ITLC Update
ITLC Welcomes James Hall, Program Manager, Technical Training
James joins the ITLC with close to fifteen years of experience in various forms of transit and automotive applications. His experience with hybrid-electric vehicles at Toyota, medium-duty railcars at WMATA, and battery electric technologies and charging infrastructures at Proterra, Inc. has positioned him to be at the forefront of significant advancements in vehicle technologies of all types.
As the Technical Program Manager of Training and Development at Proterra, James led the transit industry into a new era of operating and maintaining battery electric buses (BEBs) and charging infrastructure. James built a team of nine training and development experts to guide transit leadership and technicians in their adoption of BEBs. This work ranged from creating brand-new instructional content, to teaching extensive technical courses for national and international transit customers, to building a coalition of industry experts and engineers to support future transit advancements.  

James is thrilled to join the ITLC and continue his dedication for advancing training and workforce development in new technologies for the industry. In his free time, James enjoys tinkering with and playing pinball machines. He also is an avid cyclist and bike advocate – you can often find him riding around DC or exploring area trails.
Public Transit
Government Technology – July 25, 2022
Public transit’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies in its ability to get people out their cars. And even car-loving — and car-dependent — cities like Houston and Los Angeles believe they can move the needle on reducing single-occupancy car trips. “The solution for us is multimodal,” said Cris Liban, chief sustainability officer at L.A. Metro, offering a glimpse at some of the large concepts one of the nation’s largest transit systems is exploring to accommodate the many types of trips Angelenos need to take.
Bloomberg CityLab – July 29, 2022
When the crisis began, I had been with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — also known as “Muni” — for almost three years. This was my first bus-driving job. With its 10-hour workdays, abuse from passengers, and constant collision hazards, it was the most challenging position I’d ever held. When people asked if I liked my job, I often invoked the old Peace Corps tagline: It was indeed “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
Route Fifty – August 2, 2022
Keeping rail systems in good condition can be a lot more difficult than maintaining a bus system, said Spieler, the planner, who is also a former board member of the Houston METRO transit agency. Buses need to be replaced more regularly than trains. But, he explained, this means their features and parts are newer, and the designs are more standardized than custom-built railcars. Plus, Spieler noted, buses run on streets that are usually maintained by a different agency than the transit agency, while trains run on tracks owned—and maintained—by the transit agency itself.
Transit Partners
CPR News – July 26, 2022
The Regional Transportation District’s board of directors on Tuesday approved a dramatic overhaul of its bus network that will favor more frequent service in high-ridership areas over relatively little-used lines in suburban and rural areas. The plan, which will be carried out incrementally over the next five years, is the biggest overhaul of the metro area’s bus system since the 1970s. The project is designed to increase ridership, improve service performance and quality, address pandemic-related changes to travel patterns, and help RTD live within its budget. It also includes modest changes to the light- and commuter-rail system.
Next City – July 27, 2022
Kansas City, Missouri, made national headlines in the fall of 2019 when its city council voted unanimously to become America’s first large city to make public transportation free citywide. Now, two and a half years later, anyone living anywhere in the city can ride buses without paying a fare. How has that worked out for the riders and the city? Survey data shows the move has largely been successful in advancing local transit equity – though it also highlights what remains to be done to allow all Kansas Citians equal access to the sprawling metropolitan area.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – July 31, 2022
PRT is working to target “people that depend on transit to access all areas of their life,” in part, with a renewed emphasis on service reliability. Ms. Newman said this includes making sure every scheduled bus is out on the road and runs on time, so that “when people do choose the bus, that it actually shows up when it’s supposed to show up.” PRT will start a project later this summer to re-evaluate how buses flow through Downtown, in an effort to improve efficiency. It will also begin a full redesign of the bus network next year to try and best meet current rider demand.
Health & Safety
Mineta Transportation Institute – July 25, 2022
U.S. public transit agencies are highly dependent on the services of vendors to help deliver and maintain critical technologies linked to everything they do. The vendor’s cybersecurity posture (the strength of their controls and protocols)—whether immature or advanced—is shared with their clients, and this leaves transit agencies of all sizes vulnerable to cyber incidents. New Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) research, Aligning the Transit Industry and Their Vendors in the Face of Increasing Cyber Risk: Recommendations for Identifying and Addressing Cybersecurity Challenges, demonstrates that the U.S. transit industry and its vendor community have the opportunity to broaden their relationships and focus on cybersecurity–both parties need to create a secure environment that can benefit from and augment the other.
Workforce Development
The San Diego Union-Tribune – July 28, 2022
North County Transit District, which has used a contracting company for bus drivers since 2010, could return to in-house drivers in an effort to solve its labor shortage. The district’s current contract with MV Transportation for bus operators ends June 30, 2024. The district could decide later this year to return to employing its own bus drivers, said Damon Blythe, chief operations officer for buses, in a presentation at last week’s NCTD board meeting. “We are in a very, very difficult labor market right now,” Blythe said. “The contractor is having extreme difficulty attracting staff due to (low) wages and benefits.” The contractor has trouble hiring and keeping drivers in part because its wages, which start at $18.84 an hour, can’t compete with wages paid by other driving jobs. Amazon delivery drivers start at $20 to $22 an hour, and garbage truck drivers start at $26 an hour, Blythe said.
International Transit News
Wired – July 29, 2022
Cities and countries around the world have been edging toward free fares. Spain is the latest to join the list, offering free train travel on a selection of routes for a few months to relieve pressure on commuters as the cost-of-living crisis bites. Officials in Germany introduced a 9-euro-a-month travel pass, Ireland slashed fares for the first time in 75 years, and Italy doled out a 60-euro, one-off public transport voucher for lower-income workers. Luxembourg and Estonia ditched fares to get commuters out of cars years ago, which is the same motivation for Austria’s 3-euro-a-day Klimaticket for countrywide transport, launched last year.
Economic Issues
Planetizen- July 25, 2022
For many proponents, free transit is an equity issue. They point out that low-income Americans rely on public transit the most and are thus most impacted by fare hikes and the high cost of transportation. Free transit opens up more economic opportunities and allows low-income households to spend more of their income on other necessities, like food, housing, and healthcare. Free transit also benefits low-income youth and students, giving them more options for transportation and letting them more easily access school and jobs. For riders not as concerned about cost, free transit can still encourage ridership by eliminating the pain points of having to purchase a pass or find cash for a fare. 
Upcoming Webinars
USDOT – August 4, 3:00 pm ET
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is hosting a webinar on the new DOT Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) discretionary grant program specifically aimed at Tribal, rural, small local governments, and nonprofit applicants. The RCP discretionary grant program is the first-ever Federal program dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. Funding supports planning grants and capital construction grants, as well as technical assistance, to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities. This webinar will provide a general overview of the program, examples applicable to rural and Tribal communities, and thoroughly explain eligibility and match requirements. Please see the RCP website for a link to the NOFO, Frequently Asked Questions, and more at:
International Transportation Learning Center