December 2, 2013
About Fast Mail
Fast Mail is a compilation from the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) of the latest news and updates from the Community Transportation industry that delivers timely information, resources, and announcements to our members, colleagues and friends. Please keep us posted on your latest news and developments by emailing your content to email@example.com.
Around the Depot
New products, documents, upcoming events and training from CTAA's staff
- New Issue of RAIL Magazine Now Available: The New Rail Reality
RAIL Magazine's 33rd edition focuses on such vital topics as the cost of rail projects, high-speed passenger rail, rail at the ballot box and rail's profitability. This thought-provoking edition of RAIL also features coverage of positive train control, railway rehab, two linked rail-themed podcasts and more.
- CTAA Analysis: FTA Transit Safety ANPRM
The FTA's Safety Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) was issued Oct. 3, 2013, with comments due back to FTA by Jan. 2, 2014. What follows is a quick analysis of the document, highlighting key passages and intended to provide a synopsis. Please take note of the word, "Advanced," in that title, because it offers community and public transportation leaders, officials and advocates an extraordinary amount of time to provide input and solutions to the FTA on its safety initiative.
- Help CTAA's Small Urban Network Determine Priorities for Training & Events
Our Training/Events working group discussed potential training sessions to be held as part of CTAA's EXPO 2014 in St. Paul, Minn., next summer. We'd like to receive your input on these session ideas, so we invite you to take this brief, four-question survey here. We'll update you soon with the results of this survey.
- Provide Your Input on Divisions for the National Community Transportation Roadeo
The National Community Transportation Roadeo Committee is seeking your input on what types of vehicles we should include in our driving competition. The Roadeo, hosted by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) as part of its annual EXPO conference, will continue to maintain the existing Body-on-Chassis (BOC) Division unchanged. Throughout the event's history, it has always included competition for drivers of 15-passenger vans, known as the Van Division. In recent years, participation in this division has declined substantially, as many mobility providers no longer operate these kinds of vehicles. Other states prohibit their use outright. Last year, the Roadeo included a Minivan Division for the first time, in response to input from mobility providers who increasingly use smaller vehicles instead of 15-passenger vans. Please, provide your input on divisions for the National Community Transportation Roadeo.
- Requests for Expressions of Interest
The Community Transportation Association of America is seeking expressions of interest from qualified individuals to assist in providing a limited amount of direct technical assistance. Based on the expressions of interest that are submitted, we would expect to negotiate contracts with approximately two to seven qualified individuals who most appropriately meet the criteria set forth below in this notice. The Community Transportation Association of America anticipates it would enter into contracts of approximately 12 months' duration, and would compensate the selected individual individuals on an hourly basis, subject to a maximum ceiling on the value of those contracts.
- Apply For Volunteer Driver Insurance
Community Transportation Association has partnered with Newtek Insurance to provide you with right insurance coverage at the right price. Newtek offers insurance products in all fifty states. Its programs are underwritten by multiple carriers who have been afforded A.M. Best "A" ratings. Its Business Service Specialists are available to help you understand your exposure and provide you with advice on the most economical way to protect your business.
The Capitol Limited
News on federal transportation policy and developments from the Nation's Capital
- Webcast: Safety/TAM ANPRM for Small Transit Systems
Source: Federal Transit Administration
On Dec. 3 at 1:00 p.m. EST the Federal Transit Administration hosts "Safety/TAM ANPRM for Small Transit Systems." This webcast will identify specific sections of the ANPRM as they relate to small transit systems. Who Should Attend? Members of small transit systems; and Federal, State, and other stakeholders that oversee small transit programs.
- Webcast: Safety/TAM ANPRM for Medium and Large Transit Systems
Source: Federal Transit Administration
On Dec. 4 at 2:00 p.m. EST the Federal Transit Administration hosts "Safety/TAM ANPRM for Medium and Large Transit Systems." This webcast will highlight passages and questions of the ANPRM that may be of particular interest to medium and large transit systems. Who Should Attend? Members of medium and large transit systems; and Federal, State, and other stakeholders that oversee medium or large transit programs.
- Tax Break For Mass-Transit Commutes May Soon Be Slashed
Unless Congress acts quickly, taking mass transit to work is about to get more expensive for some people. For the past four years, public transportation users and people who drive their cars to work and pay for parking have been able set aside up to $245 a month in wages tax free if they're used for commuting costs or workplace parking. The transit tax break expires at the end of the year. So starting Jan. 1, the benefit for riders will be cut nearly in half to $130 a month. Drivers, on the other hand, will get a slightly bigger break as their parking benefit rises to $250.
