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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News

 10/14/2014

Contact:

Virginia Miller
202-496-4816
vmiller@apta.com

 Top Public Transportation Organizations and Leaders Honored By the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

 Celebrating Excellence in the Public Transportation Industry

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced the individual and organizational winners of the 2014 APTA Awards today in Houston, TX during the APTA 2014 Annual Meeting/EXPO. 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 2014 APTA Awards winners are exceptional examples of leadership, innovation and excellence in the public transportation industry in North America,” said 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 many significant contributions to the public transportation industry.”

Below are summaries on the 2014 APTA Award recipients.  More information on this year’s APTA Award winners is available at: http://www.apta.com/members/memberprogramsandservices/awards/Pages/APTAAwards.aspx 

The APTA Innovation Award is an award given to public transportation agencies that demonstrate innovative concepts in the provision of public transportation services.  This year two agencies are recipients of the 2014 Innovation AwardCapital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) of Austin, TX and Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver, CO. 

The Capital Metropolitation Transportation Authority won an Innovation Award for its comprehensive Employee Wellness Program that was designed to address key aspects of employee health—nutrition, physical activity, safety, weight management, stress reduction strategies, and tobacco cessation. Diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, cancer, stroke, among other chronic conditions, require treatments that routinely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The Wellness Team works closely with the Safety Department to design and implement programs specifically tailored to the needs of each department. Presentations at safety meetings, safety-themed wellness challenges, and free CPR and automated external defibrillator classes (AED) are integrated into wellness operations.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) won an Innovation Award for its in-depth, educational workforce development programs that not only train workers for today’s skills, but also anticipate future skills. RTD saw a tremendous opportunity to preserve institutional knowledge, groom the next generation of agency and industry leaders, and positively impact its local communities and economies through cultivation of collaborative workforce development programs.

RTD’s Strategic Leadership Development Program employs an integrated, highly structured five-step, custom-designed curriculum that identifies and develops qualified employees for senior management positions within RTD and public transit. From fundamentals to employee development, mid-level leadership, senior-level knowledge exchange, and executive leadership, these individuals receive progressive, prerequisite-based technical and interpersonal skills training in a multi-phased program to successfully transition from contributors to managers to innovators.  RTD is meeting the challenges of innovation and developing its most important asset – human capital.

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 2011-2013. 

Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (Tri Delta Transit), Antioch, CA received the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category: Providing 4 million or fewer annual passenger trips).  Serving the transportation needs of nearly 300,000 residents in a 225-square-mile area 40 miles east of San Francisco,Tri Delta Transit’s vision is to create an environment that encourages and rewards all employees to live a long, healthy, and safe life. To make safety (and health) “Top of Mind,” weekly safety messages are used to open all staff meetings, posted throughout the building, and included in the weekly employee news publication. The results of these and other safety and health programs during 2011, 2012, and 2013 were no safety violations and zero lost time in the operations department.

Proactive management in all departments has guided them to an impressive 42 percent decrease in preventable accidents, a 16 percent increase in ridership from 2011-2013, and record high levels in customer satisfaction, community support, and employee satisfaction.

Lane Transit District (LTD), Springfield, OR received the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category:  Providing more than 4 million but fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips). Covering a service area of nearly 500 square miles and providing service to a population of more than 300,000, LTD serves the greater Eugene-Springfield, OR, area in the southern Willamette Valley. Its buses are actively serving a community that understands the value of public transportation. LTD was one of the first public transit agencies to be fully accessible five years before the Americans with Disability Act deadline.  LTD launched one of the nation’s first fully featured Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, Emerald Express (EmX).  Illustrating that BRT isn’t only for large metropolitan areas, EmX expanded with the addition of the Gateway EmX extension in 2011. Today, 15 miles of fast and frequent EmX service operates with more than 10,000 average weekday boardings during the school year and has peaked at nearly 13,000 boardings in a single day.

