of technological advances in transportation compels our agency to focus on strengthening and increasing our expertise in emerging technologies so we may fully access data collected by those technologies, and apply that information in the determination of probable cause and the data-driven development of effective safety recommendations.
As we lean into the future and look to the horizon for the next challenges in transportation safety, we remain steadfast in our support of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with our Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, including the mandate for installation of Positive Train Control, the need for which was most recently reinforced with the tragic Amtrak Cascades 501 accident.
Although the means of transporting people and goods are transported are changing, the need for excellence in transportation accident investigations remains unchanged. Just as we have for the past 50 years, the NTSB will continue to make transportation safer by conducting objective, precise and independent accident investigations.
FTA: Safety, Innovation and Cutting Red Tape
Federal Transit Administration
Last year, under the leadership of President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, FTA focused on improving safety, fostering innovation and cutting red tape. In 2018, we will continue our work to serve the transportation needs of Americans across the nation in both urban and rural settings.
Safety is our most important priority. Now that final rules are in place to implement FTA’s safety oversight authority, our focus in 2018 will be to continue to work with each and every state to establish a State Safety Oversight (SSO) program prior to the April 15, 2019, deadline. That’s a total of 30 states, and while three have already achieved certification, we’re committed to helping ensure that every SSO has the authority, resources and expertise necessary to provide safety oversight of their rail transit systems.
Innovation and its importance to the public transit industry will continue to grow as we look toward adapting new service models and technologies. FTA will work to foster innovation through the Mobility on Demand Sandbox initiative, including piloting the integration of technology with transit vehicles and infrastructure. The goal is always to prioritize safe, reliable and efficient transportation while offering riders more choices.
The integration of automated vehicles into the transportation network will also impact the industry. Although it is difficult to predict what changes will result from major shifts in technology, it’s likely that driver assistance technologies will help improve safety and efficiency. Fully-automated vehicles may hold the potential to change the way we operate BRT and demand-response services as well.
In December 2017, FTA released a draft of its five-year Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan (STAR) to help move the public transit industry forward in automation of bus services and operations. Early in 2018, under Chao’s leadership, DOT will solicit public comments on automated vehicle technology.
Lastly, FTA will continue to engage on ways to cut red tape, streamline guidance and reduce the regulatory burden that slows down project delivery. Having firsthand experience in project delivery, President Trump wants to ensure projects are started and finished more quickly to improve America’s infrastructure and better serve its communities.
Just in the last year, we adopted a risk-based approach that reduces the number of grants subject to quarterly reporting by 44 percent, allowing grants of $2 million or less to be reported once a year instead of four times a year. That will eliminate nearly 12,000 quarterly reports and save grantees 90,000 staff hours.
Director-Security, Risk & Emergency Management
What are your primary responsibilities at APTA?
Another responsibility is advocating for transit security on Capitol Hill and working with congressional and legislative leaders on potential regulations that could affect public transportation security.
An example of the emergency management element of my job was during the recent hurricanes. APTA helped coordinate and educate both those helping with relief efforts and those who had been impacted, and worked with the federal government following requests for help from people who had been evacuated.
In addition, I regularly brief the media on transportation security issues.
What initiatives or programs have you worked on at APTA of which you are particularly proud?
Along with Brian Alberts, APTA’s director-safety, I am working to reenergize the Bus and Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards program. We now have online nominations forms, making it much easier to submit for an award and, therefore, ultimately highlight and convey best practices that can be replicated across the industry.
I’m excited about the risk liability study we are getting ready to send out to members.
Not least, I’m proud to be able to advocate effectively on the Hill on behalf of APTA members.
To what extent do you have direct contact with APTA members?
I correspond with APTA members on a regular basis and will often connect them with other members to grow their peer-to-peer relationships and for advice and collaboration: who’s using body cameras, best practices for addressing assaults on bus operators, drug and alcohol testing, training for fare inspectors, etc.
I’m in contact with APTA committee chairs and members by serving as staff advisor to the APTA Committee on Public Safety, Security Affairs Steering Committee, Risk Management Committee and Security Standards Policy and Planning Committee.
