Passenger Transport - February 9, 2018
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BREAKING NEWS

Congress Ends Brief Shutdown by Passing Spending, Budget Agreement

Congress voted early Feb. 9 to approve a measure that funds the federal government at FY 2017 levels through March 23, 2018, and raises budget caps for both FY 2018 and FY 2019, as reported in a Legislative Alert released the same day by APTA.

The votes (240-186 in the House and 71-28 in the Senate) reopened the federal government following a brief lapse of funding that began at midnight Feb. 9.

Other provisions of the measure suspend the federal debt ceiling until March 1, 2019, and provide nearly $90 billion for disaster relief aid. It also includes a “tax-extenders” deal that includes retroactive alternative fuel benefits for properties and vehicles for FY 2017, which APTA has advocated for.

See the complete text of the alert at the APTA website.

NEWS HEADLINES

Infrastructure Plan Set for Release on Feb. 12

President Trump’s long-awaited $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan is set to be released Feb. 12, a White House official said as this issue of Passenger Transport went to press.

It is expected that the plan will include principles for generating private and public investment, cut the regulatory process from 10 years to two and provide funding for rural projects. APTA will issue an analysis following release of the plan.

The president’s infrastructure proposal, budget and annual report on capital investment grants will serve to inform Congress as it continues negotiating on annual funding bills and works to achieve a bipartisan infrastructure package. As always, APTA encourages members of the public transportation industry to share their concerns and priorities with their members of Congress. Any infrastructure initiative Congress considers should include significant funding for public transportation and address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Stay current on the latest developments through Passenger Transport, Passenger Transport Express and APTA’s Legislative Alerts.

Oregon DOT Reopens Historic Salem Depot as Multimodal Hub

A former railroad baggage depot located next to the Amtrak station in Salem, OR, reopened Jan. 30 as a multimodal facility serving Greyhound Bus and providing connections to Cherriots local buses and other bus service.

Oregon DOT, which owns the structure, said the former Salem Railroad Baggage Depot has been renamed “Dixie’s Depot” in memory of Dixie Kenney, an elementary school teacher whose husband donated $96,000 to the project “to help remember Dixie and help improve Salem’s view of itself and for the rest of the world.” Other funding came from federal and state agencies, the city and Greyhound.

The facility was originally built in the early 1890s as an attachment to the city’s passenger rail station built in 1888-1889; in 1918, when a new station was constructed, the depot was moved north on the property. It was used to store both passenger luggage and freight shipments until around 1970 and had been abandoned for more than 20 years.
A crowd of supporters attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the former Salem Railroad Baggage Depot, now called “Dixie’s Depot.”

Oregon DOT Historic Resources Program Coordinator Chris Bell, who worked extensively on the project over the past five years, said, “The feeling of preservation today is, ‘Salvage as much as you can, reuse as much as you can,’ because not only is this material indicative of this building and period—from style to shape to quality—but it reflects a patina and authentic sense of place, which you can see today, that is impossible to recreate with new construction.”

As much as possible, the project incorporates original wood salvaged from the structure and includes both original design elements and new ones that followed the original design.

MnDOT Offers Free Rides on Autonomous Shuttle

Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) offered free rides on its autonomous shuttle bus in downtown Minneapolis Jan. 26-28 as part of efforts to increase public awareness of autonomous vehicle technology.

“We were able to provide a unique and exciting experience to nearly 1,300 riders over the three days of demonstrations,” said Michael ­Kronzer, ITS project manager for MnDOT. “One of our goals was to promote the benefits this technology can provide regarding safety, mobility and efficiency. Feedback was incredibly positive; we are starting to create awareness and conversations in the public setting.”

MnDOT hosted wheelchair users and members of the National Federation of the Blind-MN Chapter prior to the public demonstrations. “Having these guests experience the shuttle was one of the highlights of the week,” said Kronzer. “To hear comments about how the technology will create unprecedented mobility and freedom for disabled and impaired riders was incredibly encouraging.”
MnDOT operated its autonomous shuttle bus on a test basis last month in Minneapolis.
MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said, “These rides will help the public see how autonomous vehicle technology works and experience what will someday be mainstream in the way we travel.”

MnDOT has been testing the vehicle at its cold weather testing facility, MnROAD, near Albertville, since November, to determine how well it operates in snow and ice conditions, at low temperatures and on roads where salt is used to clear ice.