- Sen. Warner Leads Bipartisan Group in Introducing Infrastructure Legislation
Source: Office of Senator Warner
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) led a bipartisan coalition of ten Senators in introducing legislation to establish a new infrastructure financing authority to help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation's outdated infrastructure. The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment Act, or BRIDGE Act, helps to address the nation's alarming investment shortfall in maintaining and improving our transportation network, water and wastewater systems and energy infrastructure. The legislation would provide an additional financing tool for states and localities which can create new jobs here at home while also increasing our nation's economic competitiveness.
- Sen. Hagan's Office Announces Transportation Grants for WNC Vets
Source: Mountain Express
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan announced today three federal transportation grants that will be used to aid homeless veterans in North Carolina. Three organizations in North Carolina were awarded grants to purchase a van to provide outreach to homeless veterans and to assist with transportation to medical appointments and employment opportunities. In Buncombe County, Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry will receive a $19,487 grant, and FIRST at Blue Ridge will receive a $22,100 grant.
- Project Panel Nominations for the FY 2014 Transit Cooperative Research Program (PDF)
Source: Transportation Research Board
The TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee met on Oct. 25, 2013, and approved new research projects for Fiscal Year 2014. Descriptions of the new research projects are attached. The purpose of this memorandum is to solicit your nominations for new project panels. We are asking you to nominate individuals with expertise directly relevant to the research proposed, and we would particularly welcome your help in identifying women and minority candidates. Your nominations would be appreciated as soon as possible, but no later than Jan. 20, 2014, so that we may move the program forward in a timely manner. We will begin the panel formation process shortly thereafter. Nominations received after Jan. 20 will not be guaranteed full consideration in the panel formation process.
- Webinar: Construct, Repair, Alter, or Rehabilitate Your Capital Assets - Don't Forget ADA
Source: Federal Transit Administration
On Dec. 12 at 2:00 p.m. EST the Federal Transit Administration hosts "Construct, Repair, Alter, or Rehabilitate Your Capital Assets - Don't Forget ADA." The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights will provide technical assistance to help transit systems and members of the community understand how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in terms of providing an accessible path of travel in new construction and alterations. This webinar will focus on important factors involving accessible path of travel requirements under the (ADA) that affect the design and construction of new transit facilities and alterations made to existing facilities. Topics will include accessible routes within a facility, existing site conditions and what is an "alteration."
The Community Transportation Flyer
Updates from community and public transportation systems from across the country
- Pa. Gov. Corbett Signs $2.4 Billion Statewide Transit Bill in Norristown
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett visited Norristown Monday afternoon for a ceremonial bill signing. The governor put his pen to the $2.4 billion transportation package passed in Harrisburg last week. Corbett tacitly acknowledged months of uncertainty over whether the initiative he backed could gain enough support to make it through the Legislature. "After a great deal of hard work," he said, "we have a transportation funding bill that will provide a sustainable source of revenue for our roads, for our bridges and for our transit system." The funding plan finally passed through the Legislature with largely bipartisan support. Rural and suburban Republicans concerned about road safety reached a consensus with urban Democrats looking for help for increasingly cash-strapped public transit systems.
- Indiana Legislative Panel Passes Mass Transit Funding Plan
A legislative panel endorsed a Central Indiana mass transit funding plan that could mean a tax increase for residents and businesses and require approval from local officials and voters. The central Indiana Transit Study Committee voted 12-1 for a proposal that its chairwoman, Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, called a "concept" rather than legislation. It would allow counties to impose a tax on corporations and a local income tax on residents, but would also require that fares paid by bus riders fund at least a quarter of the system's operating costs.
- Natchez Regional Transit Center (Miss.) Opens
Source: Natchez Democrat
Federal, state and local officials cut a ribbon in front of the newly constructed Natchez Regional Transit Center and Maintenance Facility at 127 Wood Ave. to mark the completion of the building. Natchez Transit System Executive Director Sabrena Bartley said the facility will connect "students and staff to schools, employees to employers, citizens to services, tourists to attractions, advertisers to new customers and consumers to commercial venues. It is a great vision: the vision of a comprehensive community transportation provider serving the needs of Natchez-Adams County and the southwest Mississippi region through a network of community partnerships while efficiently connecting people to everyday life," Bartley said.
- Lac du Flambeau (Wisc.) Launches Public Transit Service
Public transportation is returning to at least one part of the Northwoods, thanks to Lac du Flambeau. The tribe is partnering with the Menominee Nation to provide transportation between several stops in Lac du Flambeau and the Minocqua-Woodruff area. Lac du Flambeau spokesman Brandon Thoms says it will be the only public transit available in the area.
