Passenger Transport Express - 06/16/2017 (Plain Text Version)

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Rail Conference Focuses on Innovation, Safety, Funding

More than 1,200 people attended APTA's 2017 Rail Conference and related activities, including the International Rail Rodeo and the Products & Services Showcase, in Baltimore, MD, June 11-14. 

APTA Chair and Foothill Transit Executive Director Doran J. Barnes said his love of public transit began with his father's interest in trains.  Barnes provided an update on his five priorities for the year, including the recently approved bylaws changes, an initiative to expand APTA's diversity and inclusion policy, and the search for APTA's next CEO.

"This week, we all have an opportunity to acquire knowledge, gain new perspectives, and reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing our rail systems," he said.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Maryland DOT Deputy Secretary for Policy R. Earl Lewis, and Acting MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn welcomed APTA and expressed their support for our advocacy efforts in Washington. Quinn spoke about the launch of BaltimoreLink, which incorporated four cornerstones: safety, reliability, efficiency and world-class service. “The common theme across all of these is the customer, he said. "When transit is done right, it can really make someone's day.”

APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White talked about the dramatic growth of passenger rail during the past 50 years, contrasting a map of systems from 1970 with one from today. Citing examples from across the country, including approval of more than $170 billion of transit investment on ballot measures in 2016, he said, "This is more than a renaissance; it's more than a rebirth; this is a movement."

He told attendees that the public transportation industry is under threat of budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration, and urged APTA members to remain actively involved in advocacy activities. "The fight isn't over," he said.  "To win this battle, we must continue to tell our story." 

Safety, Security

Prior to the conference’s official start, APTA convened two special sessions focused on safety and security challenges in public transportation.

The two-day Security and Emergency Management Roundtable, cosponsored with TSA, June 9-10, focused on common challenges facing transit police forces, security directors and emergency managers. Participants discussed such topics as terrorism and security, technology, large events, multiagency policing models and active attackers.

It also featured a CEOs panel; a review of technology applications by Robert Pryor, director, intermodal security technology division, TSA; a discussion of recent terrorism incidents and security concerns in Europe by Christine Halvorsen, deputy assistant director, FBI; an update from the FTA Office of Safety Review; and a discussion of recent safety and security incidents with representatives of TriMet in Portland, OR, Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

In addition, APTA convened the Safety Management System (SMS) Workshop and Safety Seminar on June 10, cosponsored with the Transportation Research Board.

The workshop, attended by more than 70 participants, began with a keynote address by Robert Sumwalt, acting chair, National Transportation Safety Board. It featured two panel discussions on SMS—one that provided an industry update with transportation company and agency executives and one that presented a regulatory update with representatives from the FTA, FRA and the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. The workshop also included a roundtable discussion related to setting up and managing an SMS and the challenges transit agencies and others are having with SMS implementation.

Safety and Security Excellence Awards

APTA announced the winners of its 2017 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards June 12 during the Opening General Session of the Rail Conference.

The Gold Awards went to Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, for safety, light rail/streetcar;
Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, for security, light rail/streetcar; Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority for safety, heavy rail; and Los Angeles Metro for security, heavy rail.

Certificates of merit went to San Diego Metropolitan Transit System for safety, light rail/streetcar; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for security, light rail/streetcar; and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for safety, heavy rail.

International Rail Rodeo Celebrates Operators, Maintainers
This year's International Rail Rodeo attracted a record 21 teams from across the United States and from Canada and Japan. The top winners follow:

Overall Team Achievement for the highest combined score, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Oakland, CA; first place, maintainer team, BART; first place, operator category, Valley Transportation Authority, Santa Clara, CA.

Press Conference 

At an APTA national press briefing during the conference, industry leaders voiced their opposition to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to critically important public transit projects, putting an estimated 800,000 jobs at risk nationwide, from light rail in Seattle to the Gateway Project in metropolitan New York.

They were: Nuria Fernandez, general manager/CEO, Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA; Mark Fuhrmann, deputy general manager, Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN; Sharon Greene, senior vice president, Global Head of Finance Practice for HDR; John Porcari, interim executive director, Gateway Program; Peter Rogoff, CEO, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA; and Gary Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas, TX. APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White also participated and APTA Chair Doran Barnes moderated the event. Watch this one-minute clip. 

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


Highway Trust Fund Gets Bipartisan Support in House for 'Long-Term Fix'

More than 250 members of the House of Representatives representing both sides of the political aisle signed onto a letter from Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chair, House Ways & Means Committee, calling for a long-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

Graves is chair of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and Norton is the subcommittee’s ranking member. The subcommittee oversees policy and the Ways & Means Committee oversees funding.

“The president has made rebuilding our transportation network a priority, and rightfully so,” Graves said. “But, instead of thinking a one-time, trillion dollar investment would solve our long-term infrastructure problems, my focus is on making sure we’re being responsible in how we plan for and fund projects in the future.”

He called the current discussions on tax and infrastructure reform the “perfect opportunity to fix the HTF.” [return to top]

Public Transit Helps Define 'Best' Cities

As millennials continue to move to urban areas, Growella, a financial education website, examined data from more than 70 public resources to focus on six key factors that define the best cities for young people.

Two of the factors are related to public transit: “How much time is spent commuting in the city,” and “What’s the public transportation situation like in the city?” The website measured and weighed all the factors and ranked 100 urban areas for people under the age of 35.

Find out if your city made the top 25 here. Find additional details about the analysis at

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July 22-25
Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar
The Palmer House Hilton; Chicago IL
Register here.

August 6-9
Sustainability & Multimodal Planning Workshop
Hyatt Regency: Minneapolis, MN
Register here.

August 6-9
Risk Management Seminar
The US Grant; San Diego, CA
Register here.

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Financing’s Uncertain Future: Many public transit projects and the jobs associated with them are increasingly at risk as President Trump’s proposals to boost infrastructure by leveraging private capital and to zero out the Capital Investment Grant program face questions from public transit agencies and Capitol Hill. See the article here.

Tools for Reform: What’s the impact of the president’s proposals to reform the infrastructure permitting process? Two U.S. senators—one Republican, one Democrat—and other experts say the proposed reforms replicate current efforts mandated in MAP-21 and the FAST Act. Read more here.

That’s a Rap: Want more riders on your buses? Follow the lead of the creative folks at Go Triangle in Raleigh, NC, who put together a fun video that sings the praises of ridership with rhythms and rhymes—just in time for APTA’s National Dump the Pump Day. Watch here.

More Dump the Pump: Who’s doing what for Dump the Pump? See this recap of just a few events out of the hundreds that took place at public transit agencies from coast to coast and border to border. [return to top]


“The best thing we can do for this country’s transportation infrastructure is bring long-term certainty to the Highway Trust Fund. What we need is a modern, sustainable system that keeps revenues flowing so states are able to invest in projects as they come up, not once it’s too late.”

                                                                                      Rep. Sam Graves
                                                                                      Chair, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's
                                                                                      Subcommittee on Highways & Transit
                                                                                      June 12

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