LTD has implemented continuous improvement initiatives by instituting the TransitStat process and by aggressively targeting a reduction in accidents and injuries. These efforts have established the organizational framework and work teams necessary to evaluate processes and issues, which has led to efficiencies that allow the district to direct more funds to service and provide better customer service.

Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, UT received the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category:  Providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips). The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) provides bus, light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, bus rapid transit, vanpool, and bike and car share services to Salt Lake City and the surrounding five counties. This area is known as the Wasatch Front and is home to 80 percent of Utah’s population. Fifteen years ago, UTA had no rail transit. By the end of 2013, the agency opened its eleventh rail project—completing 140 miles of light rail, commuter rail, and streetcar lines— and recorded the highest ridership in its history with more than 44 million boardings. In December 2013, UTA achieved the historic feat of opening four rail lines in 12 months, completing one of the most aggressive rail expansion programs in the country.

At the end of the day, UTA’s mission is to serve its riders and enable the vitality and growth of the larger community. Maintaining positive community relations is critical to UTA’s success. UTA increased public participation with the introduction of Open UTA, an online “city hall” where information and feedback on UTA projects and services can be gathered and shared. Additionally, UTA has a comprehensive social media program that includes using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and blogs to share the organization’s story and provide service information to riders. 

This year’s 2014 APTA Awards also recognized 10 individuals whose contributions have greatly advanced public transportation. 

This year two individuals were inducted in to the APTA Hall of Fame.  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.  The two Hall of Fame recipients, Rod Diridon, Sr., and Ronald J. Tober, have a total of more than 80 years in the public transportation industry.

Rod Diridon, Sr., received the first 2014 Hall of Fame Award.  During a more than 35-year career, Rod Diridon, Sr., appreciates rail’s linchpin niche in the nation’s transportation network. He began his elected career in 1971 as a 31-year-old city council member followed by 20 years, six times chair, of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Transit Board. Diridon chaired APTA, the Bay area’s three regional agencies, and was UITP vice chair.  He is especially proud of cofounding the APTA Diversity Council supporting women and minorities. Diridon chaired the Joint Powers Board for nine successful rail projects and co-chaired five local and two statewide transportation tax campaigns. That focus earned the title, “father of modern transit in Silicon Valley.” In 1995, the “San Jose Diridon Station,” hosting three commuter rail lines, light rail, and planned BART and high-speed rail, was named in honor of him.

Diridon is a worldwide conference keynoter on sustainability, stressing the interconnection among public transit, land use, and climate change. He’s chaired over 100 programs and, though retiring to half-time emeritus as executive director at MTI, continues his travels.

Ronald J. Tober received the second 2014 Hall of Fame Award.  Ronald Tober has worked for 45 years in the field of public transportation as a planner, manager, and chief executive. During his career he has had many exceptional achievements that have contributed to the advancement of public transportation and APTA. Tober started his public transit career in 1969, fresh out of engineering school, working in his hometown of Cleveland on a study of the first rail line serving a U.S. airport. From there he led public transit agencies in Miami, Boston, Seattle, Cleveland, and Charlotte.  Most recently he played a key role in helping the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) prepare to launch one of the most innovative public transit projects in the U.S. 

Perhaps most importantly, Tober has maintained a focus on employee development throughout his career and has actively mentored people he worked with. A clear indication of this focus is that there are 10 people who formerly worked for Tober who have been, or are currently, CEOs or general managers of U.S. public transit systems.

Tober served eight years on the APTA Executive Committee in several leadership position, including APTA Chair.  While serving as APTA Chair, Tober launched industry initiatives on workforce development and procurement  which have endured to this day.  Tober was also received the 2005 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year Award.

Paul C. Jablonski, (Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA) received the 2014 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. 

Paul Jablonski has been in the public transportation business for almost 45 years. His accomplishments span both the private and public sectors. He has had success all over the United States and even in places like Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. For the last 10 years he has been at the helm of MTS and, in that time, he has transformed it into one of the most efficient systems in the country.  At the beginning, MTS were severely underfunded.  Now MTS is a model of state of good repair.  For example, a five-year, $680 million project to renovate the trolley network and bring low floor cars to the entire system is already complete.

