Transportation Group Recognizes “Best Of The Best”

October 01, 2018
apta board

Credit: APTA

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized public transit leadership during its Annual Meeting, held September 23-26 in Nashville, TN.

The prestigious 2018 APTA Awards included were given to individuals and public transportation systems that have shown great leadership and advanced the state of public transportation in North America. The organization also announced its new slate of Officers, elected at the Annual Business Meeting, which include (L to R in photo): Freddie Fuller II, Treasurer; David Stackrow, Chair; Nuria Fernandez, Vice chair; and Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Immediate past chair.

“On behalf of the 1,500 member organizations that belong to APTA, I congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for their leadership and significant contributions to the public transportation industry,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The 2018 APTA Award winners are the ‘best of the best’ of the public transportation industry in North America.”

“The 2018 APTA Award winners are prime examples of the dedicated and innovative leaders in the public transportation industry, and are role models of excellence,” said APTA Chair David M. Stackrow, Sr.

The Innovation Award is an award given to public transit agencies that demonstrate innovative concepts in the provision of public transportation services. The recipient of the 2018 Innovation Award is VIA Metropolitan Transit (VIA), San Antonio, TX.  Over the past two years, VIA hosted two GoCodeSA Codeathons —a coding competition for smart public transit solutions. Now an annual event with sponsorships from technology organizations, Codeathon offers talented programmers, coders, and designers the chance to turn their ideas into practical solutions for mobility challenges. GoCodeSA Codeathon teams work on projects such as web apps, mobile apps, wearable solutions, data visualizations, algorithms, and visual mock-ups. The competition rewards the best applications with cash and prizes, and an opportunity to integrate the winning entry into future VIA initiatives. 

Agency Excellence Acknowledged

Three public transportation agencies, competing in three different categories based on annual ridership, were honored as the best public transportation systems in North America. The awards were based on their achievements in the three year period of 2015-2017, according to a thorough summary of recipients provided in a news release issued during the Meeting.

San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA received the 2018 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category: Providing 4 million or fewer annual passenger trips).  

Serving residents in an area of 1,500 square miles, RTD continues to attract national attention due to its achievements in environmental sustainability, infrastructure development, and delivery of innovative and high quality services. In 2015 RTD opened a Regional Transit Center, built with a focus on environmental sustainability and state-of-art efficiency. RTD has a new fleet of environmentally friendly buses, and four Bus Rapid Transit Corridors. In 2017, Stockton made history when RTD’s third Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor became the first all-electric BRT Corridor in the nation.  RTD plans to have an all-electric fleet by 2025.

While maintaining zero long-term debt, RTD continues to demonstrate its steadfast commitment to the residents it serves with innovations that respond to evolving needs. RTD continually provides exceptional customer service with a Transit Ambassador Program, new fare vending machines, mobile ticketing technology, and improved customer service software.    

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) received the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category: Providing more than 4 million but fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips).

COTA is among a select group of agencies that have implemented a comprehensive system redesign, as noted in APTA’s news release detailing winning transit providers. The May 2017 network overhaul made service more efficient and direct, and the easier-to-navigate route system has twice as many high-frequency lines along major corridors. Post-redesign, 100,000 more central Ohio residents live within a quarter-mile of high-frequency bus service, and 110,000 more jobs are located within a quarter-mile of high-frequency service. To improve access to jobs at the Rickenbacker Inland Port, COTA launched a partnership with two local municipalities in 2015, assisting the municipalities with route planning for a new last-mile shuttle service funded by the municipalities and businesses in the area. In 2017, COTA became one of just a few U.S. public transit systems to offer riders free Wi-Fi on its entire fleet.

King County Metro (Metro) received the 2018 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award (Category:  Providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips). The past three years were pivotal for Metro as the agency experienced a 15 percent increase ridership. Metro carried a record 122 million passenger trips in 2017—a majority of the record-high 155 million trips overall in King County. Demand keeps rising, and the region’s growth management plan is counting on Metro to double its service to improve mobility and provide alternatives to driving alone. The recognition was detailed in an August news story on this site.

Major world-class employers in Seattle and the King County region provide free or reduced-cost passes so its employees can ride Metro. That’s 2,000 employers and institutions overall, accounting for 63 million rides in 2017, up 23 percent since 2015. Metro’s ORCA LIFT low-income fare program logged 5.2 million rides last year and today has more than 70,000 subscribers, becoming a national model in providing equitable access to transportation. 

Hall of Fame Inductees, Individual Recognition

This year’s 2018 APTA Awards recognized 10 individuals whose contributions have greatly advanced public transportation. Five individuals were inducted in to the APTA Hall of Fame, an award is reserved for individuals who have long and distinguished careers in the industry, have made extraordinary contributions to public transportation, and actively participated in APTA activities.  

