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March 2, 2015

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 fastmail@ctaa.org.

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Around the Depot

New products, documents, upcoming events and training from CTAA's staff

  • New Editions of DigitalCT & RAIL Magazines Now Available
    The latest edition of DigitalCT combines proven communications theories with strategies and tactics specifically geared for community and public transportation professionals and mobility advocates. Communication is the single greatest predictor for successful systems: those that communicate effectively are successful; those that aren't are stumbling - often badly. The systems that are succeeding - as measured by investment, support, market growth, and image - are those that have well conceived and developed communications. Also, the 37th edition of RAIL Magazine is unlike any of the previous 36 issues we've published. Rather than a look at the nuances of individual passenger rail services and projects or the exact policy and legislative mechanisms that frame how rail systems are built and maintained, we're taking a broader look at some of the philosophic and cultural issues at play as a rail service is proposed, planned, designed, built and operated.
  • Annual Membership Awards: Excellence in Motion
    We are seeking nominations for our 2015 annual membership awards. As a member you can nominate yourself or any other person or organization that is a member for the important work you or one of your colleagues are doing. The award categories are Rural Community Transportation System of the Year, Urban Community Transportation System of the Year, Community Transportation Manager of the Year and State Leadership Award. All awards are due by April 17, 2015.
  • New NCMM Information Brief Facilitating Public Input into Transportation Plans: The Role for Mobility Management Practitioners highlights multiple types of transportation planning organizations, transportation plans, and public involvement processes, and tools to facilitate public participation, and explores the role of mobility managers in facilitating the public's input into the plans.
  • NCMM Healthcare Challenge Update
    If you missed the recent informational webinar about the Healthcare Access Mobility Design Challenge, and are still interested in applying, visit the Design Challenge home page. There, you can listen to the recording, review FAQs, and learn about the application process. The Challenge is seeking 8 community-based teams to design innovative solutions to healthcare-related transportation challenges. Selected teams will receive grant funds of up to $25,000 and technical assistance during a 6-month period to take potential solutions from concept to impact. Applications are due March 27, 2015.
  • Register Now for EXPO 2015!
    The 29th Annual EXPO will be held in the Tampa Bay area for the first time from May 31-June 5, 2015. Registration is now open for EXPO 2015 and the National Community Transportation Roadeo. Full details on all EXPO events are available, including information on this year's special conferences on technology and volunteer transportation programs, as well as the conference intensives are now available.

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The Capitol Limited

News on federal transportation policy and developments from the Nation's Capital

  • Coming to DC? Pay a Visit to CTAA
    As the legislative visit season heats up here in Washington, D.C., we'd like to extend an invitation to all CTAA members coming to the nation's capital to pay us a visit. We can help explain the latest MAP-21 reauthorization news, provide you with resources and offer you a great cup of coffee. Our office is located at 1341 G Street, NW, on the 10th Floor. We're a mere block north of the J.W. Marriott Hotel.
  • CTAA's FedCentral: Your One-Stop for Transit Policy and Legislation News
    We urge all transit leaders, officials and advocates to make our FedCentral page a regular visit. Newly updated, the site offers news and analysis of Congressional hearings, regulatory news, important resources and more. As MAP-21 reauthorization discussion heats up, visit FedCentral for the latest, breaking news and analysis.
  • U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx: Local, Federal Governments Need to Cooperate on Transit
    Source: Charlotte Observer
    He may work in Washington now, but former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx still praises the city and its commitment to transportation improvement. But solving the country's infrastructure problems requires cooperation from leaders at the local, state and federal levels, said Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, at a meeting with local officials in Charlotte. "The fortunate thing about this community is it has a plan, but a plan is only as good as your ability to execute it," Foxx said. "Getting off neutral is going to be really important." Foxx said local leaders need to communicate the need for federal funding for their individual projects.