Under Paul’s leadership, ridership has steadily grown at MTS and more than 95 million trips were recorded last fiscal year. He has also worked hard to ensure that the operational perspective of public transportation is instilled in the planning of future services. This is already paying dividends with the launch of new BRT services and the work to add another 11 miles to the trolley network.

U.S. Representative Ed Pastor (Arizona 7th District) received the 2014 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.

Since Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991, Arizona’s population has grown from 3.8 million to 6.5 million residents, resulting in transformational change in Arizona’s housing and economic climate. He has been a tremendous advocate for public transportation in Phoenix and even beyond his district in Mesa, by supporting public transit projects that get people to jobs, school, and vital services while generating a positive economic impact for the Valley of the Sun.

Light rail and an expanded bus netwok have become reality due to his advocacy and ability to create partnerhsips.  In 2005, Valley Metro Rail received a Full Funding Grant Agreement providing $587 million in federal funding for the 20-mile starter segment. Success of the light rail system is evident, with more than $7 billion in economic development generated since construction began and a ridership of 48,000 daily passengers, which approaches the ridership projections for 2020.

In 2011, Pastor supported a $2.9 million federal HUD grant that has helped Phoenix create a program to spur affordable housing and commercial development along the light rail line. “People who are riding the light rail should be living on the light rail,” Pastor said. In 2012, Pastor traveled beyond his district to support the announcement of a $75 million federal grant for the rail extension under construction in the city of Mesa.

This year two individuals received the 2014 National Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions at the national level to public transportation through policy, legislative initiative, and leadership.  The two recipients of the National Distinguished Award are, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representative Tom Petri.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer received the first 2014 National Distinguished Service Award.  Senator Barbara Boxer has a distinguished record of public service that spans nearly 38 years. She has served the residents of California as a local government elected official, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and currently as a powerful voice in the United States Senate. As the first woman to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she has been a tireless advocate for the environment and infrastructure and a true ambassador on transportation issues. Boxer has always appreciated the importance of federal funding contributions to public transit agencies and their positive impact on communities. Just as important, she recognizes that federal investment in our national transportation system brings jobs, spurs economic development, and improves our quality of life.

In the spring of 2012, many gave up hope on completing a new surface transportation bill but Chairman Boxer didn’t quit.  She pushed the national dialogue forward, and ultimately, moved the country forward with passage of MAP-21. 

U.S. Representative Tom Petri (Wisconsin, 6th District) received the second 2014 National Distinguished Service Award.  Congressman Tom Petri’s professional life has been dedicated to public service, from his work in Somalia as a young Peace Corps volunteer to his current position as an 18-term member of the House of Representatives. During his three decades as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Petri served as chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee for two major surface transportation reauthorization bills and as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee where he oversaw the 2012 FAA reauthorization effort. Under his leadership, Congress passed the last fully funded, long-term surface transportation bill we have seen in a decade: SAFETEA-LU.

While he is retiring at the end of this session of Congress, Congressman Petri remains dedicated to finding a responsible approach to funding our nation’s infrastructure priorities without pushing the costs onto future generations of Americans.

This year APTA gave a new special one-time award called the Lifetime of Academic Distinction Award, which honors two renowned educators, Dr. George M. Smerk, Jr. and Dr. Vukan R. Vuchic, who have had a tremendous influence on the public transportation industry.

Dr. George M. Smerk, Jr., received the first Lifetime of Academic Distinction Award.  Dr. Smerk earned a B.S. in 1955 and a M.B.A. in 1957 from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. In 1963, he earned his doctorate in business administration from Indiana University, Bloomington. He was Professor of Transportation at Indiana University for almost 40 years, producing a steady stream of transit management graduates who went on to careers at transit agencies and businesses across the nation.  At IU he founded the Institute for Urban Transportation and its training programs attracted professionals from 169 transit agencies.  Dr. Smerk is a prolific writer with six major books on urban public transportation, transit management, and the federal role in urban transportation to his name.

