Transit Takes Center Stage in San Francisco - Day 2

Oct. 5, 2015

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wants the transit industry to embrace its role as pioneers of a new frontier in restoring opportunity to communities across the nation and close the opportunity gap. 

This week the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held its Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. The meeting brought together about 2,000 public transportation professionals to discuss and share the latest strategies and accomplishments, see emerging technologies and engage in a variety of tours. The exhibit hall featured 110 exhibitors with the latest technologies and services available in the market.

From the APTA Annual Meeting:


Foxx Addresses APTA 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wants the transit industry to embrace its role as pioneers of a new frontier in restoring opportunity to communities across the nation and close the opportunity gap. 
“The widening gap threatens the core of the American dream — the idea that no matter where you come from, you can make it in America if you work hard and play by the rules,” Foxx said.
Foxx spoke Oct. 5, at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) annual meeting in San Francisco, where he challenged the industry to meet the needs of a growing country, which not only has a widening opportunity gap, but tremendous pressure on infrastructure and a growing population.

“As America becomes more of a closely connected group of mega regions, the importance of APTA and the work that the members of APTA do every day to deliver high quality transportation to folks who really need it that work is going to become more important because increasingly we’re finding limitations to our ability to expand lane miles, hitting us hard in many of our urban areas and of course with the lack of a longer term highway bill, that also presents a limitation,” he said.

The lack of a long-term funding bill remains a challenge for the transportation industry as a whole, Foxx said, but work between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and local communities is working to change communities and rehabilitate neighborhoods long ago carved up by structural discrimination policies.

“They even gave these walls names,” he said. “The Mason-Dixon Lines, or the Staten Island Expressway or the Berlin Wall of Syracuse just to name a couple and the reality is the messages are still there. 
“The walls, if you will, are still up.”

 Small Agencies, Big Ideas

Sessions focus on a variety of topics and one focused on the best practices from four small ops. GTrans Deputy Director of Transportation Paula Faust and Rock Region Metro Executive Director Jarod Varner shared their experiences of rebranding and strategic planning for an agency and Monterey-Salinas Transit Assistant General Manager/Chief Operating Officer Mike Hernandez and Antelope Valley Transit Authority Executive Director Len Engel talked about their experience in operating all-electric vehicles.


Funding predominated much of the conversations with Congress moving toward a long-term authorization bill. Michael Melaniphy said what the industry is asking Congress for, isn’t asking for unicorns or rainbows, it’s based on real needs. APTA presented members with an update on where Congress is at and what the association’s been doing

Another looming deadline under discussion is that of positive train control (PTC). Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno spoke about the recent announcement by Metra that it would have to shut down unless the PTC deadline is extended. He said there’s a lot of misinformation out there and members of Congress need to understand the technology hasn’t been out there long, hasn’t been tested and is a challenge to put in. He pointed out that a lot of railroads can’t get radio spectrum. 

Vix Wins DART Contract

Vix Technology announced its implementing a new open fare payment system for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).

Doug Thomas, general manager of the Americas for Vix, said “It’s something we’re very proud of."

David Leininger, vice president and chief financial officer for DART, said the total project will cost $28 million. About $14 million will go toward implementation of the system and the rest will go to costs for hosting the system under a five year agreement.

The project will be completed by March 2017. It will also integrate other modes of travel — such as car sharing services, bicycle sharing and ZipCar — as part of its app.  

“We don’t know what’s next,” Leininger said about evolving fare technology. “But by having a standard open account-based system, we’ll be ready for it.”

Vidcie Announces Vidcie InSight 4.0

Vidcie on Oct. 5, announced a set of enhancements to Vidcie InSight including real-time text and an updated interface featuring an integrated live feed of all incoming reports.

“As organizations expand their use of Vidcie InSight to include riders, corporate employees and student populations, texting will be the key component in multi-modal reporting,” said Romulus Pereira, CEO of Vidcie. “While security teams will continue to rely heavily on real-time video, the public at large is most comfortable with text as their primary communication method, and the success of any reporting tool comes down to the ease of use for the person sending the report.” 

American Seating Introduces Next Generation of Insight

American Seating introduced the next generation of its InSight seats for mass transit: InSight-Prime and InSight-Prime+.

The new solution features easier maintenance with no fabric inserts. The seats feature a weight savings of more than 25 percent compared to a typical two-pass transverse. Also notable is a lower cost. 

InSight-Prime and InSight-Prime+ are available in the same configurations as InSight and the texture pattern is a unique design, specifically engineered to enhance the user experience.

About the Author

Joe Petrie | Associate Editor

I came to Mass Transit in 2013 after spending seven years on the daily newsbeat in southeastern Wisconsin.

Based in Milwaukee, I worked as a daily newspaper reporter with the Waukesha Freeman from 2006-2011, where I covered education, county and state government. I went on to cover courts for, where I was the main courts reporter in the Metro Milwaukee cluster of websites.

I’ve won multiple awards during the course of my career and have covered some of the biggest political events in the past decade and have appeared on national programs.

Having covered local government and social issues, I discovered the importance of transit and the impact it can have on communities when implemented, supported and funded.