Many are calling for the next transportation authorization bill to include increased funding and a clear vision for how public transit will help be a part of the solution for the impending population boom in the coming years.
The $1 billion, 61.5-mile system, being built by the Florida DOT, will utilize an existing rail corridor. The 32-mile first phase will serve 12 stations and link DeBary, to Sand Lake Road, just south of Orlando. Service is expected to begin in 2014.
Initiatives pursued include boosting sales tax revenue, maximizing assets and creating a pooled savings account, while leadership programs and partnerships have helped bolster its workforce.
Distinctive service features include modern, stylized 60-foot buses built by North American Bus Industries, which are powered by compressed natural gas and carry up to 90 passengers.
The bus manufacturer is helping the City of Seneca reach its goal of having an all-electric bus fleet by the summer. The city partnered with nearby Clemson Area Transit to obtain a grant to fund the four vehicles and charging infrastructure.
Business was up in 2012 for the majority of respondents. While FirstGroup America and Coach USA still hold the top two spots, Horizon jumps up to number three.
Paratransit and NEMT are being overwhelmed with an uptick in Medicaid-eligible riders. If implemented, the Affordable Care Act will make the influx even higher. Operators are facing changes in how they are funded and deliver transportation. They say they need to work more closely with partners to cope.
Implementing a fuel transition program and buying used buses are some tactics this year’s respondents are turning to.
Survey showed demand down slightly from last year, but still high, with nearly two-thirds seeing an increase. More operators reported customer expectations and behavior as hurdles to providing good service. Scheduling software comes in handy and travel training saw a slight bump.
While it is easy to blame the lack of dedicated funding for slowing down projects and causing uncertainty, consultants remain optimistic that they can help public transit agencies fill the gap by utilizing its expertise from other regions around the world. Many are hopeful the younger generation entering the workforce will help grow public transit usage.
President of Alstom Transportation in North America Guillaume Mehlman cites vehicle accessibility, increased speed and catenary-free capabilities developed for projects in the international market as foreseeable trends in the U.S.
Adding CNG vehicles to its diverse fleet, building a fueling facility and refurbishing its maintenance garage are some of the projects the system has on its plate.