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Industry Leaders Gather for Annual Meeting

More than 2,200 public transportation professionals gathered in San Francisco Oct. 4-7 to network, share best practices, discuss trends and innovations, learn about industry products and services and participate in sessions focused on industry challenges during the APTA 2015 Annual Meeting.

In addition to the dozens of concurrent sessions, technical forums, committee meetings, awards presentations and workshops were eight General Sessions that featured a wide range of topics, from advocacy to demographics, a celebration of ADA’s 25th anniversary to transformative technologies and national policy. Among the General Session speakers was DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, who addressed the benefits of investing in transportation infrastructure, among other topics.


Foxx: Transportation Drives Opportunity
“If opportunity were an iPad, transportation would be the operating system.”

Foxx used that analogy to emphasize the importance of public transportation to society during his General Session, where the audience greeted him with a standing ovation.

Foxx listed transportation among such “pillars of opportunity” as education, housing and job skills. Transportation doesn’t hire an employee, teach a student or treat a patient, he noted, but it makes all of those possible by connecting the person with the service.

But he went further, suggesting that transportation can “bring opportunity to folks’ doorstep” by enabling job creation in the neighborhoods where people live. Foxx referred to his childhood in Charlotte, NC, (where he later served as mayor) as a place where the opposite occurred: Highway construction destroyed homes and ­isolated neighborhoods.

“This generation of transportation planning can be the most restorative in our history,” the secretary said. “Imagine unleashing the ingenuity of land use planners to make facilities approachable and complementary to structures near them. … Imagine some of the most challenged areas in our country, instead of being limited, opening up again.”

Such changes are already underway, Foxx said, citing new housing and jobs in Los ­Angeles because of the light rail Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project and demolition of a highway in Rochester, NY, “to make the neighborhood more like the home it used to be.” Future efforts include a transit-oriented development initiative to revitalize economically distressed communities and workforce training programs for the next generation of public transit employees.

“Transportation creates spatial connections and, at its worst, spatial disconnections,” he said in conclusion. “The new frontier is that every person has a real shot to fulfill his or her dreams.”

Following his remarks, Foxx fielded several questions and comments from the audience in a session moderated by APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall. Questions addressed such topics as ensuring access for all riders, DOT’s Build America Transportation Investment Center, the industry’s response to Buy America regulations, PTC, workforce development and high-speed rail.

Foxx also thanked APTA and its members for their support of a long-term bill. “Keep raising your voices as individuals. Tell people what your agencies mean to those you serve,” he said. “Remind them that transit is not just an urban phenomenon; plenty of people in rural America depend on transit. Put projects on the table that will help solve this opportunity gap."

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall participate in a question-and-answer session following Foxx's prepared remarks.

 

 

 
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