||MORE FROM THE 2015 APTA ANNUAL MEETING
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|» The Washington State Transit Association has an opening for an executive director. [More]|
|» The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District is requesting proposals for an integrated video surveillance system for its three facilities in Peoria, IL. [More]|
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Small Systems Have a Big Impact on Passengers
This issue of Passenger Transport features additional news and photographs from the 2015 APTA Annual Meeting. For previous coverage, see the Oct. 16 issue.As part of its rebranding effort (which included a new system name and logo), Rock Region METRO introduced a new look for its vehicles in time for the August arrival of 15 new CNG-powered buses from Gillig, purchased with $6.9 million in federal and local funds. Varner said the new buses have such passenger amenities as Wi-Fi and an automated location system.
Rebranding, new technologies and a commitment to alternative fuels: Smaller public transit agencies find various ways to keep their service fresh and their passengers happy, which system executives shared at an Annual Meeting concurrent session, “Small Public Transit Agencies’ Best Practices.”
Jarod Varner, executive director, Rock Region METRO in North Little Rock, AR, described the process of refocusing and rebranding the agency formerly known as the Central Arkansas Transit Authority. He said “the status quo no longer worked” for the system as a whole after 29 years of operation.
To continue the system-wide improvements, the agency placed the area’s first dedicated sales tax measure on the ballot in March 2016.
Paula Faust, deputy director of transportation, Gardena (CA) Municipal Bus Lines, reported on her agency’s rebranding as GTrans. This year is the system’s 75th anniversary, she said, and the agency had not changed its logo or bus livery since the 1970s.
“We realized that no one knew our name,” Faust said. “We created a brand positioning statement, working as a cross-divisional team, including bus operators, and conducted focus groups with a variety of populations: riders and non-riders, English and Spanish speakers.”
Michael Hernandez, assistant general manager/chief operating officer, Monterey-Salinas (CA) Transit, discussed replacing his agency’s diesel-powered trolley-replica bus with an electric vehicle, rebuilt by Complete Coach Works (CCW) with the Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE) propulsion system. The free MST trolley operates on a 4.5-mile loop.
The system began the process with a 2003 Optima Trolley, which MST purchased as a new vehicle. CCW then refurbished the vehicle. The wireless induction process was financed through an FTA Clean Fuels grant.
Len Engel, executive director of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in Lancaster, CA, reported on his system’s two 40-foot battery-electric buses from BYD and its future $39 million commitment to purchasing more vehicles from the company. A state grant covers $24.4 million of the project cost, with another $7.9 million from FTA and the balance from local funds.
Engel noted that the BYD buses operate with the same WAVE system as the MST trolley-replica bus.
Jeanne Krieg, chief executive officer, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA, moderated the session.