- Shuttle Service Comes to Poynette (Wisc.)
Source: Poynette Press
The Ride Improvement Project (TRIP) of Columbia County is hoping to offer just that. TRIP is a transportation council that focuses on transportation issues for the elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and Poynette has just been added to a growing list of communities with low cost shuttles. Bob Barton, of Bob's Transport LLC based out of Montello, is a TRIP board member, and starting this week, his company will provide shuttles to and from Poynette and other rural areas. Columbia County Department of Health and Human Services director Dawn Woodard said cabs and other services have always been available in bigger communities such as Wisconsin Dells and Portage, but for people who live in rural areas like Poynette, Rio and Lodi, affordable transportation is essential. This year the department also received a planning grant from the Community Transportation Association of America. Woodard said the grant was used to survey area transportation providers about their services, locations that are covered, costs and types of equipment.
- New TRIPS Paratransit Vehicles (N.Y.) Rolled Out Using MV-1s
Source: New City Patch
Rockland County officials demoed five new vehicles that joined the TRIPS paratransit fleet by Dec. 1. The specialized SUVs, which were purchased with approximately $230,000 of state funds, will make it easier for disabled residents to use the TRIPS service within the county. The new mobility vehicles include a longer ramp that can extend over curbs, snow banks or puddles to allow wheelchair users to get on board. Transportation Commissioner Thomas Vanderbeek said the two-stage ramp was one of the most valuable features of the new vehicles.
- Devils Lake Transit Expands to Towns That Dot the Map in Rural Ramsey County (N.D.)
People in rural Ramsey County without transportation will soon have a new, reliable way to get to Devils Lake. Devils Lake Transit is expanding beyond the city limits. Devils Lake transit is the only handicap-accessible public transportation in town, and until now, only people in town could use it. Starting in December, a bus will make monthly trips to towns that dot the map in rural Ramsey County, from Starkweather and Hampden to Edmore, Brocket and Lawton.
- Grovelink Ridership Grows As Ride Connection (Ore.) Tweaks Schedule to Accommodate Pick-ups
Source: The Oregonian
Forest Grove residents have embraced Grovelink, the city's recently created free transit service, new data show. Since the service began in August, the number of riders has increased nearly 400 percent. 3,784 riders took the bus service in just over two months of operation, with 1,974 in October alone. Lydia Corran, spokesperson for the nonprofit Ride Connection, which operates the transit service, attributed the uptick in ridership to satisfying a need for public transit throughout Forest Grove.
- Transit System Gets Nod For Funding From Washington County (Ark.) Committee
Source: NWA Media
Washington County likely will help fund a new Ozark Regional Transit route from Lincoln to Elkins after a meeting Monday of the Finance and Budget Committee of the Quorum Court. The committee voted to provide $122,970 to the regional transit operation for the cross-county route. The amount represents a 10 percent investment in the system.
- Belle Glade Express Bus System a First for Palm Beach County (Fla.)
The white shuttle bus weaves through narrow neighborhood roads, passing by well-manicured houses, rundown tenements, substandard migrant housing and nursing homes. Bus driver Mike Kelly talks about the regulars who rely on him for trips to the post office, grocery store, the clinic, the bank. This is the Belle Glade Express. And it's doing what no other city in Palm Beach County has done, providing a citywide bus service for residents who need to get around town. The transit system is still in its infancy, started in 2010 with a federal grant, but it's had explosive growth in that short time. Last year, 54,315 people boarded the buses, an 87 percent growth over its inaugural year.
- Mary's Woods (Ore.) Offers Free Community Shuttle
Source: Marylhurst University
Mary's Woods at Marylhurst launched a free shuttle service in November, connecting the Marylhurst University campus with Lake Oswego and Oregon City. Shuttle in the Woods provides free public transportation between Marylhurst University, Mary's Woods, the Youth Villages Christie Campus, the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, and the transit centers in Lake Oswego and Oregon City. Riders can catch Shuttle in the Woods in front of the Marylhurst University bookstore. Shuttle in the Woods is a pilot program supported by a two-year grant from TriMet. Service began Nov. 11, 2013.
- SEMAC Bus System (Minn.) Renamed Rolling Hills Transit, Expanding Service
Source: Winona Daily News
The Semcac public transportation bus system was recently renamed Rolling Hills Transit as it plans to expand its service in southeast Minnesota. Semcac is using a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to expand curb-to-curb bus services into the city of Stewartville, in addition to a new Semcac dispatch center housed in Kasson. Semcac's system serves Dodge, Houston, Fillmore and rural Winona counties.
