#!/usr/local/bin/php TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation (AP055)

TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation (AP055)




Presented at each National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation.

Roger Tate Award

FTA Administrator's Award for Outstanding Public Service in Rural Transportation



Roger Tate Award


Deadline for 2018 Nominations:
July 15, 2018

2016 Award Winner

2014 Award Winner

2012 Award Winner

2010 Award Winner

2008 Award Winner

2006 Award Winner

2004 Award Winners



The Transportation Research Board’s Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee (AP055) established the “Roger Tate Is Smiling Award” to honor individuals who, like Roger, have records of passionate, innovative, and unswerving commitment to improving transportation services in rural America.


Roger Frederick Tate, Jr. began working for the Federal Transit Administration in 1982 and rose to the position of Director of the Office of Research Management. Until his untimely death in 1996, he kept the needs of rural transit before U.S. Department of Transportation leadership and others who could, and did, make a difference in funding, education and training, legislation, and administrative action. His vision did not stop with public transportation, but stretched to the host of human service programs that require transportation to fulfill their promise, such as Medicaid, job training, senior care, and Head Start, to name only a few.


Roger can be considered both a pioneer for and founding father of the National Rural Transit Assistance Program and the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility. When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, he recognized the need to help transit systems understand its implications and opportunities. He played a key role in the formation of Project ACTION which reaches out to transit properties and communities to train and educate customers and transit providers about their rights and responsibilities. In all of these diverse arenas for action, he surely and subtly made things happen.


He did not need to be on center stage. Often declining public speaking roles, he preferred to be doing good, not taking bows. Roger was also a willing mentor to many: to newcomers to the transportation profession, to young people who were at risk of making bad decisions during their teen years, and to adults who were considering taking their life instead of living it to its potential. Roger gave many people reason to smile and many rural transit programs a future. His legacy, the focus of this award, is to recognize persons in rural transportation who also have given many people reason to smile and who have improved the future of rural transit programs.




To be eligible to receive the Roger Tate Is Smiling Award, a person must be involved in public, intercity bus, or human services transportation in rural communities in planning, administration, operations, education and training, or research and demonstrations. Involvement can be at the local, state, or federal/national level in public or private sectors.

Qualifications for the award the person demonstrates are:

1.  A passionate commitment to improving rural transportation opportunities and operations.

2.  The ability to recognize needs and problems and come up with innovative ideas and solutions.

3.  A record of at least one major contribution to improved or expanded rural transit services or programs.

4.  The skill to positively influence federal, state and/or local leaders to support rural transit programs through legislation, agreements, education, training.

5.  A dedication to mentor and advise others.

6.  The capacity to lead, regardless of public recognition.




No specific nomination format is required; however, at a minimum, nominations should include a description of how the nominee meets or exceeds each of the qualifications mentioned above. Specific examples are very helpful and supporting materials from the nominator or others are welcome. Please provide a name, title, and complete contact information for the nominee. Provide the name and contact information of the individual submitting the nomination. Nominations may be submitted to a designated contact person on the Transportation Research Board’s Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee by any person or group involved in rural public, intercity bus, or human services transportation.


Nominations should be submitted by email to the Committee Chair.




Nominations for 2018 must be submitted by July 15, 2018.




The Roger Tate Is Smiling Award selection committee will be established bi-annually by TRB’s Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee. Committee members nominated for the award may not serve on the selection committee. A representative of TRB will review the nominations received by the deadline and will advise the Committee if any members of the selection committee have been nominated for this award.


2016 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Jacklyn Montgomery, CalACT

Jacklyn Montgomery is the Executive Director of CalACT, the California Association of Coordinated Transportation.  Among many other responsibilities, CalACT is the administrator for California’s Rural Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP). Under Jacklyn’s leadership, RTAP provides training, scholarships, technical assistance, training and puts on a lively, well attended annual Bus Roadeo. The association has become a well utilized facilitator for peer-to-peer relationships and mentoring between small and rural agencies in the state. All was accomplished through Jackie’s knack for bringing different people together and fostering a spirit of partnership and camaraderie among the various organizations in her fold.

Recognizing needs and problems and developing innovative ideas and solutions. CalACT recognized the variety of needs among its many members for a flexible, federally-compliant procurement process for Paratransit Vehicles. In partnership with one of its rural transit agency members taking the lead, CalACT, under Jackie’s leadership, formed a Vehicle Purchasing Cooperative that resulted in one of the largest Joint Procurements in the nation, issuing a contract for up to 5,366 vehicles over a five-year period.

