APTA Award Winners Announced
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The top public transportation agencies and transit leaders in North America were honored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and nearly 2,000 transit leaders from North America at the 2007 APTA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC.
“This year’s winners are the “best of the best” of the public transportation industry,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “These accomplished individuals and transit agencies have contributed greatly to advancing public transportation in their local communities and across the country and deserve national recognition.”
Four public transportation agencies, competing in four different categories based on annual ridership, were honored as the best transit agencies in North America. Winning the 2007 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award means that they have demonstrated achievement in efficiency and effectiveness. This year’s winners, ranging from the smallest to the largest category are:
City of Elk Grove, Transit Services (e-tran), Elk Grove, CA
(Category: Providing fewer than 1 million annual passenger trips.)
The City of Elk Grove, Transit Services, was selected as the best smallest transit agency in North America. Since its incorporation in July 2000, the City of Elk Grove has become one of the fastest-growing cities in California. Visionaries in Elk Grove realized that a locally designed transit system based on input from residents was the best solution to growing congestion. Early on, e-tran determined that success would require a three-pronged approach: commuter-oriented vehicles and amenities; intermodal connections and transit access for everyone. The first objective, a “better bus,” was achieved by offering bicycle racks, parcel racks and comfortable seats with individual reading lights, plus services such as wireless Internet access and rider alerts via text messages. Addressing environmental concerns, the e-tran fleet is comprised of environmentally-friendly powered buses. To satisfy the intermodal goal, the e-tran system was designed to maximize linkages with other transportation services in the area such as Sacramento Regional Transit, Amtrak, Greyhound and the Capitol Corridor rail. Finally, to meet the issue of transit access, e-tran’s routes put 90 percent of Elk Grove residents within a walkable half-mile of an e-tran stop. No wonder their slogan is “transportation has evolved.”
St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission (St. Cloud Metro Bus), St. Cloud, MN
(Category: Providing more than 1 million and fewer than 4 million annual passenger trips.)
Now a two-time winner (1990 and 2007), St. Cloud Metro Bus is a public transportation agency on the move. Ridership on its U-Pass partnerships with area colleges has jumped 102 percent. Additionally, its Summer Youth Pass program has grown 1,400 percent. Its Dial-a-Ride door-through door for elderly and ADA ridership has an outstanding passenger per hour efficiency aided by computerized scheduling, AVL, and on-board computers. No wonder its slogan is the “people picker-uppers.”
With an emphasis of always improving operations, it completed its transit signal priority deployment with 100 percent complete transit route coverage in 2005. The following year, it implemented a fully integrated bar-coded inventory system and “paperless” shop environment in the fleet maintenance area. Seamless communication between operations and maintenance staff aids identification and assignment of vehicle defects and scheduling preventive maintenance and improves logistical and fiscal maintenance management.
Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) Lansing, MI
(Category: Providing more than 4 million but fewer than 30 million annual passenger trips.)
With a record ridership of 10 million trips in 2006, this is the second time that CATA has won this award; the first time was in 1991. Then and now, CATA has focused on improving the qualities that continue to drive the system: innovation, collaboration, technology, training, and positive relationships with employees. Customers come first at CATA and even with record ridership, CATA reduced complaints to just one per 33,000 rides. Environmental initiatives are a priority and CATA was the first Michigan system to add full size diesel-electric hybrid buses to its fleet. With an increased focus on safety training and employee safety certification, CATA has reduced accidents by 13.5% from 2004-2006. Implementation of new technology has saved significant hours and improved management of personnel, finances, and operations. CATA has had great success with health care cost containment; when other organizations saw staggering health care increases, CATA experienced a negligible increase (0.59 percent) in health care costs in FY 2006.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Cleveland, OH
(Category: Providing more than 30 million annual passenger trips.)
Serving more than 2 million people in Northeast Ohio, this is the second time that GCRTA has won this prestigious award, (1990 and 2007). Over the past several years, GCRTA has transformed its fleet from one of the oldest to one of the newest. During this same time period, it reduced operating costs by $25 million and dramatically improved efficiency. Outstanding financial management is nothing new to GCRTA -- they held the line on fare increases for more than 13 years. As services were upgraded, the public responded with more than 57 million trips in 2006. A free downtown service saw ridership jump from 700 to 3,900 in just the first year. On time performance has improved by 28 percent and reliability has doubled. Significant efforts were put into employee selection and customer service training and as a result, customer satisfaction levels are up an average of 20 percent a year.
The APTA Innovation Award is an award given to public transit agencies that demonstrate innovative concepts in the provision of public transportation services. This year two agencies are recipients of the 2007 Innovation Award: Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (GBTA) of Bridgeport, CT and Utah Transit Authority (UTA) of Salt Lake City, UT.
Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (GBTA)
“Time To Ride” was the credo of GBTA when it began its innovative pass program focused on the concept of selling time, instead of rides, to customers. The program, dubbed “ZipTrip,” is the first in the country to focus exclusively on the time a rider uses the system, instead of charging by distance or number of rides. Offering unlimited rides for varying blocks of time, passes are offered in 90-minute, All-Day, and 7 or 31-Day increments. The program works very simply – after purchase, riders activate the pass when they decide to start using it. At that point, it’s valid for unlimited rides – no matter what the distance – for the life of the pass. Within the first three months, ridership rose 19 percent over the same period the previous year and drivers found it easier to maintain schedules because of the increased efficiency in the boarding process.
