PT Express 09-10-2021
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September 10, 2021 | An APTA Publication
MTA NYC Transit bus No. 2185 near Ground Zero, Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by MTA NYC Transit
Twenty Years On: Remembering the Victims of 9/11
As the world prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City; Arlington County, VA; and Shanksville, PA, on September 11, APTA pauses to remember the victims and the heroic actions of those first responders and public transit agencies that worked tirelessly to rescue and recover the injured and those lost to their communities, and to transport a multitude of others to safety.
The Sept. 17 issue of Passenger Transport will feature thoughts and opinions of industry leaders on the changing face of public transit safety and security over the past 20 years.
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Congressional Democrats Urge More Funding for Transit
As negotiations on the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation continue, Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Henry “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) led 64 other colleagues in sending a letter to Senate and House Democratic leadership and key committee chairpersons requesting the final legislation include $30 billion in additional investment for public transportation. This investment would address transportation’s role in the climate crisis via the reconciliation process.
The letter notes that the final Senate infrastructure package falls short of the transit investment President Biden requested in the American Jobs Plan and is grossly inadequate given the scale of the crisis the country faces. APTA worked closely with Reps. García, Johnson and Pressley in urging Democratic Representatives to join the letter.
“Bold investments in public transportation in the Build Back Better Act will enable us to tackle climate change, advance equity and meet the growing and evolving mobility demands of our communities,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Investing in public transportation will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and public health and help transform our nation’s transportation network for a sustainable future.”
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FTA Announces $2.2 Billion to Help Public Transit Agencies with Service Needs
FTA has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity for $2.2 billion in competitive grant funding for public transit systems demonstrating additional pandemic-associated needs. Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law by President Biden March 11. Applications must be submitted electronically through by Nov. 8, 11:59 p.m. Eastern.
Additional assistance funding is to cover operating expenses related to maintaining day-to-day operations, cleaning and sanitization, combating the spread of pathogens on transit systems and maintaining critical staffing levels.
“As public transit systems continue to recover from the devastating financial and public health impacts of COVID, they must have the resources they need to keep trains and buses running, especially in heavily transit-dependent communities,” said USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “The funding opportunity we are announcing today will help connect people to jobs, services and opportunities, while supporting crucial health and safety measures for the traveling public and our nation’s dedicated transit workforce.”
FTA will review applications based on the level of financial need, including projections of future financial need to maintain service as a percentage of the 2018 operating costs. Funding that is requested by an eligible applicant must not have been replaced by funding made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2021 and other ARP funding.
“The Additional Assistance Funding will support transit agencies demonstrating a continuing need for assistance in maintaining daily operations,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “Public transportation connects people to jobs, education and vital services, and this program will help transit agencies continue to provide critical transit services in communities that need it most.”
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APTA Chair Addresses Midwest Transit Conference
APTA Chair Jeff Nelson, general manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL, was the keynote speaker this week at the Midwest Transit Conference in St. Louis, MO.
His remarks focused on public transportation’s role in a post-pandemic future. “We’re not measuring success on ridership alone,” he said. “The number does not matter; the positive impact to our communities matters.”
Nelson said the survival and growth of the public transportation industry “depends on redesigning the services we deliver and how we serve our riders’ evolving needs. This means re-educating ourselves about our customers’ travel patterns and preferences. Then, it means investing in technology that makes using transit more convenient, reliable, flexible and connected to other mobility providers.”
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APTA Releases 2021 Fact Book
APTA released its annual Public Transportation Fact Book this week, which includes national aggregate statistical data covering all aspects of the industry in the U.S. and Canada. The report includes an overview of transit facts, finances and operating statistics by modes of travel, transit vehicle characteristics and deliveries, federal grants and the Federal Transit Act, and statistical trends of Canadian transit operations.
