The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) honored on July 15 nine organizations and leaders with awards for “their vision, leadership and commitment to public transportation.” APTA also inducted four new members into its Hall of Fame.
The 2022 APTA Awards recognize organizations and leaders in the public transportation industry in North American who “have demonstrated significant leadership, are outstanding role models of excellence, and whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation,” APTA said.
“When APTA recognizes members and these organizations with awards it is because they have truly earned this opportunity to be celebrated,” said Jeff Nelson, APTA Chair and CEO/Managing Director, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK), Moline, Ill. “I am proud of their achievements and continually excited by the way they help move our industry forward. Congratulations to you all and I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
“Congratulations to all those being recognized for their accomplishments and for making their communities’ daily lives better,” added APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.” Our four inductees into the APTA Hall of Fame are all professionals that I am lucky to call friends, and their dedication to our industry will have an impact for decades.”
The 2022 APTA Awards recipients are as follows:
Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award–20 million or More Trips: Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) Jersey City, N.J. While PATH has been in service for more than 110 years, it is still an ever-evolving agency and consistently strives for improvement. After launching the PATH Improvement Plan to focus on addressing its most significant challenges, the agency has added more trains, reduced delays and focused on the customer experience to improve the rides of its daily passengers. With 52% fewer delays and significant improvement in reliability, combined with capital improvements, construction of a new station, station modifications and new railcar purchases, PATH says it is “working tirelessly” to meet the demands of its riders. In 2021, the agency completed an overhaul of its railcar air brake system, introduced enhanced maintenance training for signaling staff, added a new data-drive track infrastructure program and rehabilitated the HVAC system on its railcars. PATH has a commitment to providing best-in-class service, and is working to improve, innovate and excel for its customers—from the Ironbound in Newark, along Jersey City’s waterfront, down Hoboken’s cobbled streets and everywhere in between.
Additional Organization Awards recipient included C-TRAN of Vancouver, Wash., winner of the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award–Four Million or Fewer Trips; and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) of Kansas City, Mo., winner of the Outstanding Public Transportation Award–More than Four Million but Fewer Than 20 Million Trips.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Philadelphia, Pa.–Transit systems have long been challenged by public safety issues and the makeshift sheltering of chronically homeless and vulnerable populations. While homelessness, substance use disorder and mental illness originate well outside of public transportation, SEPTA says it “understands and values its role as a leader and as a partner to find solutions to the challenges facing the communities it serves.” In 2021, the agency launched its SCOPE initiative (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership and Engagement) and achieved three overarching goals: to ensure a safe and clean working environment for all SEPTA employees, provide a safe and clean travel experience for customers and connect vulnerable individuals to vital services and resources. SCOPE’s multifaceted approach helps SEPTA direct the full spectrum of its resources toward identifying problems, recommending and implementing strategies, building community and institutional partnerships and ultimately connecting people to services such as housing and mental health care. Rather than approach these issues purely as a law enforcement problem, SCOPE has allowed SEPTA to form innovative partnerships with social service non-profits, universities and local governments to connect people to community resources. According to APRA, SEPTA has committed to go beyond its role as a transit service provider to become a community resource for positive change.
Distinguished Service Award–Joseph J. Giulietti, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT): With a career spanning more than 50 years in the transit industry, Giulietti has been instrumental in advancing and completing transportation projects in Connecticut and the wider region. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Northeast Corridor Commission (NEC), he helped develop the NEC Connect 35 Plan, endorsed by state governments of the Northeast, the federal government, eight commuter rail agencies and Amtrak. Connect 35 is a 15-year plan representing the most ambitious reinvestment program in NEC’s history and a new way of planning: a multi-agency, multi-year shared action plan. As a native of Connecticut, Giulietti has a “unique ability to coalesce stakeholders and partners,” which has resulted in numerous achievements since being appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont in 2019. His leadership in the transit industry has been noteworthy and meritorious, APTA says. He has devoted his career to public transportation in the Northeast and Florida. From 2014-2018, he served as president of Metro-North Railroad (MNR) where he restored safety and confidence in the system, having previously worked there from 1983-1998.
Outstanding Public Transportation Manager–Rick Leary, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Toronto, Ontario: Throughout his 38-year career in public transportation, Leary’s passion for making a difference through the advancement of public transit has left a legacy at each organization and city where he has worked. He began his career as a train attendant in 1984 in Boston, and today is the CEO of North America’s third largest public transit agency. Today, TTC serves nearly 6.2 million people with a network of subways, buses and streetcar lines. “Leary’s exemplary leadership demonstrates the best in financial stability, enabling employees to succeed, moving customers more reliably, making public transit seamless and innovating for the long-term, while maintaining the cornerstones of safety and security,” APTA says.
Outstanding Public Transportation Board Members
Valarie J. McCall, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Cleveland, Ohio: McCall learned to meet leadership demands at an early age. From her first job and a commute completely reliant on public transportation, to becoming the youngest City Clerk and Clerk of Council in Cleveland’s history, McCall developed the hallmarks of her leadership style. She joined the GCRTA Board of Trustees in 2006 and continued to serve in the office of Mayor Frank G. Jackson until 2022. Her experiences traveling on public transportation in her youth created a personal connection and desire to advocate for public transit riders and coalitions. As a board member and member of the mayor’s executive staff, she worked closely with GCRTA to ensure successful citywide transportation plans for the 2016 Republican National Convention, the Gay Games IX and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Championship parade. As a past chair of APTA, she guided the association as it advanced its policies on member consensus, collaboration and diversity.
