Passenger Transport - July 6, 2018
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THE NEW MOBILITY PARADIGM

Mobility Management:
The Agency Perspective

To coincide with APTA’s “The Future of Mobility—From Transit Authority to Mobility Integrator” s­ummit July 12 in Washington, DC, Passenger Transport invited public transportation industry leaders to describe how their agencies are embracing the concept of mobility management and adapting to the changing needs of their riders within the new mobility paradigm.

DART Meeting New Demands

by Gary C. Thomas
President/Executive Director
Dallas Area Rapid Transit


Today’s transit customers are no longer bound by mobility choices dictated to them by public transit operators. This new reality is causing sleepless nights to public transit agency leaders everywhere, but Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) sees it as a wakeup call. It’s a new opportunity to become relevant to new generations of riders and stay relevant to existing customers who are developing new habits and service expectations.

DART’s customers are the same ones who pick up their coffee, made the way they want, after ordering it from their phone. They use that same phone to buy a house, furnish it and stock the pantry with goods delivered to their door.

Public transit enters this environment with legacy routes and printed timetables tied to permanent bus stops and rail stations. That’s no longer a sustainable operating environment.

DART introduced the initial version of its mobile ticketing app, GoPass, in September 2013. While the agency had been online since 1997 and added smartphone trip-planning tools in 2011, the pass was innovative for its time. It was one of the first multimodal, multi-agency transit fare apps.

Two years later, DART added links from the app to Zipcar, Lyft and Uber. The initial version of the app has been downloaded more than 900,000 times and has sold about six million tickets.

A new version of the app, GoPass 2.0, launched in May. We updated the trip planning tools and added new payment functionality—including the ability to load cash to the app—to make it easier for more people to buy passes. The new payment tools are key.

DART's GoPass app can be personalized to suit the individual preferences of riders.

The price of a public transit pass can be a barrier to access. While transit operators need to be able to raise fares to meet rising costs, we should be using technology to help mitigate the impact of those increases. GoPass 2.0 gives us the ability to cap fares, so customers who are unbanked, or who can only afford to purchase one pass at a time, can take advantage of lower-cost bulk or multi-trip passes available to others. This makes public transit more affordable and more available.

We are moving closer to a complete integration of transportation modes—GoPass 3.0—more fully incorporating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, along with bikesharing, carsharing and taxis. GoPass 3.0 is scheduled to launch at the end of this year.

However, apps are only as valuable as the service behind them. Evolving our offerings, from bus, paratransit and rail operator to a true mobility management provider, is taking place parallel to the development of new customer tools.

In recent months we’ve added GoLink, a new, on-demand mode designed to enhance and expand current DART On-Call zones and introduce public transit to previously unserved or underserved areas. It combines the low cost of public transit with the convenience of ridesharing. Our on-demand buses can carry up to 15 passengers and customers schedule their trips with a mobile app. Since its launch earlier this year, we are already seeing ridership growth in these areas when compared with the replaced bus routes.

GoPool is another innovation, providing app-based dynamic carpooling within specific zones. GoPool customers use the technology to arrange one-time shared rides on short notice. This creates a transit option for customers who do not have convenient access to DART buses and trains and are seeking a ride companion who lives and works nearby and has a similar work schedule.

Twenty-one years ago, Apple challenged computer users with the slogan “Think different” to reevaluate how they were using personal computers. That’s a good idea for public transit today. Customers show us daily how they want to buy and use goods and services. We can respond with innovation and creativity. Or we can become an afterthought.

Thomas is a past chair of APTA and chair of the APTA Mobility Management Committee.

COMMENTARY

The Imperative of Reimagining
Public Transportation

by Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Chair, APTA
CEO, Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority


The public transportation industry is in the midst of the greatest transformation of our generation. Our collective place in the emerging mobility landscape will be defined by how well we employ modern technologies, forge unique partnerships and explore new ways of delivering an array of public transit options.

Shaping this new mobility paradigm is the cornerstone of my five priorities for the year as APTA chair, and strategizing how best to anticipate and meet the evolving needs of riders is being played out both at home and further afield.

This past month, I had the distinct honor of representing APTA at the European Mobility Exhibition in Paris. This biennial exhibition, organized by our French partners GIE Objectif Transport Public, brings together the French Transportation Authorities Association, or Groupement des Autorités Responsables de Transport (GART), and the Public and Rail Transport Association, or Union des Transports Publics et Ferroviaires (UTP).

The exhibition was an ideal occasion for me to discuss how the shared economy, automation and modal integration are providing both opportunities and challenges for public transportation in the U.S. I highlighted several examples of where this is already happening across the nation. For example:

* New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is undertaking a top-to-bottom redesign of its bus network that includes new state-of-the-art buses, additional bus lanes and all-door boarding;

* Dallas Area Rapid Transit is improving its GoPass app to offer riders first- and last-mile options based on price, travel and arrival times, and the ­ability to pay for trips with the app;

* King County Metro Transit in the Seattle area is working with app designers to create a service that incentivizes carpooling as an option for customers; and

* The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was honored at the European Mobility Exhibition, is integrating bikesharing into its TAP fare payment system, cultivating ideas from the private sector through its unsolicited bid processes, and launching three microtransit pilot projects to provide flexible, on-demand mobility services.

Ford represented APTA at the recent European Mobility Exhibition in Paris.

While at the exhibition, I gained some excellent insights into Europe’s best practices in mobility and public transit. For example, France has developed a national strategy for automated vehicles. During the event, French Transportation Minister Elisabeth Borne announced a national “Mobility as a Service” strategy with the goal of providing nationwide access to data on all available mobility services.

What was most valuable was the first-hand view of the French market structure as well as the emerging mobility practices and pilots that are underway across European cities. There is clearly a strong emphasis on redesigning and restructuring networks to meet the modern needs of the customer. Initiatives include greater system integration, more efficient fare collection and boarding, the testing of automated vehicles and a focus on low-to-zero emissions.

All of these efforts have resulted in greater service availability in many French cities and towns, and ultimately a modal share of public transportation, including intercity passenger rail, as high as 20 percent in many major cities and on average nationwide.

From the piloting of autonomous vehicles as an integral part of the public transit service in Lyon, to the plan to fully electrify the bus fleet in Paris by 2025, to the on-demand mobility pilot using electric autonomous vehicles in Rouen, there is much to learn from the French.

I was especially impressed by the customer-centric approach and strong focus on not only the why, but the how, as publicly funded agencies move away from traditionally administrative functions and adopt a more dynamic, entrepreneurial corporate culture. Public transit is not viewed as a commuter service, but rather as a service for all.

We, too, must evolve our public structure here in the U.S. to allow for an integrated, holistic mobility governance. One approach may mean putting in place more regional transportation authorities with full control of the many factors that ensure a highly efficient and fully integrated mobility system: public transportation services, oversight of shared modes, traffic management and parking, street design and road building.

Most of all, the exhibition reinforced the notion that the future of our industry will be determined by our ability to fully embrace a culture of innovation and smart risk-taking. Yes, we need the political support and long-term funding to do so, but we also must demonstrate leadership in our own right. It will require all of us working together to create an integrated and sustainable ecosystem of mobility services with public transportation at the core.

We can transform our future if we think of ourselves as service providers, integrators and coordinators of transportation choices rather than as operators of buses, trains and trams. As I stated to exhibition attendees in Europe, “To prepare for this new paradigm, we need to develop a shared, holistic vision of mobility across all modes that helps us position our industry to move people in the most efficient way possible, with transit as the backbone of a multimodal lifestyle.”

In that context, I am very much looking forward to convening public transit industry leaders at APTA’s “The Future of Mobility – From Transit Authority to Mobility Integrator” summit, July 12 in Washington, DC. For all of us, this event represents a major step forward on the exciting transformational journey to reimagine public transportation and how we serve our communities. Welcome aboard!


"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.

NEWS HEADLINES

FTA Releases Its Priorities for CIG Grants

In a June 29 letter, FTA highlighted its priorities for administering the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. Under CIG, public transit projects go through a rigorous process (including an environmental review, securing non-federal funding, engineering and design, risk analysis, and other criteria, which are evaluated and rated) before qualifying for a full funding grant agreement. In addition, FTA has made changes to its risk assessment process.

The “Dear Colleague” letter states that FTA bases its funding allocation decisions on a “variety of factors including the extent of the local financial commitment, project readiness and geographic diversity.”

In evaluating a project’s local financial commitment, FTA views U.S. DOT loans (i.e., TIFIA and RRIF loans and loan guarantees) “in the context of all federal funding sources requested by the project sponsor and not separate from federal funding sources.” In addition, FTA will consider the extent to which the project exceeds the required non-government share of the project cost and uses “value capture, private contributions and other innovative approaches to project development and delivery such as public-private partnerships.”