Reverend Jerry A. Moore and Harold B. Williams were inducted into the Hall of Fame for their work as COMTO co-founders and visionary “drum majors” for industry diversity and inclusion. Rev. Moore was concerned about the lack of minority voices at the 1970 American Transit Association (APTA’s predecessor) conference in Mexico City. At that conference, he had a chance encounter with Urban Mass Transportation Administration Administrator Carlos Villarreal, which led to further discussions and a commitment from UMTA (predecessor to FTA) to sponsor the first “Minority Mobility in the 1970s” conference at Howard University in 1971. Villarreal charged Williams, director of the UMTA Office of Civil Rights at the time, to work with Moore. Immediately following the conference, the first meeting of COMTO took place. Williams was a former FTA associate administrator and longtime director of civil rights for FTA’s predecessor organization, UMTA. He was also deputy commissioner of equal educational opportunity in the U.S. Department of Education. At U.S. DOT, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, Williams helped develop far-reaching regulations for equal opportunity in public transportation, including Title Vl, and equal access to service. 

With a nearly five-decade career managing/operating public and private transit systems, Fred M. Gilliam also received the 2018 Hall of Fame Award. The legacy of leadership is visible from his career growth from a traffic checker to CEO. He continually increased ridership, expanded fleet operations and maintenance, and improved service despite challenging funding. Several examples of his leadership and vision can be seen in Memphis, TN; Denver, CO; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Tulsa, OK; and Austin, TX.

Forging effective management/labor relations and solutions for more than 40 years, Thomas P. Hock also received the 2018 Hall of Fame Award. Hock began his career in 1970 with the Cincinnati law firm of Kennedy and Moore. In 1974, he joined ATE Management and Service Company (which later became Ryder/ATE) as labor counsel. From 1987-1993, Hock served as vice president of transit management for Ryder/ATE. He has negotiated more than 400 agreements in 38 different states. Hock served on the Labor, 13(c) and Legal Affairs Committees. His Management Report on Transit Labor Issues has been a staple of APTA’s annual Transit CEOs Seminar for at least the past 30 years. 

A dedicated leader who made a difference in public transit for nearly 50 years, Jack Leary also received a 2018 Hall of Fame Award. Leary started his 48-year public transit career in 1966 as a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) streetcar operator, while pursuing a degree at Northeastern University. He took on new responsibilities, eventually being promoted to the position of Deputy General Manager of Operations at the MBTA. In 1990, Leary became the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bi State Development Agency (BSDA). He led the organization’s pursuit of transportation and development projects in Missouri and Illinois. He oversaw the construction of MetroLink, a new light rail system connecting St. Clair County, IL to the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, MO.

Ron Roberts, Supervisor, County of San Diego, California received the Local Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions at the local level to public transportation through policy, legislative initiative, and leadership. 

Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. (Pennsylvania 44th District) received the State Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions at the state level to public transportation through policy, legislative initiative, and leadership. 

Natalie Cornell, Director of Business Development, LTK Engineering Services, located in Amber, PA, received the 2018 Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award.  This award is given to an APTA public transportation business member who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. 

Frederick L. Daniels, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Directors, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) located in Atlanta, GA received the 2018 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award. This award is given to an individual serving on the governing board of a public transportation system who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. 

Thomas C. Lambert, President & CEO, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in Houston, TX received the 2018 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award today. This award is given to an APTA public transportation manager who has made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry. 

APTA Leadership Announced

The Washington, DC-based organization announced its leadership slate for 2018-2019, with the following Executive Committee and new Board of Directors. The new APTA Chair is David M. Stackrow Sr., Board Member, Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, NY. Stackrow succeeds Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., CEO of Jacksonville, FL Transportation Authority, who will serve as APTA Immediate Past Chair. Vice Chair is Nuria I. Fernandez, the General Manager and CEO of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority of San Jose, CA, and Freddie C. Fuller II, vice president, Jacobs, Arlington, VA is secretary-treasurer, according to a news release issued during the Meeting.

New APTA Board of Directors for 2018-2019 include:

  • Anna M. Barry, deputy commissioner, Connecticut DOT, Newington, CT;
  • Julie Dorazio, senior vice president, national market leader-transit and rail, WSP USA, New York, NY;
  • Ronald L. Epstein, executive deputy commissioner and chief financial officer, New York State DOT, Albany, NY;
  • Russ Frank, vice president, customer service, METRO, Houston, TX;
  • Kim R. Green, executive director of business development, Genfare, Elk Grove Village, IL; 
  • Paul C. Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA;
  • Edward L. Johnson, chief executive officer, LYNX-Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando, FL;
  • Marie Parker, general manager, Transdev North America, Raleigh, NC;
  • Michael I. Schneider, managing principal, InfraStrategies, Irvine, CA; and
  • Jeff Walker, board member, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO


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