AC Transit Opens First Dedicated Transit Lane

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, recently partnered with the city of Berkeley to open the East Bay area’s first dedicated public transit-only lane—painted a distinctive red to warn motorists and cyclists to stay out.

The three-block-long dedicated lane, known as the Bancroft West Pilot, is the first phase in a three-phase project that will represent more than $6 million in infrastructure improvements in the city.

AC Transit Board of Directors President Elsa Ortiz said, “Red transit-only lanes were piloted in San Francisco several years ago and resulted in a travel time improvement of up to 27 percent for their public transit system. AC Transit is hoping to mirror that reliability for the 10,000 trips our riders take within the Southside area [near the University of California at Berkeley].”

AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursh said, “Our research found where installed, the painted lanes have proven to reduce collisions, risky driving behavior, dramatically reduce the risk of cars merging into the bus and will diminish motorists suddenly stopping in front of a bus to parallel park.”

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said the lane “incorporates thoughtful design, considerable public input including local business interest and leaders in accessible bikeways and streets. Best of all, the cost of installation is minimal but the lane’s safety benefit to Berkeley’s pedestrians, cyclists, seniors and motorists is immeasurable.”

SEPTA Partners in 'Hub of Hope' for Homeless

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) joined partners from Project HOME, a local social service organization, and the city of Philadelphia to open the Hub of Hope, a permanent facility where homeless residents can find vital services and care, at ceremonies Jan. 30.

The 11,000-square-foot facility is located in Center City Philadelphia, near entrances for SEPTA’s Broad Street Line subway, Market-Frankford subway-elevated line, trolleys and Regional Rail Suburban Station. The city owns and maintains the property, but SEPTA engineers designed the facility and in-house employees and contractors completed construction.

The permanent location of the Hub of Hope replaces a 150-square-foot temporary facility in a Suburban Station storefront that operated during the past six winters. Project HOME staff and volunteers provide enhanced physical and behavioral healthcare, counseling and other social services. The new center also includes food, showers and laundry facilities.

Hub of Hope is the first U.S. resource facility for the homeless created by a partnership among a social services agency, public transit agency and municipality.

Cutting the ribbon at the new Hub of Hope, from left: SEPTA Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr.; Jon Bon Jovi, whose Soul Foundation helped support the facility; Sister Mary Scullion, president and executive director, Project HOME; Philadelphia City Council President Darrel L. Clark; SEPTA employee Solomon Frazier; SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel; and Project HOME benefactor Leigh Middleton.

 

Metro Transit Propels Super Bowl LII

When Super Bowl LII came to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, Metro Transit was well-prepared to move the crowds of Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots fans.

Because of security concerns, the agency closed its light rail station at the venue, U.S. Bank Stadium, to all riders except Super Bowl ticketholders with Gameday Fan Express Passes. Buses replaced regular service along the majority of the two light rail lines, while ticketholders went through security checkpoints to board trains at specified stations and ride directly to the stadium station. Other bus routes continued to provide regular service.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said, “Minnesota just hosted the coldest Super Bowl on record. Even more remarkable is that this was also the most transit-dependent game in the Super Bowl’s 52-year history. As expected, Metro Transit’s employees and partners made this event an unqualified success for fans, customers and the entire Twin Cities region. We’re proud of our accomplishment and thank everyone who made transit a part of their Super Bowl experience.”
Eagles and Patriots fans left Metro Transit light rail at U.S. Bank Stadium Station on their way to Super Bowl LII at the stadium.

In the suburbs, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville used a 40-foot Proterra electric bus to provide supplemental service during rush hours and weekend peak hours from Jan. 26-Feb. 4.

“As thousands of people flock to the Twin Cities for the Big Game, it’s paramount that we deliver on our promise to provide reliable, high-performance transit to all of our riders,” MVTA Executive Director Luther Wynder said prior to the game. “By deploying the Proterra battery-electric bus during the busiest week of the year, we will share this state-of-the-art technology with travelers from near and far.”

