Major Transit Agencies Move to Driverless Operation
Fully automated operations worldwide
Increasingly around the world, there is a movement toward full driverless operation by some of the world's leading transit authorities. These include re-signaling and re-tooling existing lines to operate in full automated operation (even if the line is not fully driverless) as seen in operation in London, Paris, and New York, and in construction of new lines that are fully driverless, such as in Singapore and Sao Paulo among other systems. Join this session to learn more about all the issues, including safety and security.
Technologies to move trains
Abstracts are requested regarding new ideas and technologies for practices, systems applications and problem-solving involving any of the following: new traction power relay protection schemes; ground fault detection and isolation; advanced energy storage systems; internet SCADA systems; total traction power control by microprocessors; system thermal considerations; other new or emerging technologies and their application to the general traction power industry; and IEEE Traction Power and Contact System Standards development.
The challenges of implementing new technology and making systems work 24/7
Communications systems pose technological and operational challenges that include the need for systems to work in all conceivable scenarios and constantly changing users; requirements; industry standards; market environments; experiences in narrowbanding for land mobile systems (two-way radios used most often in communicating with fleet vehicles that were mandated by the Federal Communications Commission to change from 25 kHz radio channels to narrowband 12.5 kHz channels by January 1, 2013); the attacks on global positioning systems (GPS) and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC); and the status of the Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications (transitwireless.org). Operators and suppliers are encouraged to submit abstracts that discuss the lessons learned.
Reliability, maintenance, flexibility, integration
The operation of signal systems and the needs required for the next generation should be the topics of the abstracts submitted. Include any of the following: issues related to the reliability of signal systems in daily operation, maintenance requirements, technical training, systems flexibility, and integration with automated train maintenance centers. Where are we with Audio Frequency Track Circuits (AFTC)?
Implementing the PTC Technology – Technical Issues (PTC Part 2)
Procurement and deployment of your agency’s Positive Train Control system
While work continues on the final interoperability standards procurement and deployment, plans must go forward. This session will address many technical issues that need resolution, including lessons learned in implementation, System test experience, and discussion of the question, “Where are the 220 radios?”
(For PTC Part 1 about institutional issues, please see the Management & Policy track.)
Examining the unique issues in rail environments
New technology is exciting for the promise it brings – lower costs, efficient operations, etc. – but the rail environment is unique and many new technologies fail to achieve their goals. In this session, debating panelists will examine several new technologies and their application to the rail environment. From clean tech to the latest wireless tech to creative fare payments to military and security technology, each of these new-to-the-world or new-to-public-transportation technologies will be examined for their potential benefits, the issues with bringing them into the rail environment, and success strategies to ensure proper implementation and adoption. Abstracts are requested to address these challenges.
Elevators and Escalators
O & M and procurement programs to minimize costs and down time
As middle-aged systems begin to need major overhauls and as new systems are put in place, rail agencies face challenges with keeping systems operating efficiently while minimizing down-time and the repair costs. With current APTA standards in place, APTA is requesting abstracts on what new specifications, maintenance practices and contracting models may be needed to provide better consistency in design and lower costs for maintenance and procurement. What are the main challenges? What maintenance programs are working and in which type of property?
Energy, Environment & Rail
Wayside & onboard energy conservation and regeneration
Papers are sought in the areas of energy efficiency and utilization of new energy related technologies and operating practices. What new energy storage technologies are evolving and how are they finding their way into onboard and wayside systems? What are ongoing studies showing regarding the effectiveness of energy storage and the projected payback periods and life-cycle costing model projections including the influence of electric utilities’ need for power quality control? What renewable technologies are being advanced now and in the near future that may finally result in major applications within infrastructures.
Crash Energy Management
Design for protection
Abstracts are sought on the designs of rail vehicles incorporating new specifications for crashworthiness such as new Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Tier-I waiver and Tier-III alternative approaches. How have these new specifications affected the overall design philosophy? Similar topics are sought on light and heavy rail vehicles and the use of U.S. standards for crashworthiness including protection from side impacts and consideration of fire protection strategies. Abstracts are also requested on methods that demonstrate control of vehicle-override in a collision at low and higher closing speeds for both compatible and incompatible vehicles.
