Passenger Transport invited APTA members to comment on their specific projects, top priorities, and public transportation-related New Year’s resolutions for 2013. Here are some of their responses.
Flora M. Castillo
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit)
Using our groundbreaking Scorecard initiative as a guide, NJ Transit has worked to build a strong foundation to position New Jersey’s public transit agency to be stronger, more efficient, and more financially stable.
During 2012, NJ Transit accomplished a number of positive customer satisfaction achievements as a direct result of using performance standards and customer input. In 2013, I am confident that the agency’s continued efforts to transform itself through Scorecard will yield additional positive results for the customers.
This year, NJ Transit aims to apply the Scorecard methodology we used to improve on-time rail operations performance to achieve a similar result for its interstate bus customers, focusing on operations to and from the largest bus terminal in the country: New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Also this year, NJ Transit will continue to tap into technology to improve the customer experience. We recently launched a pilot program to introduce our first real-time service information for bus customers. Called “MyBus Now,” this program uses “smart bus” technology to provide customers with access to real-time bus arrival estimates to a specific bus stop within a 30-minute window.
Other technology improvements on the horizon include the launch of an official mobile app and future expansion of the mobile ticketing pilot program.
Moving forward, NJ Transit remains focused on using Scorecard as the guide to making New Jersey’s public transit system even more attractive and convenient for residents and visitors alike. What the Scorecard initiative has made very clear is that every area of our operation has a direct tie-in to the customer experience.
It is our resolution to continue to uphold the Scorecard as the standard by which we get measured by the people who use our system every day.
Walter E. Allen
President & CEO
We are looking to grow significantly in 2013. Acumen will be working with Amtrak, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District on various projects throughout the next year, and we have our sights set on expanding delivery of our professional services in the greater Los Angeles, Miami, and Denver markets.
Acumen is expanding operations and maintenance support into a new business services area.
The firm’s top priority is its commitment to creating jobs in our home market (the San Francisco Bay area) and to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure … one project at a time.
Acumen’s New Year’s resolution is to create 30 new jobs in 2013.
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)/Tri-Rail
The year 2013 promises to be a successful and significant time for SFRTA.
Our ridership grew by 3.1 percent compared with the previous year. We recently accepted delivery of 16 new cars from Rotem Hyundai. With the arrival of more cars and, soon, locomotives, we will have almost our entire fleet in new or rebuilt condition. We will be poised to meet any opportunities presented, be they further increases in ridership or operating new and expanded routes.
Looking ahead, we are currently in negotiations with CSXT and Florida DOT to take over the maintenance and dispatch of the corridor. We have developed a plan to begin running commuter service on the FEC tracks around 2014.
At the beginning of 2013, SFRTA will break ground for our first LEED-certified station, replacing the existing Pompano Beach Station with what we hope will become our prototype for future stations.
We have also begun laying the foundation for the Wave, Fort Lauderdale’s new streetcar system.
Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink)
2012 was our best year ever! CityLink experienced the highest ridership in its 43-year history. We did not have to reduce service, nor did we increase fares. In fact, we reduced the fares that veterans pay to the same half fare that we have extended to persons with disabilities for years.
Next year, CityLink’s marketing efforts will be directed at the younger generation, educating them on the safety aspects of riding the bus while engaged in social networking rather than risking a fatal accident as a result of distracted driving. We will study the location and function of a new transit center in the northwest area of Peoria, launch a major effort to further develop our professional, well-trained staff, and search for ways to modernize our maintenance facility.
My personal New Year’s resolution for CityLink is to improve the health and wellness of employees. I’m setting myself as an example by using a treadmill desk: I used to sit on average five hours a day, but I now stand up at my treadmill desk all day long. By walking at 1 mile per hour, I should walk around 1,000 miles throughout the year, losing weight and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Stephen R. Beard
Senior Vice President and Global Transit Market Sector Director
HDR Engineering Inc.