The Community Transportation Flyer

Updates from community and public transportation systems from across the country

  • Houston (Texas) Just Dramatically Improved Its Mass Transit System Without Spending a Dime (with CTAA EXPO Trainer & Keynote Speaker Jarrett Walker's Help)
    Source: VOX
    The recent "reimagining" of Houston's bus network — officially approved on Feb. 11 — is a great example of doing things the right way, drastically increasing the utility of the city's bus fleet for most people without incurring any increase in operating costs. How is Houston able to pull that off with no additional funding? Well, as Jarrett Walker, one of the plan's lead designers, explains it's all about prioritizing routes that will plausibly attract riders. The old system, like many bus routes in the United States, expended a lot of resources on very low-ridership routes for the sake of saying there's "a bus that goes there." The new plan says that the focus should be to provide reasonably frequent service on routes where reasonably frequent service will attract riders. That does mean that some people are further than ever from a transit stop. But it means that many more Houstonians will find themselves near a useful transit stop.
  • Public Transit Is Coming to Pine Island (Minn.)
    Source: Zumbrota
    Beginning March 2, Three Rivers Community Action's Hiawathaland Transit expanded its bus service to provide public transportation in Pine Island for anyone for any reason. All trips within the city limits of Pine Island will cost $1.75 per one-way trip. Punch passes and tokens are encouraged and will be available for purchase at City Hall. Riders of all ages can use the bus to meet their transportation needs around town. Each bus is equipped with a handicap accessible lift entrance for rider convenience. Bus services will be available Monday - Friday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Indiana Transit Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Hike State Funding
    Source: Associated Press
    A coalition of bus agencies and mass transit supporters are urging state lawmakers to boost funding for mass transit in Indiana's next 2-year budget. A bill co-authored by Republican state Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso that's awaiting action in a House committee would increase mass transit funding to $60 million annually, up from the current $42.5 million where it's basically been frozen for seven years.
  • Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville (N.C.) Stand to Gain in Wake County Transit Plan
    Source: Cary News
    Triangle Transit bus service started in Fuquay-Varina in January. Town leaders were so excited, they woke up early to take the first ride to Raleigh, leaving from the community center at 6:05 a.m. The area is undergoing a large scale re-write of its transit options through the Wake County Transit Strategy, a partnership of area municipalities and transit organizations. Towns such as Fuquay-Varina, with limited service, and Morrisville, with no bus service, stand to be the biggest winners. Since both towns will be new to transit if it does come, local leaders have a chance to make decisions on strategies such as the number and locations of bus stops.
  • Oakland's AC Transit (Calif.) Launches Double-Decker Bus Pilot Program, Passengers Ride Free
    Source: CBS San Francisco
    AC Transit recently began a three-week pilot program in which it will use a 42-foot-long, double-decker bus on selected longer routes in its service area in 13 cities and surrounding areas in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Bus agency officials said the 80-seat coach will offer riders comfortable excursions with spectacular views, especially on transbay routes that go to and from San Francisco. AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said that the double-decker bus has a much larger capacity than the current articulated, accordion-style buses used by the agency, which only seat about 50 people. The double bus also a smaller carbon footprint than current buses and allows passengers to exit from rear doors, Johnson said.
  • Bettendorf (Iowa) Approves New Transit Routes
    Source: Quad Cities Times
    To keep up with an increase in city bus riders, Bettendorf will be expanding its transit routes this summer in hopes of offering more reliable, on-time service. At a recent city council meeting, aldermen unanimously approved a motion to update the city's five routes — a move city staff and MetroLINK officials predict will attract additional riders and improve efficiency.
  • CTAA Will Study Ways to Benefit Nebraska's R.Y.D.E. Transit
    Source: Kearney Hub
    The R.Y.D.E. public transit system will receive technical assistance in the form of a Community Transportation Association of America Technical Assistance Grant. The grant does not include money. Instead, a CTAA transportation specialist will evaluate the current system and future needs and recommend ways to optimize it. Those ways could include commuter transportation, a fixed-route system and/or other services. R.Y.D.E. provides public transportation in Adams, Buffalo, Dawson, Franklin, Gosper, Kearney and Hamilton counties.
  • Savannah's Chatham Transit (Ga.) Officials Following New Route to Future
    Source: Savannah Morning News
    Chatham Area Transit (CAT) officials have been lobbying for money from the state and federal governments to keep the bus system running. The need has become all the more pressing in recent months since the CAT board of directors signed off on a restructure of the transit system's line of credit. While it will ultimately help the organization cut back on its debt, the restructure also severely limits CAT's ability to borrow money needed for regular maintenance and operations. Though seemingly piecemeal, all these activities — construction of new facilities, development of programs and funding initiatives — are part of a road map for the transit system completed by CAT officials in 2013. Known as "Making Connections," the plan gives CAT officials a route to follow as they work to keep up with the demands of a growing community. (For more information, see our DigitalCT feature article on CAT, "The Pivot".)
  • Bryan-College Station City Councils (Texas) Weigh Extension of Brazos Transit Services
    Source: The Eagle
    When Bryan and College Station City Councils agreed to help the Brazos Transit District receive federal funding to run a bus service in the area in 1988, they told Brazos Transit District president John McBeth there was a stipulation. "They said, 'We're not gonna provide one cent or support not one penny,'" McBeth said. "We're not gonna fund any portion of it. Ever." And so far, they have not. But a push from both McBeth and bus riders has lead both City Councils and staff to begin to consider partially funding weekend bus service and extending weekday bus service to 10 p.m. from 7 p.m. The estimated cost to the cities is about $700,000 according to the Brazos Transit District. McBeth can cite many needs for more service, and hence more funding. The population is growing. In 2008 there were 320,000 riders, today there are 390,000. McBeth gets numerous calls from retirees who do not have a car and want to know why the city only has seven buses. And other cities Brazos Transit District serves, cities such as Ames and Nacogdoches and Lufkin, help fund buses in the area.
  • 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.

