CATA Board Chairman Receives Transit Industry’s Highest Honor

Oct. 7, 2015

The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) announced that, at an awards ceremony in San Francisco Oct. 6, John C. Spychalski, the authority’s board chairman, was named this year’s recipient of the prestigious American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award.

Spychalski has been a member of the CATA board of directors since 1980 and chairman since 2002 as the appointed representative for Ferguson Township in State College, PA. Under John’s leadership as a board member, the authority’s many major accomplishments have included:

  • The integration of the CATACOMMUTE program into CATA’s list of services, which provides for carpool and vanpool ridematching services and additional programs for long-distance commuters into the State College area;
  • The conversion of CATA’s vehicle fleet to clean natural gas, which resulted in CATA being one of the first transit systems on the East Coast to have an active fleet powered entirely by CNG;
  • The implementation of a GPS-based technology program, which allowed for the integration of real-time bus arrival information, iPhone and Android apps, audible and visual stop annunciators and automated passenger counters into rider communication
  • The initiation in 2010 of a fleet replacement program that has since resulted in forty new New Flyer Xcelsior CNG buses being added to CATA’s active fleet, effectively reducing the average age of the fleet by half.

“It is an honor for CATA that the APTA has chosen to recognize Dr. Spychalski for his service on the CATA board of directors and his lifelong commitment to the public transportation,” notes Louwana Oliva, CATA General Manager. “He has devoted his professional career to the advancement of public transportation, and CATA and the industry will continue to reap the benefits of his dedication far into the future.”

The Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award, the highest honor awarded to a transit board member in North America, is presented annually to the board member who is judged to have made the greatest contribution to their local transit system and the industry in general. (Awards of this magnitude are not entirely new to CATA; in 2001 the authority was selected as the APTA Outstanding Transit System in North America in its size category and in 2010 former General Manager Hugh Mose was named the APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Manager.)