Safety and Security Voluntary Onsite Review: ABQ RideApril 24th, 2012
FTA will conduct a Transit Bus Safety and Security Voluntary Onsite Review at ABQ Ride in Albuquerque, NM from April 24 through 26, 2012. FTA looks forward to working with representatives from ABQ Ride to deliver and collect effective industry practices, identify agency needs, and deliver technical assistance.
Texas Transit Conference 2012April 21st, 2012
“Taking Charge of Change”, Texas Transit 2012 Conference, Expo, Bus Roadeo and FIshing Tournament in the Rio Grande Valley. April 21 through April 26, 2012 at the McAllen Convention Center, South Padre Island, Texas. This event will provide a platform for Texas Transit leaders to discuss pioneering solutions for the future of public transportation.
Colorado breaks ground on first rural U.S. BRT systemApril 17th, 2012
April 16, 2012
Aspen, Colo.-based Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) began construction of the nation’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) system serving rural America. The new bus service will enable thousands of workers from rural Colorado to save hundreds of dollars on gas each month and drastically reduce the number of hours they spend driving. The buses will run on home-grown clean fuel that will reduce air pollution and help preserve the natural beauty of the rural Western Rocky Mountains.
The system will operate along a 40-mile corridor between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, serving outlying communities where housing is more affordable than in the region’s resort towns, where most major employers are based. The BRT line’s 18 new buses will run on compressed natural gas produced in Colorado.
RFTA will operate the BRT service, called VelociRFTA, which will connect workers who live in Roaring Fork Valley to local area resorts where the jobs are, roughly 40 miles away. The new service includes construction of nine bus stations and five park-and-ride facilities, priority travel lanes that keep buses moving through downtown traffic lights, electronic signs at stations to let riders know when the next bus will arrive, onboard Wi-Fi service and enclosed bus shelters to protect passengers from rain and snow.
The Federal Transit Administration has committed nearly $25 million, approximately 54% of the total $46.1 million project cost, through its Small Starts capital program in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The remaining cost is being covered by local funding sources.
For additional reporting from kjct8.com on the groundbreaking, click here.
New Jersey’s TransAction Conference 2012April 11th, 2012
The annual New Jersey Transportation Conference and Expo, TransAction 2012, will be held at the Tropicanna Hotel, Casino and Conference Center, Atlantic City, NJ on April 11th, 12th, and 13th. The conference will feature 65 workshop sessions specializing in bus, rail, roads, bridges, goods movement, pedestrian/bicycle, paratransit, community transportation, ports and much more.
IA: New Transit Director Wants Department to Work as TeamApril 6th, 2012
Nine days in, Diane Gawronski is getting into the groove of transit in southeast Iowa.
Gawronski, the new executive director of Ottumwa Transit and 10/15 Transit, said two groups are at the top of her list: passengers and employees. As she transitions into her new position, Gawronski has started an employee newsletter to keep all employees up to date on what’s happening in the department.
“I believe no matter what anybody’s particular job is, we are a team and everybody should have the right to know daily operations,” she said.
Even small things, like starting a monthly birthday celebration — at her own expense — for every employee’s birthday in that month, will help create a team atmosphere.
“I think it’s important for employees to feel as though they are an important part of the organization,” she said.
And since the staff and bus drivers have more tenure than she does, she’s trying to meet with every single person one-on-one to hear what changes they would like to see occur and where there are opportunities for improvement. Next on her to-do list is to team up with Operations Manager Dave Silverio to ride every single bus route in the city.
“For me, it is going to help me see what actual routes there are since I’m new to Ottumwa,” she said. “And we’re going to look at ridership numbers.”
After reviewing 10/15 Transit, she also said there are opportunities to increase its service in its 11-county area.
“It will hopefully be a win-win situation,” she said. “We’ll be offering more services for those riders and it will also increase our ridership, which is good for us.”
A concern she’s heard throughout the community is that when people see buses going by, they’re never full.
“Not every bus is going to be full every ride,” she said. “I would compare that to when you go to a movie theater or restaurant; they’re never all full either and yet we need those services, as well. I’m not so much interested in filling the buses to capacity as I am providing a needed service.”
The department is still evaluating its ridership numbers, as the one-year anniversary of the state and federal investigation of Ottumwa Transit’s illegal charters and inflated ridership numbers is approaching.
“I’m hesitant to comment on [ridership numbers] because I don’t know how to compare it to previous numbers,” she said.
While Gawronski said she can’t answer to events she never witnessed, she will make herself available for questions.
“I can only apologize for whatever’s happened in the past,” she said. “I’m asking the transit employees as well as the community to please move forward in a positive manner.”
“It’s time to get over it. It’s been almost a year. It’s time to move on.”
Copyright 2012 – Ottumwa Courier, Iowa
Sun Metro installs solar lighting at bus sheltersApril 4th, 2012
April 2, 2012
El Paso, Texas-based Sun Metro installed a new solar lighting system at its bus stops.
The solar lighting system was created to provide illumination to poorly lit bus stops in the El Paso area. Thirteen solar lighting units have been installed across the city.
The solar units will provide illumination in areas with little to no lighting as well as offer a better sense of security, improved visibility and aid in the prevention of a bus passing up riders.