Meanwhile, as Passenger Transport went to press, the Southeastern Penn­sylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) partnered with Independence Blue Cross to provide free rides on two rail lines before, during and after the Feb. 8 Championship Parade. SEPTA implemented service changes elsewhere in the system to allow for increased capacity on the two lines into downtown Philadelphia, but only parade-goers with pre-purchased passes or tickets would be allowed to ride.
Philadelphia Eagles fans boarded SEPTA trains at 30th Street Station following the Feb. 8 victory parade. In addition to the two rail lines operating free, the agency reported selling out of special discounted passes for other Regional Rail service about a day after making them available, and noted that fans lined up at rail stations well before service began around 5 a.m.
Photo by Matt Courchain, SEPTA

Celebrating 25 Years of LA's Subway


Los Angeles Mayor and Los Angeles Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, left, joined by officials and community stakeholders, distributed complimentary farecards and commemorative lapel pins to Metro Red Line riders Jan. 29 in honor of the 25th anniversary of the subway line. Over the past quarter century, the Red Line has carried an estimated 817 million passengers while traveling approximately 3.6 billion miles. The first 4.4 miles and five stations opened in 1993; the last of three extensions entered service in 2000.

New CEOs Named

Jackson, TransTrack Systems

TransTrack Systems Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA, has named David (Dave) Jackson its new general manager. Mary Sue O’Melia, the company’s founder and former president, will serve as a consultant to TransTrack during a transition period.

Jackson has more than 20 years of industry experience, including development of the TransitMaster® product line with Rockwell International and Siemens (now ­Trapeze Software Inc.) and service at Booz Allen Hamilton, CH2M (Jacobs) and Intueor Consulting Inc.


Stitt, OPTA

The Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) has hired W. Curtis Stitt as its executive director. Stitt recently retired after six years as chief executive officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus, where he worked a total of 19 years in a variety of roles. For APTA, Stitt is a past chair of the Mid-Size Operations Committee and a former member of the board of directors and several other committees.

APTA NEWS

Save the Date: APTA to Host Mobility Summit

As part of APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.'s new mobility paradigm priority, APTA has announced a new event, “The Future of Mobility Summit: From Transit Authority to Mobility Authority,” scheduled for July 12 in Washington, DC. Related programs may be scheduled the days before and after the summit.

APTA stressed that technology, entrepreneurship and changing customer expectations are disrupting traditional models of mobility and challenging the ways public transportation operators approach their business. In the coming months and years, public transit agencies will face important strategic decisions, all of which must be considered through the lens of adaptation.

The summit will frame critical questions facing public transportation agencies today, highlight innovations underway around the country and discuss ways public transportation can be the backbone of multimodal lifestyles.

Ford's initiative is being headed by Gary Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Carolyn Flowers, a senior vice president with AECOM.

Check the APTA website for more information as it becomes available.

Speakers Named for APTA Legislative Conference

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio (both D-OR) and Sam Graves (R-MO) will speak at the 2018 APTA Legis­lative Conference, March 18-20 at a new location: the Grand Hyatt Hotel in ­Washington, DC. Rendell, co-chair, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, will address the March 19 breakfast session, while DeFazio, ranking member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I); Graves, chair of the T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; and Blumenauer, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, will speak at the morning General Session on March 20.

The Capitol Steps will return to entertain at the Monday luncheon. Other conference sessions will feature representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and Associated General Contractors of America and congressional staff representing House and Senate committees responsible for public transit authorization, appropriations and rail legislation.

Register for the conference here.
Rendell Blumenauer
DeFazio Graves

APTA Award Nominations Due

Now is the time to nominate “the best of the best” individuals and organizations for the 2018 APTA Awards program, which recognizes excellence in the public transportation industry in North America.

Individual award categories are Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member, Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member, Distinguished Service Awards (state and local) and Hall of Fame. Organization award categories are the Innovation Award and the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award.

All nominations should include how the nominee demonstrates APTA’s core values: leadership, integrity, excellence, diversity, inclusiveness, fairness and equity, teamwork, professionalism and accountability.

The deadline for nominations is April 10. Nominations can be submitted by any individual employed by an APTA member in good standing. All nominators need to complete the nomination form and supporting materials here.

Please submit nominations to Erin Cartwright or by mail to APTA Awards Committee, Attention: Erin Cartwright, 1300 I St. NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

CTA Completes Wilson Station Reconstruction

The Chicago Transit ­Authority (CTA) joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Feb. 5 to announce the completion of the $203 million Wilson Station Recon­struction Project, which transformed an almost 100-year-old station into a centerpiece for the Uptown neighborhood.

CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said the new station will provide an improved commuting experience for the more than 1.7 million annual riders who use it. The historic station now offers improved accessibility, including escalators and elevators; security cameras; real-time rail and bus tracking; large platforms and architectural glass platform canopies that provide increased weather protection; new, quiet track replacing a century-old structure; and new artwork in the main station house.

