Brightline partners with Orlando Health ahead of its Sept. 22 Miami-to-Orlando service launch. Also, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board approves a new contract for General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood; the Transportation Division (TD) of SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, forms a new committee to address assaults on bus and transit operators; and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) hosts the 2023 Congressional Fly-In.
Brightline—Florida’s private-sector passenger railroad serving Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach—has entered into a multi-year agreement with Orlando Health to be the official “health and wellness partner” of Brightline Orlando as well as station naming partner. The railroad on Sept. 22 will launch service from Miami to the Orlando International Airport in central Florida, where the station will be officially called “Brightline Orlando Station in partnership with Orlando Health.”
The 37,350-square-foot station is in airport’s new 80,000-square-foot train station facility adjacent to Terminal C, with direct access to airport terminals A and B via the airport Terminal Link automated people mover. The train station connects directly to the airport’s Parking Garage C, and will offer Brightline+ first- and last-mile service.
According to Brightine, the partnership with Orlando Health includes brand representation at the Brightline Orlando station, visibility on Brightline collateral and digital platforms, and Orlando Health-branded trains.
“The Central Florida community has embraced Brightline, and the world-class team at Orlando Health truly represents the very best in both healthcare and corporate citizenship across this region, creating a perfect fit as our Orlando station naming partner,” Brightline Senior Vice President Partnerships and Sales Johanna Rojas said.
“With this union of Orlando Health and Brightline, we are bridging the gap between well-being and mobility,” said Andrew Snyder, Orlando Health Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications. “The partnership will provide easy access to thousands of patients who travel to the area to receive care across our comprehensive healthcare system.”
The MARTA Board has signed off on a new contract for General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. His agreement is retroactive to January 2023 and extends to January 2027.
In January 2022, he took over the transit authority’s leadership role in an interim capacity, following the death of Jeffrey A. Parker, and was confirmed as General Manager and CEO in October 2022.
Greenwood joined MARTA in July 2019 as the Chief of Bus Operations and Urban Planning and was elevated to Deputy General Manager of Operations in January 2021, responsible for overseeing all bus and rail operations and helping to develop and deliver major capital projects, including the procurement of new rapid transit cars and the addition of electric buses to MARTA’s fleet. He is the former Chief Service Officer at Toronto Transit Commission.
“Collie brings with him decades of transit experience, from the front lines as a bus operator to guiding MARTA out of the pandemic,” MARTA Board Chair Thomas Worthy said. “We’re proud to have him lead MARTA as we embark on the most ambitious expansion and modernization program in our history. Collie brings extensive knowledge and passion for transit to this position, and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
SMART-TD established the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety committee (BTAPS) at its recent leadership conference in Washington, D.C.
According to a Sept. 15 SMART-TD report, the idea for the committee was raised by Christine Ivey, a legislative representative from Local 1785 out of Santa Monica, Calif., and she will serve as Chairperson. The committee will be tasked with developing and implementing strategies to reduce the number of assaults on bus and transit operators. It will also work to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for policies that will improve bus and transit operator safety, including lobbying in Congress and state legislatures “to urge that punishments for the crime of assault on a transit worker be heightened from a misdemeanor to a felony,” and advocating for safety measures at the federal and state levels through the Federal Transit Administration, SMART-TD said.
The committee is slated to meet regularly and report its findings to the SMART-TD Board of Directors.
“This is a historic moment for the SMART-TD union,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our members from violence. The Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety committee will be a powerful tool in our fight for safety. Christine Ivey is driven, intelligent and determined to make this committee successful. I have full confidence that SMART will be proud of what this committee will achieve through Sister Ivey’s leadership.”
In a related development, the University of South Florida will help transit agencies address transit worker and rider assaults through a $500,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The research project will identify public safety risks for transit workers and riders, determine the most effective mitigation strategies to minimize those risks, and promote the implementation of those strategies.
APTA members on Sept. 14 met with more than 100 members of Congress and staff to emphasize “the importance of fully funding their commitment to public transportation authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” during the association’s 2023 Congressional Fly-In event.
“APTA calls on Congress to provide at least $21.6 billion for public transit and $20.2 billion for passenger rail in the THUD [Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies] Appropriations bill, when combined with the advance appropriations of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” the association reported. The Senate THUD bill provides $21.1 billion for public transit, which is $2.2 billion more than the House bill. Additionally, the Senate bill provides $16.7 billion for passenger and freight rail, which is $2.0 billion more than the House bill. APTA also called on lawmakers to provide $4.6 billion for FTA Capital Investment Grants (CIG) “to help communities meet mobility demands.” Currently, 66 projects across the nation are seeking $42 billion of CIG funds, according to APTA (download APTA Project Pipeline Dashboard below), which noted that the Senate THUD bill provides $4 billion for CIG projects in FY 2024 and the House bill provides less than $2 billion, the lowest level in two decades.
APTA transit agency CEOs, transit board members and business members met directly with 15 Senators and Representatives, including Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), Rep. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (R-Ark.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Rep. John R. Curtis (R-Utah), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Rep. Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R-N.J.), Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kans.), Rep. Marcus J. Molinaro (R-N.Y.), Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Rep. John H. Rutherford (R-Fla.), and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla).
“These forward-looking investments are critical to modernize public transit systems and meet the growing mobility demands of cities and communities, and we appreciate members of Congress and their staffs taking the time to meet with our public- and private-sector members,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said.
Further Reading: FY24 Appropriations Process Look-Ahead