I am also involved with a security roundtable where APTA, TSA, the FBI, police chiefs and security directors of APTA member organizations exchange information. We’ll analyze incidents and discuss where improvements can be made from a transportation standpoint. I hosted a webinar on autonomous vehicles in law enforcement and on a broadband network that will be available to states and to transit security networks, and I’ll be facilitating a webinar with TSA and FEMA on the next round of Transit Security Grants Program funding.
How did you come to be at APTA?
I’ve been at APTA since April 2017. I started my career way back as a communications technician with the United States Park Police. I have more than 30 years of transit security experience. I spent 27 years with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and with Amtrak, and had the pleasure of being the chief of police at both Metro/WMATA and Amtrak. I was also with the Department of the Interior, providing oversight of Interior’s seven law enforcement programs, and I also served as a civilian assistant chief with the Metropolitan Police in the District of Columbia.
Do you have any professional affiliations?
I’m affiliated with three FBI programs: the National Academy Associates (a course for law enforcement managers), the National Executive Institute (a group of senior executives of major law enforcement organizations) and the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar. I’m also a member of the Police Executive Research Forum and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I want to work in a flower shop. It’s something I do on my own and for friends, but someday I’ll go to school to formally learn how to be a flower designer. In the summertime, I make bouquets and bring them into my office.
APTA invites all business members to participate in its 2018 Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) Annual Business Meeting, Jan. 24-26 in Indian Wells, CA, to explore and discuss business member support for APTA’s transit advocacy efforts and other programs.
The meeting will provide numerous opportunities for business members to network with their peers and explore a range of upcoming projects and partnership opportunities. In addition, all APTA business member subcommittees will convene in conjunction with the meeting.
For program details, contact Adam Martin. To register, contact Lorraine Mitchell or visit the APTA website.
Public transit professionals looking for the most current research and information from the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) will now find it here or the APTA resource library at the website. TCRP made the change to better leverage the program.
TCRP is managed by the Transportation Research Board, a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, sponsored by FTA. TCRP research covers topics relating to all aspects of public transportation.
BY PAUL COMFORT, ESQ.
As disruptive technology continues to emerge and impact public transportation over the next few years, public transit executives must not hold on to the systems of the past or they will be left behind. It is becoming clear that the public transportation industry will experience more technology-driven changes in the coming decade than almost any other field. Will elected officials, board members, and environmental and transit advocates allow their transit systems to adapt and remain relevant in this new competitive mobility model?
The last two centuries had their corollaries regarding new inventions speeding past engrained technologies faster than some could adapt. In the late 19th century, Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb and its adaption for city street lights dramatically reduced the market demand for gas and whale oil. The large, integrated system of oil producers, suppliers, middlemen, and distribution companies was reduced to rubble almost overnight.
Then, in the late 20th century, cellular telephone technology spilled out across the world. Learning from the mistakes of utilities past, many telecoms fearlessly skipped over the costly step of installing copper wire or fiber optic cables for telephone service in the developing countries of Asia and Africa (as had been done in countries such as the U.S. and in Western Europe). Instead, they simply put up cell towers to get nationwide telephone service to these countries.
While I served as CEO of the MTA in Baltimore, we confronted low on-time performance (OTP) on our bus system. A primary factor was that too many passengers relied on day passes purchased at the farebox. It took 30 seconds for a bus driver to punch in the required info and print out a paper day pass from the farebox. This process added over 56,000 lost hours of route productivity annually and slowed our entire system down because there were thousands of passengers using this payment option. Further investigation revealed that only 3 percent of passengers utilized our branded loyalty smart card—the Charm Card—with fares pre-loaded off the bus. We saw this as possible low hanging fruit in our multi-pronged approach to improve bus OTP and decided to quickly move forward on improving the market penetration of our Charm Card. One way to do this was to expand our point of sale (POS) network. We began a POS retail consignment expansion program and, combined with other efforts, quickly grew our Charm Card usage to more than 15 percent of our 250,000 daily bus riders.