The letter further states that, if FTA decides to proceed with a construction grant agreement, FTA does not sign the agreement committing CIG funding until after the project sponsor has demonstrated that its project is ready for such an agreement. This includes assurance that the project’s development and design have progressed to the point where its scope, costs, benefits and impacts are considered firm and final; the project sponsor has obtained all non-CIG funding commitments; and the sponsor has completed all critical third-party agreements.

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said, “The Federal Transit Administration believes it is timely to share with our grantees information on our Capital Investment Grants Program to highlight certain elements of existing CIG policy along with the agency’s risk assessment process, so that we may better evaluate projected cost, scope and schedule of projects in the CIG pipeline.”

According to an FTA spokesperson, “this communication is intended to clarify existing requirements for the CIG program to grantees. FTA will continue to evaluate projects in the CIG program consistent with the existing statute and policy guidance. Since January 2017, FTA has signed 10 CIG grant agreements throughout the nation totaling approximately $1.9 billion in commitments.”

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said, “APTA appreciates FTA’s outreach regarding its priorities in considering [CIG] grants. These grants provide critical federal funding for New Start, Core Capacity and Small Start projects, and have received sustained bipartisan support from Congress.”

He continued, “As communities across the country work to advance forward-looking projects in an expedited manner, APTA will work with its members and the respective committees to review the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to better understand its implications and impact. The letter raises some issues of concern to the industry that will require additional review and dialogue with the FTA, such as including Department of Transportation loans in the context of federal funding sources when evaluating CIG projects; including geographic diversity as a criterion for projects; and changes to the risk assessment process.”

With regard to the risk assessments, FTA will now conduct those for New Starts and Core Capacity projects prior to entry into the engineering phase. Also, it may perform updates to the risk assessment and scope, cost and schedule reviews prior to awarding a construction grant agreement. For Small Start projects, scope, cost and schedule reviews and a risk assessment may be conducted during the project development phase.

In addition, FTA has increased the probability thresholds it uses to undertake risk assessments. When evaluating a project’s cost and schedule, FTA considers the degree to which the estimates include reasonable assumptions or whether adjustments need to be made. FTA then examines risks related to the project to determine the appropriate level of contingency needed. FTA will now use a 65 percent probability threshold to determine the reasonableness of estimates of both a project’s cost and schedule, instead of the previous 50 percent threshold.

For more details, go to the FAQ on FTA’s website.

FTA also intends to publish revised CIG policy guidance later this year for notice and comment. Contact Elizabeth S. Riklin, acting associate administrator for planning and environment, at 202-366-4033.

APTA Developing New Strategic Plan

With the mobility world changing so rapidly, APTA has launched the development of a new three-year Strategic Plan to guide its work programs and member services for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2022.

A sound planning process has been established to ensure all voices within APTA and among APTA stakeholders are heard. Throughout the summer, members will be asked to provide input through several means:

* an online member survey, accessible through the APTA homepage;
* two member webinars: July 17 from 2-3 p.m. EDT and Aug. 1, also from 2-3 p.m. EDT; and
* APTA committee calls and meetings.

A Strategic Plan Steering Committee, representing broad APTA member interests, has been established to guide the process and develop a plan based on all member input. APTA aims to present a draft Strategic Plan for member review by early October and a final Strategic Plan for approval by the APTA Board of Directors by the end of November 2018.

LAVTA Testing Shared Autonomous Vehicles

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) in Livermore, CA, began testing its new Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) at a June 22 event at the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Dublin/Pleasanton Station. Testing, anticipated to take two years, will be conducted on public roads in the city of Dublin.

Dublin Mayor and LAVTA board member David Haubert said at the event, attended by approximately 70 area business leaders, elected officials and product sponsors, “Our city traffic engineers will be among the first in the country to link a rail station to last-mile destinations by navigating complex stoplight and turning scenarios along public roads.”

The EasyMile EZ10 vehicle, which can operate for 14 hours on a single battery charge, can accommodate 12 passengers, though none will be present during the testing phase. LAVTA is partnering on the project with First Transit, which will provide staffing, maintenance and operational support, including having an operator on board the vehicle at all times during testing. The vehicle will operate at 15 mph or less during the test period, although it is capable of higher speeds.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree, Dublin Mayor and LAVTA Board member David Haubert, Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Vice Chair Scott Haggerty, Pleasanton City Councilmember and LAVTA Board Chair Karla Brown and California Assemblymember Catharine Baker prepare to board LAVTA’s SAV for its inaugural test ride.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree said he sees SAVs as an important piece of the overall mobility puzzle. “Transit agencies are facing growing public frustration with inadequate parking at major transit centers and a lack of reliable on-demand options for those all-important first- and last-mile connections,” he said. “Traditional fixed-route transit services are only an attractive option to choice riders if the route happens to travel within a reasonable walk distance of the commuter’s origin or destination.”

Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Vice Chair Scott Haggerty noted that “Providing a convenient and reliable first- and last-mile, zero-emission service will have a substantial environmental impact by reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips to employment, retail and residential destinations located near the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station.”

Before entering service, the vehicles will undergo extensive testing that may take two to three years, with scenarios including infrastructure communication; interactions with others on the road such as vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians; and a variety of road and weather conditions.


VIA Opens Largest Park-and-Ride Facility

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio recently opened the ­largest park-and-ride facility in its system, a four-story structure in the Stone Oak area.

VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey C. Arndt noted that the region is among the fastest-growing areas in the U.S., which points to “the need for more and better transportation options like affordable park-and-ride service.” According to Arndt, the new facility provides commuters with an alternative to sitting in traffic, promotes transit-oriented communities and economic development and expands access to the area, “and therefore access to jobs, schools and the opportunity for a better quality of life.”

Amenities at the facility include digital trip planning, real-time bus information, ­BiblioTech e-library kiosks and four electric car-charging stations, as well as a full-service customer information center and almost 400 free parking spaces.

The next phase of the Stone Oak project will be a direct connection to nearby HOV lanes, scheduled for completion in 2021, which will allow public transit vehicles to save time by bypassing traffic into downtown. 

VIA Metropolitan Transit hosted a community celebration on opening day for its park-and-ride facility in the Stone Oak area.

 

HART Launches Intercounty Route to Tampa Airport

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, introduced service July 1 on its first seven-day-a-week intercounty service, an hourly, limited-stop route that terminates at Tampa International Airport.

HART Interim Chief Executive Officer Jeff Seward called the new line “another milestone moment for HART.” He continued, “An effective and accessible public transportation system is critical to enhancing mobility, supporting commerce and improving the vitality of our community. The new Route 275LX, coupled with Route 54 in [neighboring] Pasco County, is another example of HART’s commitment to providing safe and reliable transportation options to the residents of Hillsborough and Pasco counties.”

The Route 275LX connects with a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus at the airport, providing service to neighboring St. Petersburg. The route is funded by Florida DOT as part of the Urban Corridor Project.

 
The external wrap on HART’s 275LX bus shows the route and emphasizes its connection to Tampa International Airport.

 

MST Opens Expanded Bus Operations Facility

Monterey-Salinas (CA) Transit (MST) recently celebrated the ­opening of its new and expanded Monterey Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility with ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

The expansion transformed the ­original facility, built in 1978 with 20,000 square feet for a 36-bus fleet, into a 33,000-square-foot facility designed for up to 88 buses serving the communities of the Monterey Peninsula. Pre-­engineered building elements reduced both cost and construction time required for completion of the project.

The building—dedicated to Thomas D. Albert, MST’s first general manager—provides new service bays, a new tire-servicing station, more parts storage, a water-efficient bus wash, electric bus charging station and a second-floor communications center that offers a birds-eye view of the bus yard.

Funding for the $22 million construction project came from the California Proposition 1B (2006) Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, Service Enhancement Account Program, from the state Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and from local funds.

MST General Manager/CEO Carl Sedoryk, center, joined other stakeholders at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the expanded Monterey Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility.

Repairs Continue to Pittsburgh's Light Rail Blue Line

As Passenger Transport went to press, the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh announced that Blue Line Library light rail service—interrupted by extensive flood damage in late June—is likely to resume full service by early August.

Port Authority maintenance crews continue to work to restore service to the line, which remains partially out of service after sustaining significant damage during a powerful rainstorm that ravaged many Pittsburgh South Hills communities. Service resumed on part of the Blue Line Library and the Blue Line South Hills Village route on June 24, three days after heavy rain flooded several areas of Allegheny County.

