Thomas J. Sullivan

Mr. Sullivan is a principal at Transportation Systems Design, Inc. which provides technical consulting services to the transportation and computer industry.

Years Experience



Professional Affiliations

Experience Summary

Mr. Sullivan is experienced in the detailed design, test and commissioning of real-time process control and advanced technology train control systems. He has worked as an electrical engineer for a signal supplier, as and engineer and manager for three consulting firms and as an engineering supervisor, chief engineer and technical director at three major US transit properties. His background includes microprocessor hardware, firmware and software design test and integration and professional college level teaching experience.

While Director of New Technology Signals for NYC Transit, led a key study which resulted in the decision by NYCT to upgrade its train control system to one based on advanced communications based technology. This decision will result in the procurement of billions of dollars of new train control equipment for the world's longest subway over the next two decades.

Key Project Experience

New York City Transit

As Director of New Technology Signals for NYCT, supervised a staff of 24 managers, engineers and signal system professionals. Responsible for the design and procurement of typically 3-4 $100+ million signal projects per year. Also, led specification development of NYCT's first Centralized Traffic Control system for its A Subdivision (Manhattan). Procurement cost: $170M.

As part of a three-year world-wide, multi-million dollar study of state-of-the-art train control systems, arranged meetings and met with senior engineering representatives from major transit properties throughout the world. Discussed safety, compatibility and cutover issues associated with new advanced technology train control systems.

Led internal NYCT meetings and worked closely with all affected departments to ensure its new systems fully addressed their needs. Made presentations to the signal industry, senior NYCT management and NYCT's governing board the MTA, the largest public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere. Later, arranged and chaired international peer reviews comprising senior technical experts from the world's largest transit properties including LUL, RATP, and Hong Kong. These meetings continue to meet regularly at NYCT.

Muni Railway - San Francisco, CA

As Chief Signal Engineer for Muni, completed a long overdue Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) project. Using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and control software completed design, installation and cutover with in-house staff for a fraction of the cost proposed by traditional signal contractors. The selected process control software permits easy ladder logic type modifications by Muni staff without requiring traditional programming skills.

Using savings realized from Muni's CTC project Sullivan directed a track design consultant to modify its long-planned conversion of a crossover east of Castro St. Station to a higher speed #10 crossover. This new higher speed crossover enhanced Muni Metro's operational flexibility and for the first time makes feasible today efficient and effective shuttle service between this station to downtown.

For Cable Cars developed key architecture and supervised the design, test and installation of a system to monitor Cable Car performance. Again using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software led the internal staff development of a system that provided Muni's General Manager and senior staff with an automated daily graph of Cable Car performance. When this monitoring system became operational immediate increases in revenue for the Cable Car system were documented.

After detailed computer simulations of operations revealed performance limitations in the existing subway caused by its existing manual signal system, Sullivan proposed Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) train control technology as the most cost-effective means to increase the throughput of Muni’s 23 trains/hour Market St. Subway. Working closely with GM, SF Board of Supervisors and Canadian Consulate, arranged a delegation to observe CBTC technology first-hand at Vancouver. SF City officials, impressed with the performance advantages of CBTC technology, elected to install a similar system for its Muni Metro Subway.

Working with the Federal Transit Administration and City identified new funds for Muni’s Advanced Train Control System (ATCS) project. Prepared RFP for consulting engineering services and led selection process. Later, as Muni's ATCS Senior Project Manager, worked with City Attorney's office to develop specifications and a procurement process by which multiple competing technologies could be evaluated on a level playing field. Completed final contract negotiations and issued Notice to Proceed to CBTC train control supplier.

Today, with its CBTC system Muni has operated trains at under 60 second headways (>60 trains/hour) in revenue service. This performance increase is more than double the capacity possible with its manual fixed block system and was provided at a cost that was a less than half that of civil construction alternatives.

Bay Area Rapid Transit - San Francisco, CA

As Supervising Engineer of BART's train control engineer developed technical and procurement specifications for the U.S.’s first fault-tolerant, check redundant microprocessor-based vehicle train control system.

Prior to BART in early 1970's was Lead Engineer and Test Supervisor for BART's original train control supplier. Corrected and re-designed systems and electronic circuit board, developed test equipment and established new system interfaces. Headed final system test and commissioning of the train control system for San Francisco, including full central-wayside-vehicle system interfacing.

Media Test Specialists, Inc. - San Jose, CA

Wrote low level Assembler and high level Pascal software and later supervised C software development for several state-of-the-art magnetic media testers for this Silicon Valley startup. Later, as Manager of New Product Development managed, designed, and brought to market three new products. While at this firm sales doubled each year for four consecutive years.

California Public Utilities Commission - San Francisco, CA

Taught a custom 16-hour course in Communications Based Train Control for the CPUC's Rail Safety Division. Advised technical staff of key issues associated with the design, test and commissioning of new technology train control systems.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation - Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Developed train control specifications and reviewed final technical proposals for this new multi-billion dollar high speed rail system. THSRC is scheduled to operate very short headway trains at 300 km/hr over 350 km.

Ongoing Activities

Transportation Systems Design, Inc.

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