Management & Operations

APTA focuses on terror concerns

Posted on August 1, 2001

With historic Philadelphia on center stage and terrorist events in other cities looming in the background, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held its annual conference September 29 to October 4 with more than 2,300 members in attendance. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which occurred less than a month before the conference, tempered the proceedings. Both Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and FTA Administrator Jenna Dorn sought to assure APTA members that the federal government is taking steps to safeguard public transportation in the United States. “We have entered an entirely new era of transportation,” Mineta told attendees during the general session. “This is not business as usual.” He said the threat of terrorism will require uncommon collaboration among transit properties, police and fire agencies and regional authorities. “You must put any jurisdictional squabbles aside,” Mineta said. “You must shift your focus beyond transit.” Dorn told attendees the FTA will per-form security and emergency-response assessments of large transit agencies and provide general managers of more than 600 transit agencies with information kits on transit-related counter-terrorism. “We want to be a facilitator of information,” she said, adding that the FTA’s burgeoning role in terror prevention and response is a “work in progress.” One of the most highly attended pres-entations of the six–day meeting addressed the events of September 11. Called “Under Attack — Transit Responds,” the forum featured transit representatives from New York City, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Each described their experiences on the day of the catastrophic events and how their agencies handled the crises. Richard A. White, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), recommended that transit agencies ensure that they have updated emergency-response plans and that the plans are tested on a regular basis. He argued that all transit agencies must have access to key intelligence information from “the highest levels of the government.” “The No. 1 step in dealing with crime is to prevent it from happening,” White said. “We have open transit systems. We’re not going to be able to button them down like aviation systems. You’ve got to catch it on the front end.” White also emphasized the importance of maintaining effective communication with customers during an emergency. Of great value on September 11 and the following days, he said, was WMATA’s Website, which was being updated every 15 minutes with service bulletins. Other highlights of the meeting included APTA’s awards program, which recognized key individuals and transit properties (for a list of winners, see below); progress reports on the association’s PT2 initiative; technical tours of transit facilities in the Philadelphia area; and a wide variety of workshops on issues such as reauthorization of TEA 21, e-commerce, procurement and rail standards. Next year’s APTA meeting will be held September 22 to 26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The meeting will be held in conjunction with Expo 2002, the international public transportation exhibition held every three years. ****************************************** APTA’S 2001 AWARD WINNERS INDIVIDUAL AWARDS Hall of Fame Gerald T. Haugh, Robert G. MacLennan Outstanding Public Transportation System Manager John P. Bartosiewicz, general manager of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Stephanie L. Pinson, president of Gilbert Tweed Associates Inc. in New York City Outstanding Public Transportation Transit Board Member George H. Ivey Jr., board member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Jesse Oliver, board chair, Dallas Area Rapid Transit National Distinguished Service Award Thomas Petri, U.S. House of Representatives State Distinguished Service Award Gov. Parris Glendening, Maryland Local Distinguished Service Award Mayor Lee P. Brown, Houston ORGANIZATION AWARDS Innovation Bi-State Development Agency, St. Louis Outstanding Public Transportation Systems (fewer than 1 million passenger trips annually) Redding Area Bus Authority, Calif. Outstanding Public Transportation Systems (between 4 million and 30 million trips annually) Centre Area Transportation Authority, State College, Pa. Outstanding Public Transportation Systems (more than 30 million passenger trips annually) MTA New York City Transit

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