Passenger Transport - June 22, 2018
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FTA Announces $366.3 Million in Bus Infrastructure Funding

FTA is accepting applications through Aug. 6 for approximately $366.3 million in Fiscal Year 2018 competitive grant funding under the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program.

Eligible projects include the replacement, rehabilitation, leasing or purchase of buses and related equipment, as well as projects to purchase, rehabilitate, construct or lease bus-related facilities such as buildings for bus storage and maintenance. The grants are available to designated recipients, states and local governmental entities that operate fixed-route bus service, as well as Indian tribes; the program allocates a minimum of 10 percent, $36.6 million, to rural bus needs.

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said of the program, “Transit buses throughout the country provide vital connections to jobs and economic opportunities for millions of Americans.”

“APTA welcomes and applauds FTA’s further commitment to investment in public transportation. These essential funds will energize much-needed upgrades and modernization of buses and bus infrastructure across the country,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.

Federal public transportation law authorizes this FTA program through FY 2020. The FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act increased its funding by 76 percent, or $161 million, in that fiscal year.

See the funding notice, scheduled for publication June 25, 2018, in the Federal Register, here.

FTA also published FY 2017 grants totaling almost $264.5 million from this program, including 139 projects in 52 states and territories, funded with FY 2017 and FY 2018 appropriations. The largest grants are for $6 million, with many at the $3.6 million level. To see the complete list, click here.

'NYT' Exposes Orchestrated Campaign Against Public Transit; APTA, Stakeholders Respond

The New York Times published a front-page story, June 19, reporting on the efforts of Charles and David Koch to prevent new public transit projects across the U.S. from moving forward through an organization they fund, Americans for Prosperity.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas has sent a Letter to the Editor of the Times thanking the paper for calling attention to the Koch brothers’ anti-transit efforts. APTA members and public transit stakeholders have also been responding to the story in print and on social media:

From former Vice President Al Gore:
“This hits close to home. Literally. The Koch Brothers want more traffic jams so they can sell more petroleum. Then use profits to paralyze local politics and prevent solutions. Rinse and repeat.”

From Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ):
“Stuck in traffic? Trains delayed? Late for work? Missing your kid’s soccer game? Our nation’s crumbling infrastructure brought you by the Koch Bros.”

From Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Ballhaus‏:
“The Koch network is working to kill support for public transit initiatives, arguing that they waste taxpayer $$ ‘on unpopular, outdated technology like trains and buses.’ Koch Industries also has a financial interest in greater fuel consumption.”

From Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA):
“Public transit isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity for millions of Americans. I’ve been proud to fight for transit infrastructure projects in Congress … I’ll keep fighting for them no matter what the Koch Brothers try and do to stop us.”

From Jane Mayer, staff writer at The New Yorker:
“Excellent story showing how Kochs push their oil biz interests, disguised as philosophy, all over the U.S., killing majority support for mass transit with swarms of paid, hi-tech-armed operatives.”

From Streetsblog USA:
“The billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers are using their shadowy political network to kill local transit projects. Latest example: #Nashville.”

From Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate and a CBS News analyst:
“[B]illionaires effectively cloaking their narrow self-interest in lofty rhetoric of ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’”

From transportation consultant Jarrett Walker, author of the book Human Transit:
“This piece really captures the ideological incoherence of the Koch brothers’ war on cities. They will use any argument, no matter how contradictory.”

APTA urges its members to share the article with their stakeholders.

Special Guest Commentary by Rod Diridon Sr.

Editor's Note: This response to the New York Times article was submitted by Rod Diridon Sr., a past chair of APTA, member of the APTA Hall of Fame, past chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Transit Cooperative Research Program and past North American vice president of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

We’ve known since the beginning of the Tea Party movement that the flurry of well-funded, ultra-conservative, climate-denying, anti-transit campaigns has not been coincidental—and that is now borne out by irrefutable proof...front page, top left column in one of the world’s most credible news sources.

With climate change advancing much faster than projected (per the New York Times’ story on Antarctica last week), and the single most effective remedy being electric mass transit (rail or bus), this insidious and systematic attach by the Koch Brothers and their petroleum-at-any-cost supporters is immoral, selfish, legally opaque and ultimately terminal to humankind.

The height of conceit is when a business or family feels that it has the right to sell the last drop of oil or last lump of coal when independent scientists throughout the world universally warn us that those products are seriously and imminently threatening the viability of mammals on earth. As a society, we must take concerted action against the perpetrators of this atrocity. It’s not just dirty politics, it’s creating an unlivable, dirty planet...very quickly.

We represent the most respected transportation leaders in a broadly distributed network of communities. Let us use our reputations, leadership skills and fundraising capacities to catalyze the effectiveness of the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and other organizations in each of our communities to successfully carry the right issues and elect the right representatives to make the needed changes, now!

I have four wonderful grandchildren who deserve a chance to live full, happy lives. Please help those babies and yours by counterattacking these terrible people and making them indelibly aware that the time for carbon fuel on earth has passed and the time for sustainable electric power is now! It’s not about jobs! Solar and wind create many more jobs, sustainably, than do petroleum and coal.

This is my prayer to each of you as a past chair of APTA, APTA Hall of Fame honoree, past chair of TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program and past North American vice president of UITP.

Honest science says we don’t have much time left. If the job isn’t done by us, then by whom?? If we don’t act now, science declares that in 15 to 20 years’ time it will be too late.

Those wonderful babies, as beleaguered young adults facing the end of a decent life on earth, will come to us and ask: “Mama, papa, back when you could still stop the cataclysm, did you do everything possible to save us?” What will you say...?

Rail Leaders Gather in Denver

More than 1,700 public transit professionals traveled to the “Mile High City,” Denver, to participate in APTA’s 2018 Rail Conference and International Rail Rodeo.

Conference activities included four general sessions, presentations by FRA and FTA leaders, APTA committee meetings, networking opportunities, technical tours hosted by Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), rail safety and security awards, and dozens of presentations and panel discussions on policy and technical issues.

APTA has posted links to videos of the major conference sessions: for the Opening General Session, click here; for "Safety and Security Trends in an Uncertain World," click here; for the General Luncheon featuring FRA Administrator Ronald Batory and FTA Executive Director Matt Welbes, click here; for the Closing General Session, click here; and for the International Bus Rodeo Banquet, click here.

Opening General Session: Looking to Past and Future

With its rich railroad history dating back to the 1860s, combined with a modern light rail and commuter rail system that continues to remake urban life, Denver was an ideal setting for APTA’s recent 2018 Rail Conference and International Rail Rodeo.

APTA Chair and Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. welcomed attendees, telling them, “We are engaged in the greatest mobility revolution since the introduction of the automobile … and how we respond and anticipate change now will determine our industry’s success for decades to come.”

In explaining that the transformative changes facing the public transportation industry led him to establish five priorities for the year, he discussed the significant milestones that have been achieved to date in each of these areas: Strengthening APTA’s Leadership and Advocacy; Building a Workforce of the Future; Leveraging Data-Driven Business Models; Promoting Enterprise Risk Management; and Shaping the New Mobility Paradigm.

Ford cited examples of innovative thinking in public transit agencies across the country and described new projects underway at JTA, including regional one-call/one-click trip planning and conversion of Jacksonville’s Skyway to accommodate a fleet of next-generation autonomous shuttles.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas talked about the growing number of communities that have invested in and benefited from passenger rail during the past 20 years. “Visit nearly any multimodal community and you’ll find a variety of rail and bus services are all part of one mobility network,” he said.

“Public transportation must continue to manage an increasingly diverse, highly integrated, seamlessly connected array of mobility services,” Skoutelas said, underscoring the need for more federal funding for both expansion and modernization, including state of good repair.