Utah Transit Authority (UTA)
UTA is the first public transportation agency in North America to be certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 and 14001 programs. Both ISO standards involve all aspects and levels within UTA’s organization from top-level policy statements to shop floor procedures. The ISO 9001 standard deals with quality management and focuses on improving the ways an organization enhances its activities to better serve its customers. This certification process made UTA more effective by creating clear and measurable directives for every aspect of UTA’s business. By setting measurable goals, the agency was able to boost productivity in many departments.
ISO 14001 concerns environmental management and minimizing harmful effects to the environment caused by an organization’s work activities. By implementing this environmental standard, UTA also saw a large reduction in its emission, receiving the following idling emission reductions: 2,484 pounds per year of particulate matter; 91,125 pounds per year of NOx; and 3,037,500 pounds of CO2 per year.
This year’s 2007 APTA Awards also recognized 6 individuals whose contributions have greatly advanced public transportation.
J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, KY is the 2007 recipient of the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award, a highly competitive and prestigious award that goes to the top public transportation manager in North America who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. Serving 33 years in the public transportation industry, Barker is well known in the industry for his innovative leadership and his compassionate response to the needs of public transportation passengers. He has worked on the local and national level to create mobility options for older adults and people with disabilities. His tireless and devoted leadership at TARC for the past 14 years has resulted in a strong team that puts the customer first. Under his leadership, the TARC team is achieving its mission to enhance the social, economic, and environmental well-being of the Greater Louisville area.
David L. Gunn is the 2007 recipient of the 2007 APTA Hall of Fame. This award is given to an individual who has had long and distinguished career in the industry; who has made extraordinary contributions to public transportation; and who has actively participated in APTA activities. For 40 years, Gunn has demonstrated professional excellence and courage and conviction in championing the transportation industry. Known for his commitment to strong management teamwork and a �state of good repair� operating philosophy, he has successfully headed transit systems across North America, including the Toronto Transit Commission, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the New York City Transit Authority (now MTA New York City). Before retiring, Gunn was the president of Amtrak from 2002-2005. Gunn�s career is one that is marked not only by �what� he has done and left behind in the way of infrastructure, but also in �who� he has left behind � the many transit professionals that he has mentored and developed throughout his career.
F. Charles Emery (Chairman, Denton County Transportation Authority, Lewisville, TX) is the 2007 recipient Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member. This award is given to an individual serving on the governing board of a public transportation system who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. Under Emery�s leadership, the Denton County Transportation Authority�s (DCTA) was established in 2002 and funded in 2003. As the board chairman, Emery put forth an extraordinary amount of volunteer time and effort in presiding at hundreds of public hearings and walking the halls of Austin and Washington; testifying before legislative committees and talking with legislators to educate them on DCTA and the mobility needs of Denton County. With a growing system, DCTA ridership continues to increase and is expected to exceed 1.6 million passenger trips in 2007. Thanks to his efforts for DCTA and in partnering with other transportation organizations, DCTA has become an integral public transportation partner in the North Central Texas.
Kim R. Green (President, GFI GENFARE, Elk Grove Village, Illinois) is the 2007 recipient of the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award. This award is given to an APTA public transportation business member who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. Green has been active in APTA for almost 30 years, participating on numerous committees including serving as chair of the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) in 2005-2006 and as a member of the APTA Executive Committee for the last three years. As BMBG chair, Green focused on building strong ties between APTA�s private and public sector members while advancing key business issues. He led the private sector initiative to advance reauthorization, persuading his business colleagues to mobilize support for a transportation reauthorization bill. Green was also a strong supporter of APTA�s efforts to raise the visibility of public transportation and also, to expand the APTA standards program. Due to Green�s leadership, APTA business members play a more central role in the association.
Lane Beattie (President and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber, Salt Lake City, Utah) is the 2007 recipient of the Local Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions at the local level to public transportation through policy, legislative initiative, and leadership. Beattie was a central figure in the passage of the sales tax referendum to create a more permanent and broad-based funding source for transportation statewide. To put the sales tax referendum on the November 2006 ballot, the governor had to call a special session within six weeks. Lane successfully convinced the governor and state lawmakers that the need for transit was too great to wait for the 2007 session and a special session was called in time to place it on the 2006 ballot. In addition, the Utah County Commission agreed to place an opinion question on the ballot and implement the tax increase if it had backing from voters. Both measures were approved by more than 64 percent of voters, and they have allowed the four light rail extensions to move forward along with an extension of the commuter rail line. The acceleration of these rail lines, previously not scheduled for completion until 2030, will now be built by 2015. This new timeline was made possible through Lane�s tireless efforts to keep the Salt Lake metropolitan region prosperous through the increased transportation mobility that transit provides.
William E. Valentine, Chairman, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), San Francisco, CA) is the 2007 recipient of the Outstanding Business Executive of the Year Award. This award recognizes the outstanding contributions of an executive who has taken a leadership role in improving his/her company and has made significant contributions to the community and public transportation. Valentine�s passion for public transportation is reflected in HOK�s long list of mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects. Whenever possible, Valentine pushes to make transit appealing and convenient as an integral part of a project�s design solution. He believes � and has proven through his distinguished architectural career � that each transit-first project and sustainable transit facility design creates an incremental step toward preserving our environment and improving people�s lives
For more information on the 2007 APTA Award winners, click here.