Maintenance crews have replaced more than 900 tons of stone track support and, over the next several weeks, will continue to stabilize eroded areas, repair damaged platforms and replace several damaged utility poles. Shuttle buses will continue to serve stations along the damaged portion of Blue Line Library until rail service is fully restored.

Shortly after the route closure, Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Katharine Kelleman said, “The flooding earlier this week devastated our light rail system, but it also impacted many of our riders. That’s not lost on us.” The agency continues to provide free parking at one of its garages.
Heavy rain and flooding washed out fill from underneath the track on a section of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Blue Line. As the track cannot support the weight of the railcars without fill underneath, part of the line remains unusable until repairs are complete.

NTI Webinar to Examine Service Integration

A July 17 webinar hosted by the National Transit Institute will show how strategies such as consolidation and cooperation can help public transportation providers integrate services to increase efficiency, reduce operating expenses, improve the customer experience or achieve other goals.

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program will conduct the 90-minute webinar, Consolidation of Rural Public Transportation Services, which begins at 2 p.m. Eastern time. It will present the results of research into the consolidation of rural public transportation services, providing guidance to transportation providers and state DOTs considering or engaged in consolidation efforts, focusing on four case studies.

To register, click here.

Also, the Transportation Research Board will present a 90-minute webinar Aug. 14, 2-3:30 p.m. Eastern time, that features research from Transit Cooperative Research Program Legal Research Digest 50: Public Transit Emergency Preparedness Against Ebola and Other Infectious Diseases: Legal Issues. To register, click here.

FTA Marks 50th Birthday

FTA celebrated the 50th birthday of its founding on July 1.

In a tweet, FTA announced: “Hey, we’re 50! On July 1, 1968, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration was born, later renamed the Federal Transit Administration to reflect our expanding focus on supporting transit in rural and suburban areas.”

Louis Berger Acquires BergerABAM

Louis Berger, headquartered in Morristown, NJ, has acquired the remaining minority shares of BergerABAM, its partner for more than 30 years and a consulting firm offering services in specialized engineering in surface transportation, ports/waterfront and marine and federal facilities.

“BergerABAM will strengthen and expand our expertise in ports, waterfront and marine structures, buildings, site development, highways and bridges and aviation,” said Jim Stamatis, president and chief executive officer of Louis Berger. “This acquisition is the culmination of a collaborative partnership that has spanned more than three decades and delivered award winning designs.”

TRC Acquires Vali Cooper

TRC, a provider of engineering, consulting and construction management solutions based in Lowell, MA, has acquired Vali Cooper & Associates Inc., an infrastructure firm headquartered in Concord, CA, that manages transportation, water/wastewater, utility and facilities projects.

The deal is the first major acquisition for TRC since it went private last June following its sale to New Mountain Capital.

New CEOs Named

Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJDOT

Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti has been sworn in as commissioner of New Jersey DOT. She has 34 years of government service and more than 28 years in the transportation field, most recently as executive director and chief executive officer of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, a part of Florida DOT. Earlier, she spent 21 years at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, working her way up from a contract administrator to executive director.


Andrew Johnson, The Rapid

Andrew Johnson, chief operating officer of the Champaign-Urbana (IL) Mass Transit District, will join The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, as its next chief executive officer in August, succeeding the retiring Peter Varga.

Johnson has more than 20 years of executive-level public transit experience, including serving as CEO of Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal, IL. For APTA, he is a member of the Executive Committee and numerous other committees, chairs the Small Operations Committee and co-chairs the Procurement Steering ­Committee. He also is president of the Illinois Public Transit Association.


Mefford-Miller, Interim, St. Louis Metro


Jessica Mefford-Miller, assistant executive ­director for transit planning and system development for Metro in St. Louis, has been named the agency’s interim executive ­director following the retirement of Ray Friem. She joined Metro in 2006 and earlier worked for Ohio DOT.

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Cassandra Borchers!

Cassandra Borchers
Chief Development Officer
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
St. Petersburg, FL
Member, APTA Mobility Management Committee; Planning,  Policy and Program Development Steering Committee; Metropolitan Planning Subcommittee; Research & Technology Committee; Mid-Size Operations Committee; Streetcar Subcommittee; High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee

Please describe your agency's size and scope.

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) provides public transit for Pinellas County, located in the Tampa Bay area. With nearly one million people in just 600 square miles, Pinellas is the most densely populated county in Florida.

PSTA operates 210 buses on 43 fixed routes, providing more than12 million rides a year. We also have several first-in-the-nation partnerships with Uber for first-mile, last-mile and late-night services and continue moving toward being mobility managers in our region.

What attracted you to the public transportation industry?

While studying for my Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I teamed up with the university’s East St. Louis Action Research Project for my thesis topic and completed an economic development study for the Emerson Park Light Rail Station in East St. Louis, IL, one of the poorest cities in the U.S. I fell in love with learning how public transit changes neighborhoods and improves access to economic opportunity, as well as how public spaces can elevate the way that people interact with their community.

Please describe the length and scope of your involvement with APTA.


I was fortunate enough to be able to attend several APTA conferences early in my career. I found the committees were the best places to obtain information and really connect with ­people in the industry. I was able to gain a deeper understanding of all APTA activities and benefits as a member of the ­Leadership APTA Class of 2016.

What do you like most about the public transit industry?


I continue to be fascinated by how public transportation shapes our community and how we can work to get that message heard. We have an opportunity with our construction projects to create beautiful public spaces where we can demonstrate respect for our riders and the community.

How does your role embrace the concept of “mobility management”?


In my department, we are not only responsible for scheduling, short-term and long-term planning, but also innovation. This is where our agency projects start. Our focus right now is on how to deliver what people demand for convenience, flexibility and frequency in the most cost-effective way for our community.

We have also structured our public engagement team to reside within the planning department, which heightens our attention on listening to the public as a significant part of developing our technical work.

We have several successful innovative mobility programs for our riders that have come out of this work. Our “TD Late Shift” uses Uber and local taxis to get low-income riders home when our regular service has finished for the day. Many users have been able to secure second- and third-shift jobs, and keep them, because of this program.

We also have a first-mile, last-mile service, also with Uber and local taxis, called Direct Connect that helps riders get to and from bus stops. We’ve used our experience developing those two partnership programs to put together a test project with Lyft for bringing on-demand service to our paratransit riders.

It’s all about the rider experience and finding ways to meet the changing needs and expectations of our public.

What would readers find interesting about your organization?


We have a wet bathing suit policy—and sometimes have to detour service because of alligators in the road!

Pinellas County is home to the world’s best beaches and, like the rest of Florida, we have a very tourism-driven economy. We are always looking at ways to balance the needs of our residents while also creating a “visitor experience” for our tourists and travelers. That makes us think a little differently when we’re designing services and even providing training to our customer service team and our operators.

THE NEW MOBILITY PARADIGM - MORE VIEWS

Developing an Integrated Transportation Vision

BY BRAD THOBURN
Vice President/Chief Development Officer
Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), like many other public transportation providers, is grappling with the future of mobility. Emerging technology affects the planning, design and operations of all transportation services and facilities. Our success demands breaking down modal silos and rethinking traditional roles. As a multimodal transportation provider, JTA is well positioned to take on the role of the mobility integrator and enhance traditional transportation solutions with new mobility options, emerging technology, new infrastructure solutions and strategic partnerships.

JTA’s vision statement, “Universal access to dynamic transportation solutions,” seeks to capture the potential of the emerging mobility ecosystem, where technology and innovation enhance transportation options, gain operating efficiencies and create a well-connected regional mobility network. JTA, like many public transit providers, is exploring alternative service delivery models through various pilots. But the long-term challenge is understanding how and where these various solutions fit in our system and deploying them as part of a complementary network.

To develop a future vision, a multi-agency scenario planning exercise examined the impacts of autonomous vehicles and shared mobility on transit service. Access to mobility under various scenarios of public acceptance of technology and mobility solutions were also examined.

The planning exercise emphasized the need for public transit providers to lead the smart integration of mobility solutions. In fact, the status quo will likely result in marginalizing public transit as the option of last resort.

Conversely, the smart integration of mobility services can result in public transit becoming the backbone of the shared mobility networks.

Smart integration of mobility services can result in public transit becoming the backbone of the shared mobility networks.

To accomplish its vision as a mobility integrator, JTA is focusing our draft vision on several key areas:

Enhancing Traditional Transit Services: Our First Coast Flyer BRT is the largest in the Southeast. With two corridors in operation, one slated for revenue service in December and a final corridor pending funding, the 57-mile system will be the spine of the JTA transit system. Future high-frequency corridors will strengthen the network and regional express services will enable connection with emerging employment and residential centers.

