December 16, 2016
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Highlights and Milestones: Public Transportation in 2016

Here’s an overview of public transit industry milestones during the past year, as reported by Passenger Transport.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) opened three major projects during the year, beginning with Flatiron Flyer BRT and followed by two commuter rail lines.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) opened the new $5.4 million Lee-Van Aken Station in Shaker Heights, also a hub for TOD.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the city of Chicago introduced Loop Link, a major downtown modernization with dedicated bus and bicycle lines and distinctive bus stations.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) in Las Vegas opened its Mobility Training Center, which uses two working buses on a simulated streetscape. APTA presented one of its 2016 Innovation Awards to the training center at the Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Canton, OH, broke ground for a hydrogen fueling facility that opened in October.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Amtrak, among others, signed an agreement to strengthen their partnership on TEX Rail.

The York Adams Transportation Authority, known informally as rabbit­transit, changed its name to the Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority when it added shared-ride service in two counties. Later in the year, the authority took over responsibility for shared ride services in four additional counties, for a total of 10 counties.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) commemorated the opening of the renovated Brady Mobility Facility, originally built in 1974, and a MARTA Police Department precinct in Clayton County.

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) unveiled 50 new CNG buses from North American Bus Industries (part of New Flyer) at an event that also marked the opening of one of the state’s largest CNG refueling stations.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) opened renovated passenger facilities throughout the year, beginning with the West Terminal at the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby, PA, a multimodal hub more than 100 years old.

The Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) in Flint, MI, helped to distribute clean water, filters and supplies to residents dealing with a lead-contaminated public water supply.

The Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) and Clean Energy opened a public-access CNG fueling facility funded through a P3.

The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials named its 2016 Women Who Move the Nation, including 10 APTA members: then-Chair Valarie J. McCall, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees; Past Chair Flora Castillo, New Jersey Transit Corporation Board of Directors; Grace Crunican, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART); Kimberly Avery, Michigan DOT; Polly Hanson, Amtrak Police Department; Feysan Lodde, MV Transit; Margaret O’Meara, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff; Karen Philbrick, Mineta National Transit Research Consortium; Leanne Redden, Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago; and (posthumously) the late Mary King, AC Transit, Oakland, CA.

Los Angeles Metro opened the state-of-the-art Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility, designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

The Birmingham-Jefferson County (AL) Transit Authority introduced a pilot shuttle service connecting downtown with the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, partnering with the city’s convention and visitors bureau and major hotels.

Streetcars returned to Washington, DC, for the first time since 1962 with the 2.4-mile H/Benning Line on a growing business and residential corridor east of Union Station.

King County Metro Transit in Seattle unveiled three battery-powered, all-electric buses from Proterra for testing on two heavily traveled routes.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation held a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony while breaking ground for its first rail station.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan announced her resignation to join Los Angeles Metro.

Los Angeles Metro introduced light rail service on the 12-mile Gold Line Extension, making the Gold Line the longest in the system—more than 31 miles, with an additional 12 miles planned.

Metro in St. Louis opened the North County Transit Center in Ferguson, MO, and unveiled its redesigned MetroBus service plan for north St. Louis County.

CTA entered into a $1.3 billion contract with CSR Sifang America JV for 846 railcars—the largest order in the agency’s history—that also includes construction of a $40 million railcar assembly facility in Chicago.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced plans to invest $1.3 billion in the purchase of 2,042 additional buses over the next five years.

Seattle’s Sound Transit opened two Link light rail lines. The first was the 3.1-mile University Link Extension, with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx in attendance.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority introduced its new Ride KC: Bridj microtransit service.

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) opened the first phase of its World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan, the Oculus, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Santa Clarita (CA) Transit replaced five diesel commuter buses with five CNG-powered commuter coaches from Motor Coach Industries.

VTA provided game-day service to Super Bowl 50, the culmination of two years of planning and preparation. Caltrain and BART also participated in the event.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) reopened its 118-year-old Government Center Station in Boston following a comprehensive modernization making the station fully accessible for the first time.

Hitachi Rail USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Hitachi Rail Italy, opened a 140,000-square-foot facility in Medley, FL, where the company is manufacturing railcars for the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works to replace the Metrorail fleet.