Streetcars Part 1 – Guidelines in Design
Procuring modern vehicles
Abstracts are requested on the development of guidelines for procuring modern streetcars, including physical infrastructure and vehicle design considerations. Abstracts are also sought on the practical application of wireless and off-wire propulsion vehicles with specific analysis of life-cycle costing models, including duty cycle and on-board heating and cooling demand implications.
Streetcars Part 2 – Interoperability
Light rail and streetcars in the same operating environment
Abstracts are sought on the implications and challenges of sharing the operation of streetcars with light rail train-sets within portions of an alignment. Technical analyses are sought on the selection of station spacing, on operation of OCS systems, and the effect of physical differences associated with vehicle performance and structural integrity.
Rolling Stock Equipment Part 1 – Fleet Asset Management and SGR
Maintenance programs that stretch the asset life of rail vehicles
Abstracts are sought in areas addressing the challenges of doing more with less and achieving/maintaining a state of good repair (SGR) for rolling stock. (A separate session in the Planning track will address asset management and SGR for fixed assets.) Topics include the pros and cons of different maintenance approaches, methods to stretch budgets and asset life, models for continuous maintenance programs, optimizing the operation and managing the obsolescence of parts and equipment, etc.
Rolling Stock Equipment Part 2 – Vehicle Technology & Procurement
Staying ahead in vehicle performance
APTA is requesting abstracts on the implementation of new technologies for vehicles and subsystems, including discussions of new advancements on the horizon. What new materials and manufacturing technologies are emerging for fabrication of car shells? What innovations in the automotive industries such as the use of nano-materials might be beneficial in railcar fabrication and material property enhancements? Abstracts are also sought on new railcar procurements documenting vehicle performance and characteristics including dual-mode equipment, locomotives, subway cars, and diesel multiple units.
Track and Rail Research: Embedded Track
Making choices among design variations
Papers are sought on the application of embedded track design plus the effectiveness and potential benefits of various rail design approaches including use of block-rail as an alternative to girder rail and tee-rail. What experience has been gained with rail design variations for embedded track designs?
Noise and Vibration Mitigation: Track Infrastructure
Applying floating slab track designs
Papers are sought on the application of floating slab track designs as a noise mitigation measure. What is the experience with the effectiveness of this design and its variants and what new projects are being planning that will incorporate floating slab designs?
Fare Collection Architectures for Mobile Phones
Information on the technical aspects for early adopters
Abstracts are sought that address new architecture models for mobile phone applications including those that promote competition within the payment space. Abstracts are also sought on technologies for use in ticketed transit systems (such as commuter and proof-of-payment systems) and integration architectures that can provide an interface between a variety of mobile wallets and both current and future rail fare collection systems.
Fitness for Duty
An essential component for safe travel
All rail agencies are dedicated to providing safe, dependable and efficient transportation passenger services. To achieve this, each agency has strategies and measures in place to ensure that its employees are fit for the essential duties of their job at all times without posing a health or hazard risk to themselves, other workers, and the traveling public. Abstracts are requested regarding how agencies are dealing with issues such as fitness for duty, fatigue, hours of service, health and wellness programs, and related matters.
Rail Service During Special Events and Extreme Weather
Hurricanes, floods, Super Bowl – serving during peaks and stress
Abstracts are invited that discuss how rail systems are serving riders during challenging or difficult times such as when extreme weather hits the area and also how they have developed strategies for coping with large crowds after special events. Examples are when hurricanes or flooding occurs, also how to deal with routine crowds for sporting and other major events.
Maintenance Practices for Reliability
Appreciating that safe, reliable service comes from consistently good practices in the maintenance department
With assistance from many in our industry, APTA has developed standards and recommended practices for rail system maintenance and inspection of vehicles and facilities. Please submit your abstracts to tell your story of how your maintenance practices have helped your system achieve a high level of safety and efficiency for passengers and employees. New programs, incentives, reorganization, innovative parts departments and systems, and everyday diligence should be recognized.
Consensus in the industry
Standards for rail transit and commuter rail have become an important program activity at APTA and in the public transportation industry where hundreds of volunteers have served on numerous working committees. Abstracts should discuss how your agency has used standards to achieve operational efficiencies and safety improvements in services facilities and vehicles.