Innovative Partnerships:
Microtransit, transportation network companies, taxis and low-speed shuttles will be explored to provide service in areas where transit traditionally underperforms, such as first and last mile, late night and entertainment-based trips.

Transit-Supportive Infrastructure: Investments include complete streets that contemplate an environment beyond our stations and bus stops for safer pedestrian access and cycling. Mobility hubs will be established at key locations to accommodate the new mobility solutions, as well as options like carshare and bikeshare to support transit-oriented communities. Smart corridors will utilize technology to optimize traffic flow and collect and manage data for public benefit.

Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles: JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U²C) will modernize and expand the Downtown People Mover with elevated and at-grade sections. The new system will be scalable to other areas and allow more cost-effective, flexible service to transform the delivery of public transit.

A Single App Connecting Mobility Solutions: The final element connecting the portfolio of mobility options is a single application that can allow customers to plan, schedule, pay and track all their mobility options, including private sector partners in the integrated mobility ecosystem.

 

Moving Passengers Curb to Curb the Smart Way

BY HENRY LI
General Manager/CEO
Sacramento Regional Transit District

Over the past several years, the national decline of public transit ridership has become a significant concern among industry leaders. There’s been a great deal of discussion among providers to think outside the box and find new and innovative ways to retain and attract riders.

With significant advances in technology—specifically the increased convenience of smartphones—the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) has moved at lightning speed to respond to these changes.

SacRT is investing capital dollars in microtransit, a real-time, on-demand shuttle service that operates in designated geographical boundaries using neighborhood-friendly buses. Aptly named “SmaRT Ride,” our microtransit service allows passengers to order curb-to-curb bus service using a smartphone app.

Affordability and convenience have made this new, on-demand service attractive to people who may not have considered taking public transit in the past, and it is one the industry is closely watching to determine how best to integrate within existing service networks.

Working collaboratively with the city of Citrus Heights and software developer TransLoc, SacRT rolled out the SmaRT Ride microtransit pilot in February 2018 as a replacement to dial-a-ride service in Citrus Heights, generating a great deal of national and local media attention.

Within two months, SacRT expanded the pilot to include two additional communities. The original dial-a-ride service averaged 8,000 annual trips, while SmaRT Ride has already provided 10,000 trips in its first four months.

SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li celebrates the beginning of SmaRT Ride at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in February.

SacRT’s goal is to provide a ride with an arrival time of less than 30 minutes and to charge the same base fare as light rail and bus service, making it much more affordable than traditional ride-hailing services.

Thanks to the pilot’s overwhelming success, the Sacramento Transportation Authority awarded SacRT $12 million to expand SmaRT Ride into 10 additional communities. As part of the grant award, SacRT is required to expand into areas that are currently underserved by public transit.

SmaRT Ride will begin serving the community of South Sacramento starting July 30. A grassroots effort is already underway to partner with community stakeholders to educate residents about the many benefits of the service. SacRT is dealing with language and cultural barriers with the help of civic and non-profit organizations.

While microtransit may be popular among the masses, it is inherently limited by the number of passengers each vehicle can serve on an hourly basis. This is why SacRT is developing SmaRT Ride zones that do not compete with fixed-route service.

SacRT is reimagining a systemwide network that will likely increase the frequency of high-performing bus routes while decreasing the number of lower-performing routes in less densely populated areas. Ultimately, SacRT’s goal is to provide a much-needed mobility solution that encourages a seamless car-free lifestyle.

SacRT is excited to be leading the effort with microtransit and looks forward to sharing best practices with peer agencies. The challenge is significant, but we are committed to finding innovative ways to address the new mobility management paradigm.

Transit and New Shared-Use Modes: Key Questions from the Transit Industry Perspective

Public transit agencies have been doing much individual soul-searching to position themselves with respect to the explosion of new shared-use modes (ridesourcing, carsharing, bikesharing, etc.), while trying to understand the implications of these new modes on their own services, determine whether these new mobility services are complementary or competitive to existing fixed-route and demand-responsive services, understand policy and regulatory implications and develop frameworks for cooperation and initiatives where feasible and desirable.

However, it may be useful to take a broader, more strategic perspective on the above challenges. A recent concise discussion paper, “Transit and New Shared-Use Modes—Key Questions from the Transit Agency’s Perspective,” has as its objective to identify and categorize the key questions public transit agencies should be asking themselves as they try to position themselves in the new arena of urban mobility. The perspective is that of the agency.

The key questions in the discussion paper have emerged from several structured discussions at workshops and meetings that took place in 2015-2016, in conjunction with events jointly organized by APTA and ITS America, under the sponsorship of U.S. DOT.

The key questions identified through these discussions of experts have been categorized in the six following areas, which are explored in the paper:

* Policy Goal and Objectives;
* Transportation Planning;
* Data;
* Transit Planning/Service Design and Delivery;
* Role of Technology—Travel Information; and
* Role of Technology—Payment.

The discussion paper concludes by recommending research and other initiatives that would enable public transit agencies to address related challenges and pursue opportunities.

The paper is free and available by contacting the author, Dr. Brendon Hemily

Focusing on the Customer Experience

BY CHAD BALLENTINE
Vice President, Demand Response and Innovative Mobility
Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Austin, TX

Capital Metro faces challenges that are not unique to its region. The public transit industry, as a whole, is at a critical point as we find it necessary to re-evaluate the status quo and make bold decisions.

With declining ridership and increasing competition from the private sector, we are seeking to breathe new life into public transportation. Certainly, this may be a challenge, but it’s also our opportunity to shine.

Collaboration is key. For the past several years, various transportation providers, public transit agencies, bikeshares, scooter shares, transportation network companies and microtransit operators have been developing and refining their digital interfaces specifically for their individual customers. Travelers frequently use multiple modes to get to their destinations, so this commonly results in customers switching between apps to complete their journey.

As Capital Metro is the largest transportation provider in the region, it is important that the agency take the lead and improve that experience through collaboration.

The CapMetro app allows riders to plan, customize and pay for their entire trip.

The agency has embraced the new mobility paradigm by developing diverse partnerships and pursuing innovative pilot projects. We have taken several steps to become a service integrator through advanced mobile technology, automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems combined with predictive algorithms, transit-on-demand technology and, most importantly, cooperation with other transportation companies:

* We are preparing a major update of the CapMetro app, launched in 2014 as one of the nation’s first mobile ticketing apps. This new release will integrate multimodal transportation options with our public transit services. This is an important shift toward providing all of the customer’s travel information in one place.

* While we have for some time provided AVL systems combined with predictive algorithms to give customers real-time trip planning and next departure information, this will soon be integrated with real-time data from other transportation providers in our multimodal trip planning.

Partnerships and collaborations are critical to becoming a successful service integrator. These include partnerships, not only with large-scale private bikeshare, scooter share, car share and rideshare services, but also the local startups in the community.

Customers want to have access to all available options, so it is important for the public transit authority to stay connected and be open to integration with all transportation providers. The goal is to be the go-to app providing multimodal trip planning and mobile ticketing.

The next challenge we must collectively resolve is integrated payment. How can we effectively and seamlessly collect and distribute payments for each of the various providers? Some solutions now available attempt to answer this question, but none make it seamless for the customer wishing to use multiple services without requiring some type of subscription service.

As we move forward in this space, we must make sure to focus obsessively on the customer experience. Payment must be simple, cost-effective and streamlined from the customer’s perspective.

The public transit industry has never had to face change at the pace we are now experiencing. We no longer have the luxury of operating the same way we always have. This is our moment to innovate and demonstrate that public transportation is an irreplaceable asset that adds tremendous value to communities everywhere. To do this, we must continue our fast pace of innovation and collaboration while always keeping our focus on the customer experience.

Transitioning from Traditional Transit to Mobility as a Service Provider

BY JIM CLINE
President
Denton County Transportation Authority
Lewisville, TX

Lower gasoline prices, increasing car ownership and competing technology and business services are among the main contributors to the “perfect storm” of declining ridership many public transit agencies are facing across the country.

As a result, these agencies must reimagine their traditional structure and integrate mobility services such as taxi service, bike sharing, public-private partnerships and on-demand app-based services.

A recent study from the Shared Use Mobility Center supports this idea with a key finding that “the more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transit, own fewer cars and spend less on transportation overall.”

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) is expanding its focus to provide “mobility” instead of delivering “traditional transit.” Operating in a suburban region just north of Dallas, DCTA is offering more flexible and responsive mobility services to meet the growing needs of its transit-dependent, choice and occasional riders.

Our vision for the future is to provide a full spectrum of mobility options to most efficiently and effectively serve our diverse ridership base. In the last two years, DCTA has introduced multiple integrated mobility solutions that have positively impacted the agency and community using third-party providers, including taxis and ridesharing companies.