SEPTA began provisional revenue service operations for its PTC system on the 20-mile Warminster Regional Rail Line, becoming the first U.S. commuter rail line to implement ACSES (Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System).

JTA took over ownership and operation of the St. Johns River Ferry.

Sound Transit opened a new platform and pedestrian overpass at the Mukilteo Sounder commuter rail station and broke ground for the 14-mile East Link light rail extension scheduled to enter service in 2023.

RTD launched its first commuter rail service, the 23-mile A Line between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport.

Carolyn Flowers succeeded Therese McMillan as FTA acting administrator. Flowers, then senior advisor at FTA, was previously chief executive officer of the Charlotte Area Transit System and served Los Angeles Metro for 19 years.

The Edmonton (AB) Transit System broke ground April 22 on the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history: the first phase of Valley Line light rail, which will cover 13 km with 11 stops when it opens in 2020.

St. Louis Metro broke ground for an expansion of the downtown Civic Center Transit Center.

Florida DOT began building the second phase of SunRail commuter rail, which will add 17.2 miles and four stations when it enters service in 2018.

Infrastructure projects near the U.S.-Mexico border—South Bay Metro BRT and refurbishment of San Diego Trolley Blue Line stations—are among $1.3 billion worth of infrastructure projects connecting the two countries.

RideScout and GlobeSherpa merged to form moovel NA, a subsidiary of Daimler AG.

New Flyer of America conducted the inaugural road demonstration of its 60-foot articulated hydrogen fuel cell bus, which the company called the first in North America.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a historic bill for a fall ballot referendum asking voters to support a half-cent sales tax to expand MARTA. Voters approved the measure Nov. 8.

For the first time since Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of New Orleans in 2005, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) extended hours, expanded service to the suburbs and added an express bus route to the airport.

SARTA unveiled its first hydrogen fuel cell bus, which will operate on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus through a partnership with the university.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) introduced “AirConnect,” a direct bus service between downtown Columbus and the airport.

The Kansas City (MO) Area Transportation Authority and the Kansas City Streetcar Authority opened the downtown Kansas City Streetcar.

Los Angeles Metro dedicated its 6.6-mile light rail Expo Line Extension to Santa Monica—the first such service to the Pacific Ocean since 1953.

Denver’s RTD broke ground for its Southeast Rail Extension Project, which will add three stations and 2.3 miles of track to the current 19-mile light rail line.

New Jersey Transit Corporation opened the state’s newest rail station, Wesmont on the Bergen County Line.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL, opened the Largo Transit Center, which serves three of the agency’s highest-ridership routes.

MTA Long Island Rail Road broke ground for a $23.9 million modernization and accessibility project for the Wantagh Station, built in 1968.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority extended service on its Metroway premium bus service to its full 4.5-mile length.

SEPTA kicked off a thorough overhaul of the 61st and Pine Bus Loop, a major transit hub in West Philadelphia.

The Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority (OCTA) and partnering organizations welcomed the agency’s first hydrogen fuel cell bus, built by ElDorado National-California, with ­technology from Ballard Power Systems and BAE Systems, which will operate for two years on a demonstration basis.

Public transit agencies across the U.S. hosted events and issued statements as part of the fourth annual Infrastructure Week.

Complete Coach Works completed a rebranding project for Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, and remanufactured five new fully electric refurbished buses for TransIT Services of Frederick County, MD.

SEPTA entered into a pilot program with Uber that operated between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, designed to increase access to SEPTA Regional Rail.

Metrolink commuter rail in Southern California opened the 24-mile 91/Perris Valley Line, the first extension of service since 1994.

DOT Sec. Foxx and China’s minister of transport unveiled the U.S.-China Race to Zero Emissions Challenge during the eighth U.S.-China Transportation Forum in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Metro broke ground on a $172 million light rail maintenance and administrative facility near Los Angeles International Airport.

INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc. broke ground for its 70,000-square-foot North American headquarters building in Chesapeake, VA.

The Ontario provincial government announced more than $1 billion (Cdn.) to extend OC Transpo’s Confederation Line in Ottawa—the largest provincial public transit investment in the city’s history.

Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul reported more than 30,000 rides on its A Line BRT in the week following its opening.
The Toronto Transit Commission launched its first streetcar extension since 2000.

IndyGo opened its new central transfer point in downtown Indianapolis, the Julia M. Carson Transit Center.

