PT Express 09-16-2022
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September 16, 2022 | An APTA Publication
APTA Urges Congress to Provide Emergency Relief Assistance for Transit Agencies
 
APTA sent a letter today to congressional leaders urging them to appropriate at least $129 million of emergency appropriations to FTA’s Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program (49 S.C. § 5324) to help public transit agencies offset the significant costs of providing emergency transportation services, rebuilding damaged infrastructure and replacing vehicles destroyed from recent natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes.
 
Over the past three weeks, APTA conducted a survey of public transit agencies and identified at least $129 million of unmet funding needs from agencies responding to and recovering from recent natural disasters.
 
APTA and Coalition Partners Advocate for Flexible Use of ARP Funds
 
APTA and more than three dozen organizations sent a letter Sept. 15 to congressional leaders asking for the “overwhelmingly bipartisan S. 3011/H.R. 5735 be included in any stopgap spending package.” This legislation allows states and localities additional flexibility to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for a range of transportation purposes. APTA and its partners are requesting that Congress include S. 3011/H.R. 5735  in the Continuing Resolution.
 
The ARP law provided $350 billion in state and local government relief funds and $10 billion in capital improvement assistance. As states continue to recover from the pandemic, new economic headwinds and rising costs have emerged. Currently, states and localities are only allowed to use a fraction of their ARP resources for public transit, highway and other surface transportation projects. By passing S. 3011/H.R. 5735, the ARP funds can help mitigate state budget shortfalls and allow states and localities to address ongoing infrastructure needs that may have been sidelined during the pandemic.
 
The legislation passed the Senate last October via a unanimous consent agreement, and the House companion bill has more than 150 bipartisan co-sponsors. The legislation would not increase costs to the federal government or the deficit and does not mandate state or local governments change plans or priorities.
 
“We strongly support the inclusion of S. 3011/H.R. 5735 in a continuing resolution,” the letter states. “The overwhelmingly bipartisan ARP flexibility legislation would empower public entities to further enhance their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
 
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Sen Capito Advocacy Champion Award
 
From left: Paul Davis, general manager and CEO, Tri-State Transit Authority, Huntington, WV; Jennifer Woodall, assistant general manager, Tri-State Transit Authority; Paul P. Skoutelas; Sen. Capito; Elaine Bartoldson, director, Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority, Martinsburg, WV; David Bruffy, CEO, Mountain Line Transit Authority, Morgantown, WV; Paula Smith, executive director, TriRiver Transit, Hamlin, WV. Photo by Djenno Bacvic Photography
 
APTA Presents Sen. Capito with APTA Advocacy Champion Award
 
APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas was joined on Capitol Hill by APTA members from West Virginia, Sept. 8, to present Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) with the 2022 APTA Advocacy Champion Award.
 
During the meeting, West Virginia public transit agencies showcased their plans and ongoing efforts to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The agencies also shared how they provided essential services during the pandemic and continue to provide access to community services to those in need.
 
The APTA Advocacy Champion Award is awarded to Members of Congress in recognition of their instrumental role in supporting historic investments and policy achievements in public transportation, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and COVID-19 emergency relief funding for public transportation and passenger rail systems. Sen. Capito is one of six Members of Congress to receive the inaugural APTA Advocacy award this year.
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Tentative Deal to Avoid National Rail Disruption Reached
 
APTA issued a statement yesterday congratulating Class I freight railroads and unions on reaching a tentative agreement that threatened to shut a major segment of the U.S. transportation network and cause a work stoppage.
 
“Any shutdown of the freight railroad system would have severely impacted U.S. commuter and intercity passenger rail networks at a time when our nation is beginning to restore ridership in the wake of the pandemic and grow passenger rail service in light of the historic investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “As the representative of the commuter and intercity passenger railroad industry, we thank the freight railroads and unions involved in negotiations for their efforts and dedication to reaching agreements throughout this process. In addition, the public transportation industry thanks the Biden Administration, particularly Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, for their leadership in reaching this vital agreement.”
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APTA Leaders Speak at Clever Devices Conference
 
APTA Chair Jeffrey A. Nelson, CEO/managing director, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLink), Moline, IL, and APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas spoke at the Clever Devices Connect Conference in Austin, TX, Sept. 13. Clever Devices President & CEO Frank Ingrassia, and Chief Customer Officer Buddy Coleman—who is the incoming chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors—welcomed attendees.
 
Nelson said, “So much of what we are doing and aspire to do is driven by advances in technology. As a customer of Clever Devices, I’ve seen first-hand what innovative technology can do.” He cited several examples of advances at his agency, such as an improved CAD/AVL system, new touchscreens for bus operators, emergency alarm buttons that are easier to reach and to use, onboard computers that automate pre-trip and post-trip inspections, and real-time maps and turn-by-turn instructions on every route. “I’m proud to be here today to thank Clever Devices for its innovative work in making my system, MetroLink, a model for other transit agencies and for helping write a new future for public transportation service providers.”
 
Skoutelas said that as professional engineer who has been in the public transportation industry for more than four decades, he is “constantly amazed at the new technologies” that companies like Clever Devices are developing, and leaders like Nelson who are embracing innovation and change. “Thanks to APTA members likes these, we are at the beginning of a technological revolution in transit that will continue to change how we serve the public, and how the public values our services,” he said.
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Sec Buttitieg at AC Transit
 
USDOT Sec. Buttigieg, Rep. Lee, Mayor Schaff Visit AC Transit
 
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf visited the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA, Sept. 9, and rode an agency bus to see how local bus lines are fighting environmental and racial inequity.
 
