Passenger Transport - November 30, 2018
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Zipper: Promote 'Uniqueness' of Public Transit Service; Addresses Opening Session at APTA Summit

If public transit agencies are going to keep up with the redefinition of transit to include ridesharing, bikesharing, scooters and other new modes, they must “lean into their discomfort” and learn from other sectors that have gone through similar changes.

That was the message of David Zipper, a fellow in the Urban and Regional Policy Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, at the Nov. 28 Opening General Session of the APTA Industry Leadership Summit in Washington, DC, as this issue of ­Passenger Transport went to press.

“Don’t lose sight of what makes public transit unique,” he said, citing how independent bookstores have rebounded in the 20 years since the launch of ­ and e-readers. “With their backs against the wall, they played up their unique characteristics, like book readings and the pride of shopping locally,” he said.

Public transit professionals attended APTA’s Industry Leadership Summit to examine new ways to approach innovation and disruption in public transportation.
Leadership Summit photos by Steve Barrett Photography

Zipper explained that—after decades when personal cars and bicycles, taxis, buses and rail were the only modes—the “flowering of new modes” began around 2000 and continues today. While these new modes mean increased competition and more ways to keep private vehicles off the road, he said this is not necessarily good or bad.

Some changes he noted are less about the mode of public transit than about the technology controlling its use. He noted that services such as Transportation Network Companies, which he said were “born from smartphones,” update their apps much more frequently than public transit agencies and noted the “Walled Gardens” business model, where users have to go to a specific tech company (for example, Apple or Uber) to access apps.

He listed what he called constructive options for public transportation:

1) deciding whether to be an operator of transit assets or a mobility platform that offers broader services;
2) examining how users decide which mode to take; gaining city and state support for agency efforts;
3) understanding that they may become one element of a mobility company’s app rather than standing alone; and
4) looking for ways to “surprise and delight your customers.”

In his welcoming remarks, APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas noted that ridership on public transit over the past 20 years has grown by 30 percent, compared with a 22 percent growth in the U.S. population.

Citing the 83 percent success rate of public transit-related ballot measures in 2018, part of a 10-year trend, he added, “In communities across the country, large and small, people want more mobility options.”

Skoutelas said the public transit sector has “good reasons to be optimistic” regarding federal funding levels and advances in infrastructure efforts.

He also reported on APTA’s “ambitious mobility action plan” to move the association’s efforts into new forms of mobility. “Nearly every industry is being disrupted by external forces,” he said. “The ones that embrace change will become stronger. The ones that deny, defer or delay are likely to become irrelevant.”

APTA Chair David M. Stackrow Sr., former board chairman of the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, continued Skoutelas’s emphasis on innovation.

Describing the APTA three-year strategic plan now being created, he said, “If we’re going to redefine the future, we better have a solid strategic plan to guide us … re-examining APTA’s mission and vision and taking a fresh look at what we need to accomplish for a vibrant, successful future.” He invited association members to help “reinvent the public transportation industry” at listening sessions in the coming months.

Look for more insights from APTA’s Industry Leadership Week in the next, Dec. 17, issue of Passenger Transport.

FTA Announces CIG Funding for Five Projects

On Nov. 28, FTA announced that projects in Arizona, California, Minnesota and Texas will receive a total of $281 million in federal FY 2018 Capital Investment Grant (CIG) funding.

The grants are:

* $100 million for Los Angeles Metro’s Westside Purple Line Section 3 Project, a 2.6-mile heavy rail extension that includes two stations and 16 vehicles. The total project cost is $3.7 billion, with $1.3 billion requested through the CIG program;

* $80 million for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail, a 10.92-mile light rail extension from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area. The $80 million is part of a $1.04 billion FTA grant agreement for the $2.17 billion project;

* $74 million for Metro Transit’s Minneapolis Orange Line, a 17-mile BRT line connecting job centers along Interstate 35. The total project cost is $150.7 million, with $74 million requested through the CIG program;

* $25 million for Valley Metro’s Tempe Streetcar, a three-mile modern streetcar with 14 stations and six vehicles that will connect downtown Tempe and Arizona State University and will link to existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa and the airport. The total project cost is $201.9 million; the $25 million completes the $75 million in funding requested through the CIG ­program; and

* $2 million for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions Project to extend and modify platforms along the existing Red and Blue Lines to accommodate three-car trains with level boarding. The total project cost is $128.7 million and the $2 million will complete the CIG funding request for $60.76 million.

“APTA applauds DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams for announcing these grants to improve and expand public transportation services that are so crucial to the daily lives of millions of people across America,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas following the announcement. “We look forward to working with DOT and FTA to continue to secure much-needed investment in our nation’s public transit infrastructure.”

