ITLC Update

TWC Presents at Michigan Public Transit Association Conference

It was an exciting exchange of ideas from August 22 to 24 at the Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan, where public transportation officials and representatives from around the state came together for the Michigan Public Transportation Annual Conference hosted by the Michigan Public Transit Association (MPTA). Attendees included representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the FTA, and transit-affiliated vendors, who discussed issues important to the operation of Michigan's transit network, attended educational meetings, and viewed the latest products. TWC’s Executive Director Jack Clark and Senior Communications Specialist David Stephen opened the August 23 morning session with a keynote presentation on TWC’s services. David presented a preview of TWC’s national frontline recruitment campaign and, with Jack, led a lively and interactive presentation and discussion. The presentation concluded with a Q&A, initiating new relationships with Michigan transit partners. 

Conference attendees listening to TWC presentation

Public Transit

Should Public Transit Be Free? Freakonomics Asks the Experts

Streetsblog – August 26, 2022

Some have argued that free transit can’t work, citing a variety of reasons. As Stephen Dubner points out on his recent podcast for Freakonomics Radio, “it’s complicated.” In the podcast, he speaks with Boston Mayor Wu, Robbie Makinen from the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, UCLA transportation researcher Brian Taylor, London transportation executive Shashi Verma, and a traffic planner in Stockholm who believes so thoroughly in free fares that he shows people how to dodge them, going so far as to create an “insurance plan” to pay their citations if they got caught.


Bus Drivers, Flight Attendants Say They’re Feeling Less Safe

Northwest Labor Press – August 25, 2022

“It seems like every day we have a new report of a bus driver or a transit operator being assaulted,” AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan says. “It could be coffee thrown on them…. Recently, someone left a bus and grabbed a tree branch and came back and started beating the bus driver with it.” The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act, which was included in the infrastructure bill Congress approved last fall, creates a national definition for “assault on a transit worker” within the National Transit Database. It includes any time a person “interferes with, disables, or incapacitates a transit worker” on the job. Regan says that will allow for better data collection.

Transit Partners

Pete Buttigieg Rides Metro Transit to Highlight Future Minneapolis-St. Paul BRT Line

Pioneer Press - August 25, 2022

Shortly before making an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg boarded an articulated Metro Transit bus at the Uptown Transit Station in Minneapolis on Thursday, the first stop on a brief tour of a Lake Street still rebounding from the May 2020 riots. The Bus Rapid Transit vehicle won’t be deployed along the Minneapolis-to-St. Paul corridor until late 2024, but “Mayor Pete” called public transit investment a cornerstone of economic development at a time of growth and rebuilding.


Boston Mayor Wu Calls for Additional Federal Help to Shore Up MBTA Workforce

WBUR – August 29, 2022

The greater Boston region is waiting to see what federal overseers will conclude about the MBTA's safety problems, and Mayor Michelle Wu joined transit activists on Monday to call for additional federal intervention to help reverse service cuts at the agency.

Wu, her transportation deputy and major advocacy groups sounded the alarm about MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak's acknowledgement last week that reduced trips on the Red, Orange and Blue Lines will remain in place this fall, which came the same day the T announced it would scale back service on dozens of bus lines as well.


TARC Employees Push for Negotiations as Labor Contract Nears Expiration

WAVE – August 27, 2022

Union workers said safety and higher wages are among their top concerns as TARC employees. Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local President Lillian Brents said TARC is offering 1% annual pay raises during the next 3-year contract. “We are asking for wages to where we don’t have to work 50 and 60 hours overtime to put food on the table for our families,” Lilian Brents ATU 1447 President said.

Green News

To Make U.S. Mobility More Sustainable, Improve Access to Public Transit

Mass Transit – August 23, 2022

Single-occupancy vehicles may not be sustainable, but public transportation is, moving scores of residents and commuters simultaneously to their destinations around the clock. In 2018, public transport in the U.S. saved 63 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Communities with buses, rail or subways avoided 148 billion miles of personal vehicle travel in 2018, or five percent of the total three trillion miles consumers traveled by car that year. And they accomplished this goal when the average transit vehicle carried just 12 passengers. Imagine the impact if each vehicle was full.


Florida Dep Awards $68 Million For 227 Electric Transit Buses

Tampa Dispatch – August 29, 2022

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding more than $68 million that will secure 227 electric transit buses in 13 counties statewide that will replace existing diesel transit buses in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. This will be done with funds from the Volkswagen settlement. In October 2016, Volkswagen (VW) settled with the U.S. government resolving claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by selling diesel vehicles that violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mobile source emission standards.

