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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller
(202) 496-4816

 Top Public Transportation Leaders Honored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

 Celebrating Excellence in the Public Transportation Industry

The American Public Transportation Association announced the individual and organizational winners of the 2012 APTA Awards today in Seattle, WA during the APTA 2012 Annual Meeting. These prestigious annual awards are given to those individuals and public transportation systems that have shown great leadership and advanced the state of public transportation in North America.

“The 2012 APTA Award winners are models of leadership and excellence in the public transportation industry in North America,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “On behalf of the 1,500 member organizations that belong to APTA, I congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for their dedication to advancing public transportation.”

Below are summaries on the 2012 APTA Award recipients.  More information on this year’s APTA Award winners is available at:

The Innovation Award is an award given to public transit agencies that demonstrate innovative concepts in the provision of public transportation services.  The recipient of the 2012 Innovation Award is Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, DC

WMATA confronted the twin challenges of providing more service for a growing number of customers with disabilities, while working to contain the high cost of door-to-door paratransit service.

WMATA established a one-stop shop for customers to apply for any disability-related benefit or service that consolidated eligibility assessments for free and reduced fare programs on fixed route transit.  Paratransit eligible applicants can ride bus and rail at no charge, but more than 95 percent of those not eligible for paratransit service are automatically enrolled in the discounted fixed route travel option. Since FY 2010, two million more trips were taken on fixed route transit services through the program, greatly increasing customer satisfaction and empowerment.  In FY 2011, WMATA saved more than $25 million as 559,106 trips were taken using the free benefit.

Three public transportation agencies, competing in three different categories based on annual ridership, were honored as the best public transportation systems in North America, based on their achievements from 2009-2011.   

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia, PA received the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category:  Providing more than 20 million annual passenger trips.)  SEPTA operates a diverse multimodal network with five fleet modes and legacy routes, stations, and infrastructure that serves a 2,200-square-mile region in Philadelphia, four suburban counties, northern Delaware, and Trenton, NJ. Despite a sluggish economy, ridership in 2011 reached its highest levels in 22 years, serving 334 million customers.  SEPTA is fiscally responsible and has engaged in creative ways to increase revenue.  In 2010 SEPTA was able to negotiate the largest public transit naming rights contract for its Sports Complex Station.  Additionally, SEPTA has the only consolidated multimodal Control Center among U.S. transit agencies, housing rail, bus, subway, trolley, paratransit, power dispatching, and police dispatching in one location.  

SEPTA is a national leader in sustainability, focusing on issues from energy production and storage systems, to stations and work facility recycling.  It has the second largest hybrid electric bus fleet in the nation.

Metro Transit, Madison, WI received the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category: Providing more than 4 million but less than 20 million annual passenger trips.) As the best medium size public transit system in North America, Metro Transit has served Madison and surrounding municipalities for over 40 years. In an effort to create a more sustainable community throughout its 72-square-mile service area, Metro partners with several area universities, hospitals, employment centers, and small businesses in offering an unlimited ride pass program that encourages people to use public transit for their commutes.

In 2009, Metro added 14 hybrid buses, making nearly 10 percent of its fleet hybrid.  In 2011, Metro introduced electronic trip planning through Google Maps, making the process simpler and more user- friendly. Staff also worked with third party developers to make live arrival information and electronic schedules available on smart phones and other mobile devices.  Ridership in 2011 increased by 9.5 percent, shattering the previous all-time ridership set in 1979.

Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK), Moline, IL received the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category:  Providing 4 million or fewer annual passenger trips.) MetroLINK’s sophisticated technologies and efficient route structure have attracted growing ridership each year. Operating a fleet of 55 fixed route buses, 15 paratransit vehicles, and two ferry boats, MetroLINK has seen record ridership numbers, accounting for a 29 percent increase over the last three years on all modes. Of the more than 3.4 million riders in 2011, more than 50 percent use the system for commuting purposes.  MetroLINK partners with local colleges and universities to offer students transportation on the fixed route system with a student ID. Recognized as the best small public transit system in North America, MetroLINK has incorporated environmentally friendly policies for more than a decade.  Its commitment to sustainability is evident through the use of compressed natural gas vehicles, which make up 70 percent of the bus fleet.

This year’s 2012 APTA Awards also recognized six individuals whose contributions have greatly advanced public transportation. 

Peter M. Cipolla (Senior Vice President, Hatch Mott MacDonald) received the 2012 Hall of Fame Award. This award is reserved for individuals who have long and distinguished careers in the industry; who have made extraordinary contributions to public transportation, and who have actively participated in APTA activities. With more than 35 years of commitment to developing tomorrow’s industry leadership, Cipolla has made a lasting impact on the public transportation industry.  He successfully managed public transit systems, delivered large projects, and shaped industry leadership.  Early on, Cipolla started at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and later then served as General Manager for Lexington Transit Authority and for the Delaware Administration for Regional Transit. He was CEO of the Regional Transportation District in Denver and led the effort for the initial design and implementation of Denver’s first light rail system. As Assistant General Manager at the Santa Clara County Transit System, he was instrumental in the delivery of a multi-billion-dollar major highway and public transit capital effort, including Measures A/B Highway and Rail Program, the Highway 85/87 Interchange Project, and the Milpitas Light Rail Extension.