To date, FTA has allocated $1.86 billion of the $2.62 billion in FY 2018 CIG funds appropriated for projects by Congress. FTA will continue to consider additional FY 2018 CIG allocations, based on the merits of individual projects.

OCTA Receives $149 Million FFGA for Streetcar Project

FTA announced a $149 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) Nov. 30 with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Orange, CA, for the 4.1-mile Orange County Streetcar (formerly known as Santa Ana/Garden Grove Streetcar). Funding will be provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.

DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the investment “will help expand public transportation options in Southern California, improving mobility and access to jobs for the riders who take public transit every day.”

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said, “This project is a good example of leveraging federal funds to support locally driven transportation priorities. It will provide important multimodal connections to Amtrak, Metrolink commuter rail, Greyhound and local bus service.”

This FFGA is the third signed under the current administration. FTA has advanced funding for 17 new CIG projects throughout the nation under this administration since Jan. 20, 2017, totaling approximately $4.8 billion in funding commitments.

Calgary Welcomes BRT on Three MAX Lines

Calgary (AB) Transit introduced BRT service to the region with the recent launch of three MAX lines covering almost 50 miles—MAX Orange, MAX Purple and MAX Teal—with a fourth line to open in 2019.

Calgary Transit Director Doug Morgan noted that the planning process began six years ago, when the agency completed a strategic document titled The Road Ahead. Subsequently, the agency received Alberta provincial funding that could be used for a transitway and shuttles.

“That all came together quickly, which allowed us to build a good part of the network,” he said. “We were able to put capital in place, which lined up with the operating request we put in to open three BRT lines now and a fourth next fall. We also did a lot of rejigging of our other service to accommodate the new lines, changing about one quarter of our routes.”

Morgan explained that while the three new lines are Calgary Transit’s first with full BRT elements such as signal priority, separate right-of-way at some points, larger platforms, heated shelters, improved lighting, wayfinding signs and next bus arrival time displays, the agency previously operated what it called “Baby BRT”: limited-stop routes with color-coordinated shelters.

The introduction of MAX and the revised bus routes are not the only updates passengers will see, he added. “Calgary is also extending its light rail service,” he said. “That’s a major project, light rail as a spine down the center of city to the southeast, budgeted at $4.65 billion (Cdn.) extension. We’re using BRT to fill in the web of the city between buses and light rail. The changes also will allow travelers to go across town without needing to transfer to another route or mode.”

Launching the MAX Purple Line, from left: Calgary Transit Director Doug Morgan; Brian Mason, Alberta Government, minister of transportation; Francoise-Philippe Champagne, Government of Canada minister of infrastructure and communities; and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

On opening day, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called MAX “the largest single addition to our city’s rapid transit network to date” and said it would “provide citizens of all ages and backgrounds the freedom to move around the city in an affordable, convenient and accessible way.”

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said, “Our investment in Calgary’s MAX transit lines will help improve people’s access not only to essential services, but also to their families, jobs and schools. I am proud that we are continuing to ensure Albertans have affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation options.”

Total investment in the MAX network is $304 million (Cdn.), of which $42.5 million comes from the Canadian government through the Public Transit Investment Fund. Provincial funding through the Green Trip Program totals $116.2 million for the three BRT lines, with an additional $43.7 million dedicated to the future MAX route. The city of Calgary allocated almost $76 million more to these projects from the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative Grant.

Calgary Transit said more than 320,000 residents in 53 communities have access to this enhanced transit service, allowing them to easily access key destinations such as post-secondary institutions, employment centers and hospitals.

BART Marks Completion of First Station Canopies

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) recently marked the completion of the first two canopies above station entrances along Market Street in San Francisco, at the BART and San Francisco Municipal Railway’s (Muni) Powell Street and Civic Center stations.

Each canopy includes a real-time digital display that shows train arrival times, a retractable gate, LED lighting and security cameras. The two canopies were built as a pilot project and more will be installed above the remaining 22 BART and Muni entrances above the four downtown San Francisco stations.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said, “The canopies mark a significant improvement. They will not only help protect our escalators from the elements like weather and debris, but from misuse because they can be locked at the street level each night when the stations close.”
BART General Manager Grace Crunican speaks at ceremonies to mark completion of the first two canopies above BART/Muni station entrances.
Ed Reiskin, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates Muni, said, “Some of our riders are much more reliant on the escalators than others: people with disabilities, people with other mobility challenges, maybe people with suitcases. So, to be able to give them more reliability is really important to us.”

BART worked closely with the city of San Francisco’s Better Market Street campaign and with the SFMTA on designing and securing money for the project.

The canopies, a state code requirement for new escalator investments, are part of the joint Downtown San Francisco Market Street Canopies and Escalators Modernization Project. Another element of the project is replacement of 41 escalators—23 from street to concourse, 18 from concourse to platform level—at four rail stations.

