APTA | Passenger Transport Express
March 20, 2009

News Headlines

FRA Top Two Posts Filled

This week President Obama announced his plans to nominate Joseph C. Szabo as head of the Federal Railroad Administration. Szabo is the United Transportation Union's Illinois state legislative director and also serves on the Federal Railroad Administration's Rail Safety Advisory Committee. In addition, longtime APTA member and public transit advocate Karen Rae has been appointed FRA deputy administrator. Rae is currently deputy commissioner for policy and planning at the New York State Department of Transportation.

Vice President Biden, Sec. LaHood Visit New Flyer Factory

Vice President Biden yesterday participated in a town hall event at bus manufacturer New Flyer's factory in St. Cloud, MN, to highlight the jobs supported by ARRA funds. "It's time to hear directly from those hit hardest by our economic crisis," Biden said. "My hope today is that we answer questions, but also get some ideas for what the federal government can do better." New Flyer manufactures low-emission, alternative-fuel vehicles and hired more than 90 people last year.

Also speaking at the event were Transportation Secretary LaHood, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

In the photo, Marilyn Shazor, left, CEO of Cincinnati Metro, and Joyce Eleanor, CEO of Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA, and APTA vice chair-bus & paratransit operations, visit with Biden following his presentation.

APTA Members Testify at House Climate Change Hearing

Several APTA members testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming yesterday. Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI; WMATA Board and Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman; and John Boesel, president and CEO of CalStart, explained to the committee the many ways public transit improves the nation's sustainability. Also testifying was APTA coalition partner Andy Clark, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.

Sec. LaHood, HUD Secretary, Others Testify Before House Appropriations Committee

DOT Secretary LaHood and HUD Secretary Donovan on Wednesday testified before the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, on the subject of "Livable Communities, Transit Oriented Development, and Incorporating Green Building Practices into Federal Housing and Transportation Policy." The two secretaries advocated greater coordination between their departments regarding land use and transportation planning. This follows Wednesday's announcement of the joint DOT/HUD task force to promote sustainable communities.

Testifying the next day were Robert Puentes, director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative; Mary A. Leary, senior director for Easter Seals Project ACTION and the National Center on Senior Transportation; John Norquist, president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism; and Grace Crunican, director of the Seattle DOT.

APTA/FTA Webinar to Help Grantees Prepare for July 1 ARRA Grant Deadline

On March 27 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., APTA will host a free, FTA-led webinar to help potential grantees make sure they meet all the deadlines for spending funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Susan Schruth, associate administrator for program management, and Susan Borinsky, associate administrator for planning and environment, along with other staff, will cover the grant process, timing, and reporting requirements unique to the new law. This will be the second APTA/FTA webinar on this subject.

A critical deadline is July 1. By this date, prospective grantees should submit applications to the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure it has the full 60 days allocated to approve the grant.

Space at the webinar is limited; register now.

Systems Already Devoting ARRA Funds to Local Projects

Here are a few examples of public transit systems putting their ARRA funds to work to help their communities.

New Jersey Transit is preparing to use an estimated $424 million in ARRA funds for transit projects throughout the state, including all three of the agency’s modes: commuter rail, light rail, and bus.

The NJ Transit projects include $130 million toward two new trans-Hudson commuter rail tunnels and an expanded Penn Station in Manhattan; a combined $64 million for a new intermodal transit center and new cab signals for River LINE light rail; and $15 million for bus shelter construction statewide and the purchase of new vehicles.

Mike Bartholomew, transit administrator for the city of Las Cruces, NM, noted that the city’s RoadRUNNER Transit expects to receive $1.7 million in ARRA funds. Among the possibilities for funding he noted were security cameras and accessibility improvements for bus stops.

Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, plans to use its estimated $4.1 million from ARRA to purchase hybrid buses to replace older vehicles in the fixed route fleet. The system noted that numerous Indiana companies provide products and services to the public transit industry.

Save the Date

There is still time to sign up for APTA's 2009 Bus and Paratransit Conference & International Bus Roadeo, in Seattle May 1-6. The event will include a series of interactive sessions, bus displays, and a products and services showcase featuring the latest bus and paratransit vehicles.  There will also be numerous opportunities to meet and network with industry leaders and colleagues from throughout North America.

In the Media

The New York Times this week included an article about DOT Secretary LaHood's discussions of possible transportation reforms.

Former Secretary of Transportation Claude Brinegar died March 13 at the age of 82. A believer in energy conservation, he helped create the Conrail system for freight rail, as well as the 55-mph speed limit, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A stage actor in New York City saved the life of a man who fell from the subway platform onto the tracks as a train approached, according to The New York Times.

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