Major contributions to improved or expanded rural transit services and/or programs.  Jackie managed transportation and employment programs in Pierce County, Washington.  She promoted coordinated transportation partnerships in the Puget Sound area.  She led CalACT in successfully advocating for positive interpretations by the FTA on rural providers being able to provide deviated fixed route service as cost effective, responsive public transit service in sparsely populated areas.

Positively influencing federal, state and/or local leaders to support rural transit programs. Jackie organized a very thorough response by association’s members to proposed changes to the FTA’s ADA circular that resulted in positive interpretations recognizing challenges facing small and rural operators. CalACT has recently been at the forefront of discussion in California concerning its Air Resources Board’s pending regulations, advocating strongly for the agency to consider the impacts to small and rural properties.

Dedication to mentor and advise others. Jackie’s career is based on facilitating peer to peer relationships, getting agencies in touch with experts to address agency needs.  In all of these efforts, she has given so much and asked for so little in return.

The capacity to lead, regardless of public recognition. Jackie recognized the need to improve state efforts in California through her involvement in national organizations.  She has been a leader in the TRB Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee and in our very successful Rural and Intercity Bus Transportation Conferences.    As we sit here, she has the most awesome job in this room   --   making every one of us feel happy and important.  She brings her typical approach to this huge task   --   whatever you ask, her answer is “I can do that”   --   and she does it, person by person, taking on whatever task is at hand.



2014 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Patrisha Piras, Pat Piras Consulting

Patrisha Piras is the 2014 recipient of the Roger Tate is Smiling Award.  Pat, as she is more often known, is a long-time and conscientious member of the TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation (AP055), and has similarly served for many years on the Subcommittee for the National Conference including co-chair of the Eighth National Conference held in Ashland, Oregon (1987).

One of her first jobs in transit was the implementation and management of a general public Dial-A-Ride service in Turlock, California, which at the time had among the highest ridership productivity in the State.  Since then, she has worked as an MPO staff person with responsibilities focused on the local rural counties, Research Director at a University Transportation program, a publicly-elected Board member of a regional bus system, and a consultant who tries to help local agencies make sure that they have good, fiscally prudent practices in ADA services, Environmental Justice, and Public Involvement.

Pat is one of CalACT’s major “go to” people when developing a response on behalf of the membership to any federal or state comment opportunities.  Throughout her career, Pat has used her legal training to help develop local ordinances, changes to State law, and improvements to federal procedures and processes.  She was the only consultant to officially be named to DOT’s Federal Advisory Committee that helped to shape the initial ADA regulations, and she often helps local agencies to understand the underlying principles or reasoning for the rules.


2012 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Richard Garrity, Senior Associate, RLS & Associates, Inc.

Rich Garrity is a member of the dwindling cadre of transit practitioners who actually knew and worked with Roger Tate. A respected analyst and well-rounded individual, he is known as much for his outspoken wit as for the thoughtfulness and sharp mind that lie behind his professional writings and presentations. Anyone who has met Rich Garrity immediately recognizes his passion, for life in general, and for rural transit in particular. He is a dedicated professional, who truly believes in his work as a means to improve mobility for rural and disadvantaged people throughout the country. Rich has been recognizing, and helping to solve, problems of rural transit systems throughout his career. His early work in coordination helped to lay the framework for academic and practical work, as well as cooperative agreements and legislation which followed.


Garrity’s analytical capability has played a major role in improving transportation availability and ensuring compliance with funding and civil rights requirements at all levels of government. He is a nationally recognized expert in the area of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulatory compliance and served as a Litigation Consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section, where he has provided technical assistance on ADA compliance and remedies.


Rich Garrity’s personality is such that he probably cannot avoid “recognition” although he does not seek it out. But his sense of integrity and the quality of his work bring unsurpassed acknowledgement and appreciation nonetheless. In sum, “Garrity” is someone who leaves his colleague with a sense of “smiling” and a job well-done.


2010 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Randy Isaacs, Principal of Isaacs & Associates and Chair of AP055, was honored with the Roger Tate is Smiling Award at the 19th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation in Burlington, Vermont on October 20, 2010. He has more than 35 years experience in the public and private transportation industry. Randy managed a rural public transit agency for several years and subsequently consulted with a number of public and private transportation organizations and state DOT's. His firm provides government affairs representation, strategic and transportation planning, and policy development and implementation for public and private clients. Randy has managed the nationwide State Government Affairs function for Greyhound Lines for many years.


2008 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Patricia Weaver, Associate Director of Outreach and Technology Transfer at the Kansas University Transportation Research Institue, Lawrence, Kansas was honored with the Roger Tate is Smiling Award at the 18th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation in Omaha, Nebraska on October 22, 2008. Jon Burkhardt of Westat and member of the TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee presented the award. Pat has more than 30 years experience in research, training and technical assistance with particular emphasis on rural, specialized and small urban communities. She has been project manager of the Kansas Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) operated from the University of Kansas since 1987. She is a member of the AP055 and is currently Vice Chair of the Committee.

