The American Public Transportation Association
’s (APTA) Bus & Paratransit Conference was held in Long Beach, Calif., earlier this month, featuring a host of educational sessions, a bus showcase and the International Bus Roadeo.
The weekend kicked off with the 37th International Bus Roadeo, with Dallas Area Rapid Transit taking home the Grand Champion Award, which recognizes the system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score. San Antonio’s VIA Metro Transit took home second place, while Honolulu’s Oahu Transit Services Inc. took home third.
Michael Hennessy, APTA chair for the Roadeo, explained how important the event is to its participants.
“It’s a pretty huge deal,” he said. “Both the mechanic and operator Roadeos, basically sees the best of the best in the industry compete in obstacles or events that challenges them at what they do every single day.”
APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy.
Later that afternoon, local and federal officials joined APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy
at the Opening Session, “Public Transportation Takes Us There.”
Melaniphy spoke about big ridership numbers in 2011, where passengers took 235 million more trips compared to 2010; a boost of 2.31%. Speaking about 2011 being the largest growth in the industry since 1957, he also cited large double-digit growth in some areas of the nation, including Canton, Ohio (up 15.8%) and Nashville (up 15.3%), as well as a 4% increase in the 4th quarter alone, which was coupled with a 2.1% decrease in vehicle miles traveled.
Melaniphy also discussed the growing importance of public transportation as the population grows and gas price volatility continues, touting APTA’s Dump The Pump day on June 21, as well as its growing acceptance by local voters, with 22 out of 28 local or state referenda in 2011 that involved some type of funding for public transportation passing.
Finally, he discussed the growing optimism that an agreement will be reached by Congress on a federal transportation bill, citing that both Republicans and Democrats have appointed its conferees, with discussions slated to start soon. He also called on those in attendance to continue putting pressure on Congress by reminding them about the importance a long-term bill has on the industry.
“We have to stay together and keep a common message,” Melaniphy said.
The Federal Transit Administration’s Deputy Administrator Therese W. McMillan also addressed the current state of the industry, touting President Barack Obama and his Administration for their unprecedented support for public transportation, however, she acknowledged there is a still a necessity for even more funds for agencies around the nation with the state of good repair backlog continuing to grow.
McMillan also addressed much of the successes of the industry, in terms of ridership growth and innovative transportation solutions in communities across the nation, before reminding attendees that much of it has been achieved without the support of Congress.
“Imagine what will happen if Congress can just put aside its partisan posturing,” she said.
Other speakers included Lawrence Jackson, president/CEO of host agency Long Beach Transit and California State Senator Alan Lowenthal.
New Flyer's Paul Smith announced the company's new partnership with Alexander Dennis.
The Bus Display highlighted day two with New Flyer announcing a new partnership with UK-based Alexander Dennis Ltd., that will introduce a North American medium-duty low-floor bus (or “midi bus”) specifically developed and tested to a 10-year operational life.
Under the arrangements of the new joint venture, New Flyer is responsible for sales, marketing, manufacturing and aftermarket support with Alexander Dennis performing engineering, test and prototype development activities. Prototypes of the New Flyer/Alexander Dennis midi bus for North America will be built this summer, with a planned market launch in spring 2013.
Also on display was the new Nova LFS Smart Bus, featuring its eCooling system — and electric engine cooling system designed to minimize lifecycle costs and improve fuel economy by 18% — and BAE Systems’ HybridDrive Series-E Accessory Power System (APS2). APS2 supports the full electrification of accessories to further enhance efficiency and performance. The system replaces the conventional belt driven alternator and provides 24/28 volt power to support a range of vehicle systems and electronic components, such as cooling fans, cooling pumps and conventional 28v systems and accessories.
The Nova LFS Smart Bus and the Long Beach Arena.
Day Two also featured several informational and educational sessions including “Wired: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About It,” featuring keynote speaker John Patterson and “What You Need to Know About FTA Civil Rights Compliance.”
The morning’s “Strengthening Safety Culture Through Training” featured several speakers addressing a variety of ways transit agencies can better equip its workforce to not only understand but embrace safety.
FAAC Incorporated’s Louie Maiello spoke about the “Five Absolute Necessities” in a transit bus operator’s training program, urging the importance to train those qualified to move to the training bus following preliminary training and provide corrective action and refresher solutions even after operators finish initial training. He also urged the importance of “hiring to retire” operators and discussed automatic disqualifiers or red flags that would cause trainers to disqualify operators before an incident occurs.
FAAC Incorporated's Louie Maiello.
Other panelists included Susan Murphy, principal consultant at Behavioral Science Technology Inc., who discussed how to improve your organization’s ability to prevent life-altering injuries and catastrophic events, and Christian DeVoll, integrated risk management specialist, Washington State Insurance Pool, who discussed an innovative pedestrian safety video that included filming David Sales, whose child was struck and killed by a transit bus.
“It’s important to remember how we affect people’s lives every day,” DeVoll said.
RELATED ARTICLE: Click here, to read Part 2 of the APTA show highlights.