The final element of the project was restoration of the historic Gerber building, originally built in 1923, including the recreation of an exterior clock and parapet wall that had been removed decades ago. The building served as the station’s main entrance for many years and CTA is now seeking a commercial tenant.

CTA noted that the new Wilson Station is already a catalyst for economic development in the neighborhood. Several new small businesses have opened in the area, creating new jobs, and new residential developments have been announced or are underway.

The project is the latest in a series of investments made as part of the mayor’s “Red Ahead” initiative to improve Chicago’s busiest rail line, the Red Line.

The former appearance of the Gerber Building and CTA’s Wilson Station, top, and an artist’s rendering of the reconstructed station, bottom.

 

Uber Spearheads Collaborative Cincinnati Mobility Lab

Uber has joined with ­entities including the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) in Cincinnati and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) in Fort Wright in a three-year partnership to launch an organization that will share data, conduct studies, engage employers and activate designers to help create an innovative and strategic transportation plan for the Cincinnati region.

Uber and its partners announced the formation of the Cincinnati Mobility Lab at a Jan. 31 media event at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Other partners include the chamber, the city of Cincinnati and the Ohio-Kentucky-­Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

“Acting in partnership with others, we believe shared mobility can build a better transportation system for all,” said Andrew Salzberg, head of transportation policy and research for Uber.
Cincinnati Metro CEO & General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell, at podium, addressed partners in the Cincinnati Mobility Lab.

Among its other activities, the partnership will launch a public transit study with SORTA and TANK.

SORTA Chief Executive Officer & General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell said, “We’re excited for this new partnership with Uber that will provide us with unprecedented access to data and insights that will further enable our efforts to plan for the future needs of our riders as we continue working to reinvent Metro.”

TANK General Manager Andrew Aiello added, “We’re delighted to be part of this first-of-its-kind opportunity for transit and Uber to work together to better understand transportation access in the region and create a strategic plan for the future.”

Ford Acquires TransLoc

Ford Motor Company recently acquired TransLoc, a Durham, NC-based provider of demand-response technology for city-owned microtransit solutions, as part of its Ford Mobility team.

“We believe transportation done right—as part of a systems approach—can bring life back to our cities,” said Marcy Klevorn, president, Ford Mobility. “By accelerating our delivery of mobility services through the changes we are making today, we are enabling that revival, enhancing our competitiveness and creating long-term value for Ford shareholders.”

Acquiring TransLoc will allow Ford to leverage the company’s operational expertise, network of city relationships and track record of providing solutions to cities globally that can improve the rider experience with dynamic routing.

Klevorn added, “We believe the integration of the technology and talent from TransLoc into our mobility team will further bolster our ability to deliver robust solutions for personal owners, fleet operators and cities, with speed and at scale.”

Keolis Graduates Largest Class of MBTA Assistant Conductors

Keolis Commuter Services recently graduated a class of 27 assistant conductors from its Somerville, MA, training facility for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), constituting the largest class in the ­history of MBTA’s commuter rail service.

Beginning their training in November 2017, the student conductors received classroom instruction and took exams in subjects including customer service, visited railroad facilities and spent time on board trains.

“Our conductors are the face of our service, which is why we provide them with all the training and tools necessary,” said David Scorey, Keolis CEO and general manager.

“A cross-functional team helped make this possible,” said Tory ­Mazzola, Keolis director, public affairs. “It’s important to our passengers that our assistant conductors and other frontline employees have the proper training both for safety excellence and customer service. Our teams designed this program specifically to achieve that for such a large group.”
Keolis’ assistant conductor class for MBTA, pictured with South Side Operations Director Bobby Huggan, Transportation Trainer Denise Langley, Transportation Trainer Gregory McNeill, Keolis CEO and General Manager David Scorey and Transportation Trainer Mike O’Neil.

VW Settlement Could Mean More Alternative Fueled Buses in Colorado

Public transit agencies in Colorado hope to add to their bus fleets powered with electricity or CNG with part of Volkswagen’s $68.7 million payout to the state as a settlement for its violation of emissions laws.

Craig Blewitt, director of Mountain Metropolitan Transit in Colorado Springs, said the Colorado Department of Public Health is working with Colorado DOT in allocating funds through the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan. He expects the draft proposal on allocation of funds within the next six months, with the opportunity to apply for funds coming in the fall.

