Transit Briefs: Amtrak, LACMTA, Maryland DOT Maryland MTA, SMART, TTC

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner earlier this month received the Honorable Ray LaHood Award for 2023 at WTS International’s annual conference in Atlanta, Ga. (Amtrak Photograph)

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner earlier this month received the Honorable Ray LaHood Award for 2023 at WTS International’s annual conference in Atlanta, Ga. (Amtrak Photograph)

WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) International recognizes Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner for his commitment to advancing women in transportation. Also, the TAP fare card program for 26 Los Angeles County transit agencies, including LACMTA, expands its vendor network; Baltimore (Md.) Metropolitan Council issues a long-range regional transportation plan, which includes capital projects for Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration; Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) in California is launching an on-demand microtransit shuttle to the airport; and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in Ontario, Canada selects SNC-Lavalin to provide enterprise asset management services.

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner earlier this month was presented with the Honorable Ray LaHood Award at WTS International’s 2023 conference in Atlanta, Ga.

The annual award, which honors a “man of the year,” is named for Ray LaHood, who served as the 2009-13 U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary and supported WTS International’s mission to advance transportation and the professional women who lead it, the association reported.

Under Gardner’s leadership, Amtrak has worked to “cultivate an inclusive culture that reflects the customers and communities it serves,” according to the association. In 2022, “America’s Railroad” hired more than 3,700 new employees in line with its broader goal to recruit a more diverse workforce.

“We are proud to recognize, celebrate and continue to support organizations and leaders who prioritize not only advancing women and minorities into decision-making roles in our industry, but also are committed to developing the next generation of a diverse workforce,” said Sara Stickler, President and CEO of WTS International.

“I’m humbled to have received this respected award from WTS International,” Gardner said. “This recognition serves as a testament to our collective efforts at Amtrak to put diversity, inclusion and belonging at the forefront. I am honored to work with all the amazing women at Amtrak who are leading a new era of rail.”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) at the same event received the 2023 WTS Recognition Award–Employer of the Year for “exemplary efforts to encourage advancement of women’s careers.”

Riders using the TAP card to pay rail and bus fare on LACMTA and 25 additional transit agencies can now buy or reload their cards at Ria Money Transfer. TAP cards are $2 plus the cost of fare.

“Customers can now visit 65 select Ria locations throughout LA County to buy and reload TAP cards with Metro [LACMTA] passes and Stored Value and check their card balance,” LACMTA reported on May 30. “This expansion extends TAP card benefits and resources to customers in South LA, East LA and the San Fernando Valley.”

According to the transit agency, Ria offers money transfers, bill payment, check cashing and other services at standalone locations, as well as through approved retailers such as El Super and Superior grocery stores.

The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board has compiled list of transportation projects for the next two decades. The Resilience 2050 plan (see above) includes 56 road and 36 transit projects, according to the Maryland Matters website, which covers government and politics. They total more than $74 billion.

Projects in the proposal, which will be reviewed by the public through June 20, include:

  • The initial phase of the East-West Transit corridor—“the heir to the Red Line light rail project killed in 2015 by then-Gov. Larry Hogan (R),” according to the news outlet. “The 14.1-mile light rail project would have connected Bayview Hospital in East Baltimore to Woodlawn in western Baltimore County. Hogan, faced with two multi-billion light rail projects including the Purple Line in the DC suburbs, canceled the Red Line, calling it ‘a boondoggle.’ Democrats in the region decried the decision. In the years that followed they repeated calls to resurrect the plan. Gov. Wes Moore (D), who took office in January, has promised to bring back the project.” According to Maryland Matters, the plan considers light rail, heavy rail (metro) and bus rapid transit “alternatives for an up to a 17-mile line connecting eastern Baltimore County to destinations west of Baltimore that could include Woodlawn or Ellicott City.” The news outlet noted that it is unlikely to “follow the path of the original Red Line project because of development over the last eight years.”
  • A $2 billion, 14-mile north-south transit corridor connecting central Baltimore County to Baltimore City. “The exact path of the corridor has not been determined,” according to Maryland Matters. “It is also unclear if the project will use light rail or rapid bus.”
  • “An express bus line connecting Columbia to the NSA and Parole, near Annapolis at a cost of $45 million.”
  • “A $147 million interchange along 695 to support the redevelopment of the Sparrows Point area of southeastern Baltimore County.”
  • “Replacing 95% of the existing MTA bus fleet with zero emission vehicles by 2050,” according to Maryland Matters. “In the first phase, the state looks to spend nearly $1.6 billion to replace 50% of its 760-vehicle fleet by 2030. A second phase would bring the total to 95% at an additional cost of more than $2.2 billion. The costs include buses and construction of charging facilities.”

SMART on June 12 will launch the SMART Connect microtransit shuttle to provide first- and last-mile service between the commuter railroad’s airport station—or any address within the approximately 1.5-mile service zone—and the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) and the surrounding business corridor, which is home to many business and corporate centers. Airport passengers can catch the shuttle—an all-electric, wheelchair-accessible vehicle—at the bus stop just south of the terminal.

The on-demand service will operate every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The one-way fare is $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for youth, seniors and persons with disabilities (youth K-12 ride free on the train and shuttle from June 1 through August 31, 2023). Riders will be able to book a trip both in advance and on demand using the Ride Pingo™ app, according to SMART. Riders without a smartphone will be able to book a trip by calling customer service 24/7 at 800-727-0279. An agent will provide the estimated shuttle arrival time and confirm pick-up and drop-off locations, SMART said.

“We are excited to welcome passengers on board SMART Connect and look forward to providing a seamless and efficient train-to-airport connection,” SMART Board Chair Eric Lucan said. “Additionally, this innovative microtransit service will reduce car trips and support local employers by helping people get to and from this busy business corridor.”

(TTC Photograph, via Twitter)

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. on May 29 reported teaming with TTC on a three-year asset management transformation program, which is slated to “strengthen TTC EAM [enterprise asset management] practices and achieve compliance with new provincial regulations.” The professional services and project management firm said it will assist TTC in developing “enhanced EAM and investment planning practices, as well as best-in-class business and systems processes.”

“SNC-Lavalin is proud to be the partner of choice for the TTC, supporting their transformation journey towards best-in-class infrastructure asset management,” said Stephanie Vaillancourt, President, Capital and Operations & Maintenance (O&M) at SNC-Lavalin. “It is a privilege for us to have been chosen to partner with the TTC to lead this project, and to apply some of our innovative systems and processes. Although digital asset management in the Canadian transportation industry is a growing field, SNC-Lavalin has leveraged its global expertise to deliver on numerous other transit system projects worldwide, such as the fully automated Canada Line commuter LRT, the London’s Orbital Motorway Network, and the Dubai International Airport strategy for landside multi-modal transportation operations.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,