“As the information in our annual fact book shows, investing in public transit will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and public health and help transform our nation’s transportation network for a sustainable future,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Public transportation creates access to opportunities, including jobs, healthcare and education, which can help our communities address the equity challenges that they face. The entire industry will continue working with Congress and the Administration to capitalize on this opportunity to provide the public transportation investments necessary to address our nation’s climate and equity challenges and build back better.”
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Sen. Brown Discusses Investment, Zero Emissions at SARTA
The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Canton, OH, hosted Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sept. 7, to discuss how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) would help public transit agencies invest in expanding service for Ohioans, job training and new low and no-emission buses. This follows Sen. Brown's visit to the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Aug. 31.
“We’ve worked together for years with SARTA to get projects funded,” noted Sen. Brown. “Canton is a national leader in pollution-free hydrogen buses. Our bipartisan infrastructure plan will create good jobs and help SARTA modernize all of its buses with zero-pollution vehicles.”
Kirt Conrad, SARTA CEO, thanked Sen. Brown for his support of public transportation and zero-emission vehicles. “In 2005, [then] Representative Brown and I rode in a hydrogen powered vehicle,” said Conrad. “He has supported our work toward the deployment of zero-emission vehicles. I thank him for his leadership in this space.”
The IIJA would provide $39 billion in public transit funding. Ohio is expected to receive $1.347 billion, with $32 million of that anticipated to go to the Canton area.
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TSA Increases Penalties for Violations of Face Mask Requirement
As of today, Sept. 10, TSA is increasing the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on individuals who violate the federal mask mandate in various modes of surface transportation, including passenger railroads, intercity bus services and other public transportation, at airports and on commercial aircraft.
The new range of penalties will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. The federal mask mandate for transportation, implemented by TSA in February, will remain in effect until Jan. 18, 2022.
“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”
For more information about the federal face mask requirement, visit the TSA Coronavirus webpage.
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CDM Smith
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FTA Urges Transit Agencies to Continue Emphasizing Importance of Vaccines
Vaccination is the most effective way to safeguard against COVID-19. FTA urges public transit agencies to ensure their employees and communities have every opportunity to get a vaccine. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, the CDC advises everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Public transit can help people get to vaccination appointments or bring vaccination opportunities into communities. To help share the vaccination messages in communities, county-level CDC estimates of vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 can identify areas within a transit system’s service area that may need extra help reaching the vaccine.
FTA urges frontline transit workers—and the transit agencies they work for—to make plans to get themselves vaccinated and continue to facilitate access to vaccination sites for members of the community who have yet to get a shot.
FTA is supporting transit agency vaccination efforts by awarding grants under the American Rescue Plan to help cover these expenses and encouraging transit leaders to provide services that make it possible for their community, including their workforce, to get shots. Visit FTA’s FAQs regarding COVID-19 (see questions CA2, CE14, CE18) as well as a wealth of online resources for more information.
Transit agencies can also use the CDC, USDOT and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) toolkit to help increase confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among the transit workforce.
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APTA’s 2021 TRANSform & EXPO Safety Protocols
APTA’s 2021 TRANSform & EXPO, Nov. 7-10, Orlando, FL—the public transportation industry’s largest and most comprehensive conference—is just nine weeks away. APTA is excited for the industry to reconnect with one another.
The health of APTA members and exhibitors is the top priority. The association is closely monitoring the safety protocols in use by the meetings industry and will implement the best of them to provide the safest possible conference experience. Plans include the following:
  • All participants will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or a valid negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. APTA is engaging a third party to implement and enforce this policy.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, all participants will be required to wear masks at all indoor events. Speakers may remove their masks while speaking but will be required to remain at least six feet from the audience.
  • The Orange County Convention Center is huge and has a highly effective ventilation system, room to spread out and frequent cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
  • All participants will be encouraged to practice physical distancing where possible. Contactless badge pick-up will be available and meeting rooms will be set to avoid overcrowding. Best practices for safe food-handling will be followed at all food functions. This likely will mean boxed meals and no buffets.
