The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) honored 13 individuals and organizations with awards for their leadership, vision and life-time commitment to public transportation and inducted four new members into the APTA Hall of Fame.
The APTA Honors recognize leaders in the public transportation industry in North America who are outstanding role models of excellence, have demonstrated significant leadership and whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation.
APTA Chair Nuria I. Fernandez, general manager and CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, said, “APTA has chosen an amazing group of awardees this year whose accomplishments have greatly advanced our communities in innumerable ways. I am proud of the work they have done to build the foundation for the future of public transit.”
APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said, “Congratulations to our honorees. These systems and individuals have made our industry more innovative and have been at the forefront of building for the future in a year of challenges. Additionally, these four deserving inductees into the APTA Hall of Fame have dedicated their careers to strengthening our industry and have truly proven themselves as the best of the best.”
Golden Empire Transit (GET) of Bakersfield, Calif., and Pace Suburban Bus in Arlington Heights, Ill., received the 2020 Innovation Award.
GET created an innovative book program by turning a bus into a mini mobile library stocked with books primarily geared toward children ranging from infant to 3rd grade. The books make the daily commute more fun for children and less daunting for parents who may have restless children.
Pace Suburban Bus and the Illinois Tollway forged a unique partnership to work together to expand public transit options, make roadway advances and improve overall mobility on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90).
Three public transit systems received the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for their accomplishments:
Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) Livermore, CA
Providing four million or fewer annual passenger trips
LAVTA’s service area covers 40-square miles and includes the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton in Alameda County, approximately 35 miles east of San Francisco. Following a service redesign in 2016, the agency’s ridership has grown dramatically, including six consecutive months of double-digit ridership growth in late 2019 and early 2020. In 2017, LAVTA introduced a subsidized ridesharing program with Uber and Lyft, which was the first of its kind in the Bay Area and resulted in considerable cost savings compared to the fixed route service it replaced. In 2018, the agency began testing of a shared autonomous vehicle that will soon be providing passenger service on public roads in the vicinity of the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station.
Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Columbus, OH
Providing more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips
COTA is a repeat winner, having won the award in 2018. COTA has focused on cleaner and more efficient transit vehicles and sustainability initiatives. COTA committed to transitioning its entire diesel fleet to compressed natural gas and electric by 2025. COTA continues to improve safety measures in its facilities and on the street. Initiatives and trainings have helped decrease the number of preventable accidents from 0.61 per 100,000 miles in 2017 to 0.25 in 2018. During the same time, the rate of employee injuries decreased from 2.28 to 2.27.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, (METRO) Houston, TX
Providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips
Safety has been a focal point for METRO. Ensuring the well-being of passengers, the public and employees are something the agency focuses on every day. METRO’s board of directors has made a commitment to take proactive agencywide approaches to enhance, implement and track safety practices. In 2018, METRO was the recipient of an APTA Gold Award for Safety as a “model for emergency response” for its proactive efforts during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Local Distinguished Service Award – Sharon Bulova
Sharon Bulova, recently retired chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and who helped shape public transportation options in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area. Bulova helped found the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail line in 1988 and oversaw the massive redevelopment of Tyson’s Corner and the launch of the Silver Line. An original, and the longest-serving member of the VRE Operations Board, Bulova worked diligently to help VRE overcome funding shortfalls, indemnification hurdles and opposition from private railroads.
Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member – Freddie Fuller II
For more than 23 years, Freddie Fuller II has amassed vast experience in the private sector and has used his education, expertise and relationships to engage and connect organizations and individuals within the public transportation industry. He is currently a vice president at Jacobs, leading new business development for transit and rail in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Canada, with a focus on electronic payment systems. Fuller is currently the national board chair for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and serving as APTA’s secretary/treasurer.
Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member – Sharon McBride
Sharon McBride has served nearly 23 years on the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (GPMTD) Board of Trustees (Peoria, Il). As a trustee, McBride focused her efforts on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates so they would be met in a timely fashion. Throughout her career, she has mentored many students, utilizing her master’s degree in counseling, especially during her tenure at Bradley University as well as her years teaching a technical communication course at Illinois Central College.
Outstanding Public Transportation Manager – Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.
When Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. joined the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) in 2012, public confidence in the transportation system was low, on-time performance was below 70 percent and bus stops, shelters and facilities needed upgrades. In addition, most bus routes had service frequencies of one hour or more, a factor complicated by a circuitous system network that was outdated and under serving the community.
A second-generation transportation professional who had earned a reputation as a change-agent and visionary at positions in New York, Atlanta and San Francisco, Ford quickly made his mark at Jacksonville. Today, under his leadership, the JTA is recognized as a mobility integrator that connects riders to multimodal options.
Hall of Fame
Four individuals were inducted into APTA’s prestigious Hall of Fame:
J. Barry Barker
J. Barry Barker retired Dec. 1, 2018, after more than 40 years advancing public transportation at the national, state and local levels and nearly 25 years as executive director of the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, Ky. Barker’s job performance, many awards and recognitions, and his extensive engagement with non-profit organizations underscore his personal core values of leadership, integrity, excellence, diversity, inclusiveness, fairness and equity, teamwork, professionalism and accountability. Barker served APTA as chairman of the Legislative Committee; vice chairman for Legislative Affairs; chairman of the Sustainability Committee; and as vice president, Marketing and Communications Committee.
Dr. Beverly Scott
Dr. Beverly Scott is recognized as a trailblazer, a thoughtful and inspirational leader and a passionate advocate for the betterment of the public transportation industry through her efforts to ensure training and opportunities are made available to young and disadvantaged individuals, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in their own right. Scott has held key leadership roles in some of North America’s largest public transportation systems in Texas; New York, NY; New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Rhode Island; California; Georgia; and Massachusetts. Scott served as APTA chair, chair of the Legislative Committee, Diversity Council and the Awards Committee, among others.
For 34 years, Celia Kupersmith has been a major force in the growth and development of the public transit industry. To this day, multiple systems and riders alike benefit from her efforts to foster ethical leadership, improve service quality, enhance multimodal coordination and elevate transit as a key network component. In predominantly multi-modal settings, she has served as a planner; marketing director; MPO chief; bus, rail and ferry manager; general manager; and executive recruiting consultant. Her most successful achievement, however, was her stewardship of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and its supporting transit systems. Kupersmith’s career includes key leadership roles across North America in Texas; Nevada; California; and Washington State. Kupersmith was only the third woman to be elected APTA chair and was the youngest individual to serve in that role.
Paul Jablonski (awarded posthumously)
Through a career that spanned more than 40 years in the public transportation industry, Paul Jablonski was a champion for transit. His influence and expertise were felt at transit agencies across the east coast, the Midwest, the west coast and overseas. He nurtured new transit systems, turned broken systems into winners, and was committed to learning and sharing knowledge to help others succeed. Jablonski spent 16 years as the CEO of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and under his leadership, MTS was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Transit Agency of the Year Award and he was honored as Outstanding Transportation Manager of the year in 2014. As a member of APTA, he served as an at-large director on the APTA Board of Directors, co-chair of the Public Transportation CEO Coordinating Council Leadership and an additional 14 committees.