Calling this the most challenging and exhilarating time public transportation has ever faced, he said, “We need to make our industry ‘future-ready’ … and a strong federal, state and local partnership is critical to make that happen.”

Building upon Ford’s theme of transformational change, Skoutelas also encouraged public transit agencies “to innovate, reinvent and be willing to experiment” with new partnerships, emerging technologies and fresh ways of operating.

Representing the Regional Transportation District, host agency for the conference, were General Manager David Genova and Board Chair Doug Tisdale, who welcomed attendees to Denver. They urged attendees to explore the city using public transit to experience why Denver is among the top U.S. cities in attracting millennials and startups.

J.J. Ament, chief executive officer of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and a former investment banker, applauded the role of rail in the city’s transformation and economic growth. “We have a culture of collaboration,” he said, “and our public transit investments have helped make this area the best place to combine economic opportunity and quality of life.”

Greg Williams, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine and a leading authority on technology trends, closed the session with a glimpse of the future. He explained how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will change the way we think about mobility and the movement of goods, services and ideas.

Using examples from tech businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors in Germany, China and the U.S., Williams demonstrated a range of dramatic changes already underway in every sector—from personal flying “taxis” to 3D printers that manufacture buildings to components that “learn” how to adapt themselves to changing conditions.

“There are enormous opportunities for everyone in this room,” he said. “People will always want to connect face to face because we are social creatures; AI will simply change how we do that in all aspects of our lives,” including how we interact with and use public transit.

The session was sponsored by AECOM.

FRA, FTA Highlight Priorities, Perspectives

The leaders of the two federal agencies—FRA and FTA—that have the greatest impact on the public transportation industry addressed the June 12 General Luncheon, “Federal Partners Share ­Perspectives and Priorities.”

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory opened by referencing his long career in the railroad industry and acknowledging how challenging and important rail transit jobs are today, especially with matters of safety.

FTA Executive Director Matt Welbes praised Denver as “a city that transit built” and recognized the city’s Union Station multimodal development as a beneficiary of federal Value Capture financing.

Batory said APTA members “represent the heart and soul of America” and called safety “the foundation of success: non-negotiable, uncompromising and unforgiving.” He cited safety as one of his three main priorities, along with technology and infrastructure.

Batory’s wide-ranging comments about rail safety included the need to increase public awareness of the danger of crossing railroad tracks, the risks of trespassing on railroad property and Operation Lifesaver’s efforts to disseminate this information.

In describing Denver’s embrace of public transit, Welbes noted that, before FTA moved its Region 8 office to downtown Denver two years ago, only one of the office’s 17 employees could commute by public transit; now all employees in the office can do so.

Welbes also reported on FTA’s allocation of $277 million in emergency relief funds to support public transit systems damaged in 2017 by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Approximately $232 million of that total will support response, recovery and rebuilding, with the balance going toward resiliency projects to reduce the risk of serious damage during future natural disasters. He said FTA has had permanent personnel in Puerto Rico since before the hurricane.

He noted that Oregon recently became the 14th of 31 U.S. states and territories to receive certification for its State Safety Oversight (SSO) program and that 13 more have submitted SSO plans to FTA. When Welbes addressed last year’s APTA Rail Conference in Baltimore, he said, none of the 31 jurisdictions had yet received SSO certification.

Welbes concluded: “Our mission at FTA is just six words—improve public ­transportation for America’s communities. … We’ll continue working together, identifying changes that can support increased safety, key investments in transit infrastructure, continued research and demonstrations of innovative practices and a thoughtful review to streamlining our regulations.”

Batory gave a brief history of PTC efforts, beginning with the 2008 enactment of the original federal law that required U.S. railroads to implement the technology by the end of 2015. A law passed in 2015 extended the deadline to Dec. 31, 2018.

In his comments about infrastructure, Batory described how the Regional Transportation District transformed ­Denver’s public transit landscape in less than 25 years. He called the agency’s investments in light rail and commuter rail “one to be very proud of” and stressed that rail transit agencies must “concentrate on spending wisely, not on how much you spend” when making plans.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas hosted the luncheon session.

First Connecticut Passenger Rail Line Since 1990; Almost 22,000 Rides on Opening Weekend

The CTrail Hartford Line, the first passenger rail line to open in Connecticut since 1990, provided almost 22,000 rides during its opening weekend, June 16-17, when the service operated free. Revenue service began June 18.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, “There’s undoubtedly a sense of excitement about this long-overdue train service. We also recognize that a new rail line like this takes time to grow and become part of the everyday lives of the residents of central Connecticut. This weekend showed that the potential is there. What we must remember is that this is not just about transit, it’s about building vibrant communities and continuing to make Connecticut a more attractive place to live, visit and do business.”

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said, “People were making trips to numerous activities that were happening throughout the region this weekend … or just taking the opportunity to take a round trip to experience the new service.” He noted that Connecticut DOT added trains and buses to accommodate riders on the system.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, fourth from right, and Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker, third from right, joined other state officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the New Haven Station before boarding CTrail to Hartford.

Throughout the weekend, Connecticut DOT employees greeted and assisted the thousands of customers at stations up and down the line, which connects New Haven, CT, and Springfield, MA.

In advance of the opening, Malloy boarded a train in New Haven and traveled to Hartford’s Union Station, where the main ribbon-cutting ceremony was held. A second train carrying Massachusetts officials departed Springfield and arrived in Hartford for the ceremony.

The trains run approximately every 45 minutes during the morning and evening peak periods, with connections to other commuter lines and Amtrak. CTtransit local bus service is available at most stations along the line and riders can connect to the CTfastrak BRT system in Hartford.

SFMTA Opens First New Maintenance Facility in 30 Years

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced the recent opening of its first new bus maintenance facility in 30 years, Islais Creek, concurrent with upgrades to San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) bus and rail service.

The Islais Creek Hybrid Motor Coach Facility is an 8.3-acre bus maintenance yard located at the convergence of three San Francisco neighborhoods. It can accommodate both 40-foot and 60-foot hybrid buses and also houses a full operator, dispatch and maintenance staff.

“As San Francisco continues to grow, so do the increases in the demand for service,” said SFMTA Chairman Cheryl Brinkman. “Our Muni facilities need to grow and modernize in order to reliably serve our customers. Projects like Islais Creek make it possible for our employees to work safely and effectively to deliver great service.”

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said, “Muni service begins and ends in our bus and train yards. This investment in a state-of-the-art facility will enable us to accommodate increased Muni service to meet the demands of a growing city while providing a modern, efficient workspace for our employees.”

In the coming years, the SFMTA’s Building Progress program will rebuild and upgrade additional outdated facilities, including two that date back 100 years, creating modern maintenance facilities that will support Muni’s environmentally sustainable fleet plans.

Funding for the $122.5 million project came from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, FTA, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Transport Workers Union Local 250A and San Francisco Public Works.
SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, at podium, spoke at the opening of the Islais Creek Bus Maintenance Facility.

Roundtable Brings Together Security Professionals

Approximately 70 public transit security directors, emergency managers and police chiefs, and representatives from FBI, TSA and FEMA convened at APTA’s 2018 Security and Emergency Management Roundtable, June 8-9 in Denver.

Following opening remarks from APTA President and CEO Paul P. ­Skoutelas, TSA Administrator David Pekoske provided a stakeholder update and fielded questions.

The first half of the day included presentations on the use of unmanned aircraft systems and other technologies and an overview of the Denver Regional Transportation District’s Police Department.

The event included a discussion on the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault, personal security in public transit and homelessness and its impact on public transit.