All that changed one day in early 2017 when I visited with Shashi Verma, chief technology officer of Transport for London (TfL), who showed me his latest transit fare paying initiative of contactless payments. Contactless payments use regular credit cards to pay for fares as they are tapped on readers at the Tube (subway) gate or farebox. Within months, 40 percent of TfL’s hundreds of thousands of daily passengers had switched to this new contactless fare paying methodology. Upon further research, I became convinced contactless, along with mobile phone electronic fare paying, was the future and what we needed to pursue.
When I returned to Baltimore, we ceased activities expanding the old smart card technology. I didn’t want us investing tens of thousands of dollars into today’s technology when it would be obsolete as soon as it was installed. We soon issued an RFP for mobile ticketing.
This is the lesson that our transit industry needs to learn: Technology and mobility innovation are moving so fast that they are outpacing our burdensome, labyrinthine government decision making processes. Think about the innovations right now challenging your past monopoly as a public transportation provider in your city:
* Transportation Networking Companies (e.g. Lyft)
* Autonomous vehicles (driverless cars and shuttle buses)
* Mobility as a Service (MaaS, with monthly subscription or a la carte payment for all public and private transportation/mobility options in a city)
* Car sharing (private shared cars like ZIP car)
* Crowd sourced transportation services (pop up mass transit-style services)
* Hyperloop (tube-based high-speed transport)
These disruptive new technologies have the potential to alter the transit landscape dramatically.
So, has Hyperloop technology overtaken maglev trains as the best option? How about autonomous shuttles? With live, mixed-traffic service now underway in Las Vegas and other cities around the world, when will these driverless shuttles begin to lower the cost of providing public transportation so much that it challenges traditional public bus and rail? If Google’s WAYMO driverless minivans or another TNC’s autonomous sedans finish testing in early 2018 and go live soon thereafter, will the cost of getting a private, driverless sedan to pick you up at your door upon demand soon rival that of the public bus? Will the convenience of this service outweigh the traditional public transit model where you have to walk two blocks to catch the bus at a time not of your choosing?
Within a few years, the era of a monopolistic, taxpayer subsidized, utility style public transit agency providing all the public transportation in a city/region will be over.
These technology-driven, largely private sector innovations to mobility will challenge our traditional model of public transportation and allow consumers a real choice for the first time. Have these coming realities sunk into the decision making matrixes of our public transit industry?
If we don’t want to be overtaken by these new and disruptive technologies, we need to put up our sails and catch the winds of change that are blowing.
Paul Comfort, Esq., is vice president, business development, at Trapeze Group, a company that creates, delivers and supports software solutions and services for transportation agencies. Prior, he served as CEO and GM of MTA Maryland.
© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.
"Commentary" features points of view from various sources to enhance readers' broad awareness of themes that affect public transportation.
Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, understands that its employees may need assistance in climbing the career ladder—and that’s where the Upward Mobility Program comes in.
For example, Palm Tran bus operator Christopher Love had twice been rejected for a mechanic technical trainee position and knew he needed guidance to achieve his career goals. The program, overseen by Organizational Development Manager Liliane Finke, provided him with the tools he needed to succeed.
Finke explained that preparing for an interview is not just about attire or following up, it’s about individuals aligning their skills and qualifications to the job requirements.
The program helped Love identify certain focus areas. “There were certifications I needed to get that I did not know I needed,” he said. “I learned about what it took to be a more qualified candidate.”
Through a series of 30-minute sessions, he learned the best way to showcase his previous experience as a mechanic at a trucking company, and he was successful the third time he applied for the mechanic trainee position. Since then, he has already been promoted to maintenance technician, a feat he also attributes to the Upward Mobility Program.
In the two years since the program started, six Palm Tran employees have succeeded in receiving promotions.
“The program is a way of letting Palm Tran employees know we value them, care about them and want them to grow in our company,” said Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes.
New optic reader technology being deployed by Los Angeles Metro will allow Metrolink commuter rail riders to use a mobile app to make a seamless transfer between the two systems.