APTA will regularly update its website with the latest information on Meeting Safely. Learn more and register. See you in Orlando!
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CEOs Announce Retirements
Kilmer, South Central Transit Authority
Dave Kilmer, executive director of the South Central Transit Authority (SCTA), Lancaster, PA, has announced his retirement effective at the end of 2021, after 42 years in public transit.
In 2015, Kilmer became the first executive director for SCTA when it became the administrative authority overseeing Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) in Lancaster, PA, and Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority (BARTA) in Reading, PA.
Kilmer began his career in Williamsport, PA, in 1979, then moved to the Peninsula Transportation District Commission in Hampton, VA, in 1987. In 1989, he began a long period at RRTA as director of operations. He then assumed the position of assistant executive director at both BARTA and RRTA before becoming RRTA executive director.
For APTA, Kilmer is a member of the Public Transportation CEO Coordinating Council and the Authorization Task Force and serves on the Bus & Paratransit CEOs, Mobility Management, Legislative and Small Operations committees, among others. He had previously served on the APTA Board of Directors.
The SCTA Board of Directors has appointed Gregory Downing as the agency’s new executive director. Downing has served as chief operations officer for SCTA for the past year and as director of operations prior to that since 2015. Kilmer will assist in the transition as executive manager for the remainder of the year.
Brown, Gold Coast Transit District
Steven P. Brown, general manager of the Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD), Oxnard, CA, has announced he is to retire when his contract expires at the end of December, after a public transit career spanning more than 43 years. Brown joined GCTD in 2006 as director of planning and marketing and has served as general manager since 2010.
Before moving to GCTD, Brown held roles that included deputy public transit director for the City of Phoenix, director of planning and marketing for Phoenix Transit and manager of bus system improvement planning for LA Metro. He also ran his own transportation consulting firm.
For APTA, Brown is a member of the Public Transportation CEO Coordinating Council and serves on the Bus & Paratransit CEOs, Mobility Management, Bus Operations, Zero Emission Fleet and Small Operations committees, among others.
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APTAU’s Kaleidoscope Webinar Series:
Growing a Diverse and Empowered Transit Workforce
Sept. 16, 3:00 p.m. Eastern
Presented by Jacobs
What does it mean to design a workforce development program and strategy with a social and racial equity lens? How are public transit organizations integrating Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) practices into their own workforce programs and policies? Join a panel of renowned industry experts to discuss new and evolving practices to recruit, develop, promote, retain and advance a more robust and diverse workforce. Moderated by Tanya Adams, national chair of COMTO; vice president, community relations & diversity; WSP USA. Learn more and register. View more from the APTAU Kaleidoscope series.
APTA’s TRANSform Conference & EXPO
Nov. 7-10
Orlando, FL
APTA’s TRANSform Conference & EXPO is public transit’s premier showcase of technology, products and services, playing a pivotal role in connecting the industry to what’s now and what’s next in public transportation through educational sessions, workshops, tours and the opportunity to network with colleagues at the conference and at exhibitors’ booths. APTA’s TRANSform Conference & EXPO provides the ideas, insights and connections needed to manage the changing mobility environment and the future of public transportation. Attendees will have a unique opportunity to experience, first-hand, behind-the-scenes technical tours of the host system, LYNX—the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. Learn more and register.
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APTA is hosting its virtual event recordings, all in one place, for easy, seamless, on-demand viewing. Visit APTAU Learning for a wealth of public transportation industry learning opportunities and continuing education units through the APTAU CEU Academy. Also to register for upcoming live webinars.
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They kept New York moving: the heroic rescue efforts of transit workers on 9/11.
NYC’s subway flooding is the reality for cities in a warming world.
How can transit deliver urban equity and sustainability?
In Boston, Bus Rapid Transit works.
SEPTA is testing out a new name for its rail network.
Sound Transit is gearing up to rebrand Seattle Link light rail lines.
VTA driver captures the beauty of transit in photographs.
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