“When we are making an investment in equitable improvements in transportation, that includes a recognition of the inequity in safety outcomes,” said Buttigieg. He added that transportation projects ultimately segregated people of color, often African American neighborhoods, which limited or eliminated access to jobs and increased poor health outcomes.
 
AC Transit operates throughout Oakland, including the city's most under-resourced neighborhoods. In fact, six in 10 AC Transit riders are low-income, and nearly 70 percent of riders are people of color.
 
“We are proud to be a leader in the deployment of fuel cell and battery-electric buses, but we need $2.5 billion to buy more and build new zero-emission bus infrastructure,” said Joel Young, vice president of the AC Transit Board of Directors. “During the tour, we showed Secretary Buttigieg that our transit district is already reconnecting communities with the launch of Tempo-BRT; now celebrating its second successful year of operation. And with additional federal funding, I am confident AC Transit can continue to help our region achieve greater equity through transit.”
 
The tour was held aboard an AC Transit hybrid fuel cell electric bus, which is part of the agency’s fleet of 40 new zero-emission buses. “AC Transit was the first to adopt fuel cell technology, and although the technology is now being used around the country, it was AC Transit that led the way,” said Rep. Lee. “I want to thank AC Transit with our zero-emission bus,” said Mayor Schaaf. “It’s a great example of our city’s commitment and our deep partnership with you, Secretary Buttigieg.”
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2022 APTA TRANSform
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September Is National Preparedness Month
 
National Preparedness Month is an observance every September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.
 
Having a plan is important. You may not be with your family when a disaster or an emergency strike, so it is important to know how you’d contact each another and reconnect if separated.
 
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“Stop. Trains Can’t”
 
FTA, along with FRA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is taking part in USDOT’s multi-modal “Stop. Trains Can’t” campaign, Sept. 12–Dec. 14. The campaign promotes rail safety awareness near rail grade crossings and reminds drivers of the precautions they should take.
 
The campaign webpage contains free materials to help promote rail transit safety across systems and regions. The message is simple: Stop. Trains Can’t. Your communication efforts can help save lives!
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FTA Extends All Stations Accessibility Program Application Period
 
The application period for FTA’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Notice of Funding Opportunity has been extended to Oct. 7. Instructions for applying and eligibility information can be found on FTA’s website and in Grants.Gov (FTA-2022-009-TPM-ASAP).
 
NOTE: Grants.Gov will be unavailable Sept. 23-29 for a cloud migration.
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Register for FTA PTASP Webinar Roundtable
 
FTA is continuing its webinar series to provide technical assistance to public transit agencies on the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) regulation (49 CFR Part 673).
 
The PTASP Webinar Roundtable: Leadership, Tools, and Practices for a Robust SMS, Sept. 28, 2:00–3:30 p.m. Eastern, will bring together transit leadership from across the U.S. to discuss their agencies’ work to implement and promote a robust Safety Management System (SMS). Learn more and register.
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New CEO Named
Zein, BCRTC, TransLink
 
Sany Zein
Sany Zein has been appointed as the new president and general manager of BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), responsible for the operations of SkyTrain and West Coast Express for TransLink, New Westminster, BC, to begin Oct. 3.
 
A professional engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, Zein brings to the role extensive knowledge in a wide array of rail industry topics. He is currently vice president of transit and transportation (Canada) with global consultancy firm Jacobs.
 
Previously, Zein was a member of the TransLink team for more than twelve years, including serving as vice president of engineering from 2016 to 2021. He oversaw the delivery of the annual capital program and the development of the strategic asset management program and was a key leader in many capital projects and programs, including the Broadway Subway, Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, Canada Line upgrades, SkyTrain fleet expansion and major station upgrades.
 
Mike Richard has been serving as acting president and general manager for BCRTC. He will return to his role of vice president of operations, responsible for all rail service in the region.
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UPCOMING APTA EVENTS
 
Trespassing Prevention and Grade Crossing Safety Webinar
Sept. 22, 2:30 p.m. Eastern
 
Accidents due to trespassing and grade crossing violations arguably pose the greatest safety challenge to railroads and public transit agencies. APTA's Trespassing Prevention and Grade Crossing Safety Webinar & Workshop – Best Practices and New Technologies will bring together member agencies to inform stakeholders about federal focus and leadership on this issue, best practices in mitigation from member agencies, and recent developments in cutting-edge technologies to understand trespassing and grade crossing violation behavior.
 
This webinar was initiated by recent developments in trespassing research, including the publication of TCRP Project A-44 Strategies for Deterring Trespassing on Rail Transit and Commuter Rail Rights-of-Way. Learn more and register.
 
Oct. 9-12
Seattle, WA
APTA's TRANSform Conference is the flagship event for public transportation professionals to engage in workshops, experience technical tours and network with colleagues.
 
Jan. 24-27
Honolulu, HI
Make your voice heard and help shape APTA’s private-sector agenda at this dynamic, exclusive meeting for ALL APTA business members.
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ELSEWHERE IN THE MEDIA
 
In some cities, on-demand public transit is replacing buses.
 
In Florida, JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. champions public transit.
 
Fare-free Virginia Railway Express arrives.
 
A remnant remains from Napa’s train past.
 
Boston’s subway, the oldest in the U.S., turns 125 years old.
 
Rolling in southeast Wisconsin: older and new electrified buses, trains, trolleys.
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