The agency has implemented a subsidized taxi voucher program for seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income residents in the McKinney Urban Transit District through the creation of Collin County Transit, a demand-response service in Frisco that serves older riders, persons with disabilities and eligible residents with medical transportation needs, and launched a discount program with Lyft to provide more transit options for those traveling within Highland Village and North Lewisville.

DCTA has introduced multiple integrated mobility solutions using third-party providers, including taxis and ridesharing companies.
DCTA has also been working with innovative technology partners to develop an app-based, on-demand platform to integrate into its fleet, which may be deployed in central business districts along fast-growth corridors, low-density suburban service areas or other first-mile, last-mile zones.


These mobility options complement other services offered by DCTA—A-train commuter rail, bus, campus shuttles, paratransit, demand-response and vanpools—which have enabled the agency to address first- and last-mile connections for its rail and bus routes and become a “broker of services” to member and contract cities, such that the mobility solutions are tailored to fit their communities’ unique and changing needs.

Denton and Collin counties are projected to be among the nation’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years, according to an Oxford Economics forecast. With DCTA serving both counties, the agency is determined to continue to provide more integrated mobility options to accommodate shifting rider behaviors and needs.

As DCTA looks to the future, the agency will continue to work with both private and public partners to explore new and innovative opportunities to serve its many riders and provide access to jobs and workers. Plans include expanding the agency’s Lyft partnership discount program to serve economic opportunity areas and developing a single integrated solution for information and payments across multiple mobile applications.

It’s essential for us at DCTA to continue to integrate a variety of mobility solutions to serve the growing and unique needs of North Texas, thereby transitioning from a traditional, public transit agency to a mobility-as-a-service provider.

Providing the Mobility Options That Riders Want

BY DR. JOSHUA SCHANK
Chief Innovation Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

It should be obvious to everyone in the public transit industry that we can no longer assume that riders will just show up. The ridership losses at LA Metro and other agencies in recent years are too big to be labeled a “dip.”

The upheaval in our industry has an upside: it has forced LA Metro to think hard about the best way to improve regional mobility. We are focused on incorporating mobility products into our lineup that our customers want.

Our microtransit project will allow Metro customers to use cellphones to order, monitor and pay for rides in vehicles smaller than our buses. The service won’t be tied to a fixed route or schedule and will initially be deployed in smaller zones. We see microtransit as a great way to get around in areas where traditional bus service isn’t working for most people.

Beginning later this year, Metro is also partnering with Via to offer on-demand service to and from three of our busy public transit stations. Via will match passengers with other riders traveling to the same station. Anyone can use the service, including people without smartphones.

Fares to ride these services will be less than those provided by the big transportation network companies. These pilot projects will make ridesharing more equitable and improve access to existing fixed-route bus and rail systems.
To encourage these kinds of new approaches, Metro Chief Executive Officer Phil Washington created the Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI) in 2015—shortly after arriving at the agency.

LA Metro’s new strategic plan shifts focus beyond operating public transit to managing mobility, ensuring Los Angeles County residents have access to high-quality mobility options within a 10-minute walk or roll from home.

Photo courtesy LA Metro

The new department was charged with bringing forth the best ideas to test and possibly incorporate into our service. This reverses how we’ve done things in the past, when Metro (like most agencies) would issue design parameters for a project and ask firms to submit plans. Now the private sector can submit its best ideas. If we think they have merit, we can pursue a request for proposal.

We have received more than 110 proposals, many of which have gone on to become actual projects that Metro would likely not have pursued otherwise. For example, the microtransit initiative came through this process, as did an idea to use drones to inspect our facilities. Based on unsolicited proposals, we’re also accelerating much-needed rail projects through P3s and looking at the idea of connecting Los Angeles Union Station to Dodger Stadium via a privately built aerial tram.

OEI also spent the past 17 months researching and writing Metro’s new strategic plan to put forward a vision to the public of what the agency seeks to accomplish in the next decade.

The plan shifts Metro’s focus beyond operating public transit to managing mobility and improving quality of life for customers across Los Angeles County. Adopted by the agency’s board of directors in June, the plan calls for a congestion pricing pilot project, more bus-only lanes, improving bus speeds by 30 percent and ensuring that all LA County residents have access to high-quality mobility options within a 10-minute walk or roll from home.

Those are just the highlights. None of these will be easy or cheap. All will require collaboration with other agencies and municipalities, and all will face political challenges. But these are the mobility tools our customers want—and we need to do our best to provide them.

 

Case Study: Emerging Ridesharing Services Expand Mobility Options



The city of Monrovia, CA, offers a range of public transportation services at the local and regional levels, including bus service operated by Foothill Transit and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Gold Line light rail operated by LA Metro and ADA paratransit services operated by Access Services and LA Metro.

With the Southern California Association of Governments projecting that the region’s population will grow by approximately 11 million people in the next 25 years, the city is looking at innovative ways to bring new and integrated transportation services to residents.

The main local public transportation mode in Monrovia had been a dial-a-ride shuttle bus, which had experienced low usage and high costs. In March 2018, the city created the GoMonrovia program—a partnership with Lyft and LimeBike that provides subsidized on-demand ride hailing and bikesharing services. A passenger can take Lyft anywhere in the GoMonrovia service area for just 50 cents or a ride on one of the more than 200 LimeBike dockless bikes for $1 per 30 minutes.

Both Lyft’s shared rides and LimeBike’s dockless bikes have experienced high levels of ridership, posing the question of how to scale up the program to satisfy increasing demand.

Getting Started and Building Relationships
City leadership examined local resources and existing mobility services within the context of a nationwide decrease in public transit ridership, with a view of leveraging technology platforms to facilitate a new public transportation model for the Monrovia suburban community.

Unique signs promote the GoMonrovia program, with instructions on how to access the Lyft and LimeBike services.

The city looked for transportation partners with whom they could work closely and that recognized the role of both public transit and emerging services in the new mobility landscape. Lyft and LimeBike proved the most suitable.

Lyft looks to be part of the transportation mobility ecosystem in a way that complements public transit while improving people’s lives and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, as evidenced by their commitment to purchase carbon offsets to make every ride carbon neutral as of April 2018. LimeBike’s flexibility and willingness to adapt were important in addressing potential issues, such as avoiding bike clutter around the city.

The city adopted a practical approach regarding data sharing. Knowing that all data shared with cities is public, which private companies tend not to like, the city did not seek an open data agreement but asked simply for the specific data it needed to develop future planning and analysis. Thus, Lyft and LimeBike have shared large amounts of information, but only in an aggregated and anonymous form.

LimeBike has provided the city access to its internal system to monitor in real time the number of rides occurring, where rides are starting and ending, highest-use areas and how many hours and miles have been ridden.

With Lyft, conversations are ongoing on how best to share information valuable for planning. The city is striving for more comprehensive data on overall numbers of rides to key areas such as train stations or downtown, and which are the highest-use areas for pickup or dropoff.

Program Implementation
Implementing the program was quick—approximately three months—with city leadership working closely with both companies and all internal departments during early 2018 on approvals, contracts, marketing and rollout.

Residents of the city of Monrovia take part in a community bike ride to celebrate the launch of the GoMonrovia program.

As part of LA County, Monrovia has four different revenue streams that are restricted to transportation-related uses. From these streams, approximately $1 million a year has been spent on operating the dial-a-ride program. The city decided to shift that funding to the GoMonrovia program, for which the city manager’s office worked with county partners to reallocate payments to the partners.

The team also addressed such issues as how residents without a smartphone might access the program. The city decided to retain its dial-a-ride program on a smaller scale, focusing on people without smartphones or with ADA-related needs and reducing the fare to match the fare on Lyft rides.

Communications and Outreach
A thorough communications campaign was essential to ensure that residents were aware of the program and how to use it. The city went to great lengths to reach the elderly population, talking with local senior clubs about the transition, and with current riders of the dial-a-ride program to explain the new program.

The city also worked with the Public Works Department to make sure the identified areas for bike deployment were properly rolled out, and coordinated all administrative staff associated with transitioning from the previous dial-a-ride program to the new ­GoMonrovia program.

The city opted for a “loud rollout,” deploying resources all over town. As LimeBike uses a lime green color for its bicycles, lime green banners were hung throughout town and lime green paint was added to several key locations throughout town where bikes were placed. The city also partnered with a marketing design firm to develop unique signs to promote the program. For example, at strategic points in ­public transit stations, decals placed on the ground illustrate the walk to get to the bike rack and Lyft pickup zones, with instructions on how to access the services everywhere.

