APTA | Passenger Transport
September 8, 2008

In This Issue

APTA welcomes you to the first electronic Passenger Transport

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Welcome to the "new" Passenger Transport!
William W. Millar

With this issue of Passenger Transport, we inaugurate major changes in APTA’s publications as we continue our goal of keeping you up-to-date on what is happening in, with, and to our industry. To provide stories in greater depth, Passenger Transport moves from weekly to bi-weekly and adds an electronic edition as well.  In the alternate weeks when Passenger Transport is not printed, you will receive Passenger Transport EXPRESS electronically – which will highlight legislative issues and breaking news.

One of the major jobs of any association is to inform.  Through these publications, APTA will keep its 65-year-old pledge to you of being a continuing information resource for the public transportation industry.  In all those years – and 3,250 issues – we’ve moved from typesetting to desktop publishing and from “The Role of Transit in Post War Planning” (September 1943) to “U.S. Transit Ridership Reaches 10.3 Billion in 2007” (March 2008) and “Pelosi Stresses Support for Infrastructure Funding; Speaker Addresses June 1 Forum at Rail Conference” (June 2008).  But wait – there’s more!  With these changes, we will be significantly increasing our reach as our online version will be sent to all APTA members.

Now, you may have noticed some design changes in this issue.  Well, we figured, why make just some changes when we could make lots of changes!  Yes, the look of Passenger Transport is different, and, as you will find in the weeks and months ahead – so will be the content.  We listened to your many suggestions – and to those of you who responded to our survey – thank you.

Overall, you said you wanted more in-depth stories covering a range of topics, and more analysis – and that’s what you’ll be reading.  We will also feature a number of recurring departments, including The Sustainable Source and Technology in Practice, Letters to the Editor (of course there won’t be this department if you don’t write to us!), and commentary, such as this – President’s Perspective – which will replace The President’s Letter.  So from time to time I will be writing in this space, but there will also be commentary and perspective from a variety of contributors – including you, if you wish.

In addition, we are in the process of redesigning our web site to feature a cleaner, more modern appearance, with functional design, structure, and enhanced user-friendly access.  The site will promote a strong image and identity for APTA and will provide visitors with at-the-ready information and assistance.  

Passenger Transport's look has changed many times over all these years.  But its mission – “to communicate news and information about public transportation and to serve as the voice of the public transportation industry” – has never wavered.

In that spirit, as we celebrate a new chapter in Passenger Transport and a new approach to APTA communications efforts, I thought I’d take this moment to give all of us in the industry a collective pat on the back.

Starting sometime last year, the media and legislators began talking about climate change and what carbon emissions are doing – and, left unchecked, will do – to our planet.  With the advent of $4 a gallon gas, the discussion narrowed dramatically to its skyrocketing costs. 

For weeks on end this spring and into this summer, we saw front page, above-the-fold stories on this topic every day – all of which reminded us how critical our jobs are.

This is a transformational time in our industry – with public transportation having the opportunity to become the linchpin for two major issues: climate change and energy independence.

But transformation does not come without difficulties – and barriers to implementation.  The decrease in driving and large increase in ridership we have experienced presents a double-edged sword:  While we welcome new riders, transit’s fuel and power costs continue to rise rapidly.  In fact, the industry is facing a triple-edged sword (if there is such a thing!) as many transit systems are dealing with rapidly growing demand, the increased costs of fuel, and decreased funding because of the economic downturn. 

How agencies are responding to these demands – and how they are dealing with the many challenges such demands bring about – we address in our cover story in this issue and in a companion piece in our next issue.

While we face these challenges, however, let’s not lose sight of the opportunities.  Millions more people are riding our buses, trains, and other services we offer.  We are being seen as a green and affordable option.  People are demanding that their elected officials take action.

So as we continue to say that public transit is the best way to beat the high cost of gas, let’s take full advantage of this momentum to position our industry for the long haul.

I hope you not only enjoy but also benefit from our revamped Passenger Transport – both the print and electronic version – and our new publication, Passenger Transport EXPRESS.  I welcome and encourage your feedback in the months ahead.

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