APTA | Passenger Transport
August 31, 2009

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Governance Changes Endorsed by APTA Executive Committee

At a special meeting held Aug. 2 in Salt Lake City, the APTA Executive Committee endorsed in concept a proposal to change APTA’s governance structure. The changes, proposed to enhance APTA’s governance and ability to support the objectives of TransitVision 2050, will expand opportunities for participation in the organization’s governance process.

“From TransitVision 2050 we learned that APTA will need a broader perspective if we are going to successfully lead our industry in the years ahead,” said APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., general manager/chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. “Our view needs to be one that is outcome-based, multi-modal, and regional, supportive of alternative business models, and embracing the technological and advanced information systems—and innovation—that our next generations of riders and employees will expect from our industry.”

“To me,” Scott said, “one of the most important elements of the changes that have been proposed is to help bring the next generation of our industry’s leaders to the governance table and get them ready to lead APTA and the transit industry in the future. As I look around our table today, I see very few faces that will be leading our industry in five or 10 years. We need to make sure that we provide our industry’s next generation of leaders with the experiences and exposure that will help give them the confidence that is key to effective leadership. Getting them engaged in APTA’s governance today will help ensure that our 2050 vision becomes a reality.”

In developing the proposed changes, the Governance and Committee Structure Task Force—chaired by Michael Townes, APTA immediate past chair and president/chief executive officer of Hampton Roads Transit in Hampton, VA, and Sharon Greene, vice chair-business members and principal of Sharon Greene and Associates—placed an emphasis on five key principles: encouraging wider participation in governance from APTA’s members; strengthening the role of APTA’s committees in the governance process; providing greater clarity in the pathways to leadership positions; improving the way to recognize and promote talent for the future; and ensuring balance among transit board members, transit professionals, and business members. Subgroups of the 25-member task force working on proposed revisions to the APTA bylaws were led by Les White, general manager, Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, Santa Cruz, CA, and working on committee structure issues by John Bartosiewicz, executive vice president/chief operating officer, McDonald Transit Associates, Inc.

The APTA Executive Committee was scheduled to formally approve the proposal and the accompanying changes to the bylaws in a conference call meeting on Aug. 28. Following that action, the proposal would then be forwarded to the APTA Board of Directors. Consideration by the board is anticipated at its meeting Oct. 4 in Orlando, FL, during the APTA Annual Meeting. Since the recommendations, if approved by the board, would involve changes to APTA’s bylaws, a vote by the APTA membership will be required.

The major changes in the proposal include:
* Executive Committee: Changing the vice chair seats on the executive committee to at-large member seats. Currently, the executive committee includes 14 vice chairs for specific areas or disciplines such as rail, small operations, government affairs, human resources, transit board members or business members. The proposal recommends eliminating the specific portfolios and making all of them at-large seats. All members would be nominated by the APTA Nominating Committee (business members and small operators are currently nominated by APTA committees); the secretary-treasurer and 14 at-large member positions would be filled by five business members and 10 transit board members and transit professionals. The proposal also includes changing the term of office for the 14 at-large members and the secretary-treasurer from three one-year terms to one three-year term. No changes have been proposed for the positions of chair, first vice chair or immediate past chair.
* Board of Directors: The proposal recommends significant changes to board membership by expanding the number of voting members from 82 to more than 100. It would eliminate the current non-voting seats, which can number up to 48. The highest dues-paying transit systems and businesses would have seats, while there would be an opportunity for agencies and businesses of all sizes to run for at-large seats. In addition, the recommendation would bring the expertise of APTA’s committees to the board and reflect the desire to provide balance among APTA’s various constituencies on the board. Making the chairs of designated committees members of the board of directors and other changes in the makeup of the board are intended to make the board have a more substantive role—both in content and succession planning for higher office in the association.
* APTA Committees: A total of 22 current APTA committees would be designated to have their committee chairs serve on the board of directors, along with the chairs of the four new committees that have been proposed through the TransitVision 2050 process. Committee “clusters” would be formed around the designated committees to provide a structured way for the related non-designated committees to report on their activities and accomplishments and bring issues to the board of directors. Recognizing that many current issues are cross-cutting and require participation across the APTA membership, four new policy committees are recommended to address wide-ranging topics such as sustainability, new partners, mobility management, and intermodal issues. A list of the designated committees and committee clusters is included in the sidebar accompanying this article.
* Nominating Committee: Recognizing that the proposal places major new responsibilities on the nominating committee to ensure balance in the governance structure, the proposal calls for changes to the APTA bylaws to provide direction in these issues to the nominating committee. Changes to simplify the configuration of the nominating committee have also been proposed.

“We believe that these changes will significantly increase opportunities for individual APTA members to participate in APTA’s governance, bringing in new perspectives and helping develop our industry’s future leaders,” Townes said. Greene noted that “getting our leaders out of their current silos will enhance APTA’s ability to tap into their skills and expertise and will strengthen our decision-making process. We will improve our effectiveness in dealing with current issues and better engage all our members.”

Scott added: “I want to acknowledge the hard work of the entire task force, which brought together people with long experience in, and a commitment to, APTA.” The panel included Townes, the immediate APTA past chair; incoming Chair M.P. Carter, commissioner,Memphis Area Transit Authority; and past Chairs Les White; John Bartosiewicz; George F. Dixon III, president, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board; Celia G. Kupersmith, general manager, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District in San Francisco; Howard Silver, vice chair, Golden Empire Transit District, Bakersfield, CA; and Richard A. White, executive vice president, AECOM.

Additional information on the governance proposal can be found on the APTA web site and questions and comments on the proposal can be submitted here.

Proposed Committee Structure
The designated committees and the associated committee clusters included in the governance proposal are:
1. Public/Private Partnerships (new)
2. Intermodal Issues (new)
   a. Waterborne Operations
3. Sustainability (new)
4. Mobility Management (new)
5. Access Committee
6. Business Members 
   a. International EXPO Advisory Committee
7. Transit CEOs
a. All modal CEO committees
8. Bus and Paratransit Operations
   a. Bus Technical Maintenance 
   b. Bus Standards Policy and Planning
   c. International Bus Roadeo
9. Public Safety Committee
   a. Bus Safety
   b. Committee on Public Safety
   c. Security Standards Policy and Planning
   d. Risk Management
   e. Security Affairs Steering Committee
10. Commuter Rail
11. Financial Management
   a. Fare Systems and Programs
   b. Internal Audit
12. High Speed and Intercity Rail
13. Human Resources
14. Leadership APTA
15. Legal Affairs
16. Legislative
17. Marketing and Communications
   a. Meeting Site Selection
   b. Conference Program Planning
18. Member Services
19. Planning and Policy
20. Procurement Steering Committee
   a. Procurement and Materials Management
21. Rail Transit
   a. Rail Standards Policy and Planning
22. Research and Technology
   a. Information Technology
   b. Clean Propulsion and Support
23. Small Operations
24. Standards Development Oversight Council
25. State Affairs
26. Transit Board Members

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