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The Whistle Stop

Commentary and analysis on developments in community and public transportation

  • Targeting Inequality, This Time on Public Transit
    Source: New York Times
    On Sunday, March 1, the county transit system for the Seattle metropolitan area began hurtling down a road that few cities have traveled before: pricing tickets based on passengers' income. The project, which is being closely watched around the nation, gives discounts on public transportation to people whose household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level - for instance, $47,700 or less for a family of four under the 2014 guidelines. The problem it addresses is that many commuters from places like SeaTac, an outlying suburb, are too poor to live in Seattle, where prices and rents are soaring in a technology-driven boom. If they are pushed out so far that they cannot afford to get to work or give up on doing so, backers of the project said, Seattle's economy could choke.
  • We Need Transit We Can Be Proud Of
    Source: The Now Newspaper
    If we had a system in place (perhaps a non-profit community service) that provided some type of subsidized or free fare that would provide transportation for the above mentioned members of the community instead of what presently exists, then we could eliminate the current restriction that affects employment, appointments, community events, participation in volunteer programs, council meetings, socializing in public places etc. A lot of our commuters are senior citizens who rely on this service. It is their way of being independent, shopping for themselves, going to medical appointments and getting out of their homes and having a social life.
  • How Public Transit Agencies Deal with All Your Angry, Mean, and Terrible Tweets
    Source: CityLab
    Public transit agencies face a bit of a dilemma when it comes to social media. On one hand, they're expected to take loads of abuse sitting down. "A lot of times [Twitter users] are just upset," says Kari Watkins, a Georgia Tech professor who has studied public transit agencies and social media. "They're not actually looking for people to respond." On the other hand, some Twitter users want their problems personally acknowledged. They want Twitter to act as a customer service line without the call center, so that a few taps on a smartphone keyboard will get the bus there faster, or the garbage picked up from the subway platform.
  • Is the Term "Smart Growth" Out?
    Source: Greater Greater Washington
    "Smart Growth" is the idea that cities and regions should focus on growing in existing communities and near transit rather than in rural or fringe area. A colleague recently said he doesn't hear the term as much as he used to, and wondered why that might be. Perhaps Smart Growth's proponents worry that people who get nervous about change will bristle at the term, so they talk about its tenets—walkable communities, transportation choices, the preservation of open space, etc.— without actually saying the words.

The Information Station

Resources from CTAA

  • The Changing American Commute
    This edition of DigitalCT focuses on the changing American commute to work - with an emphasis on vanpooling and CTAA's new Vanpool Works product. You'll learn about emerging research and trends, technological breakthroughs and innovative, alternative commuting approaches.
  • Tip-Sheet: Planning Inclusive Meetings (PDF)(159 KB)
    We offer this short list to encourage you to think about similar tips and reminders as you begin planning a meeting; and a checklist for seeking out meeting locations. We also offer some suggestions for short-term solutions, and, encourage you to find meeting places that are more welcoming or to seek long-term solutions to some of the problems.
  • Volunteer Driver Program Review (PDF)
    This review from the National Volunteer Transportation Center is intended to support volunteer driver programs in their efforts to provide what might be called "high touch/low cost" transportation services to people who cannot access other community-based transportation. It was designed to enable volunteer driver program managers and staff to review the operations and management of their volunteer driver program in providing and supporting the delivery of transportation services.
  • 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 LogoPASS 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.

  • 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.

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Contact

Richard Sampson
Communications Specialist
Community Transportation and RAIL Magazines
800.891.0590 x729
202.415.9666