FEMA provided information on the upcoming Transit Security Grant Program submission process and deadline. In addition, TSA provided an update on the Baseline Assessment for Security Engagement program, and TSA and the APTA Enterprise Cyber Security Working Group gave a presentation on cybersecurity.
The 2018 APTA Security and Emergency Management Roundtable brought attendees together to discuss safety and security in public transportation. Pictured front row center: APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas; to his immediate left, TSA Administrator David Pekoske.
Photo by Jose Reyes

Register for APTA's Mobility Summit

There’s still time to register for APTA’s paradigm-changing summit on “The Future of Mobility: From Transit Authority to Mobility Integrator,” July 12 in Washington, DC. This one-day forum will explore the transformative changes underway across the transportation landscape and how public transit agencies can adapt, integrate, manage and lead an increasingly diverse array of mobility services in their communities. Contact Cynthia Owens.

New CEOs Named

D'Angelo, CUTA

Marco D’Angelo, executive director of the Ontario ­Traffic Council for the past 10 years, has been named ­president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Urban Transit ­Association (CUTA), effective July 16.

D’Angelo previously served CUTA as director of public affairs and communications between 2003-2006. He succeeds Wendy L. Reuter, who was CUTA’s acting president and CEO.

Hawthorne, Bendix

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, based in Elyria, OH, has appointed Michael J. Hawthorne president and chief executive officer, as well as a member of its executive board. He will succeed outgoing President, CEO and board member Berend Bracht, who is stepping down to take a role outside the company.

Since 2012, Hawthorne has been president and CEO of New York Air Brake, a sister company of Bendix within the Knorr-Bremse Group where he has worked for 23 years. He also has worked for Raytheon and General Electric.

LA Metro, County Partner on Transportation School

At a June 18 event, Los Angeles Metro, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles, announced the kickoff of their Transportation School, which will prepare area young people for career and college pathways in the global transportation industry with a focus on transferrable STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) skills.

“Tomorrow’s economy depends on today’s opportunities,” Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti said at the launch event. “This new school gives young Angelenos a pathway to successful, long-lasting careers in the transportation industry.”

Metro Chief Executive Officer Phillip A. Washington said, “The transportation industry faces a huge challenge in creating a qualified workforce for the future. Not only is this a way to ensure we have the employees we need to transform transportation in Los Angeles County, but also a way to develop and cultivate the most important asset we have—our people.”

According to Metro, the school is the centerpiece of its larger Workforce Development Initiative, created to address the transportation industry’s need for a skilled workforce. Almost 30 percent of the agency’s workforce is eligible for retirement in the next few years.

Eventually, Metro will expand the program to reach youth across LA County.

Students from Los Angeles Metro’s Transportation Career Academy Program join Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington at the launch of the Transportation School.

TCRP Synthesis Examines Student Pass Programs

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) recently released Synthesis 131: College Student Transit Pass Programs.

The synthesis shows how a student pass program can benefit both universities and public transit agencies, providing guaranteed revenue to agencies while significantly increasing their ridership and helping to ease campus congestion.

This mutually beneficial program can be customized to the unique needs and circumstances of each educational institution and public transit agency. Other benefits include reduced demand for campus parking, use of off-peak public transit capacity, improved college affordability and improved public transit agency performance.

TCRP’s research combines a survey of existing programs, related literature and several case examples representing different models of programs to assist public transit agencies, universities and communities with the development and evaluation of their own college student transit pass program. Download the report here.

In Memoriam: Pinson, President, Gilbert Tweed Associates

Stephanie L. Pinson, 82, president of Gilbert Tweed International in New York City, a past chair of the APTA Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) and a former member of the APTA Executive Committee, died June 18. She was a recipient of APTA’s 2001 Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award.

Pinson, who joined the company in 1981, directed its Transit and Transportation and Government Services practices. She also was a past trustee and past chair of the Mineta Transportation Institute.

“Stephanie Pinson has been a change agent through her relentless dedication and advocacy for the transit industry,” said current BMBG Chair Jeff Wharton. “She has been an inspiration and has touched many lives throughout her career and her strong involvement with APTA.”

“The industry mourns the loss of Stephanie. She was a well-respected and highly influential member of the public transportation family and she will be sorely missed,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.

The BMBG endowed an American Public Transportation Foundation scholarship in Pinson’s honor earlier this year.

During her tenure as BMBG chair, Pinson supported efforts to work with FTA to create international trade missions for APTA business members and to bring international delegations to the U.S., and worked on Buy America efforts. Her election broke ground for women in the public transit industry. She also encouraged business members to participate in APTA’s governance activities.

During her tenure on the APTA Executive Committee, she was vice chair-business members from 1998-2000, coinciding with her term as BMBG chair, and vice chair-business member-at-large from 2000-2002.

APTA invites public transit professionals to submit testimonials of their personal memories about Pinson. Please send items to Adam Martin.


Monetizing Rail Assets for Naming Rights BY PAUL JABLONSKI, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

When it comes to revenues, the good times never last long in the public transit industry. Less than a decade ago, we all struggled through the great recession. Now, following several years of revenue increases, we’re battling one of the most dramatic declines in ridership we’ve ever experienced. Filling budget holes, for most of us, is a never-ending challenge.

Naming rights has proven to be a great new source of non-fare revenue for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). We initiated an aggressive naming rights marketing effort beginning in 2010 and are now realizing the benefits.

Largely relying on our light rail assets, MTS recently inked two major naming rights partnerships that will bring us more than $60 million over the next 30 years—we now have partners for the 16-mile UC San Diego Blue Line and the 25-mile Sycuan Green Line.

Every public transit agency in the country has valuable assets for which they are not realizing any additional benefit. We all have fleets of vehicles. Many of us have dedicated fleets serving single lines. We print thousands of brochures and timetables. We have signage at all our stations. We have websites and active social media channels. All these can be monetized; all these assets can be used to advance the brand of a potential partner.

Impressions are the name of the game. And impressions open the eyes of potential partners.

At MTS, we hired the Superlative Group based in Cleveland to handle our naming rights program. Its first task was to conduct an asset valuation of our rail lines. They looked at how many impressions our railcars would create on motorists on nearby freeways and major thoroughfares. Everything from uniforms to printed schedules to tweets earned a value.

That was the easy part. Much harder is bringing a potential partner to the negotiating table. It was strongly recommended to MTS that we should not issue an RFP to solicit naming rights partners. Public transit assets are unique. The potential impressions they can create and their relative value compared to more traditional advertising media are not so easy to explain in a written document.

MTS was convinced that a more personal approach with introductory letters, follow-up calls and one-on-one meetings would provide better results. In the end, that approach may have taken longer, but I believe the end result was worth the wait.

Working in our favor is the constrained out-of-home advertising market in San Diego. The inventory of billboards and bulletins is very small here and there is a moratorium on adding any new boards. Also, the city of San Diego’s very strict sign ordinances do not apply to MTS, making our assets fairly unique.

When potential partners are shown the cost per thousand impressions for MTS assets compared to billboards, TV, radio and print advertising, their eyes light up.

Also working in our favor was the presence of a couple of highly competitive industries in our market: healthcare and Indian gaming. Meetings with a number of competitors in the same arena helped maximize the value of our assets.

We are now turning our attention to the bus side of operations. We have several BRT lines that can also provide a naming rights partner with considerable benefits.

BRT services generally travel along major corridors. These high-profile services usually include enhanced customer amenities such as dedicated fleets, unique and upgraded stations, real-time information and more.

These are the type of amenities that are really attractive to potential partners. They gain not only by reaching their target audience along the corridor, but also by association with a project that is providing a city and its citizens with a positive and new transit option.

Superlative has just completed its asset valuations for our BRT projects, which range from $350,000 to $500,000 per year. It will use the same model to engage potential partners and negotiate a long-term contract.

