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2018 APTA Awards Recipients Announced

APTA has announced the individual and agency winners of the 2018 APTA Awards, who will be honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 25, as part of the 2018 Annual Meeting in Nashville.

The APTA Awards program recognizes excellence in the public transportation industry in North America, on both the individual and organizational levels. Called the “best of the best” of the public transportation industry, the award winners are outstanding role models of excellence, leadership and innovation whose accomplishments have greatly advanced public transportation.

A summary of winners follows:

Organization Awards

VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, will receive the Innovation Award for the GoCodeSA Codeathon—a coding competition for digital public transit solutions. GoCodeSA is a partnership with leading tech-based businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs in the region. The Codeathon, now an annual event, offers talented programmers, coders and designers the chance to turn bright ideas into practical solutions for mobility challenges. The competition rewards the best applications with cash and prizes, as well as an opportunity to integrate the winning entry into future VIA initiatives.

Three public transit systems will receive the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for their accomplishments from 2015-2017:

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA, is being honored among systems providing four million or fewer annual passenger trips. RTD was one of the first U.S. public transit agencies to test hybrid and all-electric buses, launching the nation’s first all-electric BRT corridor in 2017. The Regional Transit Center opened by the system in 2015 brings together transportation and maintenance operations at an environmentally sensitive 136,000-square-foot facility in a centralized location.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus was selected among agencies providing more than four million but fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips. COTA is one of a select group of U.S. public transit agencies that has implemented a comprehensive system redesign. The historic restructuring of service has changed COTA’s operations from a hub-and-spoke design to a more grid-like layout, making service more efficient and direct.

Seattle’s King County Metro Transit (Metro) has been named the top large public transportation system in North America, providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips. The past three years were pivotal for Metro as it experienced record-high ridership—122 million trips in 2017—and expanded and innovated to meet rising demand. The record ridership is due in part to partnerships with major world-class employers including Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft, who provided free or reduced-cost Metro passes to their employees. Also, Metro’s ORCA LIFT low-income fare program has become a national model in providing equitable access to public transportation.

Individual Awards

Ron Roberts, a longtime board member of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), is the 2018 recipient of the Local Distinguished Service Award. He has served on the MTS board and other boards for more than 30 years, working to turn San Diego from a car-centric region into the thriving, multimodal region it is now with 100 million public transit passengers per year. Hundreds of his decisions have helped create a network of clean and efficient transportation choices.

Pennsylvania State Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr. is the recipient of the State Distinguished Service Award. In 2013, Pennsylvania faced a transportation funding crisis. Rafferty, then chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee, not only introduced a comprehensive transportation bill that included $500 million for public transportation; he also led the push to pass it by mobilizing a diverse coalition of public transit advocates. This critical funding gave Pennsylvania’s public transit systems a future, which in turn strengthened the state’s economic competitiveness.

Frederick L. Daniels Jr., treasurer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors, is this year’s Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member. Since being appointed to the MARTA board in 2010, Daniels took the system from $30 million in annual operating deficits to a surplus of nearly $35 million. During his tenure, MARTA achieved highlights and milestones including improved bond and credit ratings, relaunching its TOD program and construction of the Atlanta Streetcar.

LTK Engineering Services Director of Business Development Natalie Cornell is this year’s Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member. One of Cornell’s proudest accomplishments was helping lead industry discussions with FTA about how to implement the increased percentage of U.S. content for rolling stock required under the FAST Act. Those discussions and the concrete proposals developed by the APTA Business Members Procurement Subcommittee under her leadership led FTA to select the first delivery of revenue vehicles as the firm date for determining the percentage of U.S. content requirements. She serves on the APTA Board of Directors.

Tom Lambert, chief executive officer of Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) since 2014, is receiving the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager honor. He has served the agency since 1979, the year it was created, when he was a security investigator because METRO did not yet have a police department. In August 2017, Lambert oversaw METRO’s response to Hurricane Harvey, transporting 15,500 people to shelters and helping the Red Cross deliver supplies.

Hall of Fame
APTA is adding five new members to the Hall of Fame this year:

Fred Gilliam, an APTA member since 1974, has worked in the public transit field in jobs from traffic checker to CEO. He has held public transit leadership roles in Memphis, New Orleans, Houston and Austin, working to increase ridership, expand fleet operations and maintenance and improve service despite funding challenges. He has served the association on numerous committees including Leadership APTA and elective officer positions on APTA’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Tom Hock worked in public transportation management-labor relations for more than four decades until his retirement in 2017. He has negotiated more than 400 agreements in 38 different states and overseen the negotiation of many more, working with 13 different international unions. Hock has served on APTA’s Labor, 13(c) and Legal Affairs committees and his Management Report on Transit Labor Issues has been a staple of APTA’s annual Transit CEOs Seminar for more than 30 years.

Jack Leary began his public transit career in 1966 as a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) streetcar operator while pursuing a business degree at Northeastern University. After more than two decades rising through the ranks in Boston, Leary went to St. Louis to lead the Bi-State Development Agency, overseeing the launch of MetroLink light rail in 1993. In 1998 he became general manager of Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which hosted the successful 2001 APTA Annual Meeting three weeks after the 9/11 attacks. For APTA, he is a former vice chair of rail on the Executive Committee and board member.

APTA also honored the late Rev. Jerry A. Moore and the late Harold B. Williams, who co-founded the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) in 1971.

Moore was a member and chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors during the planning and creation of the Washington Metrorail system. Williams was director, Office of Civil Rights, for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA), predecessor organization to FTA.

Moore was concerned about a lack of opportunities for minorities to advance in transportation organizations and met Williams at UMTA’s first Minorities in Transit conference in 1971. The first meeting of COMTO—organized by the two men with help from others—followed soon after, attended by 29 people. COMTO now has 34 chapters nationwide and more than 3,000 members.


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