2006 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winner

Betty Newell of Way to Go, Inc. in Massanutten, Virginia was honored with the Roger Tate is Smiling Award at the 17th National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference held in Stevenson, Washington on Oct. 24, 2006. Jon Burkhardt of Westat and member of the TRB Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee presented the award.

Betty has spent the last twenty-five years in paid and volunteer capacities working towards improving mobility in rural communities, involved in program and policy development, operations, administration, and funding.  With respect to funding, Betty’s accomplishments in obtaining public and private support from a wide cast of characters not normally supportive of rural transportation services should be an inspiration to us all.  She recently served as Board President for the Community Association for Rural Transportation, Inc. where she was the leader of this innovative and award-winning program in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Harrisonburg, Virginia has more wheelchair-accessible taxicabs than Washington, D.C, our nation’s capital. In fact, Washington, D.C. has no wheelchair-accessible taxicabs. In Harrisonburg, however, any wheelchair user can call the local Yellow Cab Company and get a ride. Betty Newell is the reason that wheelchair users in Harrisonburg have good taxi service. As president of CART’s Board of Directors, she has worked out an arrangement so that the local Yellow Cab can use a CART’s wheelchair accessible van.

CART provides weekend and evening service for older persons and persons with disabilities so that they can attend social events — even ones that require an overnight stay. CART’s Designated Volunteer Driver Program makes these trips possib1e.  Betty Newell’s caring vision is the reason for this service:  She knew that older people like people of all ages want a social life, but she also knew that CART could afford only to pay drivers for weekday service so she put on her thinking cap and came up with the Designated Volunteer Driver Program. This program received a national award, “Innovations of Excellence 2003,” from the Beverly Foundation and CTAA as one of the top three Innovations of Excellent identified in the national search to identify innovative programs that expanded mobility for seniors.

Betty was designated the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County’s “Hometown Hero” by SunTrust Bank, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the local newspaper, for “sustained volunteer efforts with CART.” She was a founding member of CTAA and its predecessor organizations. She regularly serves as guest lecturer for social work, nursing, and health administration classes at two local universities and has mentored students and staff members.

Betty Newell has always seen mobility is a basic human right and she has always been passionate in her support of bringing mobility to persons who might otherwise be left behind.

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2004 Roger Tate is Smiling Award Winners

Three individuals were honored with the Roger Tate is Smiling Award at the 16th National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference held in Roanoke, Virginia in Oct. 26, 2004: Jon Burkhardt, Diane McSwain, and Pam Ward. Presenting the award was Beth Denniston, National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) Executive Director, representing the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation.


Jon Burkhardt, Senior Study Director, Westat. 2004 Award Winner.

Jon E. Burkhardt is a pioneer in improving access to transportation services for persons with special needs, including the elderly, the disabled, and the working poor. In his 37-year career, Burkhardt has helped to enhance transportation coordination and to shape policy and legislation through his expertise in program evaluation, impact analysis, planning, survey research, and technical assistance. His research projects have addressed topics in housing, neighborhood quality, highway construction, antipoverty programs, health programs, driver safety, and transportation access.


As Senior Study Director with Westat, Burkhardt has concentrated on the needs of seniors and others with special transportation needs by examining their mobility options, measuring the outcomes of service programs, and providing transportation plans for states and localities. He is currently directing a project exploring key transportation coordination issues for the Administration on Aging (AoA), a division in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The project will develop technical assistance materials that will provide up-to-the-minute information to state and local transportation decision makers for implementing greater levels of transportation coordination in the national aging services network. In 2002 and 2003, he presented testimony to Congress on the economic benefits of coordination and on mobility improvements for America’s seniors.


Burkhardt also helped improve service programs during his work with Ecosometrics. Over a 14-year period, he adapted and applied the Older Americans Status and Needs Assessment Questionnaire in several localities. In one case, local administrators and political leaders in a Maryland county made immediate and substantial transportation program changes for elderly residents from the results of the surveys. As the author or lead author of hundreds of research reports, Burkhardt has an interest in the dissemination of research findings. In 1998, he led a highly acclaimed study, Mobility and Independence: Changes and Challenges for Older Drivers, under contract to HHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Burkhardt was the lead author on the nearly 4-year joint HHS–U.S. Department of Transportation effort to produce Planning Guidelines for Coordinated State and Local Specialized Transportation Services (2000). Other recently completed works include Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 101, Toolkit for Rural Community Coordinated Services (2004); TCRP Report 91, Economic Benefits of Coordinating Human Service Transportation and Transit Services (2003); and TCRP Report 82, Improving Public Transit Options for Older Persons (2002).