I believe this approach is repeatable in almost every market. Look at your assets as would an advertising buyer. Determine how many eyeballs will see your assets every day. Evaluate what it would take to purchase those impressions via other advertising media. Then take a look at who is making big ad buys in your market. Hire a firm that will be persistent.

Before proceeding, I highly recommend that you revisit your advertising policy. At MTS, our policy was drafted to ensure a non-public-forum status on our advertising spaces. It further states that the “subject matter for all advertising materials displayed on MTS property shall be limited to commercial speech… [which] does no more than propose a commercial transaction or is an expression related solely to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience.”

Of course, all these decisions are directed by our respective boards of directors. MTS had a huge assist by a board member who championed the cause and assisted in negotiations.

The naming rights process is a win-win for the agency and the partner. We deliver impressions. They provide much-needed non-fare revenue to help systems keep up a high level of service.

"Commentary" features authoritative points of view from various sources on timely and pressing issues affecting public transportation. APTA would like to hear from you. If you are interested in submitting a original, thought-leader Commentary for consideration, please contact Senior Managing Editor David A. Riddy.



Nominations for APTA Leadership Now Open!

APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. has appointed the nominating committee that will recommend individuals to fill APTA leadership positions to the membership for approval at the APTA Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers. The committee is accepting nominations until Aug. 3.

The slate of nominees selected by the committee will stand for election at the annual business meeting and election at noon Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Nashville, TN.

There are 10 at-large director positions on the APTA Board of Directors (seven transit system members and three business members) to be filled in 2018. Those elected to these positions will be seated with terms ending in 2021.

APTA will hold its annual business meeting and election just prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. This will allow the newly elected board of directors to get right to work since that board will start its term immediately following the election.

APTA emailed nomination packets to all members on June 15, 2018. Components of the packet included the nominating committee roster, the list of officer and director positions to be filled, and directions on accessing the nomination and authorization forms.

Consistent with APTA’s sustainability commitment, nominations are submitted entirely online. All of these documents and easy-to-follow instructions are available here.

The APTA Executive Committee has set the following campaign guidelines to provide guidance to candidates seeking election to the APTA Board of Directors and Executive Committee:

* Personal letters, emails, personal conversations and phone calls are acceptable campaign strategies;

* Campaign events and distribution of campaign materials are not permitted during or in conflict with any APTA meeting or conference event. Campaigning may occur before or after an APTA meeting or conference event;

* APTA staff members or other APTA resources are not to play any role in campaign activities; and

* Serving on the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee requires a substantial personal and financial commitment.  If you are interested in serving, please ensure that your organization is prepared for you to travel to meetings four times per year for board members and up to eight times per year for Executive Committee members. Travel expenses are only reimbursed for two meetings.

Questions regarding the election process, guidelines and ­eligibility requirements should be directed to Linda Ford.

8 Executive Committee Positions To Be Filled in 2018

Vice Chair (term ends 2019)
Secretary-Treasurer (term ends 2021)
Top-10 Business Member Rep. (term ends 2021)
Rail Transit CEOs Committee Rep. (term ends 2021)
Bus and Paratransit Committee Rep. (term ends 2021)
At-Large Business Member (term ends 2021)
At-Large Transit Board Member (term ends 2021)
At-Large Member (term ends 2021)

Apply to Serve on BMBG

If you’re an APTA business member, you are invited to apply for an opening on the association’s Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), which sets the course and direction for APTA business member activities.

The BMBG nominations committee is seeking candidates to fill 11 two-year terms on the board, as well as the two-year-termed second vice chair position. Both will begin at the end of the APTA Annual Meeting on Sept. 26, 2018.

If you are interested in serving on the BMBG, please fill out the nomination form and return to APTA no later than 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, Aug. 3.

If you have any questions, please contact Adam Martin, BMBG staff advisor.

BMBG Chair Jeff Wharton said, “We need dedicated people to apply, people who are interested in helping lead the transit industry in the years ahead, and we are committed to enhancing diversity in our activities at APTA.”

APTA Staffers Author Article on Safety Technologies

"Securing the Future of Public Transport with New Technology,” an article by APTA employees Brian Alberts, director of safety, and Polly Hanson, director of security, risk and emergency management, recently appeared in Intelligent Transport, a magazine published in the United Kingdom. In the article, Alberts and Hanson describe APTA’s efforts related to federal safety measures and implementation of new safety-related technologies.


Panel Discusses PTC Implementation

Representatives of three passenger railroads and FRA shared their experiences in the design, installation and testing of PTC and other considerations at a June 11 session, “PTC: Facing the Mirror.”

Bruce Marcheschi, chief executive officer/operations for Chicago’s Metra commuter rail system, noted that 1,300-1,400 trains [passenger, freight and Amtrak] traverse Chicago daily. “There are 14 different railroad entities in the Chicago area who need to work together on PTC interoperability, but we’re up to the challenge,” he continued.

Metra is on course to qualify for the PTC deadline extension to 2020. “PTC implementation is extremely time consuming,” said Marcheschi. “Even if you had all the money you needed, it still takes time.”

Metra expects to complete equipment installation by October of this year, with the agency in revenue service demonstration (RSD) on one of its lines by September as required to qualify for an extension. Metra’s back office was installed in December of 2017 and put into operation in February.

Marcheschi noted how Metra has learned from freight operators the value of setting up a help desk where PTC-related operational issues can be reported—from an operator being unable to initialize a train to equipment problems—and the appropriate assistance provided. “If you haven’t thought about a help desk, it’s a very important piece of the puzzle,” he said.

He also suggested agencies establish a lab if they have the funding. “A lab is like PTC in a box—a hands-on training environment to train your people on all components of PTC,” he said.

Emerald Mancilla, train control systems engineer with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink commuter rail, discussed how the agency has implemented bumper post protection at Los Angeles Union Station.

A highway is located approximately 130 feet beyond the track bumper posts at Union Station. PTC coverage and speed enforcement had ended short of the bumper posts. With more than 90 percent of Metrolink trains originating or terminating at Union Station, the agency realized that additional protection was required.

Track is now under PTC all the way to the bumper posts, with a 1 mph restriction. Mancilla explained that Metrolink achieved this by designating previously non-PTC track as PTC track, thus allowing the agency to enforce speed restrictions to the bumper posts.

Michael Rodriguez, Metrolink senior manager, train control systems, concurred with Marcheschi on the value of a PTC lab to test all facets of implementation and subsequent maintenance. “We utilize our lab to test everything before we go to the field,” he said. Lab testing included the work on bumper post protection at Union Station.
Panelists, from left: Bruce Marcheschi, Michael Rodriguez, Emerald Mancilla and Dr. Mark Hartong (James Cline not pictured).

James Cline, president of the Denton County Transportation Authority in Lewisville, TX, stressed the importance of information sharing as systems carry out PTC implementation. “When you have a small agency like ours with a limited budget and staff resources, it’s incredibly important to leverage the good things that others have already done,” he said. “Let’s share lessons learned so we don’t all have to learn the same thing over and over again.”

Cline also stressed the value of establishing a working group, along the lines of the APTA-initiated E-ATC User Group. DCTA has facilitated numerous on-site meetings with consultants, manufacturers, installers and FRA. “Getting everyone in the same room, at the same time, and having that facetime really has been beneficial to us, and we’ve learned a lot about the process. It’s more effective in later conference calls if you’ve actually met the people first,” he said.

While the agency is 100 percent complete with PTC installation and static testing—looking to begin dynamic testing in July—and on path to entering RSD by year’s end, Cline explained that the agency does plan to apply for an extension.

Cline said he anticipates the overall cost to the agency of PTC implementation to approach $1 million per mile by project completion.

