December 20, 2010
Read the classifieds in this issue to learn about 7 bids & proposals and 7 transit job opportunities!
Drawing from the Past Year … for 2011
BY WILLIAM MILLAR, APTA President
Over the past year, we at APTA have concentrated our efforts to communicate the many and varied benefits of public transportation—and to stress the urgent need for more federal investment—to the public, members of Congress, state and local elected officials, key partners in government and affiliated organizations, and our riders.
How did we do this? Through meetings, outreach, events, and targeted advocacy. And through Immediate Past Chair M.P. Carter’s signature Telling Our Story initiative, with activities ranging from “Telling Our Story to Congress District Days” in January to Earth Day in April to National Dump the Pump Day in June. I’m proud to say that APTA gained two new supporters of this important event this year—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
We created a National Public Transit Petition, urging people to use it to express their support of more federal investment. So far, thousands of people across America have signed it!
Of course, the highlight of Telling Our Story arrived Sept. 22 with a Washington, DC, rally—featuring people from across the country who served as the voices of the millions of people who use public transit every day. These individuals explained why this kind of transportation is so important to their lives. Other speakers included Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), representatives from four bus manufacturers, and a whole lot more.
This was also a year of change: internally, with new bylaws and a new chair—and externally, with the November 2010 election. Here’s a quick look at both.
It was during this year that APTA members voted to change our bylaws—an overwhelmingly positive decision that should provide dividends for decades to come. Why make this change? Not because our structure was broken, but because we believed it could work even better representing the breadth of APTA membership. By expanding the voting membership of the APTA Board of Directors, we are ensuring the inclusiveness of our association and demonstrating the value of our diversity.
So now, our Executive Committee and Board of Directors are invigorated with new voices. Both are gaining in agility, with the ability to target their efforts on the most pressing issues of the day. Engaging more than two dozen committee chairs as members of the APTA Board of Directors is also bringing to the table ideas and voices that may not have been heard before. Since much of the work of APTA gets done in the committees—these individuals will bring the heart of our work closer to the governing decisions the board makes.
A Change of Chair
As is our custom (not to mention our bylaws!), we changed chairs in October. We said goodbye and thank you to M.P. Carter, and hello and welcome to Michael Scanlon.
Mike is focused on gaining new partners, bringing more stakeholders to the table, and including any and all of those who work in or are affected by public transportation which, as he has pointed out, is nearly everyone! His word for this effort? Inclusion. Remember that word—you’ll be hearing it a lot in the months to come! And while practicing this inclusion, Mike will also, at all times, keep a sharp focus on advancing public transit’s legislative agenda.
Strategic Plan/Business Plan
This was indeed a busy year, for it included implementing the first year of our new Strategic Plan, which set our priority goals for the next five years. These include economic and environmental sustainability, safe and reliable mobility systems, a quality workforce, and ensuring that public transportation continues to be an essential value to everyone. We also developed a business plan built from the Strategic Plan—and all these things bode well for the future of APTA and our industry.
Congressional Election Results
The November elections brought many new faces to Congress, and with the Republicans’ House majority, changes in leadership and presumably direction.
Some of the leaders we have relied on for many, many years either did not seek re-election—or were not returned by the voters. Foremost among these are Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, and the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT).
I first met Jim in the late 1970s. Since then, he has continued to amaze me with his breadth of knowledge, his leadership on important matters of the day, and his unyielding commitment to improving America’s transportation infrastructure. From his early days as a member of the T&I Committee to his tenure as chairman, he has been a tremendous champion for public transit, and his support has been critical to U.S. systems as they grew over the past 30 years. While it’s tempting to highlight the many transportation bills he championed, I believe his legacy is not just policies or projects, it’s his unwavering commitment to and passion for making our nation’s transportation system benefit all Americans.
The next T&I chairman is Rep. John Mica (R-FL), a longtime supporter of public transportation and a champion of bringing rail transit to Florida. He is also a proponent of more private sector involvement in transportation development and in bringing true high-speed passenger rail to America. He has also been a vocal advocate of expediting and simplifying project delivery. We have worked closely with Mica for many years, and look forward to continuing to do so in the 112th Congress.
Dodd has been a member of the Senate Banking Committee for many years and the chairman since 2006. He has consistently worked to move public transportation issues forward in a bipartisan fashion, advocating for legislation to improve public transportation safety and livable communities. We have enjoyed working with him over the years and wish him well as he moves to the next phase of his life.
Dodd will be replaced by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD). He is an active and engaged member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and we look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.
This has been a difficult year, no question—and the economy made it more so for our transit system and business members. But there are signs of hopefulness. The steep decline of ridership in 2009 moderated significantly in 2010, with many systems showing increased ridership numbers.
And for APTA, the year ends with growing membership, which positions our association strongly to advance our legislative agenda.
So as we continue our advocacy efforts with Congress for long-term surface transportation authorization, we will also continue to reach out to you for your valued input, move toward achieving the goals of our Strategic Plan, and work hard and daily to ensure that Public Transportation Takes Us There.
Happy holidays—to one and all!