Dr. Smerk’s career has been filled with many honors from his transportation colleagues and teaching associates, but he considers the scores of teachers and public transit managers across the United States whose careers started in his classrooms to be his greatest legacy.

Dr. Vukan R. Vuchic received the second Lifetime of Academic Distinction Award.  During his 54-year career, Dr. Vuchic introduced many new concepts and processes in urban and particularly public transit systems planning and operations, lifting them from practice into an applied science and bridging the gap between academics working on theoretical models and public transit operations. Vukan’s focus on public transit systems and highway traffic engineering has broadened to the role of intermodal transportation in livable cities, transport policies and high-speed rail systems.

Results of his research have been published in about 130 publications, 33 technical reports, and five books. His “Transit Trilogy,” which covers all aspects of public transit and urban transportation, has been translated into Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Serbian, and Turkish.  Vukan has presented about 160 lectures at 103 different universities on six continents. He often mentions that his contributions to the public transit industry have been greatly enhanced by the dozens of his alumni whom he attracted to public transit and cities. Many of them are engineers, planners, general managers at public transit agencies, presidents of consulting firms, and governmental officials, including secretaries of transportation.

Pasquale (Pat) T. Deon, Sr. (Board Chairman, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia, PA) received the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award.  Pasquale (Pat) T. Deon, Sr. has served as chairman of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Board of Directors since 1999. He first joined the SEPTA board in 1996.  During Deon’s tenure as board chairman, the organization has been able to advance key improvements by guiding more than $3.5 billion in capital investments for short- and long- term projects aimed at restoring SEPTA’s aging infrastructure to a state of good repair. This has included—and will continue to focus on—replacements and reconstruction of track, bridges, catenary, and train stations, as well as acquiring new vehicles to upgrade SEPTA’s fleet.

Deon has also ensured that SEPTA’s bright future is realized in a responsible manner. During his tenure, the SEPTA board adopted a Sustainability Plan, which ensures its commitment to environmental and financial sustainability.

Raul V. Bravo (President, Raul Bravo + Associates, Inc., Reston, VA) received the 2014 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. 

Raul was born in Argentina and driven by a dream to be an automotive engineer in Detroit, but in 1974 a friend offered him a job with the public transportation industry. This was the beginning of a long and successful career in an industry which he embraced with great passion and dedication always looking for better, safer, and more efficient solutions. Along the way, Raul was awarded design and engineering patents for his creative work.
Bravo’s service and commitment to public transportation have been generous and unwavering throughout his 45-year career in the industry. He has been a steadfast champion for rail transportation and a visionary for innovative business and technical approaches.

As an active participant in several APTA committees and task forces, including APTA’s Board of Directors, Business Member Board of Governors, chairman of the Standards Development Oversight Council, and chairman of the International Subcommittee of the Public/Private Projects Committee, Raul pledges to continue his efforts toward better public transportation.

Paul C. Jablonski, (Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA) received the 2014 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. 

Paul Jablonski has been in the public transportation business for almost 45 years. His accomplishments span both the private and public sectors. He has had success all over the United States and even in places like Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. For the last 10 years he has been at the helm of MTS and, in that time, he has transformed it into one of the most efficient systems in the country.  At the beginning, MTS were severely underfunded.  Now MTS is a model of state of good repair.  For example, a five-year, $680 million project to renovate the trolley network and bring low floor cars to the entire system is already complete.

Under Paul’s leadership, ridership has steadily grown at MTS and more than 95 million trips were recorded last fiscal year. He has also worked hard to ensure that the operational perspective of public transportation is instilled in the planning of future services. This is already paying dividends with the launch of new BRT services and the work to add another 11 miles to the trolley network.  

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.  More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.


 

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