But Burkhardt’s involvement with TRB goes beyond the authorship of TCRP reports. He has attended all but one TRB Annual Meeting since 1967, when he participated in an MIT student group presentation on integrated, evolutionary transportation systems for urban areas. Burkhardt is a founding member of the Accessible Transportation and Mobility Committee and the Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee, for which he currently serves as chair. In 1980, he received the Pyke Johnson Award as author of the outstanding paper in transportation systems planning and administration, “Residential Dislocation: Costs and Consequences.”


Diane McSwain, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2004 Award Winner.

Ms. McSwain brings over 20 years experience in the provision of social services to her present position with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at HHS. In rural northern California, Ms. McSwain served first as an income maintenance eligibility worker and then as the only adult protective services social worker for a large, sparsely-populated county in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Since coming to Washington, Ms. McSwain has served as a staff member for the Federal Council on the Aging and in various planning positions in the Office of Human Development Services (OHDS) (now the Administration for Children and Families), HHS. While with OHDS, Ms. McSwain revitalized the DHHS transportation coordination initiative, an attempt to address the critical mobility and access needs of HHS client populations. Through that initiative a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with DOT and the Joint DHHS/DOT Coordinating Council on Human Services Transportation was formed. From 1986 to 1990, she left government service for work in the private sector.

In 1990, Ms. McSwain returned to public service and again assumed the lead on the DHHS transportation coordination initiative that is now administered through the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. She provides staff support to the Coordinating Council, serves as project officer for the Community Transportation Assistance Project (CTAP), and is the liaison with all the staff offices, operating divisions, Regional Offices of the Department, and non-Federal organizations on transportation issues.

In addition, Ms. McSwain represents HHS on the National Rural Development Council, the Washington, D.C. arm of the National Rural Development Partnership. She served as the chairperson of the Council for two years and leads the Partnership's initiative to develop a mechanism for rural input to the federal policy and regulatory process. Ms. McSwain has also been instrumental in the formation of the HHS Initiative for Rural Communities, an intradepartmental effort to improve communication and coordination among HHS programs serving rural America. She serves as the intergovernmental liaison between the Administration on Aging and the Department's State and local government partners.

Ms. McSwain received a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Community Services and an undergraduate certificate in Gerontology. In 1986, she earned a Masters in Social Work from the Catholic University of America with a concentration in communities/organizations and a specialty in Gerontology.


Pam Ward, Executive Director, Ottumwa Transit. 2004 Award Winner.

Pam Ward, transit administrator for both the Ottumwa Transit Authority and 10-15 Regional Transit Agency, was awarded the “Roger Tate Is Smiling” Award in 2004. Ward’s nomination noted her efforts on local and state level issues and with helping to guide the future of the public transit industry. Her willingness to help colleagues, newcomers and people throughout her community ensure mobility improvements was also honored.

Ward has done considerable committee work, including playing a key role in organizing national conferences. In addition, as a charter member of the RTAP national review board, she chaired that organization for four years. She has served on several panels and worked with leaders in the human services area to promote coordination and intra-agency relationships. While highlighting the need for expanded funding, improved efficiencies and better recognition of rural transit services, she has actively spoken out to advance the cause of rural public transportation. Acknowledging Ward for this honor helps to recognize the professional contributions and needs of real people who rely on, and deliver, daily mobility services throughout rural America.


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FTA Administrator's Award for Outstanding Public Service in Rural Transportation

Recipients 1985 - 2006

At each TRB national rural conference since 1985, the Federal Transit Administration has presented an award for outstanding public service to several rural transit systems recognizing their accomplishments. The following provides a list of the past recipients of that award and, when available, a link to their web site.

2006 – Stevenson, Washington

York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC), - Sanford, Maine

River Cities Transit (RCT)- Pierre, South Dakota

2004 – Roanoke, Virginia


2002 - Huron, Ohio



2000 – State Line, Nevada (Lake Tahoe)


1997 – North Conway, New Hampshire

1995 - Des Moines, Iowa

ARC Transit Inc. – Florida

1993 – Park City, Utah


COLCO Transportation - Oregon

1991 – Asheville, North Carolina


Lincoln County Transportation – Nevada

1989 – San Antonio, Texas


Caro Transit Authority – Michigan
People Mover Express – Oregon

1987 – Ashland, Oregon


BART – Wisconsin
CARE-A-Van – Colorado

1985 – Lawrence, Kansas


Valley Transit – Washington
Muskingum Public Transit Authority – Ohio

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