“At least $18 million of the total amount is earmarked for replacement of diesel buses with either electric or CNG-powered vehicles,” Blewitt said. He cited Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Transfort in Fort Collins as other agencies in the state that could benefit from the funds.

Blewitt noted that Mountain Metro did not previously invest in CNG buses because of economic setbacks during the 2007 recession, adding that the cost of CNG was rising and grants were less available by the time the agency was ready to buy new buses. “Now that electric buses are becoming available, we’re very interested,” he said. “We think it’s time to get into electric buses; we see them becoming the standard for public transportation systems across the country.”

He said the agency would like to replace about six buses a year with slow-charge electric vehicles that can be charged overnight.

Palm Tran Honors MLK Jr. in Annual Parade

Throughout February, Black History Month, Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, is honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a specially decorated bus that debuted at the 2018 MLK Parade in Riviera Beach, FL.

“Palm Tran supports equal rights and opportunities for everyone; therefore, honoring the legacy of a leader in the civil rights movement is extremely important,” said Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes. “We love supporting the community and seeing everyone come together in remembrance of Dr. King.”

The exterior design of the 60-foot articulated bus centers on the theme “Youth Dreams, Adult Dreams; Become a Reality,” including a bus wrap symbolic of kente cloth, a collage picture of King and quotes from him. It will operate on routes throughout Palm Beach County until March.

More than 50 Palm Tran employees and volunteers participated in the parade, marching alongside the bus and presenting the crowd with free passes.
Palm Tran employees and volunteers gathered in front of the specially decorated Martin Luther King Jr. bus before this year’s MLK Parade.

SunLine Unveils New, Long-Range Zero-Emission Bus

SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, unveiled its newest zero-emission bus—representing the ninth generation of fuel cell buses placed in revenue service in the Coachella Valley—Feb. 2 in front of the agency’s administration building.

“After testing numerous fuel cell technology configurations over the years, we believe we may have identified the configuration that will allow the transit and heavy-duty industry to successfully deploy fuel cell technology over the next decade,” said Lauren Skiver, SunLine’s general manager and chief executive officer.

The new battery-powered bus will have the capability to cover any route in the SunLine service territory, even with the air conditioner operating at maximum levels in the height of summer.

The new bus differs from earlier models in that it carries a small fuel cell on board to charge the battery, enabling a 250- to 300-mile daily route. The only “emission” from the hydrogen fuel cell is water.

Development funding for the bus came from the private sector, FTA and the California Energy Commission.
Unveiling SunLine’s new zero-emission bus: at podium, SunLine Board Chair and City of Desert Hot Springs Council Member Russell Betts, and seated from left, Lauren Skiver, SunLine Transit general manager and CEO; California State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia; V. Manuel Perez of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors; John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART; and Deputy Director John Kato of the California Energy Commission.

CA Commuter Rail Agencies Receive State Grants

Five commuter rail agencies in California are receiving a combined $36.5 million in State Rail Assistance Grants from Caltrans, funded through Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a statewide transportation funding law enacted in 2017.

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) in Petaluma, Metrolink in Los Angeles and the North County Transit District’s (NCTD) Coaster in Escondido each will receive $10.5 million in grant funds, while Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) in Stockton and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s Caltrain in San Carlos will each receive $2.5 million.

SMART will use its funding, which will be distributed over a three-year period, to increase the number of one-way weekday trips from 34 to 38 and weekend trips from 10 to 12.

Metrolink’s funding will go toward upgrading signals, modernizing track infrastructure and increasing reliability of trains throughout the system.

NCTD will use its grant to help replace seven locomotives with cleaner, more reliable vehicles.

ACE’s grant will allow the system to begin operating two round trips on Saturdays, scheduled to begin in June. At present, the railroad operates only on weekdays.

Caltrain is receiving its funds in three separate grants: $500,000 to help implement its Bike Parking Management Plan, $1 million to repair or replace railcars in its fleet to increase reliability and another $1 million for new crossover tracks near the middle of the corridor to enhance operational and schedule flexibility.

BART Opens Bike Facility in Contra Costa County


The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) recently opened its first bike facility in Contra Costa County, at the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre BART Station. BART Director Debora Allen and Board President Robert Raburn cut the ribbon at the facility, which almost doubles the existing bicycle capacity at the station with space for 215 additional bikes. The secure 2,300-square-foot facility, the seventh in the BART system, also houses a bike retail shop and maintenance services.

Industry Briefs

TCAT Partners with Google Maps — Service information for Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) buses in Ithaca, NY, is now available in Google Maps online and through a mobile app.