Rail Operating Practices
Reshaping service with new procedures, learning from the best
APTA is calling on its members to share their best, new ideas for this session on rail operating practices. Share your ideas with your peers so that other agencies can enhance their operations as well. Your colleagues will want to learn from your innovations. What new ideas have improved your rail operating practices or your rail service? How have you reshaped your rail operation with improved procedures and methods? Your solution may be applicable industry wide.
Fare Policy, Collection & Media
Open payment systems, regional application of smartcards and more
Smart cards - agency-issued farecards and bank-issued credit/debit cards - are increasingly being used at metropolitan and regional agencies as a means of integrating different fare policies and payment options to offer seamless transfers between modes and authorities. Abstracts are requested that discuss payment integration and the rationale and policy debates associated with the use of transit-only cards and open-payment systems with credit/debit cards.
Path-of-Travel: Effective Approaches for Accessibility in Rail & Intermodal Facilities
Accommodating riders with diverse disabilities
You are invited to submit an abstract (and later a paper) that will describe how your rail and intermodal facilities best accommodate passengers with disabilities who are making their way through. Of interest are ways in which various types of disabilities and mobility devices are included in your programs to make the path of travel easier for customers.
Track 3: Safety & Security
Safety Trend Analysis
Tracking methods for ongoing improvement of the entire operation
In the cycle of continual improvement, thorough safety trend analysis is vital, whether the process includes accident/incident data, near-miss reporting, benchmarking, or some combination thereof. For many agencies though, it may be a challenge to determine what types of analysis should be completed and how such work might have bearing on all departments. Abstracts are requested regarding effective industry practices and new tools or techniques, relative to the tracking of both targeted (short term) and long term safety data, analysis, and applying lessons learned to the improvement of either a specific facet of operations or the entire safety management system.
Federal and State Safety Oversight
Practices that work with the agency’s federal and state partners
Since the mid-1990s, the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) State Safety and Security Oversight (SSO) Program (as required by 49 CFR Part 659) has emerged as one of the primary mechanisms through which FTA works with states and the rail transit industry to ensure safety and security. Almost 20 years later, what progress has been made in regard to safety oversight in rail transit operations? With ongoing discussions of more oversight at the federal level, what can we do to better prepare ourselves should this transition occur? Abstracts are requested regarding current oversight practices, partnership with federal and state partners, and lessons learned.
Final Rule on Hours of Passenger Service
Commuter and intercity railroads’ fatigue mitigation efforts
To address the persistent threat posed by operator fatigue, much attention has recently been given to the issue of hours of service. Recent attention has focused on revamped regulations issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), as authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The new regulations require that commuter and intercity railroads analyze and mitigate the risks for fatigue in the schedules worked, and submit to FRA for its approval the relevant schedules and fatigue mitigation plans. Abstracts are requested which offer an analysis of current practices in the industry, and/or discussion of the challenges of achieving compliance with the final rule.
System safety programs that are most effective in mitigating hazards
Abstracts are requested regarding techniques, tools, and current practices in hazard analysis and hazard management. What lessons have we learned from implementing our own System Safety Program Plans, of which an integral component is hazard analysis? How effective are we in truly analyzing and mitigating hazards, and what processes are we employing to ensure that this is accomplished?
Scientific safety measures for operations that prevent accidents
Cognitive awareness is now recognized as a factor in some fatigue-related accidents and incidents, yet it is a challenge to apply the science of cognition to the practice of system safety management. Inattentional blindness and other phenomena have been shown to be contributing factors in accidents and are important to address through proactive measures and trend analysis. Abstracts are requested regarding the application of the science of cognition to operations and safety management.
Grade Crossing Safety
Light rail and pedestrian safety – distracted walking plus operational & structural challenges
Interfaces with vehicular traffic at grade crossings are a continual challenge through the conceptual design, engineering, and operational phases of both new and existing light rail systems. For new lines and extensions, the challenge can be cultural—automobile drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who may not be accustomed to grade crossings and trains traveling at speed. Abstracts are requested regarding how to address these challenges, lessons learned, and new technologies or techniques relative to grade crossing safety.