The Maryland Transit Administration introduced three Express BusLink routes as the first part of Balti­moreLink, a $135 million multimodal improvement plan.

AC Transit, Oakland, CA, introduced its “AC Go” service expansion, marking the most significant expansion of service in the agency’s history.

OCTA introduced its Bravo! Route 560 limited-stop bus service, covering 17 miles with one-third as many stops as its regular bus route.

Safe Fleet acquired Rear View Safety and FleetMind Solutions Inc.

DOT Sec. Foxx selected Columbus, OH, as the winner of the Smart City Challenge.

DART Police Officer Brent Thompson, 43, was one of five Dallas police officers fatally shot in a sniper attack July 7 during a protest downtown. He was the first DART police officer killed in the line of duty. Three other DART police officers received non-life-threatening injuries.

VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, introduced VIVA service on three routes that connect riders with historic sites, art, dining and entertainment spots.

Maryland DOT, Maryland Transit Administration and Purple Line Transit Partners LLC (a private partner) signed final financial documents for the $5.6 billion, 36-year Purple Line P3 contract, believed to be the nation’s first P3 light rail project.

The Victor Valley Transit Authority introduced “Needles Link” service on a route connecting the cities of Needles, Barstow and Victorville—a round trip of more than 350 miles.

As part of an ongoing program, Metra commuter rail in Chicago completed renovations to the Ravinia Station (built in 1889), began work at the 111th Street/Pullman Station and prepared to renovate the Calumet Station.

New Jersey Transit Corporation shut down all ongoing transportation projects funded through the state’s Transportation Trust Fund Authority as a result of an executive order from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stemming from a funding impasse. The situation was resolved in October when Christie signed a bill following a bipartisan agreement that raised the state’s gas tax by 23 cents a gallon, the first increase since 1988.

New York MTA opened the Dey Street Concourse, a pedestrian tunnel that connects a concourse of MTA’s Fulton Center facility with PATH’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

Denver RTD opened B Line commuter rail.

DOT Sec. Foxx announced the Build America Bureau, which will combine several public transportation infrastructure-related programs, streamline credit and grant opportunities, provide technical assistance and encourage best practices.

Metrolink unveiled its first Tier 4 low-emission locomotive at Los Angeles Union Station.

GCRTA and SEPTA provided extensive service during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

First Transit entered the North American rail market through a nine-year operations and maintenance contract with the Denton County Transportation Authority, Lewisville, TX, for A-train commuter rail.

TranSystems Corporation acquired Athalye Consulting Engineering Services.

FTA awarded $55 million in Fiscal Year 2016 funding to 20 public transit providers in 13 states through the Low or No-Emission Bus Competitive Grant Program. Seventeen of the grant recipients are APTA members.

AC Transit introduced a year-long pilot program called AC Transit Flex, an on-demand bus service.

PSTA entered into a collaboration with Uber to provide free, on-demand rides to low-income residents to and from work during hours when the agency’s buses do not run.

Metra launched express midday service on the Rock Island Line, which bypasses some stops and saves 15-20 minutes.

Five San Francisco Bay Area public transportation agencies joined with the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to launch a multilingual outreach campaign promoting all-night service.

COTA broke ground for its first BRT service—the CMAX Cleveland Avenue Line, scheduled to enter service in 2018.

Connect Transit, Normal, IL, launched its revamped regional fixed-route bus network.

TransLink, Vancouver, BC, introduced its first Mark III SkyTrain on the Expo Line.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority held ground breakings at three sites for TEX Rail.

Public transit projects in Ontario will have access to almost $1.5 billion (Cdn.) from the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund through an agreement between Canada’s federal government and the provincial government.

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Burnsville, MN, developed a suburb-to-suburb route to increase employee access to jobs.

The California State Transportation Agency announced $390 million in Transit and Intercity Capital Program grants for 14 public transportation projects, funded through the state’s cap and trade auction proceeds.

Uber introduced a self-driving car-sharing service in Pittsburgh, supervised by two drivers.

Harting North America, Elgin, IL, opened manufacturing and sales ­facilities in Mexico.

The Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, added six new all-electric, zero-emission buses from Proterra to its fleet, bringing the total number to 15.

DART kicked off service on an expansion of the Dallas Streetcar that adds two stops.