- Dial-A-Ride Transportation Now Available in Dutchess Co. (N.Y.)
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal
Residents of Amenia, Dover, North East, Pine Plains, Stanford and Washington are eligible to use the North East Community Center's Dial-A-Ride bus service, which offers scheduled, low-cost door-to-door public transportation throughout Dutchess County. The Dial-A-Ride service is available to anyone who needs it, including people who can't drive or don't have access to a car. For those who rely on friends or relatives to drive them to appointments, the Dial-A-Ride provides an alternative. Residents of the six towns can schedule rides from anywhere in Dutchess County for shopping trips to Poughkeepsie, visits to relatives, library or community centers, and rides to Metro North rail stations. Transportation is also available to medical and hospital appointments anywhere in Dutchess County or Sharon, Conn.
- Go West Bus System (Ill.) Reaches Milestone: 14 Years, 20 Million Riders
Source: McDonough Voice
The familiar Go West buses have been a common sight in Macomb since 1999, chugging along city streets and swinging open doors to welcome riders. On Friday, Nov. 15, the transportation system welcomed its 20 millionth rider - not by swinging open the doors, but by lowering the wheelchair lift. Municipal riders, said Go West Director Jude Kiah, show how Go West has grown from a service provided to Western Illinois University students to a city-wide bus service that is part of the McDonough County Public Transportation system.
- Disabled Vets Can Ride Rochester (N.Y.) Lift Line for Free
Source: Democrat & Chronicle
Once a month, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority CEO Bill Carpenter sits down with six of his employees, chosen at random, to ask them what ideas they would pursue if they sat in the corner office. Peter Kester, an Air Force veteran and a mechanic for the authority's Lift Line service for customers with disabilities, pitched a simple suggestion at one of those meetings in April. Why not let disabled veterans ride Lift Line for free? On Friday, Nov 20, Kester's idea became reality.
- Ketchum (Idaho) Transit Hub Project Moving Forward
Source: Idaho Mountain Express
Members of the Mountain Rides board and the design team of a proposed new transportation hub in downtown Ketchum told the City Council Monday that they are making progress on the estimated $437,000 project. The hub is planned for the intersection of Sun Valley Road and East Avenue. A conceptual design provides for parking for up to five buses, sidewalk extensions at all four corners of the intersection to facilitate pedestrian traffic and islands in the middle of East Avenue on both sides of the intersection for bike parking or public art. The design also considers possible passenger shelter buildings at the Sun Valley Visitor Center and the bus stop in front of The Elephant's Perch outdoor sports store.
- Follow Us on Twitter!
For all the latest transit industry updates including local system highlights, federal and legislative news follow @CTMag1 and @RAILmag on twitter.
The Whistle Stop
Commentary and analysis on developments in community and public transportation
- Low-Wage Workers Need Transit Options
At a time of looming decisions on multiple mass transit proposals, a McKnight Foundation-sponsored synthesis of nine studies from the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies reaffirms the many economic and societal benefits of investing in transit. Among the findings are that transitways significantly improve mobility and that development is occurring among new and emerging transit corridors. In fact, the studies state, even more money would likely flow if certain expansion and regulatory uncertainties were addressed by policymakers.
- The Perk of Public Transit: Offering Employees an Affordable Commute
Offering employees choice and the ability to forgo car ownership in a highly visible benefit that is a boon for the employer as an employee retention tool. That's a lot of bang for an employer's buck — especially considering how relatively few bucks it costs to provide the service. Additionally, encouraging more urban core employees to take public transportation over driving results in a downtown that is less of a parking lot and more of an attractive place to work.
- Why Correcting Misperceptions About Mass Transit May Be More Important Than Improving Service
Source: The Atlantic Cities
If you want to understand why people use a certain transit system, it makes sense to start with the system itself. Frequency, access, and any other service qualities that make riding as convenient as driving will help. Whether or not the way a city is designed and built nudges people toward the system via residential density and street design, for instance, matters too. But as we've pointed out in the past, there's a psychological component to riding transit that's easy for city officials and planners to overlook. Fact is, we're not all completely rational about our travel decisions. The perceptions that people have about public transportation, substantiated or not, are powerful enough to attract or repel them.
- Rethinking Transportation: Creating An Aging Friendly Community
Source: NOCO 5
Gary Thomas, Executive Director of SAINT Volunteer Transportation and co-chair of the Senior Transportation Coalition believes the conversation centers on access. "When talking about living independently the real question is - access. There are several ways to access the goods and services we need to live. You can drive yourself, take a bus, walk, bike, live close by, someone can drive you or someone can bring them to you. Having options beyond driving yourself will be increasingly important as we get older."
