June 15, 2018
Rail Conference Focuses on Change and Innovation

More than 1,700 people attended APTA's 2018 Rail Conference and related activities, including the International Rail Rodeo and Products & Services Showcase, in Denver, CO, June 7-13.

APTA Chair and Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. opened the conference by discussing the significant milestones that have been achieved to date on his five priority issues:  Strengthening APTA’s Leadership and Advocacy; Building a Workforce of the Future; Leveraging Data-Driven Business Models; Promoting Enterprise Risk Management; and Shaping the New Mobility Paradigm.

“We are engaged in the greatest mobility revolution since the introduction of the automobile … and how we respond and anticipate change now will determine our industry’s success for decades to come,” Ford said.  “This is what led me to establish five priorities as APTA chair.”

Citing the new thinking that is happening around the country, Ford discussed the innovative projects that are underway at JTA, including implementation of regional one-call/one-click trip planning and conversion of the city’s Skyway to accommodate a fleet of next generation autonomous shuttles.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas talked about the growing number of communities that have invested in and reaped the benefits from passenger rail during the past 20 years.  At the same time, he underscored the need for more federal funding both for expansion and modernization, including state of good repair.

“A strong federal-state-and-local partnership is critical to what we do and our future as the backbone of a single, multimodal mobility network,” he said.

Building upon Ford’s theme of transformational change, Skoutelas encouraged transit agencies “to innovate, reinvent and be willing to experiment” with new partnerships and ways of operating.  Calling this the most challenging and exhilarating time public transportation has ever faced, he said, “We need to make our industry ‘future-ready’. Make this Rail Conference a catalyst for what your agency needs to become.”

Representing the host agency, Denver RTD’s General Manager Dave Genova and Board Chair Doug Tisdale welcomed the audience to Denver, while J.J. Ament, CEO of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, applauded the role of rail in the city’s transformation and economic growth.

Greg Williams, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine and a leading authority on technology trends, was the keynote speaker.  Using a variety of videos, he demonstrated how artificial intelligence and automation are already bringing dramatic changes to every sector around the world including transportation and logistics.

“We are interconnected in ways we never imagined 20 years ago and that will increase as we continue to design technology that adapts to our behavior, rather than the other way around,” he said.  “There are enormous opportunities for everyone in this room.”

To view this session, click here.

FTA/FRA Session

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory and FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes spoke about their agencies' priorities, including safety and security, PTC, infrastructure investments, regulatory reforms, and technology, at a luncheon on Tuesday.

Safety, Security Focus

On June 9, APTA convened a Safety Management System (SMS) Workshop and Safety Seminar focused on “The Modern Approach to Safety and Safety Culture,” cosponsored by the Transportation Research Board.

More than 55 people attended the workshop, which began with remarks by APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.  It featured industry and research panels, including presentations by the Utah Transit Authority and Maryland Transit Administration.

The event concluded with a roundtable discussion on safety culture and the challenges public transit agencies are facing `with implementing positive safety cultures and employee safety reporting systems.

APTA also hosted a Security and Emergency Management Roundtable with TSA Administrator David Pekoske and approximately 70 chiefs of police and security directors from major public transit agencies.

International Rail Rodeo Celebrates Operators, Maintainers

This year's International Rail Rodeo attracted teams from across the United States and from Canada and Japan. The top winners follow:

Rail Transit Team Achievement
First place - Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City
Second place - Los Angeles Metro
Third place - San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Oakland, CA

Operators Competition
First place - Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA
Second place - Regional Transportation District, Denver
Third place - Utah Transit Authority

Maintainers Competition
First place - Los Angeles Metro
Second place - Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia
Third place - Utah Transit Authority

Safety and Security Excellence Awards

APTA announced the winners of its 2018 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards:

Commuter/Intercity Rail
GOLD Award for Safety – Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad, New York City
Certificate of Merit for Safety – METROLINK (Southern California Regional Rail Authority), Los Angeles

Heavy Rail
GOLD Award for Safety – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta

Light Rail/Streetcar
GOLD Award for Safety – San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego
GOLD Award for Security – Metro Transit, Minneapolis
Certificate of Merit for Security – Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO)

Find more conference coverage in the next issue of Passenger Transport.

» Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is seeking bids for metro transit security SUV's. [More]
» Jacksonville Transportation Authority is seeking a Vice President/Chief Development Officer. [More]
» Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority seeks Deputy CEO, Planning and Innovation. [More]
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Nominations for APTA Leadership Now Open!

Get involved in a leadership role at APTA and help write the next chapter for our industry.   

APTA is accepting nominations until August 3 at 5 p.m. (EDT) for seven seats on the APTA Executive Committee and 10 seats on the Board of Directors. Consistent with APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, nominations will be entirely online, including the submission of all letters of support. Information about the nomination process can be found after logging in here.

Members may apply for more than one position.

Questions regarding the election process, the election guidelines, and eligibility requirements should be directed by email to Linda Ford or at (202) 496-4808.

Oregon Achieves SSO Certification

FTA announced June 13 that Oregon has obtained federal certification of its rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) program, in advance of the April 15, 2019, deadline.

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by that date.

“FTA is pleased that Oregon has developed a safety oversight program that meets federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety in the state,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With this certification, transit agencies in Oregon can continue to receive federal funding.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the TriMet light rail and the Portland streetcar systems.

Thirty states must obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by the deadline. To date, 14 states have achieved certification.


Save the Date

The Future of Mobility: From Transit Authority to Mobility Integrator
July 12, 2018
Washington, DC

This full-day event will feature in-depth panel discussions and roundtable breakouts on how traditional public transportation must adapt to compete in the new mobility marketplace. Senior transit officials, business executives, advocates and other mobility experts will explore critical issues facing public transportation today, highlight innovations underway around the country and discuss ways public transportation can be the backbone of multimodal lifestyles. There's still time to register for this July 12 event. Contact Cynthia Owens.


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority carried thousands of revelers to the National Mall area to help celebrate the Washington Capitals winning the coveted Stanley Cup. Many riders used the commemorative Smart Card.

"Parking" at transit takes on a new look at Sacramento bus stops.

A new SEPTA app is helping to reduce violence and aid in medical emergencies.


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