Evaluating Success and Challenges Ahead
The city uses ridership numbers and the associated cost of trips as the main measures of success. The former dial-a-ride program cost approximately $1 million a year and facilitated 30,000 rides annually. With similar spending, the Lyft program has reached 30,000 rides a month and more than 2,700 people have signed up for LimeBike.

Additionally, the city sees that the program has had a positive impact on traffic and reducing the demand for parking space.

Representatives from Lyft and LimeBike joined with Monrovia representatives March 17 to formally launch the GoMonrovia program.

Currently, the most significant challenge ahead is how to address the overwhelming demand for the program. The city was not anticipating the level of ridership that both the Lyft and LimeBike services have enjoyed, and must now strategize how to adapt and sustain the services for growth, including design and operation, management and funding.

After three months of operation and a successful reception from the public, the city is developing educational outreach sessions with Lyft and LimeBike to share lessons learned with other cities in the region. Informally, the team is also sharing its experiences with different agencies, NGOs and other municipalities interested in how to build and manage such a program.

Public transportation agencies wishing to learn more about the city of ­Monrovia’s GoMonrovia program should contact Oliver Chi, city manager, city of Monrovia.

Leveraging Technology and Partnerships to Provide Mobility as a Service

BY TINA QUIGLEY
General Manager
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
Las Vegas

It cannot be denied that public transportation is changing. From autonomous vehicles to bikeshare to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, the way we get around today is drastically different than it was just a few years ago.

Ultimately, transportation will evolve even more in the years to come. As a public transit agency, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s (RTC) challenge is to identify how technology and partnerships can improve the services we offer.

In Southern Nevada, we embrace this challenge and the concept of mobility management, also known as “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS), to manage travel more efficiently by offering customers a combination of transportation options for their trips. To this end, the RTC is working to integrate the services we provide while pursuing partnerships to enhance the services we offer.
The rideRTC app enables customers to plan their trip via public transit, the RTC Bike Share program in downtown Las Vegas, walking, cycling or via a transportation network company.

For example, our rideRTC app allows people to buy their transit tickets and plan their trip on their smartphone. We partnered with an industry leader, Transit App, to create the trip planning component of the app, which offers a user-friendly interface that integrates various modes of transportation. Using the app, customers can determine which RTC transit route to take as well as how they can walk, use RTC Bike Share (located in downtown Las Vegas) or use Uber to get to their final destinations.

We recently partnered with Lyft to launch a “Ride On-Demand” pilot program that—for the first time in Southern Nevada—will provide a select group of paratransit customers with a same-day transportation option. Ride On-Demand puts customers in control; they don’t have to schedule rides in advance, unless they’d like to do so. Customers can plan their transportation needs in real time and be more spontaneous with this more flexible service, which can pick up passengers within minutes.

Paratransit customers in the program can schedule rides directly through the Lyft app. Customers without access to a smartphone or who require a wheelchair-accessible vehicle can call RTC Customer Care seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to request a ride via the program.

Through a digital platform from Safe­Ride Technologies, RTC customer service representatives can schedule rides on a customer’s behalf. Both ADA and non-ADA service are provided, and Lyft has educated its drivers on how to assist passengers with collapsible wheelchairs, as well as low-vision and hard-of-hearing/deaf clients, to ensure the highest quality of service.

The pilot program provides increased flexibility for customers without increasing passenger costs. As a result, it has been a great success. Since its launch in February, more than 1,000 Lyft rides have been taken, with 80 percent of rides booked via the Lyft app. More than half of eligible customers have signed up for the program so far.

In addition, the new program has yielded a 48 percent savings in operating costs for the RTC. A win-win for everyone, it stands as an example of how similar partnerships could complement transit services, including providing first-mile, last-mile connections.

As transportation options continue to evolve, public transit agencies will need to evolve, too. In Southern Nevada, the RTC welcomes this evolution and remains committed to pursuing partnerships and integrating services to provide our customers with enhanced mobility and quality service.

Elevating Paratransit with On-Demand Rides

BY BRENDAN McNIFF
Executive Vice President, Operations
RoundTrip Inc.
Philadelphia
 
Paratransit programs require innovation. Last year, medical transportation services provider RoundTrip partnered with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to increase access to public transportation for riders with disabilities. Six months in, the service provides more rides than ever and impacts an entire community in an on-demand program that’s the first of its kind.

GRTC is the primary public transportation provider for Richmond, VA, operating 37 local routes and 10 express routes and serving more than eight million passengers every year. In accordance with ADA guidelines, the GRTC CARE program provides origin-to-destination service to individuals with disabilities who may not reasonably be able to use fixed-route bus service.

The goal of RoundTrip’s partnership with GRTC was to conceptualize and deliver an innovative, pioneering mobility solution for paratransit riders, building on GRTC’s existing “CARE On-Demand” program. With the introduction of RoundTrip, CARE riders can now book on-demand rides via web platform, app or by calling our navigation center.

Once the ride is requested, RoundTrip communicates the ride to the RoundTrip Community, a network of more than 20 ambulatory and non-ambulatory transportation providers.

A side-by-side comparison of GRTC’s CARE service vs. RoundTrip’s on-demand ride service.

In the first 90 days of RoundTrip, CARE riders traveled more than 7,000 miles and successfully transitioned scheduling services from a phone-based system to an online booking portal. The average cost of a ride was $22.15, with the first $6 covered by the CARE rider.

CARE offers direct, non-stop service; same-day service; the ability to schedule a reservation up to 60 days in advance; freedom to ride solo or bring guests, a personal care assistant or a service animal; and the ability to travel anywhere within the GRTC CARE service area.

When making a reservation, the rider receives a description of the assigned driver, vehicle and service provider. ­Riders may also request specific amenities or accommodations, such as low-entry vehicles or trunk space for personal items.

RoundTrip offers both scheduled and on-demand ride service. For scheduled rides, RoundTrip confirms the ride with passengers and notifies them 24 hours prior to the ride, as well as one hour prior to the pickup time. For same-day service, RoundTrip sends text message or voice-call notifications when the ride is confirmed, and an alert before the vehicle arrives and when it has arrived.

Mobility device space or special assistance requests are accommodated according to ADA guidelines. CARE on-demand is an origin-to-destination service, including curb-to-curb and door-to-door. Passengers requiring door-to-door service can make the request when booking the ride.

This partnership is also a “smart-city” solution propelling the Greater Richmond area to the forefront of mobility solutions. GRTC recently announced it is moving from the pilot to a full one-year contract.

Meeting Changing Mobility Needs Key to Public Transit's Future Success

BY SUE DREIER
Chief Executive Officer
Pierce Transit
Lakewood, WA

The public transit industry of today is vastly different from the one I joined almost 30 years ago. Back then, the focus was on providing straightforward fixed-route service and moving people to and from the locations our agency chose. People had few other transportation alternatives to reach their destination.

Today’s world is radically different. People want—and have—choices for how they move around their community and region. Rideshare companies are thriving, other app-based transportation options are gaining traction and driverless vehicles are already here.

At Pierce Transit, we are focused on providing innovative transportation options that will entice our neighbors onto affordable public transportation and keep them there. One example is our new partnership with Lyft that gives people first-mile, last-mile connections to public transit.

Through a “Limited Access Connections” pilot program funded by an FTA Mobility on Demand Sandbox grant, Lyft is providing free rides within specific zones to select transit locations. We are also giving students at a local college a free ride home or to the nearest transit center after their bus route closes for the evening.

The project’s goals include meeting transportation challenges for those with limited or no transit access, addressing at-capacity park-and-rides, reducing congestion by increasing transit use and giving remote riders more transportation options. Once the pilot is complete, we will explore ways to continue this type of service, whether it means operating our own on-demand service or contracting to provide it.

Pierce Transit is also planning South Puget Sound’s first BRT line to better connect the outer reaches of our service area with the main population center. The line will serve three colleges/universities, thriving downtown Tacoma and its burgeoning business districts, and the region’s main transit hub, which connects people with light rail, regional bus service, commuter trains, Amtrak and other transportation options.

Convenient connections are important. That is why we are planning ahead to help people access an extended light rail system under development and coordinating closely with our regional partner, Sound Transit, to ensure timely and easy local bus connections.

We are also making fare payment more convenient. Last year we launched PiercePay, a mobile ticketing system that accounted for more than 6,100 monthly boardings just three months after its launch. Our customers can also use the regional ORCA farecard, which can be used on seven public transit systems throughout the Puget Sound region.

At Pierce Transit, we are looking at traditional solutions in non-traditional ways. One example is our Vanshare program, which picks up riders at their homes in a van that takes them to catch public transit. Another is our plan to begin offering all-electric vanpool vans, heightening the program’s visibility and giving a traditional program a hip and non-traditional flair.