Building Transit Infrastructure

More BART Projects Are Active Than Ever Before

RT&S – August 26, 2022

There are now more rebuilding projects happening across the BART system than at any point in the District’s 50-year-history despite the continuing impacts of the global pandemic. That’s one of the conclusions in a newly released report on BART’s Measure RR rebuilding program that was presented to the BART Board of Directors at its meeting on Aug. 25. The independent Measure RR Bond Oversight Committee’s new annual report said through March 2022 $1.26 billion in Measure RR funds were invested in a total of 150 projects. Measure RR is now in its fifth year of what is expected to be a 20-year lifespan of work. Yet 35% of all anticipated work has been completed. That is well ahead of projections made by BART in 2016 when Measure RR was approved by district voters. Work has been progressing despite issues with global supply chains and availability of workers because of the pandemic.

Why Doesn’t America Build Things?

Vice – August 22, 2022

Most countries have some type of environmental review processes, and whether they work “better” than the U.S.’ is in the eye of the beholder. For example, Elif Ensari, a researcher for NYU who has looked into public transportation construction processes in Turkey, says that their projects can be built “very, very quickly” and environmental reviews take as little as three months for public transit projects because they are fast-tracked as being a net benefit for the environment. In Italy, the process is handled almost entirely within the bureaucracy, said Marco Chitti, who works for the same research group. And the public comment period happens only after the environmental review is completed. At that point, there is not much anyone can do to stop the project.

Health & Safety

California's Public Bus and Urban Transit Workers Have Caught COVID At A Rate More Than 5 Times Higher Than All Other Industries, CDC Report Says

Business Insider – August 25, 2022

The study also showed that outbreaks were 3.6 times as high in the air transportation industry. In addition, mortality rates were 2.1 times as high in transportation support services and 1.8 times as high in the bus and urban transit industry as in all industries combined. The CDC's takeaway in the study is pretty straightforward: "Workers in public transportation industries are at higher risk for COVID-19 workplace outbreaks and mortality than the general worker population in California and should be prioritized for COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination and enhanced workplace protection measures."


Driving Is the New Smoking: Lessons from America’s Public Health Victory Over Tobacco

Greater Greater Washington – August 24, 2022

One of the major keys to the decline of smoking was the rise of smoking cessation aids like gum, patches, nasal sprays, and more, combined with behavioral supports and social attitudes encouraging quit attempts. The parallel is clear and obvious. Particularly for drivers-by-force, we need to actively provide alternative modes as a corresponding pull factor to the cost and convenience push ones. Expanded, faster transit, safer, more comfortable sidewalks and bike lanes, and social encouragement for active transportation can all provide a softer landing for drivers considering making the switch for certain trips.


Fleet Electrification Webinar Series

METRO Magazine – September 8 and 29, 2:00 pm ET

From training & preventative maintenance to charging options and processes, learn what you need to know before adding electric to your fleet. Hear real-life experiences of peers who have successfully implemented electric bus programs.


Electrifying Transit Buses: Best Practices & Lessons Learned from America's Top Transit Agencies

Atlas Public Policy and Environmental Defense Fund – September 13, 1:00 pm ET

Electric buses are cleaner, quieter and increasingly more cost-effective than traditional diesel alternatives. But the complexities of charging are still a significant hurdle for many transit agencies converting their fleets to electric. Join for a one-hour webinar on the latest developments, challenges and solutions in electric bus charging. There will be a live Q&A with transit agencies who have deployed electric buses, as well as an overview of a recent report from Atlas Public Policy and EDF that incorporates findings from 28 industry interviews. Transit agencies, policy folks, utilities and electrification advocates are invited to come learn about specific examples, anecdotes and on-the-ground experiences from those at the forefront of transit electrification.


Opportunity by Design: A Discussion on Growing Worker Skills and Talent in the Workplace

Aspen Institute – September 14, 2:00 pm ET

When designed well, work-based learning (WBL) provides a number of benefits to workers and businesses. WBL approaches such as apprenticeship, on-the-job training, and other forms of employer-sponsored training can offer workers the opportunity for upward mobility and the chance to earn and learn at the same time while employers gain a more engaged and skilled workforce. Too often though the frontline workers who could benefit the most from work-based learning do not receive the opportunity. How can businesses design jobs that include quality work-based learning that improves opportunity for workers and business outcomes? What barriers and opportunities do employers face in creating apprenticeship and other work-based learning models, particularly for front-line workers? What can we do to equitably expand work-based learning to workers who need it the most?

International Transportation Learning Center
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