October 16, 2015
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McCall Assumes Chair; Calls for More Collaboration

In the Opening General Session, McCall, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, listed collaboration among all sectors of the industry—public transit agency employees, board members, business members and other organizations—as the way to stay current and successful and meet the future.

“In order to succeed, not just survive, we will need what the best-run organizations have fostered in their cultures: diversity of thought … and collaboration,” she stressed. “The good news for our industry is that we already have it. It’s built into APTA’s membership and governance.”

McCall announced the creation of the APTA Task Force on Member Collaboration, co-chaired by Ann August, chief executive officer, Birmingham-Jefferson County (AL) Transit Authority; Patrick J. Scully, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries, and chair, Business Member Board of Governors; and David M. Stackrow, chair of the Capital District Transportation Authority Board of Directors, Albany, NY, and chair of the APTA Transit Board Members Committee.

She said she also plans to work with “three national groups that represent the people who are on the front lines of our issues”: the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and National Association of Regional Councils.

APTA President & CEO Michael ­Melaniphy, who opened the session, said the likelihood of a long-term surface transportation authorization bill is the highest it has been in the past decade because of hard work from the association and its members.

“We’re not there yet, but the finish line is within sight,” Melaniphy said. While the recent Senate-passed bill is “not perfect,” he continued, it contains provisions for six years of growing transit investments; increased funding for all programs, with the largest percentage increase for bus and the addition of a new Bus Discretionary Program; dedicated Mass Transit Account funding for the Transit Cooperative Research Program and the Technical Assistance and Standards Program; an increased authorization for passenger rail; and a three-year extension for PTC implementation. The House is now working on its own bill.

“These victories were neither coincidence nor luck,” he said. “They happened because you made them happen.” Melaniphy cited the importance of the Stand Up for Transportation event in April and the more than 170,000 participants in Voices for Public Transit as key to this success.

“Public transportation is on the cusp of a seminal shift—a shift that occurs once every hundred years,” he continued. “Knowing what’s next requires vision and a good plan. APTA has both.” These challenges include new technologies such as Uber and Google Buses, the need for a “flexible, imaginative and entrepreneurial workforce” and demographic changes that will mean evolving needs for different generations.

Immediate Past Chair Phillip Washington, who welcomed McCall as chair, reported on the highlights of his tenure. “We’ve had a very, very busy year but there’s more to do,” he said. “I just want to thank you for the year we’ve had and for getting so much done.”

Washington, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Metro, returned to earlier comments when he referred to himself as “your chief transportation advocate” and called for “nation building here at home” through construction and renovation of infrastructure. He noted the priorities of his year in office, such as APTA’s support for workforce development initiatives, professional outreach including the first APTA international study mission in seven years and creation of the APTA Strategic Plan.

Representatives of the host system, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, also addressed the session. Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin described the city’s transportation history: the cable car was invented in San Francisco in 1873 and the San Francisco Municipal Railway, established in 1912, was the first major publicly operated transit system in the U.S. Board Chairman Tom Nolan referred to the agency as the “transportation backbone of the regional economy.”

AECOM sponsored the session.
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