Dr. Mark Hartong, a senior scientific technical advisor with FRA, noted the reality of PTC as a “real-world operational system” with at least 30,000 passenger rail and freight miles currently in revenue service or in RSD.

He described the requirements for a system to qualify for an implementation extension (“alternative schedule” is the official term), pointing out that the requirements are law, not regulation; FRA cannot waive the requirements. To qualify, all equipment must be installed and spectrum be acquired by Dec. 31; the back office up and running; personnel trained; and certain progress on RSD (majority of territory covered for Class I and Amtrak, RSD on one territory for passenger rail).

Hartong cautioned that some railroads are at risk for not qualifying for an extension, emphasizing that FRA is willing to help as much as possible. He concluded by providing contacts at FRA for those systems requiring information or assistance: technical issues, Carolyn Hayward-Williams and Hartong; legal issues, Stephanie Anderson;and programmatic issues, Devin Rouse.

Rail Agencies Receive Safety, Security Awards

APTA announced the recipients of its annual Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards at a General Session during the conference to recognize public transit agencies for innovative programs dedicated to improving safety and security for their employees, passengers and the public.

Doran J. Barnes, immediate past chair of APTA and executive director of Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, ­presented the awards.

The following agencies received Gold Awards:

Rail safety: commuter/intercity rail, MTA Metro-North Railroad, for its Together Railroads And Communities Keeping Safe (TRACKS) education and community safety outreach program to reduce grade crossing incidents, leading to a 33 percent decrease in trespasser strikes since 2016; heavy rail, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, for its three-year commitment to a safer transportation environment through a track allocation process designed to reduce standby costs and maximize track time; light rail/streetcar, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, for its “Anticipate, Recognize, Take action” (ART) program, which has reduced the number of motorist-trolley accidents while providing cost savings and employing new safety training.

Rail security: light rail/streetcar, Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, for its security efforts during Super Bowl LII, which included a federally designated Special Event Assessment Rating and the location of the football stadium within the hardened secured perimeter.

The following certificates of merit were also presented:

Rail safety: commuter/intercity rail, Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), for its safety initiatives related to the implementation of PTC.

Rail security: light rail/streetcar, ­Metropolitan Transit Authority of ­Harris County (Houston METRO), for its increased security presence and visibility in response to a 2016 customer survey, leading to an 18 percent increase in survey results in 2017 regarding the statement “I feel safer when using METRO.”

APTA honored MARTA with the Gold Award for rail safety in the heavy rail category. APTA Immediate Past Chair Doran J. Barnes, left, and APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas, right, recognized all Gold Award winners.
Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, received the Gold Award for rail security among light rail/streetcar systems.
MTA Metro-North Railroad was recognized with the Gold Award for rail safety, commuter/intercity rail.
San Diego MTS received the Gold Award for rail safety, light rail/streetcar category.

FTA State Safety Oversight Update

FTA representatives joined state and public transit agency officials at a June 12 session focusing on one of the most important safety issues facing the industry today: the requirement that any state with a rail transit system must have an FTA-certified State Safety Oversight (SSO) program in place by April 15, 2019.

If a state does not meet the deadline, FTA is required by law to withhold all public transportation funding statewide until the SSO program is certified. The statute does not allow FTA to grant extensions or waivers.

Thirty states are covered by this statutory requirement and 14 have already received FTA certification. Thirteen of the remaining 16 states have submitted applications that are currently under review and the others have completed the prerequisite steps but not yet presented applications.

During the panel discussion, moderated by Gerald Ruggiero, safety manager at Jacobs Engineering Group and chair of APTA’s Safety Coordinating Committee, Patrick Nemons, special assistant and associate administrator of FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight (TSO), and Kimberly Burtch, director of TSO’s Office of Safety Review, discussed the statutory history, stages of the certification process and assistance available from FTA.

Sheldon Shaw, manager of safety for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), and Pam Fischhaber, chief of rail and transit safety for the Colorado Public Utility Commission (CoPUC), described their experiences with the certification processes in their respective states.

“We’re recommending SSO program certification applications be submitted no later than Sept. 30, 2018,” said Nemons, “to allow adequate time for review before the compliance deadline of April 15, 2019.”

To help states meet the deadline, FTA has developed an SSO Certification Toolkit that provides guidance about program requirements and offers technical assistance to state safety oversight agencies. Nemons also noted that FTA has been providing funding grants, technical workshops, monthly one-on-one calls, quarterly conference calls and site visits to assist the process.

“Prior to certification, FTA may conduct on-site verification or require states to address any deficiencies,” Burtch said. Regarding post-certification, she explained that the law requires an annual status report and “certification of compliance” as well as at least one on-site review of rail transit agencies every three years.

Shaw offered some “lessons learned” from Utah’s experience in working through the certification process. He said UTA “leaned forward” on safety management systems as far back as 2013. Using measurable goals and objectives, the agency focused attention on determining definitions, rules and procedures pertaining to hazard mitigation and notification of “accidents, incidents and occurrences.”
Panelists at the SSO session, from left: Patrick Nemons, moderator Gerald Ruggiero, Kimberly Burtch, Sheldon Shaw and Pam Fischhaber.

“When an accident or incident occurs, there are numerous people and agencies that need to be notified in an orderly way,” he explained. “Clearly defined roles and cooperation are key.”

Fischhaber noted that “SSO certification is a lot of work” in recounting the process for Colorado. She said pre-certification efforts began in 2013 and included enacting state legislation, conducting a gap analysis, developing a certification work plan, finding sustainable grant match funding and becoming an FTA grantee.

After securing grant matching funds and hiring additional staff support, Fischhaber said, “The real work began!” CoPUC was able to begin drafting its program by fall 2017 and submit its application in February 2018. Colorado received FTA approval on April 6, 2018, less than one year after being awarded an SSO grant.

An SSO agency may use existing federal grant funds for reimbursement of operational and administrative costs incurred during the development of its SSO program. Since 2013, FTA has provided approximately $112.4 million in SSO formula grant funds to help states develop and implement an SSO program that meets federal requirements.

More information about the SSO certification process and FTA assistance is available here.

UTA Wins Top Honors at 2018 Rail Rodeo

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City received the Rail Transit Team Achievement Award—given to the system with the highest combined score for its rail operators and maintenance team—at the 2018 APTA Rail Rodeo Banquet, June 10 in Denver.

Los Angeles Metro’s combined team placed second in the overall competition, while the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Oakland, CA, came in third.

Among rail operator teams, first place went to Kuljinder Bath and Hossein Ramirez of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA, followed by Narciso Garcia and Robert Dennis of the host agency, Denver’s Regional Transportation District, in second place and UTA’s Logan Packer and Curtis Turley of Utah in third. The operators’ competition measures professional skills including train operation, knowledge of safety regulations, train equipment and track right-of-way rules and procedures.

Los Angeles Metro’s team of Marcos Martinez, Parker Rounds and Jose Padilla took the top honor in the Maintainers Competition, which evaluates participants on their ability to troubleshoot maintenance problems. Second place went to the team from Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority—Gary Geyer, Cameron Massaro and Dan Compton—and the UTA maintainer team of Jody Fairbourn, Ryan Gardner and Kris Peterson won third place.

This year’s rodeo competition included 18 teams of operators and 15 mechanic teams from the U.S. and Japan. 

The Utah Transit Authority received the Rail Transit Team Achievement Award, as well as third-place honors for operators Logan Packer and Curtis Turley and maintenance team members Jody Fairbourn, Ryan Gardner and Kris Peterson. APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., far left, and APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas, far right, presented the awards at the International Rail Rodeo Banquet.
The maintenance team from Los Angeles Metro—Marcos Martinez, Parker Rounds and Jose Padilla—took first place in the maintainers’ competition.
Kuljinder Bath and Hossein Ramirez, representing the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, placed first among rail operator teams.