The integration of the optic readers constitutes Phase 3 of Metrolink’s Mobile App Project. The project, which began in late 2016, was anticipated to go live around the time this issue of Passenger Transport went to press, pending system-wide testing. The project is part of Metrolink’s technology transformation, which includes the launch of a new website and GPS train tracker that allows riders to find their train in real-time.
Metrolink Chair Andrew Kotyuk said the change “will provide more flexibility and convenience for the 30 percent of our riders who transfer to Metro Rail.”
Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti added, “Innovation and accessibility are the backbone of our transportation future. This new technology will help Metrolink riders make a seamless transfer to Metro Rail, getting them to their destination sooner.”
|Los Angeles Metro's optic readers allow Metrolink riders to transfer seamlessly using a mobile app.|
The Sacramento (CA) Regional Transit District (RT), in partnership with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), has received a $492,000 grant from California DOT (Caltrans) that will help the agencies integrate transportation and land use planning to optimize public transit and TOD throughout the county.
The two agencies provided a combined local match of $202,000, bringing the total project cost to $694,000.
RT Board Chair Andy Morin said the grant funding demonstrates that the agency is “continuing with its transformation to become a world-class transit system.”
The grant includes funding to develop an interagency framework to guide future TOD, coordinating efforts among RT, SACOG, Sacramento County and local cities, as well as acquisition of proprietary planning software that helps public transit agencies design routes while identifying cost and demographic impacts associated with proposed changes.
Visually impaired users of San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) buses in Stockton, CA, now have a new mobility aid: Talk to Me Maps, audio and tactile maps of public transit boarding areas available at major service hubs.
“Everyone at RTD is thrilled to work with our friends at CCBVI [the Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired], Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and our sister transit agencies to make life a little easier for those traveling throughout San Joaquin County,” said Chief Executive Officer Donna DeMartino. “This program will make ‘The Places You Can Go on RTD!’ even more accessible than before.”
The program helps blind and visually impaired people to familiarize themselves with RTD’s routes using a braille/large-print map and a talking “smartpen” that tells riders where to board the bus.
For additional information regarding the maps, including a video of a map in use, click here.
CCRTA Assists Agency That Lost Buses in Fire
In the aftermath of a December fire in Victoria, TX, that destroyed the majority of that city’s buses, the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) transferred two of its recently retired buses to Victoria Transit, located close to 100 miles from Corpus Christi. Other public transit systems in the state have loaned vehicles.
Victoria Transit, operated by the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, lost 33 of its buses, or 78 percent of the fleet, in the fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown, although a spokesperson said investigators do not think it was intentionally set.
With estimates suggesting that replacing the buses could cost about $2.7 million and take up to six months, CCRTA and other agencies worked to help the system provide transportation for its customers.
“We know how important our buses are to our own community and how many of our residents rely on our services; we couldn’t let our sister community of Victoria suffer,” said CCRTA Chief Executive Officer Jorge Cruz-Aedo. “The transit community is known for stepping up for one another in times of need, and we are just grateful that we are fortunate enough to assist our fellow transit community.”
CCRTA’s two Gillig diesel buses have reached the end of their useful life according to FTA requirements, but the agency said the vehicles are still in good condition and will provide optimal service for Victoria Transit.
Syracuse, NY, Agency Reaches Out to Ithaca’s TCAT
While Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) in Ithaca, NY, awaits the February arrival of 11 new and much needed Gillig buses, a neighbor some 50 miles away is helping the agency meet its weekday service demands.
Upon the request of TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool, Rick Lee, chief executive officer of the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (Centro) in Syracuse, agreed to lend TCAT two of his agency’s 40-foot 2005 New Flyer diesel buses, which TCAT bus operators and a mechanic transported back to Ithaca on Dec. 1. “We need the help thatCentro is providing to assure that we meet our service demands and to provide the reliable service our customers expect and deserve,” said Vanderpool. “We are very appreciative of Rick Lee’s and Centro’s generosity, support and quick response in helping out a fellow transit agency.”
|TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool, far right, joins agency and Tompkins County staff in thanking Centro for loaning two buses to help TCAT contend with vehicle shortages. |
DCTA Introduces Transit Tracker System — The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), Lewisville, TX, recently implemented its new Transit Tracker system, providing real-time vehicle information via phone, online, text and free mobile app for A-train, fixed-route bus and shuttle services.