'Hop' on Board Milwaukee's First Streetcar in Decades

For the first time in 60 years, Milwaukee residents can travel by streetcar with the recent launch of service on “The Hop,” owned by the city and operated under contract with Transdev.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the launch of The Hop “a historical milestone, years in the making and one we’re excited to celebrate with the entire community.” He added, “The Hop will be a tremendous asset to the city and a key contributor to the renaissance we’re experiencing in Milwaukee. Whether you live downtown, work downtown or just enjoy experiencing all of the incredible energy, excitement and amenities the city has to offer, ride The Hop and help keep Milwaukee moving forward.”

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is sponsoring the first year of Hop service, meaning that customers ride free during that time. The initial service, the M-Line, has 18 stations and a second route, the L-Line along the lakefront, is slated to open in 2020.
The Hop restores streetcar service in Milwaukee after 60 years.

Sound Transit Breaks Ground on Tacoma Link Extension

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff spoke at ground-breaking ceremonies for the 2.4-mile Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension.

Sound Transit in Seattle has broken ground on the 2.4-mile Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension, which will extend the current light rail line from the Theatre District in downtown Tacoma, WA, to two residential neighborhoods, including construction of six new stations and relocation of an existing station.

The kickoff event at a park in downtown Tacoma celebrated the agency’s partnership with FTA and the city of Tacoma to build the extension.

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams noted at the event that the extension of Tacoma Link will connect additional neighborhoods with employment centers.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “Years of thoughtful planning and collaboration between community, state and federal
An artist’s rendering of Sound Transit’s Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension, scheduled to open in 2022.
leaders to connect downtown Tacoma with the historic Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods helped lay the tracks for today’s ground breaking, and I am thrilled to see the results of our hard work to expand affordable public transit options for local residents, students and commuters.”

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) said, “Expanding Tacoma Link will bring $250 million in economic development to our region’s economy. Best of all, it connects neighbors to each other, cuts traffic and helps people avoid hefty parking bills.”

Funding for the $217 million project comes through a partnership between Sound Transit and the city of Tacoma, a $75 million federal Small Starts grant and a $15 million federal TIGER grant.

The extension is scheduled to enter service in 2022.

Work Begins on Wilmington, DE, Transit Center

Delaware Gov. John Carney, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Wil­mington Mayor Michael Purzycki joined state Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan, Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) Chief Executive Officer John ­Sisson and other state and local officials at recent ceremonies to mark the beginning of construction on the Wilmington Transit Center. 

Sisson said, “We’re excited to break ground on this state-of-the art transit center, providing our customers with a convenient multimodal hub within the city of Wilmington.”

Carney said, “We are making millions of dollars of needed infrastructure investments across the city, and this is another milestone project for Wilmington. This transit center will serve thousands of customers every day and provide the convenience and amenities that they deserve.”

The $10 million project, due to be completed in December 2019, is being built completely with state and private funds as part of a public-private partnership between DelDOT/DTC and a consortium of private companies.

The new facility, located adjacent to Wilmington’s Joseph R. Biden Rail Station, will be served by most bus routes in the city, providing convenient access to Amtrak, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Greyhound/Trailways intercity buses and cabs. It will have the capacity to serve up to 10 buses at one time while offering such passenger amenities as a covered, seated waiting area; real-time bus displays; Wi-Fi; USB charging stations; vending machines and bike racks with a bike repair station.

APTA's Annual Meeting & EXPO Ranked 63rd in U.S.

APTA is pleased to announce that its 2017 Annual Meeting & EXPO has been ranked #63 in Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100 largest trade shows of 2017—advancing five places over EXPO 2014.

Held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Oct. 8-11, the record-breaking event attracted nearly 13,000 attendees. Exhibits spanned 314,500 total net square feet—an 11 percent increase over 2014. The total number of exhibiting companies increased 3 percent over 2014, while paid exhibitors grew 4 percent.

APTA’s triennial EXPO is the world’s largest showcase of public transit technology, products and services. The 2020 Annual Meeting & EXPO will take place Oct. 11-14 in Anaheim, CA. Learn more here.

New CEO Named: Harris, WRTA

The Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA), Youngstown, OH, has named Dean J. Harris as its new executive director.

Harris joins WRTA from the Ohio Transit Risk Pool, where he was a senior financial specialist. He worked for the METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, from 1989 until 2017, most recently as director of finance and assistant secretary-­treasurer. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a recipient of the Ohio Public Transit Association’s Leonard Ronis Transit ­Person of the Year Award.


Ridership: The Columbus Way

Central Ohio Transit Authority
Columbus, OH

There is a way of doing business in Columbus. In fact, it’s called the “Columbus Way,” a term coined in a Harvard Business School case study about the region.