Meeting Changing Transportation Needs in Europe

The June 13 Closing General Session featured a close-up look at innovative solutions designed to accelerate the integration of new and advanced technologies into rail operations in Europe.

Keir Fitch, the European Commission’s head of unit for rail safety and interoperability and director general for mobility and transport, reported on the European Union’s (EU) plans to implement a single standard for railroads across the continent in place of nations historically setting their own rules.

The EU’s rail goals for Europe, he said, include cutting equipment lifecycle costs by up to 50 percent, doubling rail capacity and increasing service reliability and punctuality by up to 50 percent. This would require policy changes so that rail vehicles can operate easily through the entire EU.

Fitch said rail accounts for an EU investment of 34 billion euros annually, more than one-third of all transport investments. Rail projects account for 73 percent of total funding through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which oversees investment, regulation and innovation, he said; another major EU fund, the Cohesion Fund, supports poorer regions to help them address declining infrastructure.

In keeping with shifts in transportation technology, Fitch added, the CEF has budgeted 30.6 million euros for transportation in 2021-2027, with 40 percent proposed for smart, sustainable, innovative mobility technologies.

Fitch also spoke about the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), a signaling system that replaces national systems with a single EU standard. “The ERTMS creates seamless cross-border rail traffic,” he explained. “We need to break down national silos and create a single place in Europe to bring together rail innovation, regulation and finance.”
Closing General Session panelists, from left: Kevin Quinn, Keir Fitch and Carlo Borghini.

EU rail operations differ from those in the U.S. because passenger traffic dominates European operations and freight dominates in the U.S. The two modes working together, he said, will lead to increased capacity, higher reliability rates and reduced maintenance costs.

Fitch said of the Regional Transportation District in Denver, host city for the APTA Rail Conference, “Denver is leading the way on how we should be going, for pedestrians as well as transit. The city is delivering innovation.”

Carlo M. Borghini, executive director of Brussels-based Shift2Rail, provided an overview of this European joint venture’s aim to achieve a Single European Railway Area (SERA), which would lead to a modal shift from roads to rail transportation for freight and passenger rail throughout Europe.

Through research and innovation, he said, Shift2Rail will transform disparate European rail systems into a new, fully integrated mobility service.

Borghini described how, as in the U.S., freight and passenger rail transit in Europe are set to assume increasing importance as vital components of the new, interconnected mobility concept.

Quality of service, cost, infrastructure, zero emissions, cross-mode integration and how to attract and retain a skilled transportation workforce all must be addressed to ensure that passengers and freight customers have access to the best service. “This requires new innovation to bring a completely different type of service to freight rail customers and passengers,” said Borghini.

As Fitch also said, becoming fully operational in 2016, Shift2Rail has three essential key targets:

* Cutting the lifecycle costs of rail transit by as much as 50 percent;
* Doubling rail capacity; and
* Increasing reliability and punctuality by as much as 50 percent.

Shift2Rail is built around five asset-specific innovation programs covering technical and process elements of rail service: cost-efficient and reliable trains; advanced traffic management and control systems; infrastructure; IT solutions; and freight rail. “By looking at an entire new concept of a rail service system, we are creating a new generation of train that is able to capture the needs of all passengers,” he said.

Borghini stressed the importance of not looking at companies and assets, but rather at providing a service. Passengers are not concerned whether they need to use a train or car for their journey, he explained; they only want to know that they can reach their final destination as efficiently as possible.

“When you arrive at the first train station, you are in the ‘wrong’ place because you are intending to travel on from there,” he said. “And when you reach the station at the end of your train journey, you are still in the wrong place because that station is not your final destination. We need to connect all forms of transport and ensure the rail system is fully integrated with all other mobility systems.”

Membership of Shift2Rail currently stands at 28 entities from across Europe, including rail systems and business members, with about 2,000 people working in research and innovation. Approximately one-half billion euros have been committed thus far for research and innovation, with 50 projects underway.

Kevin Quinn, administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration, moderated the session. APTA Vice Chair David Stackrow, immediate past chair of the Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY, presided.

UAVs: Looking at Public Transportation Safety and Security from Another Perspective

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can be used to inspect infrastructure and enhance safety and security. At a Tuesday session, “Eyes in the Sky—The Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) in Transit,” three experts discussed some applications for UAVs in a public transit setting.

Sgt. Will Saunders Jr., a police officer with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia, described how the agency established its Special Operations Aerial Reconnaissance Unit approximately two years ago to inspect facilities in response to terrorist threats. The agency later developed its UAV program by adding forward-looking infrared cameras to inspect track hotspots.

Saunders outlined six steps that other agencies could follow to establish a UAV program:

* Step 1, budget: startup, continuing, growth costs—for both pilots and equipment;
* Step 2, departmental goals: write an internal policy document (ideally written by a pilot or someone with a working knowledge of UAVs and their capabilities); write an external mission statement to alert the public on what you are doing and why;
* Step 3, UAVs: number and type applicable to department/environment;
* Step 4, pilots: number—anticipate shift schedules; pilot selection—maturity to fly responsibly in airspace; training, testing and continuing education;
* Step 5, FAA licensing and testing: consider applications for certain operating waivers and exemptions, such as flying at night and/or beyond the visual line of sight of the operator; and
* Step 6: paperwork: establish flight history logs, pre-flight checklists, post-flight checklists and incident and maintenance reports.

“UAVs as part of a patrol unit are a force multiplier,” said Saunders. “They can save time and money.”

Mike Nabhan, chair of APTA’s Emerging Technology Subcommittee and asset management administrator/report developer for Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), described the relative ease with which his agency established its UAV program. “Any agency can do this,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, it can save your agency money and there are benefits outside of safety.”

Prior to its UAV operations, RTD’s inspection regimen consisted of two inspectors walking along the entire alignment and documenting conditions along the way—causing slow zones that negatively impacted customers. UAVs flying overhead do not affect regular revenue service.
Panelists, from left: Mike Nabhan, Onala Atala, Sgt. Will Saunders Jr. and Eric Sherrock.

“Inspectors can fly along the line in a fraction of the time,” Nabhan said. “Inspecting the underside of bridges and other infrastructure can also be completed far more quickly using a UAV.”

With initial, limited resources, RTD took its UAV program from concept to flying in approximately one year, but Nabhan said he believes that, fully staffed, such a program could be operational ­significantly faster.

RTD chose off-the-shelf equipment over procuring specialized systems for cost, user-friendly ease of training and a large community of current users to whom employees could turn for advice.

The agency uses its UAVs only for asset inspections, marketing videos and training purposes—not for security functions—and is looking into the potential for automated data analysis and autonomous inspections.

Eric Sherrock, program manager with ENSCO Inc., discussed a survey the firm conducted in 2017 on behalf of FRA’s Office of Research, Development and Technology, “Unmanned Aircraft System Applications in International Railroads” [available here]. The report analyzed the use of UAVs in international railroad systems and how to adopt best practices for the U.S.

Rotary-wing UAVs are prevalent and present a number of advantages (short or vertical takeoff; easily controllable, especially around bridges and other infrastructure), explained Sherrock. Such vehicles, however, offer low payloads and flight duration. New, “hybrid” vehicles, as operated by BNSF, blend the best of rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

BNSF has long been at the forefront of UAV operations, he said, deploying a diverse fleet for such applications as assessing concrete crossties; using image detection to identify broken rails, track buckling and misalignments; and fouled ballast detection.