- Driving Transportation to a Cleaner Future
Source: Utah Policy
Many public transit riders see the system as providing a solution to air quality and emissions by reducing the number of cars on the road. What if there was a better solution, one that even further cuts emissions? Could new technology change the face of transportation? WAVE Technologies, Inc., a Utah State University (USU) technology spin-out, is addressing the issue of carbon emitting buses. In addition, they are solving the problems related to the heavy and expensive batteries required by current electric vehicles through charging using wireless technology. WAVE is slated to deploy its first commercial electrically powered bus in the coming weeks on the University of Utah (U of U) campus.
- Transit Without a Route Map
Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet
In six counties of west-central Minnesota, residents don't need bus schedules or route maps to get around by public transit. They just call the Rainbow Rider dispatcher to schedule a pickup. It's a common dial-a-ride system for rural transit, but one that's become more efficient and economical thanks to recently introduced software called RouteMatch. Every day Rainbow Rider transit vans ply different routes with their daily average of 634 passengers. But constant change doesn't boggle the drivers because "they are very pleased to see their routes and destinations on the tablets which are equipped in each of our 31 buses," transit services director Harold Jennissen told November's in-transit, the newsletter of the Minnesota Public Transit Association. "We have plans for the future that will allow riders to schedule rides directly using their phones and tablets as well."
- Valley Metro (Ariz.) Sessions Help People with Disabilities Navigate Buses, Trains
Source: Cronkite News
Because many people with disabilities fear using public transportation, Valley Metro offers monthly training sessions at the Disability Empowerment Center operated by Arizona Bridge to Independent Living. After classroom lessons, participants practice boarding and make an escorted round trip on Metro light rail. "It's very effective," said Nolan, community relations coordinator for Valley Metro. "People come in anxious and leave a lot more relaxed."
The Information Station
Resources from CTAA
- Ahead of the Curve: CTAA's Safety Training Programs Lead the Way
For community and public transportation operators safety has always been the priority. Recent action by the Congress to include new transit safety requirements in the latest surface transportation law reinforces this industry-wide commitment. To help transit agencies further meet their system safety goals and come into compliance with the forthcoming federal transit guidelines, CTAA has launched the Community Transportation Safety and Security Accreditation (CTSSA) program.
PASS Training is Now Available Online!
The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) is excited to announce PASS Basic, the online alternative to its passenger assistance training. Simply by going to http://training.ctaa.org you can access the virtual classroom experience through six audio/visual modules which will prepare your drivers to attend the hands-on aspect of PASS training and attain full PASS driver certification.
- Two Inclusive Transportation Planning Webinars Now Available
The Administration for Community Living's (ACL) Strengthening Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Partnerships to Promote Community Living project is pleased to announce its two recent webinars focusing on "What it Means to be Inclusive in Transit Planning" and "Social Media in Inclusive Transit Planning" were recorded and are now available at www.transitplanning4all.org.
- Veterans Transportation Resources
The National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination (NRC) has put together a list of resources for transportation (and other human services) issues from the perspective of veterans and military families.
- Strengthening Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Partnerships to Promote Community Living
The mission of this project, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living is to demonstrate the value that inclusive processes can bring to transportation efforts. The Community Transportation Association of America, in partnership with Easter Seals, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and Westat, is developing, testing and demonstrating ways to empower people with disabilities and older adults to be actively involved in designing and implementing coordinated transportation systems.
- Certified Safety and Security Officer Program
Also, learn more about CTAA's safety training programs. The mission of this Certified Safety and Security Officer Program is to assist in improving the professional preparedness of public and community transportation officers, and to maximize their ability to provide safe and secure transit service.
- The Competitive Edge: Making Community and Public Transit the Best Alternative for Medical Transportation: Today there is never-before-seen complexity in the non-emergency medical transportation field. Limited funding combined with growing patient loads has states seeking intermediaries that can control costs through competition. Community and public transportation providers must become efficient, safe, cost-effective and accountable to maintain these important medical transportation services. The Community Transportation Association, in response to requests from its members, is introducing a new initiative -- the Competitive Edge -- which will give community and public transit providers the tools, resources and benefits they need to make them central players in this new medical transportation environment.
The Transportation to Work Toolkit for the Business Community gives businesses the information they need now to assist their employees in achieving a timely, cost-efficient commute that promotes productivity and job satisfaction. Explore the toolkit's flyers, fact sheets, resources and examples of transportation initiatives undertaken by employers nationwide. Each approach is straightforward to launch and simple to manage.
Community Transportation and RAIL Magazines