While the moniker is simplistic, the collaborative approach among business and community leaders in Central Ohio is paying dividends. The Columbus Way has been so instrumental to the region’s growth that economic forecasters anticipate up to one million new residents and 600,000 new jobs in the next few decades.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) sees opportunity ahead and, by putting forth revolutionary solutions to increasing ridership today, we are taking steps toward a mobility-rich environment for our new neighbors.

Not long ago, COTA undertook a massive redesign of our fixed-route system with two primary goals in mind: improved coverage and increased ridership. The redesigned network was implemented May 1, 2017, making 103,000 more residents and 100,000 more jobs accessible to high-frequency lines. Ten months into 2018, we are seeing the results as October ridership is up nearly 7 percent and summer ridership up as much as 9 percent from the previous year. We achieved all of this while using fewer buses, same capital resources and same talent—but by looking through the lens of social service agencies and employers.

Similarly, this summer we launched a program for downtown workers, which is demonstrating ridership gains well ahead of expectations. The “c-pass” program allows 45,000 downtown workers to register for a transit pass—free to each employee, thanks to a collaboration among employers, downtown commercial property owners, the Special Improvement District and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. These partners collaborated on a $4.5 million funding plan focused on reducing congestion and pollution and enhancing downtown real estate property values/occupancy rates.

Since coming online in June, more than 400,000 rides have occurred through c-pass, and express service from surrounding suburbs has increased 16 percent.

The program has been so successful that we are investigating the next iteration of c-pass. With job centers developing rapidly throughout the ­Central Ohio region, the potential exists for multiple c-pass-like partnerships to develop among property owners, local government entities and our planning partners.

We have also added BRT to our portfolio. Our new CMAX service has reduced commute time along a heavily traveled 15-mile corridor, connecting growing suburbs, two hospitals, major employers and postsecondary campuses to economically challenged neighborhoods and downtown—jobs, education and healthcare all served by one improved line. The $48.6 million investment incorporates traffic signal prioritization along with free Wi-Fi and USB ports. The result has been a ridership increase of 16 percent on weekdays and Saturdays and 27 percent on Sundays.

Working with our community leaders in the employment, workforce, education and healthcare industries, we are trying to imagine how the health of both our people and our economy improves when mobility barriers are eliminated.

So, where do we go from here? Using the Columbus Way model, we will look to deepen relationships with the public and private sectors and identify how partnerships with new mobility providers can entice the next generation of riders. Some of these solutions are in the early planning stages, while others are conceptual.

Among those in the early planning stage is a new, flexible microtransit option that will connect job centers to nearby fixed-route service. The service will be owned and operated by COTA, with our drivers at the wheel of smaller vehicles serving in an on-demand capacity. The latter is a result of a historic agreement between COTA and Transport Workers Union Local 208. Having the support of the union is a huge boost as we move into the pilot phase.

Other ventures to help drive new ridership will be born from our exciting partnership with Smart Columbus. In 2016, our city competed with 77 others across the nation and won the Smart City Challenge, a $40 million grant from U.S. DOT. COTA was integrated in the long-term planning of that investment to ensure that data sets, operating systems and new research can be deployed with both personal and public transport.

The Smart Columbus Operating System was recently launched, and the region’s first multi-modal trip planner and common payment system are planned for unveiling in 2019. Soon to follow will be smart mobility hubs placed at COTA infrastructure throughout the city.

The core of our ridership will still be our fixed-route system. And it should be, as it currently operates at a nationally recognized level of efficiency and utilization acknowledged by APTA as the 2018 Outstanding Public Transit System (midsize). But for our region to be economically and environmentally sustainable, we cannot sit still. We are renewing our commitment as the region’s integrator of mobility solutions—the first place the business community looks to address challenges facing our mobility infrastructure. Our vision: no emissions, no traffic deaths, no congestion and mobility access for all with unique, solutions-based funding opportunities that transform how a community moves.

The Columbus Way is not complicated in concept and it is an approach that can be adopted and adapted throughout the country. Collaboration, ideation and integration supported by public officials and the business community is not unique to Central Ohio, but I can confidently and proudly say our region does it well.

"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


Who's Doing What in the Industry

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

JTA’s Ford Inducted into First Coast Business Hall of Fame

JACKSONVILLE, FL—Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and APTA immediate past chair, has been inducted into the First Coast Business Hall of Fame by the Florida Council on Economic Education.

Ford’s more than 30 years in public transit include tenures as chief executive officer of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. For APTA, he chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Council and is a member of numerous other committees.

The First Coast Business Hall of Fame program was created 20 years ago to recognize exceptional business and civic champions. Ford was one of four honorees this year.

ANAHEIM, CA—Econolite has announced the appointment of Kirk Steudle as senior vice president, leading the company’s Transportation Systems Group and its subsidiary CAVita.

