June 24, 2016
Industry Leaders Gather for Annual Rail Conference

More than 1,400 passenger rail professionals attended APTA's 2016 Rail Conference activities, including the International Rail Rodeo and Products & Services Showcase, in Phoenix, AZ, June 18-22.  Attendees included 110 international visitors from 13 different countries.  The event included technical tours by host agency Valley Metro and more than 45 concurrent sessions.

At the opening session, APTA Vice Chair and CEO of Foothill Transit Doran Barnes welcomed attendees and spoke about the increases in rail ridership in many communities.  He also discussed the challenges facing the industry nationwide in maintaining state of good repair.  "We need to ensure that critical investments in our systems occur," he said.   

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton described how public transportation, particularly light rail, has transformed the city.  "We are the poster child for how investment in public transportation can change a city," he said.  Phoenix residents supported the largest infrastructure investment by a city in U.S. history — $8 billion — and Mayor Stanton has pledged to triple the number of light rail miles over the next 30 years.

Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith, a business leader and former mayor of Mesa, talked about public transportation's ability to change the way people live, interact and invest. "I believe that passenger rail changes lives ... and changes communities in ways they didn't even know they could be changed," he said.  Smith called APTA's efforts "a noble cause," saying "when people have a chance to experience the benefits of public transportation, they become passionate."

Click here for a video of this session. 

In addition to the official conference program, APTA hosted an off-site Security & Emergency Management Roundtable at the Valley Metro headquarters.  Speakers and panelists included representatives from TSA, National Transportation Security Center, the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and U.S. and European public transit agencies and police organizations.

More coverage of the conference will appear in the next issue of Passenger Transport.

Safety, Security & Rail Rodeo Awards

APTA hosted a special Awards Banquet on the eve of the Rail Conference to honor "the best of the best" in passenger rail.  For the first time, the event combined APTA's Safety & Security Excellence Awards with the announcement of winners from the 2016 International Rail Rodeo.  Acting President & CEO Richard White said, "We’re honoring all of these achievements because maintenance, operator skills, customer service, and safety and security are front-line issues; they are at the heart of everything we do."

"Rail transit operators and those who maintain these systems are the unsung heroes who keep rail systems running safely and efficiently," said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall.  "I congratulate the winners whose hard work and technical skills were on full display as they achieved one of the rail industry’s highest honors."

This year's International Rail Rodeo attracted a record 21 teams from across the United States and from Canada and Japan.  Below are the top winners.

Rail Rodeo 1st Place Winners:

1st Place Operator Team: 
>   Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO

1st Place Maintenance Team:  
>   San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

1st Place Team Achievement:  
>   Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The 2016 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognized the following winners:

Certificates of Merit for Safety:
>   San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
>   Utah Transit Authority

Gold Award for Commuter Rail Safety:
>   New York MTA Metro-North Railroad

Gold Award for Light Rail Safety:
>   Maryland Transit Administration

Gold Award for Heavy Rail Security:
>   Maryland Transit Administration

Columbus Wins DOT Smart City Challenge

U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced this week that Columbus, OH, has won its Smart City Challenge.  As winner of the challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan.

Columbus will create a fully integrated transportation system that harnesses data, technology and creativity to reshape how people access opportunity.  The city proposed using three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, providing improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.

The Smart City Challenge required each city to think about cross-functional transportation ecosystems. Initiatives proposed by competing cities demonstrated that the future of transportation is not only about using technology to make systems safer and more efficient — it's also about using these advanced tools to improve the quality of life for all people, especially those living in underserved communities.

Cleveland's RTA Helps Cavaliers Celebrate

This week the Cleveland Cavaliers won its first-ever NBA championship and the city honored the team with a celebratory parade.  The Greater Cleveland RTA helped make it possible for more than 500,000 fans to travel downtown for the festivities.  APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall, a GCRTA board member and a Cleveland city official, traveled from the Rail Conference back to her hometown to plan several events.  She and GCRTA General Manager Joe Calabrese helped organize the parade logistics that included souvenir all-day transit passes and additional trains and buses to accommodate the large crowds.


July 24-26:  Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop
Westin Austin Downtown  |  Austin, TX
Learn more and register here.

July 31-Aug. 3:  Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop
Hyatt Regency Calgary  |  Calgary, AB (CANADA)
Learn more and register here.

Aug. 14-16:  State Public Transportation Partnerships / Transit Midwest Conference
Westin Crown Center  |  Kansas City, MO
Learn more and register here.

Sept. 11-14:  Annual Meeting
J.W. Marriott Los Angeles  |  Los Angeles, CA

APTA's 2016 Annual Meeting takes place several weeks earlier than in previous years.  Now is the time to start planning your trip.  For information and to register, click here.


U.S. DOT Says Road Travel Rose by 2.6 Percent in April
Reuters; June 23

Israel Builds Railway in Hope of Boosting Commerce With Arab Neighbors
Wall Street Journal; June 22

Four-Legged Detectives Patrolling Phoenix Events, Public Transit To Deter Bomb Attacks
The Republic; June 22


"Rail is not just an infrastructure opportunity of steel, but an opportunity for people to get a better job.  Public transit brings a different kind of opportunity to communities."

                                                                            U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
                                                                            June 20

© Copyright 2016 American Public Transportation Association
1300 I Street NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005
Telephone (202) 496-4882 • Fax (202) 496-4321
Print Version | Search Back Issues | Contact Us | Unsubscribe
Twitter Flickr Blog YouTube Facebook