SmartDrive Named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 — SmartDrive Systems has placed 395th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™ for 2017, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. This is the fourth consecutive year the company has appeared on the list, during which time SmartDrive has grown more than 200 percent.

WSP to Manage BART Extension — The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, has awarded WSP USA a contract to manage the second phase of the extension of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail system to Silicon Valley. While the first 10 miles are expected to enter service this year, planning is underway for Phase II, which will include six more miles of track and four new stations.

VIA Announces 1,000th Bus Stop Improvement
 — VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, recently dedicated its 1,000th new bus stop improvement as part of a special improvement program: a roofed shelter located adjacent to a San Antonio Housing Authority project. With the completion of this stop, VIA now provides sheltered locations for 95 percent of boardings throughout its system, or more than 2,200 stops.

PSTA Selects Official App — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL, recently selected Transit App as its official smartphone app, building upon existing public schedule information to create a seamless experience for riders. Transit provides public transit information to millions of active users in more than 140 cities.

Sound Transit Contracts with HDR — Sound Transit in Seattle has entered into a contract with HDR to plan the 9.7-mile Tacoma Dome Link light rail extension, which will complete service between Seattle and Tacoma, WA. The contract also includes four new transit stations and a new operations and maintenance facility.

Long Beach Transit Holds Job Fair
 — Long Beach (CA) Transit recently held a job fair to identify and interview candidates for 35 bus operator positions, along with 19 openings in other departments including mechanics, transit service delivery supervisors and accounting employees.

Collecting Socks and Mittens in Buffalo — The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Metro, Buffalo, NY, is reaching out to low-income and homeless residents with its first Sock and Mitten Drive, working with a regional community center. As access to public transit is often critical for this population, the agency works within the community to help meet its accessibility needs for jobs and daily living.

LYNX Partners with Seminole State — LYNX, Orlando, FL, has entered into a partnership with Seminole State College, Sanford, FL, to provide unlimited free rides to its students, faculty and staff. The college funds the bus service, which includes all LYNX routes and can be accessed through a mobile app available for Android and iOS devices.

Transdev to Provide Paratransit in Lansing — The Capital Area Transit Authority, Lansing, MI, has awarded Transdev a five-year, $37.1 million contract to provide Spec-Tran paratransit and supplemental rural services to more than 15,500 customers, effective in April.

Community Transit Opens Bus-Only Lane — Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, recently opened a bus-only lane to ease congestion near a highway overpass. The road-widening project is part of construction for Swift Green Line BRT, scheduled to open in 2019.

Des Moines Business Provides Free Transit to Employees — The Des Moines Area (IA) Regional Transit Authority (DART) has extended a bus route to serve a plant where truck accessory products are produced. At the same time, the manufacturer began providing free bus fares for employees through DART’s Unlimited Access program, which allows organizations to pay a set amount for employees to ride free by showing a work ID.

WMATA Plans TOD at College Park Station — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority signed an agreement with a developer to create a mixed-use residential and retail project at the College Park Metrorail Station in Maryland. Plans include 440 units of market-rate multifamily units, destination retail and other amenities located immediately adjacent to the entrance of the station.

CNG Fueling Station Coming to Santa Fe — Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has entered into a $3 million, eight-year design, build, operate and maintain contract with the city of Santa Fe, NM, for a CNG fueling station that will serve both public and private customers, including the city’s public transit agency, Santa Fe Trails.

Chicago RTA Receives Honor for 23rd Year — For the 23rd consecutive year, Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for RTA’s comprehensive annual financial report.

COMMENTARY

The New Face of Public Transportation: We're in This Together

BY NATHANIEL P. FORD SR.
Chair, APTA
Chief Executive Officer
Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority

During APTA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO in Atlanta last October, I described how our industry is in the midst of the greatest transformation of our generation.

Public transportation is evolving at a pace never seen before. Everywhere we look, we are moving away from current, separate modes, to an environment of synergy between different modes of transportation, different technologies and different ­providers. Everything APTA does must be in support of interconnected mobility solutions that are responsive to the changing needs of ­riders. This is how JTA serves its customers.

During his State of the Union address on Jan. 30, President Trump spoke about his proposal for an infrastructure bill—a measure that has major implications for our industry. The president urged Congress to act on the bill and provide the U.S. with safe, reliable and modern infrastructure. The bill, he said, would generate at least $1.5 trillion in investment in our infrastructure; it would streamline the permitting process to two years or less; and it would seek to leverage each federal dollar with state, local and, in some cases, private funds.