Steudle joins the company following decades with Michigan DOT, most recently as its director for 13 years.

Douglas Wiersig joined the company as vice president. He has more than 30 years of transportation and infrastructure engineering and management experience, including serving as director of transportation and public works for the city of Fort Worth, TX, and director of Cobb County (GA) DOT.

Also, Barry Einsig has joined CAVita as a principal. Most recently he spent six years as an executive with Cisco Systems Inc., responsible for global automotive and transportation solution development, and before that he was director of transportation/strategic development for Harris Corp. in Washington, DC.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC—Bombardier announced the appointment of Sam Abdelmalek as chief transformation and supply chain officer. He has almost 30 years of aerospace and industrial experience, serving most recently as vice president, global supply chain, with Pratt & Whitney.

CINCINNATI—Daniel Feldman recently joined Cincinnati Metro as director of accounting and financial planning and analysis. He has been an active CPA since 2007 and previously served as global finance manager for Clopay Plastic Products Co.

LOS ANGELES—The Metrolink Board of Directors announced the appointment of Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O’Connor as an alternate director, representing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board.

O’Connor served on the Metro board for 13 years and as its chair in 2007. She is chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the National League of Cities and serves on its board. She served as a regional councilmember of the Southern California Association of Governments, the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, for 20 years.

CLEVELAND—Cuyahoga County has appointed two members to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, Justin M. Bibb and Terence P. Joyce.

Bibb, a senior consultant at Gallup, succeeds former East Cleveland Mayor Gary A. Norton Jr. and will serve until 2021. Joyce, business manager of Building Laborers’ Local 310 and president of the Cleveland Building Trades Council, will serve until 2020 and succeeds Nick Nardi, president of Teamsters Local 416, who resigned earlier this year.

SEATTLE—Tracy Butler, a Sound Transit employee since 2007 who has been serving as interim chief financial officer, has been named to the post on a permanent basis. She has 20 years of experience in progressively expansive roles as a senior financial leader; before coming to Sound Transit, she worked for a regional health care system in Oregon and for organizations in Switzerland.

WASHINGTON, DC—Jessica Puchala has joined Operation Lifesaver Inc. as director of communications and marketing. She has 20 years of experience in communications and project management and has been recognized for her work in corporate communications, state government, nonprofit management and television news.

WASHINGTON, DC—The District of Columbia DOT (DDOT) has named Stacey Collins chief inspections and enforcement officer in the Public Space Inspections Branch, Public Space Regulation Division. She is the first African-American woman to serve in this post and joined DDOT in 2001, following 15 years with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

NEW YORK CITY—WSP USA has named two regional transit and rail market leads: Lindsay Wood for its Texas-Mountain region, based in the firm’s Austin office, and Chris Ferguson for the central region, based in Chicago.

Wood has considerable experience in transit and rail, most recently serving as transit and rail manager for WSP in Texas and providing project and technical leadership roles for clients including Texas DOT. Ferguson has more than a decade of public transit and rail industry expertise, including with Class One freight railroads and projects for public transportation agencies.

NEW YORK CITY—STV has promoted Martin Boyle, previously deputy division manager for the firm’s Transportation & Infrastructure Division (T&I), to executive vice president of T&I. Boyle held leadership roles at public transit agencies in Missouri and Florida before joining STV in 2000. He succeeds William Matts, who is retiring at the end of the year after a 40-year career with STV.

COLUMBIA, SC—The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) Board of Directors elected Ron Anderson, vice president of administration for Collier International, its chairman. Anderson represents the city of Columbia, which reappointed him to a three-year term on the board; all officers serve for two years. John Furgess was elected vice chair, Dr. Robert Morris treasurer and Andy Smith secretary.

ST. PAUL, MN—Alene Tchourumoff has stepped down as chair of the Metropolitan Council to pursue a new professional opportunity. She has served in this post since 2017.

Per council bylaws, Vice Chair Harry Melander assumed the duties of the chair in the chair’s absence and will discharge them until the end of the governor’s term; the incoming governor will appoint a new chair following the election.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC—Bombardier Transportation has named Elliot G. (Lee) Sander president of its Americas Region. He succeeds Benoit Brossoit, who will remain with the company in an advisory capacity.

Sander is a former executive director and chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and former commissioner of New York City DOT. More recently he was managing director, global transportation and US infrastructure, at Hatch Ltd. and held leadership roles at AECOM, notably as group chief executive, global transportation.

COLUMBUS, OH—The Central Ohio Transit Authority announced the promotion of Charles Edwards to director of transportation. Edwards joined the agency as an operator in 1998 and also has served as a transportation services supervisor and, most recently, as superintendent of transportation.