Improved Signage at Chicago Union Station — Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority has joined the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Amtrak in installing 81 updated interagency signs at Chicago Union Station, designed to more easily connect travelers to transportation options and amenities around the landmark facility.
ELERTS Develops Mobile Reporting App for TTC — The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently implemented “SafeTTC,” a mobile app powered by ELERTS Corp., which enables TTC customers to safely report harassment and assault in less than 20 seconds. The free app is available for both Apple and Android platforms and offers incident reporting and two-way communications.
Free OCTA Bus Rides to Santa Ana College — The Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority (OCTA) recently launched a three-year pilot program—the county’s first—that allows nearly 42,000 Santa Ana College students to ride any bus for free. OCTA is using a grant from the state’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program to offset the cost of the bus passes.
Use UTA App for Mobile Ticketing — The Utah Transit Authority recently launched the GoRide app, which allows riders to purchase bus, TRAX light rail and streetcar tickets with their smartphones.
Tolar Receives LYNX Contract — LYNX, Orlando, FL, has awarded a three-year contract, with two one-year options, to Tolar Manufacturing Company for up to $6.75 million worth of public transit shelters and solar illumination.
Reno RTC Honored for Sustainability Plan — The Nevada Chapter of the American Planning Association recently recognized the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC), Reno, NV, for implementation of its sustainability plan. The plan identifies 24 short-term sustainability goals across the entire agency that will be implemented within a two- to three-year period to help achieve long-term goals including adding electric buses, reducing emissions by promoting alternative modes of transportation and increasing facilities’ energy efficiency.
IndyGo Honored for Transit Center Design — The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce recently presented three awards to IndyGo’s Julia M. Carson Transit Center: Honor in Architecture, Achievement in Engineering and Honor in Landscape Architecture. The chamber’s Monumental Awards acknowledge excellence in the built environment in the region.
Caltrain Adopts Bicycle Parking Plan — Caltrain commuter rail, San Carlos, CA, has adopted a new Bicycle Parking Management Plan that will increase bike parking capacity at its stations with secure, easy-to-use, low-cost bike options such as electronic bike lockers. Riders bring an estimated 6,000 bikes on board the system each day.
Real-Time Information in Pittsburgh — The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh has completed implementation of the “TrueTime” system that tracks light rail vehicles in real time, providing increased convenience and predictability for passengers.
BART Expands Guaranteed Carpool Parking — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) has added two more stations to its program that guarantees parking to carpoolers by allowing commuters using the carpool app, Scoop, to park in reserved spaces after 10 a.m. BART and Scoop partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to develop the program, funded through an FTA Mobility on Demand Sandbox grant.
Transit Ambassadors in Long Beach — Long Beach (CA) Transit recently launched its Transit Ambassador Program, which will place uniformed security officers with specialized public transit training on board the system’s vehicles to provide on-bus security support and customer service.
Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.
ASHEVILLE, NC—John Bartosiewicz, APTA chair in 1999-2000 and a public transit professional with more than 40 years’ experience, has joined executive search firm KL2 Connects LLC as its sixth principal.
SAN BERNARDINO, CA—Erin Rogers has joined Omnitrans in the newly created position of deputy general manager. She has almost three decades of public transit experience, including 16 years with the Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority, 10 of them as assistant general manager, and earlier as a regional vice president for MV Transportation Inc. For APTA, Rogers is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2010 and a member of the Access, Bus & Paratransit CEOs, Innovative Funding, Finance and P3, and Research and Technology committees.