Throughout his career, Cipolla has been an active member of APTA.  He was an APTA board member, served on the Executive Committee for eight years, and was the 2001-2002 APTA Chair.  During this time as APTA Chair, he set up a special APTA Security Working Group to work with federal agencies.  He also was a member of the Business Member Board of Governors and the American Public Transportation Foundation.

Laurence W. Jackson, (President & Chief Executive Officer, Long Beach Transit, Long Beach, CA) received the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award today.  This prestigious award is given to an APTA public transportation manager who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry.  Laurence W. Jackson is one of the longest tenured presidents of a public transit agency in the United States, spending the last 36 years inspiring the employees of Long Beach Transit (LBT). He has provided major contributions toward the advancement of the public transit industry and has made a great impact at the local, regional, national, and international levels.    One of his earliest contributions was LBT’s paratransit service, implemented in 1975 before the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In the mid-2000s, Jackson put the first hybrid gasoline-electric buses into service in southern California.  Under his leadership, LBT was the first public transit system on the West Coast to make GPS bus tracking available from a website and real-time scheduling information available via phone. 

From the early 1980s to the present, Jackson has been a guiding voice for the California Transit Association (CTA), serving as vice-chair of the association and as a long standing member of CTA’s Finance and Management Committee. Nationally, Jackson has been APTA’s secretary-treasurer, and has spent more than 30 years on the Legislative Committee.

Antonio R. Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles) received 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. When President Barack Obama signed the surface transportation bill (MAP-21) into law on July 6, 2012, it signaled a triumph for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose far-reaching initiative “America Fast Forward” (AFF) is the centerpiece of the innovative finance portion of America’s new surface transportation program. AFF is a model funding program that gives transportation agencies across the nation a financial tool to accelerate transportation projects by using committed funds accumulating from local streams of revenue as collateral for up-front federal loans.

The AFF legislation evolved from a progression of local funding initiatives championed by Mayor Villaraigosa, who, as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and a member of the Metro Board of Directors since 2005, sought to accelerate an ambitious transportation agenda while maintaining a first-class transportation system for the nation’s third largest transportation agency.

Cliff Henke (Senior Analyst, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Los Angeles, CA) received 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.  Henke has had a long and effective involvement with APTA in numerous activities.  Henke led an aggressive effort to enhance business member involvement in APTA’s advocacy in federal policy arenas, enabling APTA’s private sector leaders to become an important voice in articulating the business case for public transportation investment. His support for industry standards was instrumental in the establishment of the APTA standards program and he served on the first Standards Development Oversight Council.  He also served on the APTA Board of Directors, the Business Member Board of Governors and many other committees and task forces. 

Henke has played a visible role in promoting the Bus Rapid Transit mode, and is nationally and internationally recognized for his expertise on this subject. 

This year two individuals were recognized as Outstanding Public Transportation Board Members.  This award is given to an individual on the governing board of a public transportation system who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry.

Gregory A. Evans (Board President, Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR) received the first Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award.  Evans began his association with public transportation riding the bus as a young boy growing up in Cleveland, OH. Much later, he embarked on a 25-year involvement with public transportation working as a customer service representative for Lane Transit District (LTD) in Eugene, OR.  With his appointment in 2006 to the LTD Board of Directors by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Evans became the first minority and African-American member of the board in its history. Gov. Kulongoski reappointed Evans to a second four-year term in 2010. Evans has served LTD in leadership roles on a number of key board positions, committees, and special assignments, including overseeing the successful completion and opening of the second Bus Rapid Transit line in January 2011 and chairing the Rosa Parks Memorial Committee, which raised funds to commission a sculpture of Parks for the Eugene Station Transit Plaza. After serving four years as board vice-president, he was elected board president in June 2012.

Evans is also an active member of APTA and currently serves on the Executive Committee.  Additionally, he has chaired or participated in nine other APTA committees.

Lee Kemp (Board Chairman, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO) received the second Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award.   Lee Kemp has served the public transit industry for 35 years, first starting as a Regional Transportation District (RTD) employee, then working for a private sector equipment provider.  For the past eight years he has served as a member of the RTD Board of Directors and is now completing his fifth consecutive term as chairman, an unprecedented record of service as the policy leader for the public transit agency. Under his chairmanship, the board has been marked by solid policy direction, clear vision, and sustained focus to bring to fruition the FasTracks rapid transit expansion—the single largest voter-approved public transit program in the country.  Kemp’s hard work helped pave the way for RTD to receive a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement of $1.03 billion for the innovative Eagle P3 project.


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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

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