In addition to pursuing innovative new transportation options, it is also important for agencies to take a careful look at their standard service. In 2016, Pierce Transit conducted a comprehensive analysis of our bus routing system, seeking extensive public input and examining ways to provide current and would-be riders with transit that goes where they want, provides more direct routes and faster service, and offers the additional frequency and later-in-the-day service people desire.

In 2017, we introduced a vastly improved routing system and added service hours, capping off a 16 percent increase in service since 2015. The public has responded by ­riding, with ridership up 3.6 percent January through May 2018 compared with those months in 2017, a turnaround from prior ridership losses of about 10 percent a month in late 2016.

Meeting the mobility demands of a changing populace is key to remaining relevant and growing ridership. Furthermore, embracing partnerships for solutions and providing our communities with transportation options that may not fit into the traditional role of public transportation are key factors as we proactively plan for this new paradigm and master it.

TCRP Report Covers Legal Considerations of Ridesourcing

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has made available a pre-publication, non-edited version of Legal Research Digest 53: Legal Considerations in Relationships Between Transit Agencies and Ridesourcing Service Providers.

This report, available for download here, explores the efforts being made by public transit agencies to provide on-demand services to the public. It also provides agencies with legal guidance for considering whether to enter into relationships with ridesourcing service providers.

CONNECTECH BRIEFS

Leveraging Data and Microtransit Mobility Options to Move People Efficiently


How open source data is revolutionizing microtransit and fixed-route transit planning

On-demand rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are continually growing and introducing new ways for riders to affordably arrive at a destination. Uber and Lyft as e-hailing services are assisting with first-mile, last-mile transportation options which in turn have created a positive impact on public transportation.

These providers have stunned the taxi industry while simultaneously enjoying three to four times growth in many cities by helping people get from a fixed-route bus stop to their desired destination. However, features like “Uber Smart Routes,” piloted in San Francisco, offers large discounts for riders who are willing to be picked up along a predefined route, not unlike a fixed-route bus.
DoubleMap can use open source data from pickup/dropoff locations; track vehicles through CAD/AVL; and optimize the free, two-way data exchange offered by Waze.
Public transit agencies need a way to compete with the high demand and ease of companies like Uber and Lyft. To do this, agencies have been becoming more transparent and easier to access for riders.

These agencies can provide public-facing applications that show vehicles in real time, thus helping riders know the location of their buses and helping them catch the bus with more confidence. Agencies can also learn to rely more on open source data to allow for dispatchers to plan more efficient routes to better suit the needs of their riders.

By partnering with popular e-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, along with community-based GPS companies like Waze, DoubleMap collects open-source, anonymized data from riders to assist in urban transportation planning. By collecting data on riders’ start and end locations rather than at which stops they board and alight, fixed-route systems can provide service to a much larger population.

These companies understand the importance and potential of the data they collect and are beginning to allow companies to use their information for planning benefits. Uber’s “movement” allows companies like DoubleMap to leverage their anonymized location data to make informed decisions for future infrastructure and route optimization.
A user interface with third-party integration.

Currently, only six cities in North America are listed for open source data. Using this data, paired with Waze and its more than 500 partners, DoubleMap has the potential to build out a solution to use this open source data from pickup/dropoff locations; track vehicles through CAD/AVL; and optimize the free, two-way data exchange offered by Waze.

DoubleMap can integrate with third-party rideshare services like Uber and Lyft and other “best in class” transportation service providers through access to their application programming interface. DoubleMap is currently implementing this solution with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), integrating with DART’s GoPass application and linking multiple areas of Dallas into one system.

Through the GoPass application, “TapRide” operates within the agency’s on-demand GoLink service. This allows DART to run through a single application, which allows riders to effectively plan trips using a mix of fixed-route, on-demand and other means of transportation, all under one application.

DoubleMap also can add additional buttons to its mobile application to allow riders to interact with third-party ridesharing companies. If an event increases ridership beyond the TapRide drivers’ capabilities, administrators are able to use Uber, Lyft or another agency’s drivers to complete the requested rides. Again, this lets riders make one request that allows the TapRide back end to filter through multiple modes of transportation.

This all saves the passenger time, money and worry because the DoubleMap algorithm will complete the request for passengers in the most efficient way possible so they do not have to begin multiple tasks (open the Uber app, open the Lyft app, call a cab, etc.) and attempt to figure out the most efficient way themselves.

Through DoubleMap’s algorithm and open source data sharing, public transportation systems are able to better predict the success of starting or altering a microtransit project. DoubleMap uses its on-demand planning tool at one of the largest corporate campuses in the U.S., in San Francisco, to simulate a world-renowned tech company’s on-demand and fixed-route shuttle system.

Heat map showing ridership hotspots.
This simulation tool takes into account a number of different factors such as historical and hypothetical demand, number of vehicles and hours of service to determine how successful a potential microtransit project could be for an area. For this current client, it optimizes the number of vehicles at certain hours. During these simulations, public transportation organizations can try different combinations of variables to achieve the best possible combination for a successful microtransit project.

DoubleMap is working closely to integrate with public transportation systems to offer point-to-point and schedule on-demand service. Many U.S. cities are teaming up with the company’s TapRide product to provide on-demand public transit, as well as first-mile, last-mile connections to transit services, through a single application.

Ultimately, this technology can help cities and agencies learn more about how to optimize their fleet and better meet the needs of their riders.

About ConnecTech Briefs
This series focuses on technological innovation, one of APTA’s five strategic goals, and features best practices that advance technology in public transportation.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Dump the Pump Roundup

At least 160 public transit agencies and organizations participated in APTA’s 13th annual Dump the Pump Day on June 21.Many held community events to promote public transit ridership, and at least 26 systems offered free rides that day. Here are a few examples of other activities:

* Laketran, Painesville, OH, joined the city and a local radio station for a promotional event to highlight alternative transportation options such as public transportation and biking. The agency noted new Rider Tools are available on its mobile app, including trip planning and real-time bus tracking.

* Coast Regional Transportation Authority, Conway, SC, placed Dump the Pump flyers under some bus seats throughout the day. Riders who found the flyers were rewarded with free bus passes. The agency also distributed informative stickers, coloring books and transit facts at its transit center.

* The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) and Caltrain commuter rail, San Carlos, CA, jointly hosted a Dump the Pump event at the Millbrae Caltrain Station. The program also promoted SamTrans’ new Route SFO service, which operates between the Millbrae intermodal facility and all San Francisco International Airport terminals.

* The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) promoted Dump the Pump Day with system representatives distributing information about JTA’s “TryTransit” ridership initiative. JTA’s “TryTransit” bus was on display at the event, where riders were given Dump the Pump stickers and system information.

* The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency distributed free bus passes and other prizes at an event outside Riverside City Hall, where the ­public could also tour a new RapidLink bus that provides express service between Corona and Riverside.

* RideKC in Kansas City, MO, unveiled its “MAXimize your ­summer” campaign, which focuses on concert, art and shopping venues along the system’s two BRT MAX lines.

* Employees of Brightline, the privately operated rail service connecting West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, provided complimentary coffee and pastries at all three stations the morning of June 21.

* The Potomac and ­Rappahannock Transportation Commission, ­Woodbridge, VA, invited current riders to bring friends on board with them. The new riders could then take a survey on the agency’s website so both they and their friends would be entered into separate prize drawings.

* The Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Lancaster, CA, introduced free Wi-Fi on all its electric buses at a Dump the Pump Day event targeted at the local business community. The service is being provided through an innovative partnership with a local advertising agency and a Wi-Fi provider.

* Capital Area Transit, Harrisburg, PA, joined with Commuter Service of Pennsylvania, a federally funded organization that supports commute alternatives, to host a selfie contest at a downtown public ­transit facility.



In Chicago, employees of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail, Pace Suburban Bus and Cubic Transportation Systems, developer of the regional Ventra farecard, distributed free coffee and donuts from a local provider during the morning rush hour. The Chicago White Sox’s SouthPaw mascot joined in as part of the team’s Dump the Pump promotion at the ballpark in partnership with RTA.
The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA, provided free rides on all fixed-route bus service, except commuter routes, on Dump the Pump Day. Employees of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, pictured, as well as South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Broward County Transit and Palm Tran, handed out informational brochures, free passes and coloring books at five public transit hubs in South Florida.

Representatives of public transit agencies throughout New Mexico—including ABQ Ride in Albuquerque, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Santa Fe Trails, North Central Regional Transit District, Rio Metro Regional Transit District and the New Mexico Transit Association—held events the morning of June 21 to share public transit information along with coffee, donuts and giveaways including commemorative Dump the Pump coffee mugs.