CLEVELAND—CDM Smith announced the appointment of Jim Riley as a senior vice president and national transportation director in its North America Unit, based in Cleveland. He has 27 years of experience, serving most recently in leadership roles with HNTB including national transportation market sector leader and chief sales officer. He also served Ohio DOT as deputy director of innovative delivery and built the department’s P3 program.
HESPERIA, CA—The California Transit Association (CTA) recently presented its Distinguished Service Award to Kevin Kane, executive director/chief operating officer, Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA).
Before joining VVTA in 1998, Kane was marketing and planning director for Knoxville (TN) Area Transit and previously worked in the newspaper business. For APTA, he is a member of the Bus & Paratransit CEOs, Legislative and Small Operations committees. He has served since 2010 as a CTA Executive Committee member and chairs the California Association for Coordinated Transit.
STOCKTON, CA—The Central Valley Asian-American Chamber of Commerce honored Gloria Salazar, deputy chief executive officer of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, for her professional success and role as a community leader at its recent third annual women’s leadership event.
NEW YORK CITY—Gregory A. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of WSP USA, recently received the Industry Recognition Award from the New York Building Congress, an association that promotes the growth and success of the construction industry in New York City and its environs. Kelly is a board member and treasurer of the organization.
Also, Benjamin Rodenbough has rejoined WSP USA as a senior supervising engineer in the Seattle office, where he previously worked from 1999-2014. He has more than 29 years of experience, most recently with Qatar’s Local Roads and Drainage Program.
STEVENSVILLE, MD—Nathan Wright has joined Stertil-Koni as a marketing associate. He has seven years of marketing experience and a technical background in industrial products, coming most recently from his work in the nuclear power generation industry.
ORANGE, CA—The Orange County Transportation Authority announced that five current board members have been re-selected for two-year terms beginning in January: Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones, Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Tustin Mayor Pro Tem Al Murray, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Laguna Niguel Councilmember Laurie Davies.
ST. CLOUD, MN—St. Cloud Metro Bus announced the appointment of Jim Perez as chief operating officer. Perez has more than three decades of transit experience with agencies including the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and Central Maryland Regional Transit in Laurel, MD.
LEWISVILLE, TX—Mark Miller and Dianne Costa have joined the Denton County Transportation Authority Board of Directors. Miller, representing the city of Flower Mound, is vice president of Hillwood Properties and a former research analyst with the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Costa, a former mayor of Highland Village, is retired after 13 years as a credentialed non-attorney mediator and parenting coordinator.
AUSTIN, TX—Eric Ploch has been named Southwest Texas area manager at WSP USA, focusing on Austin and San Antonio. He has more than 25 years of consulting experience, working with agencies including the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Texas DOT and Missouri DOT.
SEATTLE—Ric Ilgenfritz has joined David Evans and Associates Inc. (DEA) as transit and railroad services planning manager and vice president, leading the firm’s new downtown Seattle office. He comes to DEA after 16 years on the executive leadership team at Sound Transit.
SAN CARLOS, CA—The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) Board of Directors elected Belmont Mayor Charles Stone its chair. Stone represents the Central Judicial Cities on the board and also has been named SamTrans’ representative to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, governing board for Caltrain commuter rail, succeeding Rose Guilbault.
Carole Groom, representing the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, was elected vice chair of the SamTrans board.
LOS ANGELES—Montebello Mayor Vivian Romero has joined the Southern California Regional Rail Authority Board of Directors as the alternate for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. The board oversees Metrolink commuter rail.
SEATTLE—Sound Transit announced the appointment of Jackie Martinez-Vasquez as director of the agency’s new Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Equity and Inclusion. She joins the agency after eight years of executive-level positions at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, most recently serving as vice president for social responsibility.
WASHINGTON, DC—Todd Blaylock has joined Network Rail Consulting (NRC) as vice president, US East, based in a new NRC office in New York City. Most recently he worked for HNTB and earlier worked for the Parsons Transportation Group and Ansaldo STS. Blaylock also has more than 18 years of military aviation operations and maintenance experience.
Also, Jeannette Frett has been named chief human resources officer for Network Rail Consulting North America in Washington. She has held leadership roles with Banco Popular, Verizon and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and was a member of the senior leadership team at Trinity Washington University.