The time has clearly come for infrastructure to be a legislative priority on Capitol Hill. We are engaging key players in both the private and public sectors across the public transportation industry. I am encouraged by the level of interest and support to date.

An APTA member, the Transportation Network Company Uber, presented a set of infrastructure principles ahead of the president’s proposal, calling for a ramping up of investment to improve the nation’s roads and public transportation systems. Uber urged the government to include public transit in any infrastructure plan, saying:

“In many communities, mass transit is the backbone of their transportation systems. Increased investment in public transportation is needed to give more people access to affordable transportation while helping to reduce congestion and pollution. Uber advocates for expansion, flexibility and increased funding for FTA’s Mobility on Demand program, which promotes innovation and cross-cutting multimodal services.”

This is a holistic approach to mobility, not a unilateral focus on public versus private solutions or on specific modalities like bus and rail. Our public transportation agencies need to be talking holistically among ourselves and with TNCs to address the big challenges that are ahead:

* Ridership decline;
* New entrepreneurial service providers such as Transportation Network Companies;
* Increasing capital funding needs for state-of-good-repair projects;
* Rising operations costs; and
* Who pays for what portion of public transit (federal vs. state vs. local).

In good times it’s easy to speak in silos, but we are not in good or easy times. We are doing ourselves a disservice if we assume the structures and operations that worked 20 years ago will work today—and tomorrow. More than ever, our industry’s experts from legal, policy, marketing, bus, rail, board support, business, transit CEOs and operators alike need to come together to collaborate, coordinate and strategize about how to offer the public what it expects, needs and deserves.

This is the work that needs to be done—and it is far more pressing than a debate over which APTA conferences should be consolidated or preserved. Is our industry better served by managing 15-17 conferences, meetings and workshops … or by directing APTA’s resources to the issues that are fundamental to the continued viability of the public transportation sector?

APTA’s mission statement reads: “To strengthen and improve public transportation, APTA serves and leads its diverse membership through advocacy, innovation and information sharing. APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.”

That statement is as true now as it ever was. We know where APTA and our industry need to be in the year 2021 and in 2030 and beyond. But to get there, we must make some difficult decisions based on the collective good of our industry, instead of parochial self-interests.

This is a time for more attention on the “Pluribus” rather than the “Unum.” This is a time that demands we work together so that we can benefit together. Public transit’s future depends on this.


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

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

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TORONTO—Patrick Leclerc has announced that he is stepping down as president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association after almost eight years. He is joining the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO), Gatineau, QC, as director of development, marketing and communications.


SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA—Lake Stevens City Council member Kim Daughtry and Sultan City Council member Joe Neigel have joined the Community Transit Board of Directors for two-year terms.


DENVER—The Regional Transportation District Board of Directors elected Doug Tisdale its chair for 2018, succeeding Larry Hoy. Tisdale is a former mayor of Cherry Hills Village and president of the law firm Tisdale & Associates LLC.
The other officers are Natalie Menten, first vice chair; Barbara Deadwyler, second vice chair; Claudia Folska, secretary; and Judy Lubow, treasurer.


ITHACA, NY—Michael Smith has been named operations manager of Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), a position vacated by Scot ­Vanderpool when he became general manager in August 2017. Previously the position was filled by Nancy Oltz, who retired after nearly four decades of service at TCAT and its predecessor agency, Ithaca Transit.

Smith became a bus operator in 2011 and was promoted to transit supervisor in 2014.


NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA announced the following appointments:

Fred Tallarico was named national director for alternative delivery, based in New York City. He joined the firm in January 2017 as director of alternative delivery for the northeast and central regions. Tallarico has nearly three decades of experience with alternative delivery, program, project and operational management, working most recently as east region design-build principal at a major engineering firm.

David Warner was named Northwest Pacific district manager, Seattle office area manager and vice president, based in Seattle. He joined WSP after serving as Southern California infrastructure leader with a large international engineering organization and has 15 years of transportation experience.

In the Boston office, Dennis Baker was named Northern New England area manager for transportation and infrastructure and Caroline Downing was named New England operations manager for transportation. Baker has more than 30 years of transportation experience. Downing comes to WSP with 30 years of program and project management experience, most recently as a vice president with an international engineering company.