Each solar lighting unit contains solar powered LED lights that are clear white in color. The lighting component will provide consistent lighting for up to 12 hours and will illuminate the waiting area using a power of six Lumens.
New global bus rapid transit database launchedApril 3rd, 2012
April 2, 2012
Three global organizations, EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute for sustainable transport, and the Across Latitudes and Cultures- Bus Rapid Transit Centre of Excellence (ALC-BRT CoE) — in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA) teamed up to launch the most comprehensive, public database of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems around the world, http://BRTdata.org.
“The new website provides reliable and up-to-date data to help researchers, transit agencies, city officials and NGOs understand and make better decisions to improve BRT and bus corridors in their cities,” said Dario Hidalgo, director of research and practice, EMBARQ. “This is the first time that all of this publicly available data has been compiled in one place, but there is still more information available. We invite transit agencies and researchers to help us improve the knowledge base by sharing additional data to fill in the gaps.”
The new website allows users to compare BRT systems and bus corridors in all 134 cities in 36 countries. The database includes 95 different indicators on system operations, design and cost, including metrics like the number of passengers per day, commercial speed and the length of corridors.
The development of an online database was a joint data-sharing effort. EMBARQ and ALC-BRT CoE collected data mostly from Latin America, and the IEA contributed data from other regions.
“Previously, there was no single point of publicly accessible information about the worldwide BRT industry, and it was especially difficult to get an assessment of the industry’s size and how it was changing over time,” ALC-BRT CoE Director Juan Carlos Munoz said. “We finally have the right tools to set standards for this dynamic industry.”
Using information from this dataset, the IEA has estimated the energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) benefits of BRT implementation and outlined several CO2-mitigation scenarios that rely in part on modal shift from light duty vehicles to public transit, including BRT. The IEA plans to recognize the extensive potential of BRT in its upcoming biennial report, “Energy Technology Perspectives 2012,” calling for the total network length of BRT systems to double by 2020.
Bus Roadeos: More than just fun and gamesApril 3rd, 2012
March 23, 2012
One of the highlights of the year for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus operators and mechanics is the SEPTA annual Bus Roadeo, where employees showcase their driving, safety and maintenance skills in front of family, friends and colleagues in a festive atmosphere. But the Roadeo offers more than just bragging rights and accolades for participants (although those are a nice bonus). The skills operators and mechanics practice leading up to and perform on the day of the event are important and unique training opportunities that can enhance the participants’ everyday job performances.
“All of the transportation and maintenance events focus on real, everyday items or tasks that transit professionals deal with while doing their jobs,” said Mark Catenacci, senior project designer, SEPTA. “Although the Roadeo is a one day event, the skills honed and the knowledge gleaned carry over the remaining 365 days of the year, which makes the benefits of a Roadeo immeasurable.” Catenacci added that, because many of the competitors, via their Roadeo experience, promote into transportation management positions, “the Roadeo is also a great career launch pad.”
Winners of the local events (“the playoffs” as Catenacci calls them) can compete in the International Bus Roadeo (IBR). Unfortunately holding a local Roadeo and participating in the IBR is becoming a luxury for some transportation organizations. “Public Transit operators have faced unprecedented funding challenges over the past few years resulting in a number of critical budget adjustments,” said Michael Hennessy, IBR chair and one of the original committee members that helped develop and implement the first APTA International Maintenance Roadeo. “Travel restrictions including Roadeo and conference attendance are a part of some transit agencies’ cutbacks.”
Hennessy urges organizations that have or are considering not participating in Roadeos to revisit the topic before striking it from the ledger, as the benefits far exceed the monetary expense.
“Whereas the Roadeo may look like a line item on a budget sheet, it directly impacts the core of the organization,” he said. “The face of a transit agency is often the bus operator and mechanics that provide the look and feel of the service. As ambassadors for the transit system their superior performance is critical to the customers’ experience and the community’s support of the transit system.”
Hennessy, who thinks of the IBR as the Oscars or Grammys of the transportation world, added, “The IBR strives to promote a standard of excellence by addressing the industry’s top operating issues and concerns with advanced training, competitive challenges and enhanced skill development. The IBR produces a pool of ‘Best of the Best’ operators and mechanics that benefit local transit systems, communities and the transit industry at large.”
NYC Transit expanding bus security camera programApril 2nd, 2012
March 27, 2012
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) is exercising an option for the purchase and installation of bus camera security systems (BCSS) for an additional 1,150 buses.
“Video surveillance is a vital element of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ongoing effort to maintain a transit network that is as safe and secure as possible,” said NYCT President Thomas F. Prendergast. “Bus cameras offer a visible crime deterrent, while also providing a state-of-the-art electronic tool that will aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity aboard the vehicle.”
The original contract for equipping 426 buses was awarded in December 2010 to UTC Fire and Security. The contract also called for hardware and software installations in nine bus depots. The current option will allow similar installations in an additional 12 depots and include three servers. The system captures video images and then uploads them wirelessly to the depot server along with a system health report while the bus is being fueled.
The integrated surveillance system includes multiple cameras covering the interiors of standard 40-foot buses and 60-foot articulated buses. The depots are equipped with equipment capable of not only capturing the video images but also performing diagnostic health checks on the system.