Anne McEnerny-Ogle, C-TRAN, Vancouver, Wash.: As a Vancouver City Council member, and later the city’s mayor, McEnerny-Ogle has served on the C-TRAN Board of Directors for the past nine years—three of those years as chair. She has played a key role in shaping the future of transportation for C-TRAN and Southwest Washington, at the same time navigating a challenging political landscape. She has led C-TRAN through some of the most significant times in its history, including the launch of the region’s first BRT system and three consecutive years of ridership increases system-wide. McEnerny-Ogle was integral to the BRT project and helped educate the public about its benefits, setting the stage for its successful launch. Her high visibility and enthusiastic advocacy lent additional credibility and support to the project and helped influence the community on its advantages for riders and non-riders alike. As the first female mayor in Vancouver’s 160-year history, McEnerny-Ogle has been a champion of diversity and equity by blazing the trail herself.
Outstanding Public Transportation Business Manager
Jannet Walker-Ford, National Transit & Rail Business Line Leader, WSP USA Inc. “Astute businesswoman, high achiever, mentor, philanthropist, community advocate, leader . . . all words used to describe Walker-Ford,” APTA says.
Walker-Ford has helped to raise the profile of female business leaders across the public transportation industry by illustrating first-hand how to achieve success. Her success is the continuation of a decades-long career that has included a variety of roles in both the public and private arenas. Her ability to lead with integrity and embody resiliency and persistence, with a bias for bold action, provides a lens of achievement for both Walker-Ford and her work at WSP. Her leadership at the highest levels within APTA, COMTO, WTS and other national organizations, has solidified her role as a problem-solver—working tirelessly to identify barriers standing between people and their goals.
Hall of Fame
Gary Thomas–Thomas has been described as “one of the most productive, effective and transformative leaders in the public transportation industry,” according to APTA. He has provided unparalleled service to APTA in numerous leadership capacities. Thomas began his transit career from the ground up as project manager overseeing construction of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus park and ride facility only a few years after the agency was formed. He closed his career at DART as President/Executive Director, holding that position for more than 20 years and the longest tenure of a president in DART’s history. Under his leadership, DART doubled its light rail system, twice, to become the longest in the U.S. at 93 miles, APTA says. The agency has been recognized for innovation in developing a progressive clean fuels program for its bus fleet, advancing new models for local bus and paratransit services and customer-facing communication technology and service. DART is also a recognized leader in the global advancement of the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept, with its use of targeted demand-response transit service matched with new customer tools for fare payment and trip planning. Thomas worked closely with service area city governments and the public in developing short- and long-term transportation and mobility goals. Committed to the advancement of the transit industry and the professionals working in it, he served as Chair of APTA and on the Transportation Research Board Executive Committee, Transportation Cooperative Research Program, Texas Transportation Association, McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, and was Chair of Rail-Volution and the SouthWest Transit Association.
Joeseph A. Calabrese–A lifetime transit professional, Calabrese started his career in 1975 at the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (Centro), and served as its president overseeing seven counties, four city transit systems and the regional carpooling system. A veteran of both the public and private side of transit, he was named CEO and General Manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), where he had an enormous impact on the city of Cleveland. While at GCRTA, he was responsible for buses, heavy and light rail lines, and a system of downtown trolleys. Because of his pioneering efforts, today Cleveland has one of the best BRT systems in the U.S., according to GCRTA, and Calabrese has often been called upon by community leaders throughout the country to explain its success and provide his expertise. His commitment to APTA is unwavering, having served in leadership roles on designated committees and on APTA’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. A stalwart and persuasive advocate for public transit, his commitment to the industry is legendary.
Mattie (M.P.) Carter–A southern lady and ambassador for her beloved city of Memphis, Tenn., served as APTA chair in 2009, and now joins an elite and groundbreaking group of women who have entered the ranks of the Hall of Fame. She served on the board of the Memphis Area Transit Authority from 1991 to 2014, always advocating for additional funding. She also was very active on APTA’s Transit Board Members Committee, and was elected secretary, vice chair and chair. As APTA chair, her initiative, “Telling Our Story,” was very successful and included hundreds of stories from riders across the U.S. It culminated in a highly visible event on Capitol Hill with members of Congress joined by APTA members. Her flair for communications and marketing were evident, with the event featuring buses wrapped with the “Telling Our Story” logo surrounding the front of the U.S. Capitol. Carter helped to raise the profile of public transit, and her initiative served as a model for many initiatives to come. James G Srygley– Syrgley has been a model of APTA’s core values for more than half a century. In 1970, he founded S&A Systems, Inc., serving as its president/CEO for 50 years. Drawing on his skills in engineering and his experience with transit agencies, Srygley designed a first-generation system, now FLEETWATCH, which is in use by more than 85 transit agencies in the U.S. and each day this equipment records more than 3,000,000 miles traveled by transit vehicles. His extensive involvement with APTA includes serving on numerous committees and special task forces and election to the Business Member Board of Governors. He was the recipient of the APTA Outstanding Business Member award in 2010, and for 12 years he served on the APTA Awards Committee, developing the statistical evaluation procedures, calculations and comparisons that are still in place today. As a Triple Diamond Fellow for the American Public Transportation Foundation, his belief in giving back to APTA is unparalleled in his 20 years of service on the Membership/Member Services Committee and his commitment to providing guidance to the development of business member mentoring programs. Srygley is “a true pioneer and his life’s work and innovations have transformed transit agencies around the country,” APTA says.