WASHINGTON, DC—Operation Lifesaver Inc. named three new state program leaders: Steve Kreins in Oregon, Brock Kerchner in Pennsylvania and Jessica Devorsky in Texas.

Kreins, a Union Pacific locomotive engineer with 13 years of experience and an instructor in the Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program, has worked with Operation Lifesaver for five years. He succeeds Claudia Howells, who retired after leading the state program since 2005.

Kerchner, a senior account director for iHeart Radio and an employee of the Mechanicsburg Area School District, succeeds Thomas Algatt, who remains on the organization’s board.

Devorsky is a community manager with skills in nonprofit organization management, most recently working as a development manager for the American Cancer Society in Waco. She succeeds Dal Tingle, who retired Feb. 1 after 17 years as assistant state coordinator working with his wife Sally Tingle, the former state coordinator.


WASHINGTON, DC—Kimberly A. Howell has joined the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as assistant inspector general for investigations. She succeeds Isabel Cumming, who is becoming inspector general for the city of Baltimore.

Howell comes to WMATA from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she was director of the Office of Investigations. She began her federal law enforcement career as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service in 1993 and, in 2011, was named deputy assistant inspector general for investigations with the Office of Personnel Management Office of the Inspector General.


PHILADELPHIA—Urban Engineers announced the promotion of Andrew Chakmakjian to vice president and director of corporate development. He has been with the firm for more than six years, previously serving as proposal manager, and has more than 10 years of work experience.

 
HUDSON, OH—Todd Hawks has joined AMF-Bruns of America as territory account manager. Hawks joins the company with extensive experience in commercial automotive and mobility markets.


PAINESVILLE, OH—The Laketran Board of Trustees unanimously ­re-elected Brian Falkowski of Concord to a fourth one-year term as its president and Paul E. Miller of Mentor to a third one-year term as vice president. Falkowski joined the board in 2011 and Miller has served on the board since 2012.


LEWISVILLE, TX—The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) has named Lindsey Baker director of strategic partnerships. She joins DCTA after serving as intergovernmental relations and public information officer for the city of Denton.


PHOENIX—Valley Metro announced the hiring of Brad Cummings as chief procurement officer and Phil Ozlin as manager, information technology. Cummings previously was director of procurement for the Utah State Board of Education. Ozlin joins the agency after serving as director of information technology for The Zippertubing Company.


MIDDLEBURY, IN—Jen Rodriguez has joined ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., as regional sales manager. Earlier she worked in sales and accounting at Glaval and in sales at Forest River’s Class C division.


DAYTON, OH—The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced the appointments of Roland Caldwell as director of transportation and Arthur (Skip) Dunkle as director of security and safety.

Caldwell has more than 30 years of experience and spent the last 10 years of his career at the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus, beginning as a bus operator and ultimately serving as interim director of transportation.

Dunkle comes to RTA after six years as public transit manager for Ohio DOT. His career of more than 20 years also includes a tenure as senior director of operations for the Fairfax County (VA) DOT. He serves on the APTA Risk Management Committee.


CLEVELAND—The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) announced the retirement of two longtime employees with a combined total of more than 78 years of experience: Loretta Kirk and Frank Polivka.

Kirk worked 38 years for GCRTA, beginning as director of accounting and serving the past 18 years as chief financial officer and deputy general manager of finance and administration. For APTA, she is a member of the Financial Management, Information Technology and Procurement and Materials Management committees. Kirk also is a past national chair of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.

Polivka was a 15-year GCRTA employee, spending 11 years as director of procurement, following his retirement from Laketran, Painesville, OH, which he joined at its creation in 1979 and ran as general manager for 24 years. He is a former president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and a past member of various APTA committees.


KANSAS CITY, MO—The Board of Commissioners of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) re-elected Daniel Serda, representing Wyandotte County, KS, its chairman for 2018.

Other officials elected were David Bower, representing Jackson County, MO, vice chairman; Michael Short, representing Platte County, MO, treasurer; and Melissa Bynum, representing Wyandotte County, secretary.

Also, Jim Allen, a member of the Johnson County (KS) Board of Commissioners since 2009, has joined the KCATA board. Allen, also a former mayor of Shawnee and member of the Shawnee City Council, is retired after a 37-year career with State Farm Insurance.


MONROVIA, IN—Pete Duffy has joined Vanner Inc. as senior electrification engineer. He joins the firm after 36 years with Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, during which he developed the technical and commercial requirements for the agency’s buses.