States must receive FTA certification by April 15, 2019, or new federal transit funds cannot be awarded
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs, in advance of an important safety deadline.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.
“FTA is pleased that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With this certification, transit agencies in the three jurisdictions can continue to receive federal funding.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Charlotte Area Transit System light rail and streetcar systems.
The Puerto Rico Emergency and Disaster Management Bureau is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Tren Urbano heavy rail system.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Sound Transit light rail systems and City of Seattle street car and monorail systems.
By April 15, 2019, 30 states must obtain certification of 31 SSO programs. With today’s announcement, 17 states have now achieved SSO program certification.
If a state fails to meet the deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved. A certification status table by state is available online.
To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must be appropriately trained.
Members of SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract, Friday, Sept. 9, reports Vice President Calvin Studivant.
“I would like to thank General Chairperson (GCA TMD) Hasson Trent, Vice General Chairperson Brenda Moore, LCA TMD Secretary Ruby Crosby and Local President Bruce Wright for the long hours and hard work that they each put in to reaching this agreement,” Studivant said.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operators will enjoy more favorable work rules, paid travel time to the Tryon and Davidson garages and lower healthcare insurance deductibles. The contract also includes an increased pension cap and 7.5 percent in general wage increases with retroactive pay.
Managed by the Public Transit Department of the city of Charlotte, CATS is the largest transit system between Atlanta and Washington, with over 70 local, express and regional bus routes. The company also manages a light rail system, services for the disabled and vanpools.
Washington – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The TIFIA loan will support the expansion of the popular light rail system from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus.
“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29. The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said Secretary Foxx. “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”
CATS officials estimate that the light rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction with total light rail ridership at more than 18,900 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2018. The 9.3 mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.
“The LYNX Blue Line extension is critical to the City of Charlotte. The TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure that CATS can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Lana Hurdle, DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.
In addition to the $180 million TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.
“For residents and visitors alike, Charlotte’s transportation system provides a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Charlotte has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CATS, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 54 projects turn more than $22 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $81 billion in infrastructure investment across America.
As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at www.transportation.gov/tifia.
The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which is estimated to result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.
Average weekday ridership along the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) new streetcar line came in at 1,507 passengers, which was 67 percent higher than expected for the first two weeks of operations, agency officials announced Tuesday.
Known as the CityLYNX Gold Line, the streetcar route was initially estimated to facilitate 900 passenger trips per month.
Early reviews of August data show a similar figure for average weekday ridership, CATS officials said.
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has scheduled a series of public workshops to gather feedback on the possibility of adding rail service along a 13.5-mile corridor running from Uptown Charlotte to Mecklenburg and Union counties, N.C.
CATS is conducting a study exploring multiple modes of transit-rail along the route, which is also known as the Southeast Corridor. Options include streetcar, light rail and commuter rail, agency officials said in a press release.
With over 75 percent of the voting membership agreeing, Local 1596 maintenance workers of Charlotte Area Transit System based out of Charlotte, N.C., ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The new agreement is for three years starting retroactively to June 30, 2015 and going through June 30, 2018.
Leading the way, GCA TMM (Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc.) General Chairperson Craig Patch helped negotiations, asking for contractual language changes, improvements to the pension plan and wage increases. Patch, Local Chairperson Billy Belcher, Vice Chairperson Gary Moore and Secretary Michael Jenkins worked tirelessly on the agreement.
“Brother Patch and I would like to thank Local President James Hinton, Local Vice President Gerald Hudson and S&T Tony Sandle for their hard work on getting this accomplished,” Alternate Vice President Bus-East Alvy Hughes said.
The Charlotte Area Transit System projects that building a commuter train to Lake Norman would cost $215 million more than expected – a price hike that will likely make it too costly to build.
CATS had long planned to use Norfolk Southern freight tracks that parallel Interstate 77 for the Red Line passenger train. It would connect Charlotte with Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville.
SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 bus operators employed by Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc., Dec. 12 ratified a three-year agreement with management, averting a possible strike.
The new agreement calls for annual wage increases, paid retroactively to July 1, plus the return of travel-time pay, a contract provision that previously had been negotiated away when the operators were represented by the Teamsters.
The contract also calls for an additional personal day and new bidding procedures during the run assignment that is more favorable to SMART membership.
The company is also required to use a health care provider supported by the union, or one that is comparable, resulting in a reduction in the health care contributions paid by our members.
SMART TD Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant participated in the recent negotiations with Charlotte Area Transit System management when a strike by the operators appeared likely. He recognized the efforts of General Chairperson Kevin Moss, Vice General Chairpersons Hasson Trent and Brenda Moore, Local President Bruce Wright and General Committee Secretary William R. Brown for their tireless efforts in “resolving the issues at hand and working to get their members the best possible contract.”
