The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) on Aug. 14 reported the 14 North American organizations and leaders earning its annual awards for “vision, leadership and commitment to public transportation,” plus the induction of six new members into the APTA Hall of Fame.
The 2023 APTA Awards recognize organizations and transit leaders “who have demonstrated significant leadership, are outstanding role models of excellence, and whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation,” according to the association. All are members of APTA—which includes more than 1,500 public and private organizations—and demonstrate the APTA core values of Leadership, Integrity, Excellence, Diversity, Inclusiveness, Fairness, Equity, Teamwork, Professionalism and Accountability.
And the honorees are:
Outstanding Public Transportation System:
- New Jersey Transit, Newark, N.J.—50 million or more annual passenger trips. “Receiving the Outstanding Public Transportation System award for 2023 truly validates NJ Transit’s remarkable turnaround since 2018,” New Jersey Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett said in an Aug. 14 statement. “This honor from APTA and our peers is akin to winning the Super Bowl for a transit agency. It is not just a recognition of our successes over the past five years, it’s a testament to all the hard work, dedication and contributions of every one of the nearly 12,000 NJ Transit employees.”
- Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, Calif.—More than 15 million but fewer than 50 million annual passenger trips.
- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, Fla.—More than 3 million but fewer than 15 million annual passenger trips.
- SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, Calif.—3 million or fewer annual passenger trips.
Excellence In Inclusive Collaboration Award:
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Oakland, Calif. The BART Police Department’s Progressive Policing and Community Engagement Bureau (PPCEB) received the award. According to BART, PPCEB launched in 2020 and has established itself as “a national model by increasing BART’s safety presence while ensuring the system is welcoming to all members of the community.” BART PD interim Chief Kevin Franklin said in an Aug. 17 statement: “The members of the PPCEB are force multipliers for rider safety. The bureau has become a national model with both transit and traditional law enforcement agencies reaching out to us to learn more about the innovative steps we’re taking to boost safety for our riders.” BART reported that in the first six months of this year, PPCEB members performed more than 10,700 welfare checks on people in the BART system who appeared to need help; there were more than 2,500 instances when PPCEB members intervened when they saw violations of BART’s Code of Conduct. In the past, it said, those violations would have required a response by a sworn officer; instead, members of the PPCEB can offer “a more appropriate response” with unarmed, specially trained BART PD staff, freeing up sworn officers to respond more quickly to urgent emergency calls. The PPCEB primarily comprises non-sworn Transit Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists. BART said these unarmed employees of BART PD receive specialized training in de-escalation techniques.
- King County Metro, Seattle, Wash.
- MTA Metro-North Railroad, New York, N.Y.
- Park City Transit, Park City, Utah
Distinguished Service Award:
- Robert Nelson Clement, former U.S. Congressman, Nashville, Tenn.
Outstanding Public Transportation Manager:
- Doran Barnes, Foothill Transit, West Covina, Calif.
Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member:
- Eileen Higgins, Miami-Dade Transit, Miami, Fla.
- Paul C. Smedberg, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, D.C. “I am honored and humbled to be recognized as an Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member by APTA and the transit industry,” Smedberg said in an Aug. 17 statement. “For over 20 years, I have been a proud advocate for transportation in the National Capital Region. I’d like to thank the staffs and fellow Board Members at all the organizations with whom I’ve had the privilege of working—Metro [WMATA], the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the Virginia Railway Express and the city of Alexandria. This award would not have been possible without them. I’m very proud of our collective accomplishments for transit customers and employees, making our region a better place to live, work and play.” Smedberg joined the Board in 2016 and was elected Chair in 2019. Under his leadership, WMATA said it has adopted and implemented a new strategic plan, created a more equitable fare system, reimagined bus and rail service, maintained and expanded WMATA as a regional asset, and reemphasized WMATA’s community commitment through improved public safety programs.
Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member:
- Anja Graves, Cardinal Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.
HALL OF FAME
- Michael Allegra, former President and CEO, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Paul J. Ballard, Weaverville, N.C.; former President and CEO, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Ft. Worth, Tex., among others.
- John P. Bartosiewicz, KLC2 Connects LLC, Fort Worth, Tex.
- Julie Cunningham, posthumous, former President and CEO, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
- Sharon Greene, Managing Principal, InfraStrategies LLC
- Phillip A. Washington, CEO, Denver International Airport, Denver, Colo.
“It is my honor to congratulate the 2023 APTA Awards winners and Hall of Fame inductees for their commitment to shaping the future of public transportation, forging vital connections between communities and spurring innovation,” said Dorval R. Carter, Jr., APTA Chair and President of the Chicago Transit Authority.
“The achievements and legacies of our awardees inspire us all to continue striving for excellence in our industry and to making a lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said. “Congratulations to all who have been recognized for their accomplishments and for making positive impacts in their communities and our industry.”