HDR will provide program management and station design for the new public transit system in Honolulu; planning and design-build services for two light rail extensions for Sound Transit in Seattle; design of a Metrolink commuter rail extension for San Bernardino, CA; planning for several extensions of Phoenix METRO light rail; program management, planning, design, and design-build services for streetcars all across the country including Los Angeles, Tucson (opening in 2013), Dallas, Houston, Omaha, St. Paul, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and the District of Columbia; the Green Line Extension rail project in Boston; subway station design in Toronto; and bus planning and design projects throughout North America.
Our top priority is to be a consultant of choice to the public transit industry, based on our focus on client needs and the quality of our professional staff. Our New Year’s resolution is to be the best possible partner to our clients as they work to improve public transit services around the world.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T)
For 2013, The T has one big priority: the commuter rail project known as TEX Rail!
Obviously, we have other projects going on, but The T Board of Directors and the agency’s staff have a laser-like focus on what must happen with our federal New Starts application for this 37-mile corridor. TEX Rail will link our Central Business District and portions of southwest Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal B—and at the airport we’ll link up with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Regarding my work-related New Year’s resolution: Many of you may know that I left the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in August to start my own business, The Rios Group Inc. For 2013, my resolution is to market, brand, and grow my new business.
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC)
RTC is not just a public transit agency: it’s also the Metropolitan Planning Agency and street-highway building agency for its region, so we have many current projects.
First, we’re in the process of acquiring four electric buses from Proterra through a project funded by a federal TIGGER grant. We hope to have those vehicles in service this year. Preliminary estimates suggest that the new vehicles will save us $200,000 a year in fuel costs alone.
We’re also seeing a brighter future thanks to a modest improvement in the Nevada economy. We’ve seen modest growth in sales tax revenues over past the 12 months and unemployment in the Reno-Sparks region dropped below double digits. RTC wants to restore services cut during the more serious part of the recession.
In its capacity as the MPO, RTC has worked to develop a new regional transportation plan during the past 18-20 months. We need to take a close look at how we can maintain and improve public transit service with limited resources.
Nevada—probably more than many other state—was hit hard by the recession. RTC has gone through a number of organizational initiatives, downsized significantly, and now we’re adopting proven strategies to better leverage procurement, planning, and personnel processes so our people and resources can focus on delivering customer service.
San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)
Caltrain (Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board)
We are fully engaged in the SamTrans Service Plan, a comprehensive review of our fixed route service. The working premise for this effort has been to do more of what works, less of what doesn’t, and to try new things.
At Caltrain, we are planning the first phases of and conducting the Environmental Impact Report for the $1.5 billion modernization program, which will modernize and electrify Caltrain and prepare the way for high-speed rail service on the Caltrain right-of-way. We also will work closely with the California High Speed Rail Authority to begin planning the high-speed rail portion of the “blended system,” in which high-speed rail and Caltrain will share the right-of-way.
Our top priorities for 2013 are ridership growth on the bus side; maintaining and managing record ridership growth on the rail system; and associated challenges to on-time performance.
My work-related New Year’s resolution is to slow down to speed up. I hope to demonstrate that, by adopting a more thoughtful and deliberate pace and through effective prioritization, people can do more with less wear and tear.
Regional Transportation District (RTD)
RTD is looking forward in 2013 to the opening of the West Rail Line, a 12.1-mile light rail transit corridor with 12 proposed stations. The line is part of FasTracks, RTD’s voter-approved, multi-year comprehensive plan to expand quality public transit service in the Denver metro region.
On Jan. 1, RTD implemented Phase 1 of its smart card fare media program for EcoPass and CollegePass program participants. This new technology will change the way passengers pay fares and how RTD captures fare and ridership data. Early results have been encouraging and we anticipate expanding the program to include the remaining fare media (such as monthly passes) and “stored value” in the fall of 2013.
RTD’s top priorities for 2013 are to be the most efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable public transit agency in the U.S. and to continue to present accurate and timely information, sound advice, and good recommendations to the public, our employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union leadership, and to the RTD Board of Directors. Lastly, we will continue to invest heavily in our employees.