Sherrock described an emerging technology, the nano-UAV, that presents a number of interesting possibilities for railroad applications. Weighing approximately 1 ounce, these craft can be launched from the operator’s hand. “Think about having a swarm of these UAVs,” he said, “and you launch them around a bridge or a switch or other previously inaccessible location to capture 3-D images and, when they return to home base, integrate the images into the most detailed assessment of that asset.”

Sherrock then drew on the study to provide an overview of some international UAV applications. In the United Kingdom, Network Rail has been using UAVs for several years to inspect seawalls and other areas of difficult accessibility, for monitoring trespassing and suicide hot spots, for assessing drainage issues around tracks and for vegetation and wildlife management.

Deutsche Bahn in Germany began using UAVs approximately five years ago, primarily to target vandalism, using thermal imaging and video to track and identify perpetrators. The agency then expanded into environmental monitoring and surveying large-scale construction projects.

Railroads in the Netherlands have been using UAVs equipped with thermal imaging to monitor the performance of switch heaters.

Onala (Tony) Atala, vice president, AECOM, moderated the session.

Addressing Security in Public Transportation

The June 11 General Session, “Safety and Security Trends in an Uncertain World,” featured a panel of experts who addressed terrorism, cybersecurity, asset management and risk management and their impacts on public transportation. Grace Crunican, general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, moderated the session.

Brian Michael Jenkins, director of the National Transportation Safety and Security Center, Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), noted how acts of terror—including attacks on surface transportation—are increasing worldwide. Public transportation hubs and vehicles typically contain large numbers of people in confined environments and thus present a lucrative target to terrorists, he explained.

Attacks are increasingly being carried out by homegrown, individual terrorists who are inspired by exhortations on the Internet, on social media and by other attacks. “These people carry out acts where they live,” said Jenkins, “meaning they can take place anywhere in the country.” The acts are becoming less sophisticated, he said, with knives and axes common weapons and, significantly for public transit, the use of vehicles to ram people.

A recent MTI study looked at the locations of these incidents with the highest level of fatalities, finding two categories: public assemblies on streets, particularly street markets, and pedestrianized streets. Since those locations have a finite perimeter, they can be protected by barriers, bollards and even parked vehicles, said Jenkins. However, car ramming attacks also happen at bus stops and around stations, which are more difficult to cordon off.
Panelists, from left: Grace Crunican, Brian Michael Jenkins, Michael Echols, David Genova and James Keane.

Jenkins described the security challenge facing surface transportation as it compares to aviation. “We cannot apply the aviation security model to surface transportation because of volume and cost and because aviation security is rules-driven; FAA directives apply throughout the country,” he said. “Surface transportation systems are too diverse for a one-size-fits-all rules approach to work. Security for public transit must be best-practices oriented that is absolutely dependent on an exchange of information.”

Public transit agencies that are well prepared to deal with crime, safety and disaster issues should find that many of those skills and practices can be applied in a security/anti-terrorism context, he explained. And the effects of vigilance cannot be understated.

“We have found that alert passengers and staff are responsible for identifying 20 percent of explosive devices planted by terrorists, and by reporting suspicious objects and activities are responsible for thwarting 11 percent of attacks,” he said. “‘See Something, Say Something’ campaigns do work.”

According to Michael Echols, executive director/chief executive officer of the International Association of Certified ISAOs [Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations], cybersecurity is “probably the number-one issue facing the nation,” with a potential for devastating effects on public transportation.

Echols argued, however, that people may be confused by the meaning of the word. “Cybersecurity is a buzzword,” he said. “Cybersecurity is nothing more than digital risk management. To understand cybersecurity, you have to understand risk: threats, vulnerabilities and consequences.”

As public transit agencies embrace new technologies to give riders the kind of service they want, the risk, he said, is that the agencies are also giving bad actors greater opportunities to exploit.

“Your employees are the conduit to the most [unintentional] damage that can be done to you,” Echols cautioned. “We need to look at how we train our employees. A culture of cybersecurity should be established so that employees know what they should and shouldn’t do, including handling malicious emails and phishing scams. The IT guy is there to provide access; he is not the cybersecurity guy.”

Echols urged public transit agencies not to rely on the government for protection from cyber threats but, echoing Jenkins, to share information and best practices with peer agencies.

David Genova, general manager and CEO of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), conference host system, described how asset management means more than simply having an inventory and good preventive maintenance programs; it is about managing risk. “Think in terms of lifecycle,” he said, “We can’t wait to begin asset management after something’s built or procured; it begins when we start thinking about what we want to build.”

Genova recounted how, in 2010, the RTD Board of Directors adopted asset management as a strategic priority—to drive safety, reliability and fiscal sustainability. With resources dedicated to these efforts, the agency leveraged a dedicated division, reporting through the safety department and drawn from rail and infrastructure maintenance, IT and procurement, tasked with gathering data to conduct condition assessments across all assets.

A couple of years ago, he continued, RTD decided to pursue ISO 55000 certification [an international standard covering management of physical assets] to “chase excellence.” The agency commissioned consultants to conduct data assessments and provide an independent, third-party view of the agency’s vulnerabilities.

The resulting gap assessment provided RTD clear direction on its asset management and state of good repair program and is influencing all operations; the agency has in place an asset management steering committee of senior leadership that sets goals and objectives and develops key performance indicators.

James Keane, vice chair of the APTA Risk Management Committee and general manager, operations safety, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), described the “clear and present danger” facing public transportation. “What keeps me up at night?” he asked. “I worry about our people and the people we serve. I worry about equipment and systems. And the biggest worry of all: terrorism.”

To better respond to these threats, Keane said, PANYNJ divided its risk management function into enterprise risk management, reporting to the board of directors through the finance committee, and security risk management, reporting to the board through the security committee. The two components work very well together, he added, because they acknowledge the imperative of efficiently addressing exposures and vulnerabilities: “There are only so many dollars to address these areas; we want to make sure we utilize those dollars properly.”

As an example, Keane described how the authority looked at the possibility of placing security bollards around the perimeter of its properties. With maximum return sought on the investment, it was determined the bollards also could be used for flood protection by placing horizontal members between them. “It’s part of our ‘all hazards’ approach,” he said.

PANYNJ is active in joint terrorism task forces and, as mentioned by Jenkins and Echols, makes a point of learning from and sharing information with other agencies. “‘See Something, Say Something’ is a force multiplier that can make us much more effective,” said Keane. “We all need to educate our staff so that they have the confidence to come forward if they see something out of place.”

Streetcars 'Growing Up' Through Technology and Research

“Streetcars in the U.S. are growing up,” David Vozzolo, vice president and streetcar program director, HDR, said in his report on “lessons learned from streetcar evolution” at a June 11 session during the APTA Rail Conference.

Eric Sitiko, operations manager, Tucson Sun Link Streetcar, RATP Dev, moderated the “Streetcars and Light Rail: Boosting Performance and Smart Expansions” session. Other panelists were Colin Foley, senior research associate, GOAL Project manager, Railway and Transport Strategy Centre, Imperial College London; Christopher Kinzel, traffic and planning section manager, HDR; and John Swanson, principal consultant, SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit Inc.

“The modern streetcar can yield investments in mobility, not just in land use,” Vozzolo said. “It’s about economic development but also urban mobility.”

He described how public transit agencies may begin streetcar operation with a short starter line, often funded in the past by federal TIGER grants (now BUILD grants), then extend the line to provide service to more areas and become more like light rail.