ELYRIA, OH—Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has named Christopher Camp as plant manager of its Huntington, IN, manufacturing campus. Camp has worked at the Huntington facility since 1992 and as its interim plant manager since May 2018, when Mike Pogorelc became a company vice president.

DALLAS—The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors has re-elected Sue S. Bauman as its chair for Fiscal Year 2019. Bauman, who retired from DART in 2011 as vice president of marketing and communication, joined the board in 2016 and was elected its chair in 2017.

The board also elected Plano representative Paul N. Wageman, a board member since 2012, vice chair; Dallas representative Michele Wong Krause, who joined the board in 2014, secretary; and Garland representative Jonathan R. Kelly, a board member since 2016, assistant secretary.

ST. LOUIS—Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has appointed Fred P. Pestello, president of Saint Louis University, to the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners. He succeeds Vincent Schoemehl, who joined the board in 2007 and served as its chair from 2010-2012.


Free 'Flyer' Enters Service in Dayton Neighborhoods

Thousands of workers and students in the Dayton, OH, area can now make free, fast connections between downtown and the University of Dayton campus with the recent launch of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) free shuttle, The Flyer.

“It’s fast, it’s frequent, it’s free and it connects all things downtown to the University of Dayton campus and neighborhoods. The Flyer is the best way to explore all that Dayton has to offer,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Mark Donaghy.

Flyer service began following a public launch party and ribbon cutting on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. The continuous loop route operates with three hybrid buses, providing access to locations including offices, local dining, nightlife, entertainment, parks and hotels in 10 minutes or less. Premier Health and CareSource sponsor the service, along with a partnership with the University of Dayton, Downtown Dayton Partnership and city of Dayton.

Dignitaries including RTA CEO Mark Donaghy, fifth from left, cut the ribbon to introduce service on the agency’s new free shuttle, The Flyer.


APTF Establishes Scholarship In Honor of Paul Larrousse

As APTA mourns the Nov. 14 passing of Paul J. Larrousse, the American ­Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Board of Directors has approved establishing a scholarship in his honor.

The Paul J. Larrousse Scholarship will continue Larrousse’s legacy of supporting a more inclusive workforce and will promote awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQ community within the ­public transportation industry.

As director of the National Transit Institute in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Larrousse was designated as a faculty fellow in 2003. In this role, he taught the graduate Transit Management and Planning course and the Transit Planning Studio. He supported several of his students as APTF scholars and helped them to increase their networking and understanding of the broader public transportation industry.

Larrousse was a longtime supporter of APTF and a Two-Star Diamond Fellow.To learn more about the scholarship, or to contribute, click here

In Memoriam: Rep. Ed Pastor, APTA Award Recipient

Former Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ), 75, of Phoenix, the 2014 recipient of APTA’s Local Distinguished Service Award, died Nov. 27.

During his 23 years in the House, Pastor supported federal grants to build major transportation projects in the Phoenix area, including a $587 million Full Funding Grant Agreement in 2005 for the first 20 miles of Valley Metro Rail. He was first elected to Congress in 1991—its first Hispanic member from Arizona—and at the time of his retirement was the most senior member of the state’s House delegation and a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

At the time of the award, then-Phoenix Mayor and Rep.-elect Greg Stanton (D-AZ) called Pastor “a true point of pride and one of our greatest community champions for Phoenix and the region,” adding, “His vision is centered on connectivity and building a better life for Arizonans through access to public transportation, jobs, education and arts and culture.”

MTS' Free Ride Day Changes How San Diego Moves

Chief Executive Officer
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

“Try it, you’ll like it” is the basis for any free giveaway. With public transit, it’s not so simple. To be successful, the free offer needs to be much more than turning off fareboxes and ticket vending machines and inviting people to climb aboard. There needs to be a cause to galvanize a region; there needs to be a call to action that cannot be delivered by the agency alone.

In California, every level of government and all other major institutions have Climate Action Plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The success of these plans depends on getting people out of their cars and onto alternative modes. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s (MTS) Oct. 2 “Free Ride Day” sought to leverage our services as the primary way for these entities to achieve their goals with the hook of pushing a “Choose Transit” message.

Communication Was the Key

Free Ride Day was the culmination of a six-month MTS marketing campaign with two phases of advertising: a launch of our direct “Choose Transit” call to action, focusing on and helping people to identify various reasons why they should ride, followed by riders sharing why “I Choose Transit,” which included a series of videos highlighting reasons for choosing public transit. You can see these videos here.

MTS placed Free Ride Day covers over all ticket vending machines and fareboxes on Oct. 2.
The third phase included a significant public relations effort to enlist the support of every major regional stakeholder. The MTS marketing team met individually with staff from all nine cities in our service territory. We also reached out personally to businesses with which we regularly work to get them on board. This resulted in every city in our region, San Diego County, the U.S. Navy, the University of California and many other large employers joining MTS to amplify the Choose Transit and Free Ride Day messages.