My New Year’s resolution is to continue to liberate talent. Understanding that 95 percent of leadership is follow-through, I want to help RTD leadership to listen closely and follow up, and to always be clear, transparent, and straightforward. And, finally, to continue to have fun with what I’m doing.
Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA)
In our continual effort to enhance service to our valued customers, CATA is looking forward to a number of exciting projects in 2013:
* Design and engineering of the East Lansing multimodal station;
* Software installation that will allow CATA’s Facilities Department to track and maintain facilities, bus stops, and shelters;
* Real-time information tools;
* Hoping to go into project development on our BRT project;
* Implementation of new technology in trip scheduling and dispatching to gain efficiencies in paratransit service delivery;
* Corridor planning initiatives with Tri County Regional Planning, creating a vision for the Michigan Avenue Grand River corridor; and
* Working with Tri County and Smart Growth America on regional coordination opportunities.
CATA’s top priorities include securing more reliable state funding, moving our BRT project to project development, and improving regional coordination of services.
Senior Vice President
Our company manages on the basis of five values that make up what we call our corporate social responsibility:
* Minimizing environmental impact;
* Valuing our employees;
* Serving the local community;
* Delivering our promise to our customers; and
* Delivering world class-safety.
All of our projects and priorities revolve around these values.
One important project for our organization is to closely align our green initiatives with ISO 14001 standards. Achieving this certification represents adherence to the core standards used for designing and implementing an effective environmental management system. In 2012, First Transit worked toward and achieved ISO 14001 certification at our operation in Phoenix. We’ll continue our efforts towards achieving this certification at all of our facilities.
Safety remains one of First Transit’s highest priorities. We’ll reinforce the values of our safety programs through a variety of projects, including regular and recurring campaigns.
We’ll also focus time and energy on supporting community programs that provide value to the communities we serve. First Transit encourages all its employees to participate. One of the programs I’m most proud of in this category is the work done by an organization known as About Care, which provides support services for the homebound in Chandler, AZ. I’m proud to serve on the organization’s board and grateful for the support First Transit provides to it.
My New Year’s resolution is to work toward spending more face and phone time with our customers and less e-mail and texting. I can’t help but feel we are all slipping away from the importance of interacting with each other in the real world.
J. Barry Barker
Transit Authority of River City (TARC)
TARC is putting in a new fare collection system that we expect will help us revitalize the whole way we look at fares. We already have agreements with Humana, the city of Louisville, and the University of Louisville under which their IDs can be used as public transit passes. Now we can go to the next step: embedding a chip in these ID cards so we can monitor them more closely.
TARC has $4.4 million in federal funding it will use toward replacing its current fleet of downtown trolleys with all-electric replacement vehicles. We’re going from the traditional trolley-replica bus with its historic appearance to an ultra-modern, all-electric design. We’re changing the emphasis from historic to modernistic, brushing up the image of public transportation. It’s time to make a change.
At TARC, the top priority is always safety.
My New Year’s resolution is to work smarter. I won’t encourage my employees to work harder, because there’s no one here who isn’t already working hard, but we have to work smarter.
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Strategy and Business Development
Cubic Transportation Systems
In 2013, Cubic Transportation Systems will help move forward with open payment as we start up the first phases of the Chicago Transit Agency’s next-generation fare collection system. The new system will accept not only contactless bank cards like MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave, but ultimately NFC mobile phone payments as well.
Cubic is also breaking new ground in the area of public-private partnerships (P3) to help public transit agencies modernize and update their payment and information infrastructure. Through a P3, an agency can transfer funding responsibility and help overcome budgetary or capital constraints.
A further top priority is to extend our deployments that integrate data from both intra- and extra-system sources as part of Cubic’s Nextcity vision. Integrated data can be used to provide public transit agencies the information they need to find further efficiencies while also enabling a better transit experience for the riders.
As for my personal professional resolution, I resolve to thoroughly enjoy myself at the upcoming 150th anniversary of the London Underground (the “Tube”), especially at the Cubic-sponsored restored steam train ride for the mayor of London and other notable VIPs.