DALLAS—Texas Central, developers of the state’s high-speed train, has named business leader, entrepreneur and former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. chairman of its board. He joined the board in January 2017 and succeeds Richard Lawless, who remains a board member and chairman emeritus.
SAN BERNARDINO, CA—The Omnitrans Board of Directors has elected Yucaipa City Council Member David Avila its vice chair following the death of the previous vice chair, Redlands Council Member Pat Gilbreath. Avila joined the board in January 2017 and also represents Yucaipa on the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority Board of Directors.
CLEVELAND—The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association re-elected Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough to a three-year term on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board of Trustees. Clough joined the RTA board in 1999 and was elected its vice president in 2011. He is the second-longest serving board member after Chairman George Dixon.
OAKLAND, CA—AC Transit announced the promotions of Beverly Greene to executive director of external affairs, marketing and communications and Salvador Llamas to chief operating officer.
Greene has more than 25 years of experience, joining AC Transit in 2007 and serving most recently as director of legislative affairs and community relations. Earlier she was a special legislative assistant to the speaker of the California State Assembly. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2013 and a member of the Legislative and Member Services committees.
Llamas joined AC Transit in 2012 as director of maintenance. His 24 years of fleet and facilities maintenance experience includes 17 years with public transit operations. Before joining AC Transit, he worked for Los Angeles Metro and served 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, both active duty and reserve. He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2010 and a member of several APTA committees.
SPOKANE, WA—Roger Watkins has joined the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) as chief operations officer. He comes to STA after 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a brigadier general in 2016, and succeeds Steve Blaska, who retired at the end of 2017. Blaska is also a veteran who retired as an Army colonel before joining STA in 2003.
RIVERSIDE, CA—The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) Board of Directors elected Banning City Councilman Art Welch as its chair, succeeding Hemet City Councilwoman and former Mayor Linda Krupa. Welch has served on the board since 2013 and was its first vice chair in 2017.
Murrieta City Councilman Randon Lane was elected first vice chair and Perris City Councilmember Tonya Burke second vice chair.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Eddie Martinez has been named chairman of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors, succeeding Curtis Rock. Martinez, who represents the city, works for the Port of Corpus Christi as its business development representative.
KANSAS CITY, MO—Leavenworth, KS, Mayor Nancy Bauder has joined the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners, appointed by the Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners. She owns a business and is a former executive director of United Way of Leavenworth County.
SAN DIEGO—The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board of Directors has elected Del Mar City Council Member Terry Sinnott its chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus vice chair. Sinnott, formerly vice chair of the board, has been on the city council for seven years and operates a management consulting business. Vaus has served on the SANDAG Executive Committee for the past two years.
BLOOMSBURG, PA—SEKISUI Polymer Innovations LLC has promoted Karen Brock Amoah, previously vice president of sales and marketing, to vice president of global commercial strategy.
LOUISVILLE, KY—The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) has appointed Russell Goodwin director of marketing, a position he previously held on an interim basis. He joined TARC in 2015 as communications manager.
KANSAS CITY, MO—TranSystems announced the promotions of Lawrence Kirchner to vice president and senior associate, based in the Chicago office, and Todd Herman to associate and assistant vice president in the Kansas City office.
Kirchner has more than 30 years of experience in structural design and project management for rail, bridge and roadway projects. Herman’s 24-year career has focused on bridge plan preparation, planning, project and client management of transportation structures, with an emphasis over the last 15 years on structures for Class I railroads.
NEW YORK CITY—Zeyad Alkaisi has joined HNTB Corporation as a rail transit senior project manager and associate vice president. He joins the firm after more than 30 years of experience with MTA New York City Transit, where he was vice president for program services, deputy vice president for program controls and senior director for strategic scheduling.
DALLAS—Scott Hudson has been named senior transit and rail manager in the Dallas office of WSP USA. He has two decades of experience, serving most recently as a project manager in the Fort Worth office of an international transportation engineering organization.