The biggest hurdle we encountered was ensuring we provided all our stakeholders and cities with the right information and getting them to share it with constituents at the right time. We developed a comprehensive list of contacts and emails; communication was key.

We also made promoting Free Ride Day easy for these groups. We developed an e-toolkit that each partner could access on the MTS website, complete with sample social media posts, proclamations, op-eds and graphics in every shape and size. This approach lifted our message to more audiences and strengthened the credibility of choosing public transit. Of note: no partner charged us a dime.

We were trending on Twitter; elected officials got involved; 80 different organizations posted about Free Ride Day; and millions of free impressions were created for the day by our partners. Our website traffic doubled.

All our partners joined us for a news conference in advance of Free Ride Day, and the day itself was covered by all news organizations in San Diego and many in Tijuana. On the day itself, we had pop-up events at a dozen of our transit centers where we handed out Choose Transit key chains and stickers similar to “I Voted” stickers so riders could declare that they chose transit.

Leveraging Assets and Seeing Results

This was MTS’ major marketing push for the year. All three phases of our campaign included emphasis on out-of-home assets, such as billboards, along major freeways and boulevards (heavily leveraging our own assets including vehicles, bus shelters and bus benches). Another major component was the use of digital ads on social media channels, and we supported the campaign with a morning news television buy.
Many parents and their children used Free Ride Day to try public transit for the first time.

While we have held free ride-type days in the past—albeit on a far smaller scale—this was the first region-wide Free Ride Day, incorporating both MTS and North County Transit District services in San Diego. The event proved to be a huge success. We recorded almost 53,000 more rides than the same Tuesday one year before—a 17 percent increase. Every region in our territory experienced significant gains. In particular, our Green Line Trolley, which skirts the doorstep to thousands of middle-income condo units, saw a 37 percent jump in ridership.

The campaign cost slightly less than $200,000. Our daily cash revenue is also about $150,000, bringing our total investment in the day to approximately $350,000. To break even, we would need to turn 405 of the 53,000 additional people who rode on Free Ride Day into monthly riders (less than 1 percent). Early results have been positive. Combined, our bus and rail operations experienced a monthly increase of 330,000 passenger trips compared to the previous October—a 4.5 percent increase.

How We Move Forward

The return on investment can’t just be measured in dollars and cents, however. This effort raised our brand awareness, it elevated the environmental discussion and it positioned MTS as a solution and a partner in the fight for clean air. The result is that businesses and governments around the region are more open than ever to join our programs to promote public transit ridership.

Our job now is to keep the momentum going. We plan to focus promotional efforts with new riders on key bus and trolley corridors, promoting #Transit Tuesdays with our regional partners to target the Monday-Friday commuting public. We will also continue to hold events that show our appreciation for our current and new riders.

Turning around the decline in ridership is not an easy proposition. MTS believes that Free Ride Day was the impetus necessary to create the kind of partnerships and synergy the effort demands. It was about far more than free rides, it became a movement to support public transit across the region.

Other transit systems embarking on something similar should consider:

* Engaging stakeholders, including cities, to promote a Free Ride Day on existing platforms such as newsletters, websites and social media;
* Creating marketing materials utilizing real riders and their stories. Find testimonials from riders and promote the reasons why they choose public transit; and
* Engaging employees and getting them excited about the initiative too. Our frontline personnel, for example, were given stickers and keychains to hand out to riders at transit stations.

To learn more how San Diego MTS produced Free Ride Day, contact Mark Olson, manager of public relations.

MTS held a news conference to promote Free Ride Day and was joined by many stakeholders including MTS Board Chair Georgette Gómez, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Rear Admiral Yancy Lindsey, the commander of Navy Region Southwest.

Brookville Marks Centennial With 100th Modern Streetcar

This year is the centennial of the founding of Brookville Equipment Company in Brookville, PA, and the company has marked the anniversary with production milestones including delivery of its 100th modern streetcar vehicle to the city of Milwaukee, which introduced service on The Hop on Nov. 2, and of its 50th overhauled and modernized PCC streetcar to El Paso, TX, launched Nov. 9, since entering the streetcar market in 2002.

The Hop operates with five Liberty Streetcar vehicles from Brookville, each equipped with an onboard energy storage system. Sun Metro’s streetcar service in El Paso uses six restored and modernized PCC streetcars, which originally ran in the city between 1950 and 1974 but have been updated with amenities including Wi-Fi, air conditioning and improved accessibility.

“It’s exciting to achieve both of these key streetcar delivery milestones in our 100th year of operations,” said Brookville Vice President of Business Development Joel McNeil. “The Liberty Streetcar and our PCC restoration programs demonstrate the Brookville team’s dynamic and diverse range of manufacturing skills and our ability as an organization to both preserve and modernize historical fleets and develop modern transit vehicles for the American cities of tomorrow.”