Studivant also thanked Vice General Chairpersons Christy Kiser and Donell Taylor and Local Secretary & Treasurer Christopher Johnson for their roles in reaching the agreement.
“A lot of the bus operators here, we have families as well. We know the impact a strike would have caused on the people in the community,” said Moss.
“This has been a period of difficult negotiations, but we ended up with an agreement that’s within our financial parameters,” said Carolyn Flowers, CATS CEO.
SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 and Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc., agreed to a contract extension Oct. 14 that will expire Nov. 11, 2013, at midnight, according to Local Chairperson Kevin Moss.
Local 1715 represents bus operators for the Charlotte Area Transit System.
A previous contract extension was set to expire at midnight Oct. 15, the same day the union and CATS management had scheduled a contract negotiations meeting. However, that meeting was canceled because a federal mediator who was scheduled to participate in the meeting was unable to attend due to the federal government shutdown.
The company and the union agreed to have the mediator present at the meeting as this round of negotiations have reached an impasse, Moss said.
“Due to the government shutdown, the union and the company will enter a new extension. A contract extension is necessary for the union and the company until we are able to reschedule our next round of negotiations with a mediator. I am very hopeful that the federal government will resolve the issues that have led to this shutdown. We thank all of the members of Local 1715 for their patience,” Moss said.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – SMART Transportation Division organizers, representatives and members of Local 1715 at Charlotte, N.C., have turned back the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in an attempted raid of SMART membership.
Local 1715 represents bus operators employed by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).
On May 31, the National Labor Relations Board released the official tally of a representation vote held earlier that day in which SMART was chosen by nearly a 3-1 margin.
SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross gave the official vote count as 267-97 in favor of SMART. There are approximately 600 drivers employed in the system.
The SMART TD is the collective bargaining agent for both CATS’ bus operators and bus mechanics (Local 1596), but the mechanics were not targeted during the raid.
Ross said rallying the SMART membership here was truly a team effort and he thanked International Organizers Mike Lewis and Calvin Studivant and General Chairperson Alvy Hughes for their outstanding effort. He also ackowledged the efforts of North Carolina State Legislative Director Ron Ingerick, Vice General Chairpersons Hasson Trent and Cheryl Brown, General Committee Secretary Bill Brown and local officers Bruce Wright, Kevin Moss, Brenda Moore, Debra Franklin and Donell Taylor.
“I believe it is now our responsibility to show the people that voted against UTU-SMART why they should have voted for us,” Ross said.
The transit system’s website says that CATS is the largest transit system between Atlanta, Ga., and Washington, D.C., with more than 70 local, express and regional bus routes, a light rail line and services for the disabled.
Local 1715 Legislative Rep. Debra Franklin, International Organizer Mike Lewis and Local 1715 Chairperson Kevin Moss rally Charlotte Area Transit System bus operators during a representation vote May 31.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 546 bus operators employed by Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) have voted by more than a 2-1 margin to return to the United Transportation Union.
Calvin Studivant, alternate vice president of the UTU Bus Department, will now assist those bus operators in negotiating a new agreement. Studivant recently assisted in negotiating ratified agreements for UTU members employed by First Student in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Red Arrow Division of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia.
CATS mechanics and maintenance employees have long been represented by the UTU, and the drivers will return to representation under Bus Department General Committee TMM. A new local will be created for the drivers.
Working with UTU Director of Strategic Planning Rich Ross in the organizing drive were TMM General Chairperson Alvy Hughes; TMM Assistant General Chairperson Craig Patch; Local 1596 members Billy Belcher, Dwayne Cureton and Brenda Moore; Studivant and International organizers Mike Lewis and Billy Moye. Ross praised the team’s “tireless efforts and determination.”
Studivant and Lewis crafted a get-out-the-vote drive, culminating with almost 75 percent of the eligible drivers casting ballots. Lewis most recently led a successful organizing drive of maintenance-of-way employees on Georgia & Florida Railway.
CATS is the 22nd property organized by the UTU since International President Mike Futhey took office in January 2008 — 14 shortlines, three regional airlines, two commuter railroads, and three bus properties.
“Mike Futhey is to be commended for making resources available for this unprecedented string of successful organizing drives,” Ross said. “This commitment to organizing and contract negotiations has resulted in a phenomenal elevation of wages, benefits and working conditions for UTU Bus Department members in an extraordinarily difficult economic environment.”
In May, the North Carolina Public Transportation Association awarded the CATS Bus Operations Division top honors as the safest transit system in the state. The award is given annually to an urban transit system that travels more than one million miles a year and has excellent performance in traffic and passenger safety. CATS achieved a 27 percent reduction in its accident rate over the past three years.