IT protection: a core business strategy
In the world of cyber security, preparation and prevention are infinitely better strategies than recovery-only strategies. But what are the real consequences of not having a preventive strategy in place? Which is better – an offensive strategy or a defensive strategy? What standards and practices used in other industries can transit bring to bear to help withstand cyber attacks? And what can an agency do ahead of time to plan the recovery from a successful attack? APTA seeks abstracts that will show the value of implementing IT protection as a core business strategy for transit agencies.
Track 4: Planning, Sustainability & Finance
How is the Rail Market Changing?
Trends in the U.S. census that affect rail service
This session will present trends and findings from the 2010 census as they pertain to the rail market. It will provide insight on how changing demographics, housing choices, economic circumstances, and travel preferences affect rail travel today as well as how the new information changes the outlook for the future of our industry.
Coordination over multiple modes
Mobility management is a strategic approach to service coordination and customer service that moves public transportation agencies toward collaboration with other transportation providers to create a full range of well synchronized mobility services within a community. The purpose of coordinating transportation services through mobility management is to better serve the customer and to achieve a more efficient public transportation delivery system. Abstracts are requested regarding new ideas, technologies, and practices within the passenger rail sector to move people across multiple modes. Discussions of ties to traffic management or bringing policy levels together with engineering approaches are also requested.
Corridor Planning In A Multimodal Environment
Commuter rail and other multimodal centers for the best connections
The planning and project development of multimodal corridors are becoming more prevalent as regions consider replacing or building new infrastructure. Abstracts should focus on real life examples of the opportunities and challenges in system planning, environmental review, funding, and /or public engagement for multimodal corridors.
Prioritizing Rail in the Region
Criteria for extensions and expansions: integration and equity
Extending and expanding rail in the regional process is the focus of this session. Abstracts should address ways to work in a regional context to prioritize rail expansion and extensions. Abstracts can address working with the Metropolitan Planning Organization and other regional partners and coalitions. In addition, abstracts could focus on keeping transit in long range plans and programs after political leadership changes in the region.
Station Area and Corridor Planning – Title VI and Environmental Justice Considerations
Effective community involvement
This session will focus on environmental justice and Title VI considerations in station and corridor planning. Abstracts should address best practices in meaningful public engagement and other items pertaining to Title VI and environmental justice in station area and corridor planning.
TIGER Capital and Planning Projects
Building vibrant, connected communities with FTA’s program
Abstracts are requested that report how Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Planning and Capital Projects are moving forward to help build livable and sustainable communities. Please provide details on lessons learned along the way.
Fixed-Asset Management Best Practices
State of good repair balanced with the agency’s resources and plans for expansion
Abstracts should offer best practices and innovations in asset management and state of good repair (SGR) for fixed assets. (Another session in the Technical Forum track will address asset management and SGR for rolling stock.) How are rail systems approaching asset management in their advancing state of good repair? How do rail systems balance state of good repair with need for expansion? Transit agencies vary in asset management maturity. Abstracts may include the policy(ies) and plan for implementing an asset management program in relation to today’s resource constrained environment; the selection and role of technology; asset condition assessment methods; asset breakdown structure and the appropriate level of granularity; performance reporting – measuring the effectiveness of the asset management program and return on investment (ROI); and operating and maintenance cost impacts. Case studies of experiences are encouraged from both the agency and vendor/integrator communities.
Driving + safe, attractive options for bicycling and walking to the stations
How are rail agencies improving transit access at end-of-the-line stations and redesigning some to accomodate non-motorized means of access? Abstracts should address parking, bicycle, pedestrian and multimodal access and feature good design principles for safe and attractive options.
Track 5: Capital Projects
Project Delivery and Controls
Lifecycle approach to project delivery & project controls the key for integrated systems success.
Abstracts are requested for papers detailing case study examples of successfully applying a systems engineering approach and systems concepts to project delivery and project controls. APTA is seeking project case studies that demonstrate the benefits of applying a full lifecycle management approach or lessons learned that underscore why this systems approach would have led to success. Case studies should deliver practical advice and tangible examples that serve as takeaways for other properties and project teams. Include examples such as: early, comprehensive project definitions (concept of operations) to establish more accurate project budgets/schedules; change management during design/construction to assess & track scope changes and their impact to schedule/budget; and/or construction phase scheduling detailing phasing and sequencing of testing for integrated systems.