The company was founded as Brookville Locomotive Works in 1918, when the original owner began installing flanged railroad wheels on gasoline-powered trucks. Full-scale production of gasoline- and diesel-powered locomotives began following the First World War, later joined by a variety of specialty rail equipment. It has undergone several changes of name, becoming Brookville Equipment Corporation in 1998.
Brookville’s 50th restored PCC streetcar leaves the main manufacturing facility.

UTA Introduces Trolley Bus

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) recently added the first trolley-replica bus to its fleet, operating on the Midtown Trolley route that serves FrontRunner commuter rail stations in the communities of Layton and Clearfield, restaurants, shopping, hotels, medical centers and other community resources. The service is free, sponsored by local businesses.

“As you can see, these trolley buses are one of a kind and are sure to become an icon in the city,” said UTA Interim Executive Director Steve Meyer. “I look forward to seeing them on this Midtown route and other routes in the future as we continue to partner together for the citizens of our communities.”

The vehicle, built by Gillig, features trolley-style decorate elements in red and gold, with wooden seats inside. A further three trolley buses will be added to the fleet in coming months. This project is supported with funds from Prop 1, a 2015 sales tax increase designed to fund public transportation, road, sidewalk and trail improvements.

UTA’s new trolley-replica bus.


Citilink Enters Holiday Design Contest

Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, has partnered with Media Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts students at the University of Saint Francis (USF) to create a holiday window display as part of the Downtown Improvement District’s annual contest. The design represents this year’s theme, “Downtown Holiday Jukebox,” by showing a recording produced by the USF record label Marble Lounge Records and references Citilink’s new awareness campaign, “Your Window of Opportunity,” by showing a Citilink bus through a window. Contest winners will be announced Dec. 15. Vote for a window through Dec. 10 here.

El Paso Launches Historic Streetcars in Service

Six refurbished and modernized PCC Streetcars returned to service recently in El Paso, TX, where they previously operated between 1950 and 1974.

“This is a step toward a historic transformation for El Paso. The city will be seeing a new mode of transportation system as the El Paso Streetcar adds another viable transit option for residents and visitors,” said Jay Banasiak, director of Sun Metro, which is operating the service.

The 4.8-mile route operates in two loops through El Paso’s uptown and downtown areas. Both loops interconnect through a single-tracked corridor, an international bridge, an array of businesses, restaurants, government buildings, a convention center, downtown ballpark and the University of Texas at El Paso, among many other prominent locations.

Each vehicle has seating for approximately 35 people and additional space for standing riders and are ADA accessible. On-board amenities include free Wi-Fi, bike racks, air conditioning and heating, upgrades for safety and modern propulsion.

El Paso’s public transportation history began with the introduction of mule-drawn cars in 1882, carrying passengers to and from the U.S. and Mexico. The city began operating electric streetcars by the 1890s and bought 17 of the streamlined PCC streetcars from San Diego in 1950.
Opening-day guests applauded as Sun Metro introduced its refurbished PCC cars to service.

Operation Lifesaver Offers Rail Safety Education Report

Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) announces the release of a new report for public transit agencies, Best Practices for Rail Transit Safety Education, supported by FTA and available for download here.

The report is based in part on a survey of past recipients of OLI’s Rail Transit Safety Education Grants, which covered 25 organizations in 16 states and the District of Columbia. It provides five recommendations for developing an effective public education campaign: match the approach to the target audience, balance goals with resources, make the campaign engaging for the audience, work with partners to expand your reach and spread funding over several educational projects.

The report also considers the pros and cons associated with different types of public outreach including radio and TV ads, videos, social media, vehicle/station/platform ads, billboards, community events and classroom materials.

WTS-DC Holds Workshop at APTA Offices

More than 40 public transportation professionals participated in a recent WTS-DC Chapter professional development workshop, “The Art & Science of Influence,” hosted by APTA at its Washington, DC, offices. Greg Roth, speaker, trainer and creative consultant, led an interactive program that offered strategies for influencing and collaborating with people, handling difficult conversations and developing other professional skills.

LA Metro Receives Light Rail Cars At New Train Yard

Los Angeles Metro transported four light rail cars to its new Southwestern Yard (SWY) facility to begin testing. The facility, expected to be completed and operational in 2019, will house rail vehicles for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, which is in the final construction stages. The railcars were pulled 4.2 miles by a special high-rail vehicle, from the Green Line Hawthorne Yard to the SWY. The new facility will have the capacity to store 56 light rail vehicles, encompassing a main shop, rail vehicle wash (similar to a carwash), cleaning platform, material storage building, wheel truing shop and a paint and body shop building.

Photo by Metro/Luis Inzunza