Streetcars often are designed to meet specific needs, he said, such as certain neighborhoods or downtown areas, but “every project has its own story.” He cited the city of Seattle’s two independent streetcar lines, which don’t connect to each other, and the two streetcar services in Dallas: one operated by Dallas Area Rapid Transit to provide commuter service to the city’s Union Station, and the privately operated McKinney Avenue Trolley, which runs vintage streetcars and allows for connection to DART light rail.
Panelists, from left: Colin Foley at podium, Eric Sitiko, Christopher Kinzel, David Vozzolo and John Swanson.
Foley spoke about his organization’s use of benchmarking—measuring an agency’s performance and comparing it to its peers—as part of the process of improving service and building best practices. The 11 participating agencies are known as the Benchmarking Group of North American Light Rail Systems or GOAL.

The challenge, according to Foley, is bringing together systems with different capacities for number of riders, miles and hours of operation, trip lengths and other variables. The process includes plotting the interaction between numbers of boardings and length of the ride (say, longer rides in the evening after rush hour).

He noted that the process identified several positive outcomes including adjusting supervision levels for light rail operators and increasing maintenance funding and staffing.

Kinzel called on public transit agencies to include the public in streetcar and light rail planning decisions—but noted that opinions can change as circumstances do. For example, he said, “People were skeptical of the Kansas City (MO) Streetcar until it opened; then they became boosters.” The starter line, with 16 stops on less than 2.1 route miles, provided fewer than one million daily rides when it opened in 2016 and now provides more than four million; plans are underway to extend the line three and a half miles.

He said communication with residents along a proposed line is important in determining station placement. While several criteria should be included, such as integration with bus service, passenger demand, economic development potential and the outlook for future ridership, planners need to hear what the residents think is important.

“We make highly technical decisions,” Kinzel said, “but we need to present them to the public in terms they can understand.”

Swanson focused on the growth in off-wire streetcar technologies, specifically ground-level power systems, onboard energy storage and onboard power generation. Benefits of eliminating the catenary wire, he said, include improved aesthetics, ease of use by others on the route and simplification of the infrastructure; on the other hand, these changes may take up space in the vehicles, leaving less space for passengers, and could add to vehicle weight.

As recently as 2005, he said, only one off-wire streetcar, in Bordeaux, France, was in operation; today, 10 systems are in operation with two more under construction. Most of these have onboard power storage, while a few are powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Swanson noted that one problem with ground-level power systems is that they are often proprietary, complicating future upgrades.

Transit Systems Engineering sponsored the session.

As Transit Workforce Ages, Internships Bring in New Blood

As up to half of the public transit workforce may become eligible to retire in the next three to five years, agencies need to establish educational programs and internships to ensure retirees don’t take their institutional knowledge with them before transferring it to other employees.

Jesus (Jess) Guerra, director, Transportation Workforce Institute, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, made that point as moderator of a session on “Internships, Partnerships, Innovative Approaches.”

Two speakers reported on the educational efforts underway at their agencies. Ona Pradham, manager-light rail training division, for Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul, described the MTT [Metro Transit Technician] LRT Internship program, designed not only to conserve the knowledge of older employees but also to increase system employment.

“At Metro Transit, we have 122 light rail operators and 85 mechanics, many of whom are near retirement age,” she said. “We know we need to focus on our workforce. The first issue is how we can find people with the ability and the desire to work for us.”

Participants in the three-year MTT program, being operated by the agency on a pilot basis in partnership with ­Hennepin Technical College and a regional workforce readiness program, receive salaries during the course period and graduate with a degree—the first light rail technician degree being offered in the U.S.

From left: Ona Pradham, moderator Jesus (Jess) Guerra and Wulf Grote.

Pradham noted that 400 people applied for the first class of the program and 25 were admitted; only seven have continued into the final year, she said, because participants are attending classes full-time while also working for the agency. “We see people committed to the process after this much time,” she said, adding that Metro Transit will hire students as full-time mechanics following graduation.

Wulf Grote, director, capital and service development, at Valley Metro in Phoenix, called internships “a two-way partnership” in that both students and agency employees have to commit to the program.

In the early 2000s, he said, the agency was having trouble finding people who were both interested in light rail planning and design and qualified to work in the field. The program began in 2010 as an unpaid summer internship; interns are now paid and many past interns are now Valley Metro employees.

The agency partners with Arizona State University, where interns attend classes full-time and work part-time over a 12-month period. “These students get credit, experience, networking and income,” Grote said. “They develop skills, build their confidence and gain knowledge,” including rotations into several different divisions.

“It’s been a great program for us and we will continue with it,” he said, adding that public transit consulting firms have also hired the interns following graduation.

Touring Tech Facility

Rail Conference attendees had the opportunity to visit the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) during a June 14 technical tour. TTCI is the nation’s premier transportation research and testing organization, with cutting-edge laboratories, 52 miles of test track and a full-scale hazmat training center.

A World of Rail Options

Click here to see more scenes from the 2018 APTA Rail Conference in Denver.


San Diego MTS: Where Public Transit and Hollywood Unite

In late July, it’s not uncommon to see Klingons, Darth Vader, Spiderman and Superwoman all boarding the San Diego Trolley. Comic-Con International, one of the largest entertainment and comic conventions in the world, brings more than 160,000 attendees—and thousands more for people-watching—each year.

This annual invasion creates both opportunities and challenges for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). During the five days of the event, MTS provides an additional 250,000 passenger trips, which presents logistical challenges to provide extra Trolley (light rail) service to the front door of the convention center. The extra train sets on the system, which allow MTS to double its service frequency to 7.5 minutes, also mean that MTS can generate more advertising revenue.

During Comic-Con week, MTS’ iconic red Trolleys turn into rolling billboards for major players such as Fox, ABC, TBS and SyFy channels. Collectively, the networks have purchased a record 44 advertising wraps on the vehicles for Comic-Con 2018, compared with 21 wraps for Comic-Con 2014. All told, the event will help MTS realize about $500,000 in advertising revenue.

The popularity of Comic-Con creates a very challenging environment for operations and MTS has developed a tested blueprint for success. Among the tips that may help other agencies prepare for large events in their cities are:

* Implement a vacation restriction for operators. On a normal weekday, MTS deploys 64 full-shift train operators. During Comic-Con, the agency schedules 115 full-shifts—an 80 percent increase in staffing;

* Pre-position mechanics at key points along the busiest line segments to speed up response time to mechanical failures; and

* Commit an employee in maintenance and one in operations to take ownership of the vehicle wrapping schedule. The train wrapping process takes about eight hours, meaning there is lots of coordination necessary to get 44 trains wrapped ahead of the convention.

No matter how many space aliens and superheroes attend, MTS has a front-row seat and an important role in this action-packed event for San Diego.
Conan O’Brien promotes his live shows during Comic-Con on an MTS Trolley advertising wrap.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

ARTBA's Ruane to Retire

WASHINGTON, DC—Pete Ruane, president and chief executive officer of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), has announced that he will retire in October after 30 years of service. He is the longest tenured head of the 116-year-old organization.

Ruane has worked on federal transportation investment policy for more than 40 years, testifying at congressional hearings and providing support to administrations from both political parties.

ARTBA Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer William D. Toohey Jr., a 33-year association veteran, will serve as acting chief executive officer following Ruane’s departure.

FORT WORTH, TX—Trinity Metro announced the hiring of Mike ­Stolzman as vice president and chief operating officer of rail and the promotion of Reed Lanham to vice president of strategy and technology.
Stolzman has more than 20 years of rail experience with both Class I and short line railroads. Lanham previously was the agency’s manager of rail operations.

SAN DIEGO—Lytx announced that Steve Lifshatz has joined the company as chief financial officer. He has three decades of executive-level experience in software and software-as-a-service firms.

ISELIN, NJ—Michael A. Salvato has been named vice president of infrastructure advisory practices for Mott MacDonald, based in the company’s North American headquarters. He previously served the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority for 20 years, working since 2015 as director and program executive for enterprise information and asset management.