Strategies for Successfully Delivering Integrated Systems
Improving contract documentation, systems expertise, and procurement strategies
Abstracts are requested for papers detailing case studies of lessons learned or positive examples of applying systems engineering principles/approach to successfully deliver integrated systems. Case studies should deliver practical advice, tangible examples that serve as takeaways for other properties and project teams. Consider including examples such as: 1) incorporating systems descriptions, system performance expectations into contract documents; 2) having adequate operational systems definition in the contract to serve as basis for integrated system testing that evaluates if the system meets Operations’ needs; 3) incorporating systems expertise into project teams to oversee system design and systems delivery and into Contractor teams to provide systems integration knowledge; 4) early contract preparation and procurement strategies to plan for optimal work packaging that aligns contract boundaries with system interface and integration boundaries.
Upgrading from BRT to LRT
What are the benefits? What were the reasons?
In some scenarios, bus rapid transit (BRT) systems were considered as precursors to light rail (LRT) systems when future circumstances permitted. Abstracts are desired that address the following. When agencies discuss this progression, what are the considerations to explore? What is the real cost-benefit for implementing BRT before LRT instead of building the LRT immediately? How is level boarding achieved between the two vehicle types without major station reconstruction? What are the critical drivers and decision points that move an agency to convert from one mode to the other?
Buy America – What IS reasonable for U.S. workers AND rail systems?
Creating new jobs and U.S. sourcing
In this period of high unemployment, finding new jobs for workers is important. For projects funded by U.S. taxpayers, creating new jobs is mandatory. Though there is a rich history of building railroads and railcars in the U.S., today’s reality is that there are some products that cannot be purchased from a U.S. supplier and the Federal Transit Administration is not inclined to grant Buy America waivers. It’s a real problem for rail car builders and contractors that build light rail tracks, as well as for the rail agencies that are federal grantees. Abstracts could focus on which products are hard to source in the U.S., what can be done to make U.S. sourcing easier, and what is a reasonable expectation for U.S. content in our new rail systems.
What was overlooked?
The risk assessment process often seems to identify risks with a fairly low probability of occurrence and overlooks some risks that happen with some regularity. APTA seeks abstracts that detail the experience of projects completed or nearing completion that can speak to risks identified at early stages in the project, which turned out to be significant, which were easily mitigated and which were overlooked. Other topics of interest would be how beta factors affect the risk assessment process, and where in the project cycle do the benefits of risk assessment represent a reasonable tradeoff between reliability and practical recommendations? Is there enough experience yet in the industry comparing predicted outcomes with actual results to see trends in the accuracy of initial baseline estimates?
Weighing into the mix the experiences, funding, local laws, contracts in different circumstances
Abstracts are requested on topics related to alternative delivery methods of rail systems. There are several ways to deliver these systems based on the agency needs, local requirements, and federal input to the process. Include your experience on funding differences with various USDOT modal administrations, local laws restricting project delivery options, administration of alternate delivery contracts, experiences with different delivery methods under unique circumstances and with obtaining federal, state and local approvals for new methods. Also discuss the considerations regarding under which circumstances a certain mix of delivery methods is appropriate. What is the owner’s role in alternative delivery implementation? How is oversight different from one delivery method to another? Who owns the risks in each delivery method?
Performance Goals to Guide the Ongoing Decisions of an Agency’s Capital Program
“Top down” guidance translates to action
Abstracts are requested that give case study examples of establishing higher level performance goals to guide an agency’s capital program. These goals would typically be the basis for day-to-day decisions associated with the scope and configuration of projects within a program. As an example, a directive for longer lifecycle of projects may direct a maintenance facility to consider the aging of rolling stock and therefore include the capacity to rebuild parts and equipment which may no longer be available on the open market in the future.
Track 6: Management & Policy
Positive Train Control Part 1 – Institutional Approaches
Commuter rail and Class I, and freight railroads mix it up with the FRA and FCC
Now that the rail industry is well into the effort to implement PTC, many technical and timing issues have become pressing. The availability of PTC-ready software, hardware and equipment, and restricted bandwidth are leading concerns. In addition, by next June FRA will have issued new rules on the extent of track required to be PTC-equipped. How are freight and commuter operators working together – or not – in the implementation of PTC?