Vice President Joe Biden announced a $2.45 billion loan—the largest in DOT’s history—to Amtrak to purchase 28 Acela train sets from Alstom, upgrade key stations in the Northeast Corridor and construct a maintenance facility.

CTA opened the Union Station Transit Center, a state-of-the-art bus facility in downtown Chicago.

The Cincinnati Bell Connector, the city’s first streetcar in 65 years, provided more than 50,000 passenger trips during its opening weekend.

Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, rolled out one of its largest service overhauls, which added 14,000 hours of service, a 5 percent increase over last year.

The Cambria County Transit Authority, Johnstown, PA, broke ground for the first of 29 CNG fueling facilities statewide, an initiative made possible by a 20-year P3 agreement.

FTA Acting Administrator Flowers announced a $1.04 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to extend Blue Line Trolley service from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area, an 11-mile addition known as the Mid-Coast Trolley. SANDAG broke ground on the $2.1 billion project later in the year.

National Bus Sales, a bus dealership headquartered in Marietta, GA, was acquired by Creative Bus Sales of Chino, CA.

INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc. acquired a 27.5 percent stake in Bytemark Inc.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff has acquired substantially all assets of CRC Engineering P.C.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh reopened the light rail Red Line following a reconstruction project that closed the line for six months.

The Sacramento Regional Transit District reopened its 7th & Capitol light rail station after renovations.

New Orleans’ RTA entered revenue service with its latest streetcar line. For the first time since 1949, streetcars operate along the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue corridor through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.

Metrolink unveiled a second platform at its upgraded Vincent Grade/Acton Station on the Antelope Valley Line.

VTA opened stations in downtown San Jose, CA, that serve three regular bus routes and ultimately will become part of the Alum Rock-Santa Clara BRT, under construction.

MBTA opened five miles of commuter rail service that terminates at the new Wachusett Station on the Fitchburg Line.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released plans for a $1.6 billion P3 to transform the historic James A. Farley Post Office, adjacent to Manhattan’s Penn Station, into a transportation hub that expands access to Amtrak and LIRR.

MTA New York City Transit reopened two elevated stations in Brooklyn that had been closed as part of an $88 million capital project to rehabilitate seven stations.

OCTA introduced extensive changes throughout its service area, including route reallocation and full mobile ticketing through an app.

Valley Metro in Phoenix expanded service on all bus routes and Dial-a-Ride paratransit.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) opened the East County Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility in El Cajon, CA, to house up to 120 CNG-powered buses.

GCRTA received a $2.7 million FTA grant with Battelle Memorial Institute to test two intelligent transportation systems designed to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions.

DOT Sec. Foxx toured California High-Speed Rail Authority construction sites in Central Valley.    

The oldest bridge still in operation across the Mississippi River, the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, reopened following a $48 million rehabilitation project. St. Louis Metro operates MetroLink light rail across the bridge.

FTA Acting Administrator Flowers and two members of Congress helped mark the completion of improvements to RTC’s Flamingo Corridor, the Las Vegas agency’s busiest bus route.

DART in Dallas completed its light rail system with the opening of the three-mile Blue Line Extension and two stations, making a total of 93 miles of track and 64 stations.

Also in Dallas, the city commemorated the centennial of Union Station by renaming the facility in honor of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), researchers released two reports showing the economic impact of TOD near DART Rail stations, and Trinity Railway Express, operated jointly by DART and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, announced more frequent service.

Public transit agencies in downstate Illinois faced shutdowns or service cutbacks because the state did not make legally mandated payments through the Downstate Transportation Fund dating to July. The state resumed payments in December.

Valley Regional Transit, Meridian, ID, opened Main Street Station in downtown Boise as part of a new mixed-use development with commercial and university space.

The Capital Area Multimodal Gateway in East Lansing, MI, opened as a regional partnership among the Capital Area Transportation Authority, the city and Michigan State University.

The Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul, entered into a $118 million contract with Siemens to provide 27 new light rail vehicles for the planned Southwest Light Rail Transit Project, scheduled to open in 2021.

Florida DOT is providing the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) up to $1 million for one of the first U.S. projects involving an autonomous vehicle—a circulator service connecting a public transit center with downtown Tampa.

SEPTA unveiled the rebuilt Crum Creek Viaduct, which originally entered service in 1895 on a regional rail line.