 

Rescuing Children: Part of a Bus Operator's Daily Work

Bus operators understand that being alert to situations is part of their job. These drivers from Cincinnati and Riverside, CA, went the extra mile to look after children in trouble.

Craig Whitehead, a 27-year operator with Cincinnati Metro, received the CEO S.T.A.R. (Service That Attracts Recognition) Award for coming to the aid of a child while driving his route. When he saw a small child with two dogs follow one of the dogs into the street—and oncoming traffic—he immediately stopped the bus, brought the child on board and called for help.

“When I saw what was happening, I thought, I’ve got to get her some help,” said Whitehead. “I have grandchildren and I just couldn’t imagine what could have happened. It was in the middle of rush hour traffic. It was quite scary.”

The CEO S.T.A.R. Award is presented by, and at the sole discretion of, Cincinnati Metro Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell to acknowledge employees’ exemplary service to the agency and the community.

Ida Castillo, who drives for the River­side Transit Agency (RTA), looked after a 12-year-old girl who told Castillo when she boarded that she needed a lift somewhere far away, soon admitting that she had run away from home.

“Poor thing,” Castillo said. “I’m a mother and grandmother and I didn’t like the idea of her wandering around out there in the dark all alone. I was reassuring to her and offered her water and food out of my own lunch pail. All I could think about was keeping this girl safe.” Castillo kept the girl with her on the bus until police could arrive and reunite her with her family.

RTA Chairman of the Board Art Welch credited Castillo’s “customer service, vigilance and attention to detail” as part of “a team effort that resulted in a very positive outcome.”

The agency has partnered since 1997 with Riverside’s nonprofit Operation SafeHouse, which helps runaway and homeless children. Each of RTA’s fixed-route vehicles displays a yellow “Safe Place” sign that enables children to get free transportation to the shelter without question. 


Cincinnati Metro bus operator Craig Whitehead, second from right, accepted the CEO S.T.A.R. Award from CEO & General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell, right, for rescuing a child from oncoming traffic. At left are SORTA Board Chair Kreg Keesee, left, and ATU 627 President Troy Miller.
RTA operator Ida Castillo looked after a runaway 12-year-old girl on her bus until police arrived to reunite the girl with her family.

 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Who's Doing What in the Industry

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

NEW YORK CITY—MTA New York City Transit announced the appointment of Alex Elegudin as its first senior advisor for systemwide accessibility.

Elegudin uses a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury in 2003. He earned a J.D. from Hofstra University Law School and, in 2011, co-founded Wheeling Forward, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people with disabilities integrate into the community by learning to overcome barriers. In 2014 he co-founded the Axis Project, a multidisciplinary center specifically designed to empower and motivate people with disabilities. In 2015, Elegudin became the accessibility program manager of the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.


CLEVELAND—The Board of Trustees of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) elected Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough as its president and the Rev. Charles Lucas as vice president.

The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association appointed Clough to the RTA board in 1999 and he was elected vice president in 2011; he is the longest-serving board member. Lucas joined the RTA board in 2016 and was reappointed in March of 2018, representing the city of Cleveland.


ST. CLOUD, MN—Kevin Wood, senior vice president, manufacturing and facilities, with New Flyer, has announced his retirement after 45 years in bus manufacturing. He will be succeeded by ­Margaret Lewis, senior vice president, quality assurance and continuous improvement.

Also, Jennifer McNeill has been named vice president, sales and marketing, succeeding Paul Smith, who announced his retirement earlier this year.


MIAMI—Brightline, the nation’s only privately owned, operated and maintained intercity passenger rail system, has named Jeff Swiatek its chief financial officer; Ravneet Bhandari, chief commercial officer; Michael Cegelis, executive vice president of infrastructure development; and Jeff Schappert, senior vice president of technology.

Swiatek has more than 25 years of experience in international corporate finance, strategy and business development, including 15 years with AIG. Bhandari previously was CEO and co-founder of LodgIQ, a technology startup that developed revenue management software for hotels. Cegelis, a 40-year construction industry veteran, comes to Brightline from American Bridge Company, where he was a senior vice president. Schappert most recently was the marketing and sales business solutions officer at Amtrak.


FARIBAULT, MN—Thom Peebles is joining ABC Companies as vice president of marketing. He succeeds Ashley Cornell, who has served as marketing lead for the past three years and will become vice president of strategic accounts.

Peebles has worked in marketing for more than 20 years, most recently as vice president of marketing, North America, for JCB, a U.K.-based manufacturer of construction and agricultural heavy equipment.


STOCKTON, CA—The Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter recently honored Donna DeMartino, chief executive officer of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, as its Outstanding Public Official of the Year in recognition of her leadership in developing zero-emission, all-electric bus transportation in Stockton. Margo Praus of the Sierra Club chapter presented the award.


KANSAS CITY, MO—Joe Peterson has joined the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners, representing the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS. Peterson is transportation supervisor for the Turner Unified School District.


ALLENTOWN, PA—Melissa M. Gemelli, a CPA and director of paratransit services with the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, has been named to a two-year term on the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs Council.


DALLAS—Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) announced the promotion of Nicole O. Fontayne-Bárdowell to executive vice president and chief administrative officer. She joined DART four years ago as chief information officer and succeeds Chief Financial Officer David Leininger, who retired earlier this year, in the top administrative role.


NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA announced the appointments of Julie D’Orazio as national market leader for transit and rail, based in New York City, and Deborah Dagang as district operations manager for Northern California, based in San Francisco.

D’Orazio, also a senior vice president of the firm, will provide leadership and direction for the firm’s transit and rail business. She has three decades of management and analytical design experience on public transit, railroad and highway projects.

Dagang previously was vice president and manager of projects at an international professional consulting and engineering services firm. She is past president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of WTS.


WASHINGTON, DC—Operation Lifesaver Inc. has announced three state coordinators for the nonprofit rail safety education organization: Jeffrey Pitcher in Maine, Alan Stouder in Ohio and Kathy Zander in North and South Dakota.

Pitcher has more than 25 years in the railroad industry and has been a volunteer with Operation Lifesaver since 2010. Stouder has been active with Operation Lifesaver for 17 years as a volunteer, coach and Rail Safety for Emergency Responders course instructor; he worked 41 years with Norfolk Southern Corporation. Zander joined the North Dakota Safety Council, which administers the Operation Lifesaver of the Dakotas program, in 2011 and in 2017 she helped coordinate the program.


CHICAGO—Maggie Walsh, vice president of HDR, has been named to a two-year term as chair of the WTS International Board of Directors. She has served the organization in many positions at both the local and national levels, including president of the WTS Chicago Chapter.


SEATTLE—Sound Transit announced the appointment of Kimberly Farley as deputy chief executive officer. She will work alongside current Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mike ­Harbour until his planned retirement late next year.

Farley worked 10 years for Washington State DOT until 2014, as director of operations for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. More recently she has played leadership roles on major private sector capital projects.


ORANGE, CA—The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has promoted Jennifer Bergener to the newly created position of chief ­operating ­officer. Her more than 20 years of ­public transit experience includes 15 years with OCTA in a variety of roles. She also has served as managing director for the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency, managing agency for the state-supported, Amtrak-operated Pacific Surfliner intercity passenger rail service.

NEW ORLEANS—Los Angeles Mayor LaToya Cantrell has appointed Laura B. Bryan and Fred Alford Neal Jr. to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority Board of Commissioners.

Bryan recently transitioned into the mayor’s office to lead Cantrell’s new Office of Transportation. Previously she worked in the New Orleans City Council office as land use advisor for Cantrell, then a councilmember.

Neal is a senior planner with Villavaso and Associates, a firm specializing in urban planning, land use planning and environmental policy. He is also a founder and board member of RIDE New Orleans, a nonprofit organization and civic coalition.


DES MOINES, IA—The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) has named Matthew Harris business and community partnerships manager and Luis Montoya planning and development manager.

Harris joins DART after working for the Iowa Arts Council, and Des Moines Performing Arts. Montoya previously was director of livable streets for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority.


SAN BERNARDINO, CA—Suzanne Pfeiffer has joined Omnitrans as director of human resources. She succeeds 19-year employee Marjorie Ewing, who is retiring.

Pfeiffer has more than 30 years of human resources experience in both the private and public sectors, most recently as chief human resources officer at C-TRAN in Vancouver, WA.

ELYRIA, OH—Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has named 28-year employee Mike ­Pogorelc vice president, supply chain excellence, based in Huntington, IN. In 2015, he was interim managing director for KB India—part of the Knorr-Bremse Group, Bendix’s parent company.