(For PTC Part 2 on technology, please see the Technical Forums track.)
Home Grown and Partnership Training Programs for the Rail Industry’s Next Generation Workforce
Training for succession in the shops: technical, engineering, advanced technologies, and supervisory areas
In spite of tough economic times, industry leaders recognize the need to seek and hire good people, and provide development and career advancement opportunities. Organizations face the challenges of keeping their technical staff current in applying today’s advanced technologies and maintaining current (older) equipment. As workers retire, promising operators and maintainers are promoted to supervisory ranks and leadership positions; will they have the skills to lead and supervise employees who were once their peers? How are organizations providing ongoing technical-skills training for their engineers and other technical staff? What are organizations doing to train first-time supervisors so they succeed? APTA is soliciting abstracts to feature railroads and rail transit agencies that have developed a suite of educational programs – whether home grown or in partnership with area community colleges, universities, technical institutes, or professional training organizations – that are proving to be successful and making a difference for their organizations. Preliminary metrics insights are a plus.
Overcoming labor-management challenges: Finding common ground
Turning roadblocks into paths towards success
Transit and labor leaders both face the realities of unprecedented challenges – down economy, budget shortfalls, impact of reduced service, layoffs, rising healthcare costs, attendance challenges, compliance with local, state and national laws, and much more. How often does the leadership of your organization meet with their organized labor counterparts? How often do they address common challenges? What divides or bonds their relationships? APTA is soliciting abstracts to showcase successful partnerships with rail agencies and organized labor. What were the issues and barriers? How did both sides agree on common ground issues? What were the trade-offs and compromises? What did success look like in the end?
Organizational Support for Safety Culture
From the policy makers through every level of the agency, ‘tis everyone’s job (not just one department)
Our successful application of safety culture in our own rail agencies and organizations remains contingent upon our ability to define and be engaged in it at all levels of the organization. One challenge for managers is identifying how safety culture is ingrained into the strategic vision and incorporated into daily operations. How do managers put this into effect at every level? What is the role of the board? yet For a safety culture to thrive, it must have leadership from the top. Abstracts should focus on developing strategies for gaining full organizational support for safety culture initiatives, particularly at the upper management and board levels.
Contracting: In-House or Outsourcing for Operations & Maintenance
What went into your decision? What were your circumstances? What has been your experience?
Over thirty years, a trend has developed in the provision of operations and maintenance services for urban and commuter rail systems. Agencies evaluate the cost effectiveness of operating and maintaining services with agency personnel or contracting out to a private entity. Often, elected officials encourage agencies to privatize some or all of their operations and maintenance. Abstracts are sought on how agencies have been making their decisions to outsource or bring in-house the operations and maintenance functions, and should explain which factors and circumstances are best addressed by which strategy in their experience. Contract service providers are encouraged to submit papers with a public sector partner.
How Agencies are Surviving – and Thriving– in the Current Austere Times
Business practices to stay afloat now and plan for later expansion
Even with increasing demand and shrinking resources, CEOs are, indeed, finding ways to beat the economic climate. Abstracts (and subsequent papers) are sought that offer a how-to primer for transit executives to replicate those innovations and new business practices to see successes at their own systems, because a rising tide carries all boats.
Passenger-Freight Success Stories
Good business practices, contracts, and relationships
Passenger rail operators, along with their freight rail hosts, are encouraged to submit abstracts that examine some of the best practices in their operating relationships, as well as those that have been abandoned as lessons learned.
Communicating with the Public during Construction and All Other Times
Agile outreach programs (and staff!)
Commuter and intercity railroads, rail transit agencies, and other organizations are encouraged to submit abstracts (and later, papers) that describe their public involvement, communications, and outreach programs during construction periods and for routine passenger information, special events, and emergencies. Included may be marketing/communication initiatives such as innovative uses of social media, passenger information and real-time information, communicating with passengers at the stations/onboard (e.g., about leaving to get shuttle buses during an emergency), and training staff to deal with the public. What decisions were needed? What factors, such as safety or accessibility, were considered?