APTA | Passenger Transport
November 9, 2009

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Have You Voted Yet?
BY M.P. CARTER, Chair, APTA, and Commissioner, Memphis Area Transit Authority, Memphis, TN

Just over two weeks ago, APTA took the next big step on its road to the future. That is when we mailed and e-mailed packets to each APTA member to collect our vote on the proposal to update our association’s bylaws and prepare our association for the challenges ahead.

I am sure that by now you have heard about the steps that have led to this vote—the TransitVision 2050 report, the Framework for the Future Task Force recommendations, and the Governance Task Force that formed it all into the concrete action plan we are voting on today. Still, I think it is important to focus on why you should vote to approve our proposed bylaws amendments and help our association move forward on the emerging issues of the future.

Some have asked the question, “What is wrong with the way we do business today?” That is certainly a fair question and one that the task forces, executive committee, and board of directors have had to consider. What is broken? Nothing is exactly broken. But our governance structure does not represent the breadth of APTA membership as well as it could. . No one believes that the APTA Board of Directors, Executive Committee, or governance structure is lacking. What we do believe is that APTA can be even stronger by implementing the proposed bylaws changes. Our Executive Committee and Board of Directors can be invigorated with new voices. Both will gain a new agility, an ability to target their efforts on the most pressing issues of the day—as well as of the days after. Engaging more than two dozen committee chairs as members of the APTA Board of Directors will bring new ideas and voices to the table that may not have been heard before, and expanding the voting membership of the Board of Directors will ensure the inclusiveness of our association and demonstrate the value of our diversity.

Some have expressed fears that their voices could be lost in the process. I am confident that will not happen. Both the Governance Task Force and the Executive Committee were careful to guard against such an outcome. As an example, we were keenly aware of the need to preserve and encourage the role of small and medium size members and I am proud to report that those interests were vigorously defended at every stage of the process. Les White, who led the bylaws subgroup within the Governance Task Force, summed it up best: “I believe that our quest for the best and brightest in the transit industry will lead us to the small operators who will be able to effectively compete for leadership positions without the restrictions of artificial modal silos, or narrow portfolios, that limit who can serve.” That statement applies just as well if you substitute “business members,” “policy board members,” or any other APTA constituency for “small operators.”

Designing a governance system poised for the future that also preserves and strengthens each of our positions was a daunting process. Many of us doubted it could be accomplished. But through the perseverance, teamwork, inclusivity, and consensus building that has become the hallmark of our association, we have reached that goal.

There is simply not enough room to thank each and every one of the people who brought this project to fruition, but I cannot close without thanking my predecessors as APTA chair—Howard Silver, Michael Townes, and Beverly Scott—who brought us this far, and the leadership of the Governance Task Force—Michael Townes, Sharon Greene, Les White, and John Bartosiewicz—who put structure to theory.

And now is the time for each and every APTA member to act. Without your vote, the entire effort will have been for naught. I charge each of you to submit your vote today so we can continue APTA’s march into the bright and hopeful future that awaits us.

Help with the Voting Process
To assist you in reviewing the proposed changes, there are a number of tools available on our web site:
* an electronic version of the proposed bylaws;
* an electronic version of the transition plan;
* a side-by-side comparison of the old and new bylaws;
* a summary explanation of the proposed changes; and
* recordings of the webinars held on September 14 and 22, 2009, to explain the prposed changes.
 Your vote on the enclosed ballot should be signed by an officer or official of your organization authorized to act on the organization’s behalf and returned as soon as possible to APTA’s chief counsel, James LaRusch.
 If you have any questions regarding this matter, you may e-mail them.

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