FTA Acting Administrator Flowers cited the St. Louis area’s “many models of efficiency” during a visit that included a tour of public transit sites and a workshop to strengthen the region’s approach to transportation planning.

Tampa’s HART unveiled “HyperLINK,” which the agency called the nation’s first app-based public transit-operated rideshare program.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) began construction on its first BRT corridor on Van Ness Avenue.

Amtrak began service to a new rail station that eventually will become part of Illinois DOT’s High-Speed Rail Program. The station is a $3.26 million depot in Dwight, IL, which currently serves the Chicago-St. Louis route.

RTC in Las Vegas launched an eight-mile route to improve access to 65,000 residents and 33,000 jobs.

The North Central Regional Transit District, Española, NM, partnered with the Jicarilla Apache Nation to begin bus service between the tribal headquarters and locations 31 and 85 miles away.

The heads of CTA, RTA and Pace Suburban Bus joined the executive director of the Illinois Tollway for the 19th Annual Transportation Symposium and Business Exchange.

Metrolinx in Toronto and Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, announced plans to add to their existing fleets of double-decker buses, while MARTA, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Reno, NV, and the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX, road-tested the vehicles.

San Diego MTS and Flint MTA added propane-powered vehicles to their fleets.

CTA and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated renovations to five Blue Line stations as part of an ongoing $492 million modernization project. The agency also announced $75 million for a 5.3-mile extension of the Red Line.

Houston METRO welcomed its first zero-emission electric bus from Proterra for a three-month pilot project.

Gillig provided its first four fully electric trolley-replica buses to the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, Concord, CA, to replace diesel vehicles on a free downtown shuttle.

JTA opened the second of its five proposed First Coast Flyer BRT lines, the 11.1-mile Blue Line, with FTA Acting Administrator Flowers in attendance. The full system is scheduled to be completed in 2019.

MTS opened 11 bus stations through its $21 million Downtown Rapid Stations Project undertaken with SANDAG.

SFMTA restored its computer operations following a malware attack that primarily affected its internal office and other systems, prompting agency officials to temporarily turn off subway ticket machines and fare gates to minimize potential risk and inconvenience during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Florida DOT signed a long-term partnership with Florida Polytechnic University to build a research and testing facility for emerging transportation technologies related to tolling, intelligent transportation systems and automated and connected vehicles.

Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon restored service to the Sellwood Bridge over the Willamette River, which had been closed for 12 years to buses and other heavy vehicles.

Florida’s HART and PSTA introduced Flamingo Fares Tampa Bay, which uses a smartphone app to allow riders to buy a virtual three-day unlimited ticket for both agencies.

President-elect Donald Trump selected former Labor Secretary and DOT deputy secretary Elaine Chao for secretary of transportation.

Transit Wins Big in November
Public transportation measures did extremely well in 2016, with 55 of 77 ballot initiatives (71 percent) approved throughout the year and 69 percent, 34 out of 48, passed on Nov. 8.

The approved November ballot issues provide more than $170 billion to public transit agencies, including sales and property taxes and bond measures. The largest single measure, Los Angeles County’s Measure M, could raise up to $120 billion over 40 years. Sixty-two percent of the $120 billion is targeted to public transit.

Other major wins include funding for Sound Transit in Seattle; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Santa Clara County, CA, to support VTA, Caltrain and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART); a separate initiative specifically for BART; Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta; and IndyGo, Indianapolis. See the Nov. 9 Passenger Transport Express for details about other winning measures.

Los Angeles Metro opened its Expo Line Extension to Santa Monica on May 20.

Photo by Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Metro

RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova and Board Chair Tom Tobiassen joined board members and officials from across the region at the opening of B Line service.

Clark County Commissioner and RTC Board Chairman Larry Brown spoke at opening ceremonies for the Las Vegas agency's Mobility Training Center. New Orleans RTA unveiled its historic North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue streetcar line in the fall at one of its stations, marking the return of streetcars to the corridor after nearly 70 years.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a landmark bill April 26 empowering Atlanta to hold a fall ballot referendum asking voters to support a half-cent sales tax to expand MARTA. The measure passed Nov. 8..

Representatives of Houston METRO and Freedom CNG welcomed the agency's 50 new CNG buses at its new refueling station, one of the largest in Texas.

Photo by Mike Ortega

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