Every three years, the transit industry holds its own version of the World Cup. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), this year's Annual Meeting and EXPO will be held Sept. 21 to 25 at the Las Vegas Hilton and Las Vegas Convention Center.
Although it doesn't rival the recent soccer competition in worldwide fanaticism, APTA's triennial event is cause for excitement. It's a great opportunity for transit professionals to celebrate their accomplishments, to network and socialize and to re-energize their enthusiasm for their chosen field.
It also allows the transit industry to showcase the talents of its many leaders in the public and private sectors. More importantly, it gives transit professionals from around the globe the chance to expand their knowledge base by attending marvelous educational sessions and forums and by inspecting the products and services of more than 700 manufacturers and suppliers.
An awesome display
If you haven't attended an APTA EXPO before, you will be astonished by the mass of hardware on the show floor. Several hundred buses and railcars will be displayed across more than 260,000 square feet of exhibit space at the convention center. In addition to the rolling stock, equipment for every transit-related task will also be represented.
You'll have three days to explore the convention center floor, which sounds like plenty of time, but is just about right. Think about it: more than 800 exhibitors will be displaying their products and services. If you wanted to obtain information from just 50% of the exhibitors, you would need to visit more than 115 booths per day. With an average eight-hour day, that would give you a little more than four minutes per vendor (assuming you don't break for lunch).
More likely, you'll target a smaller number of exhibitors with the objective of obtaining in-depth information about their products or services. This is probably the most effective strategy. With more than 15,000 people expected to attend the event, you could be competing for the time of certain vendors. The key is to be patient, have a plan and don't get distracted by the slot machines.
To help those of you who plan to attend this year's gathering, we've published a special section called APTA EXPO 2002 that provides an invitation from APTA President William Millar and also lists confirmed exhibitors and their booth numbers. In addition, the section includes spotlight listings of notable industry manufacturers and suppliers.
If you're not sure whether you are going to attend this year's event, consider a few things before you finalize your decision.
One, hundreds of industry suppliers have invested great sums of money to draw you to their booths so they can answer your questions and provide you with everything you need to know to make informed buying decisions.
Two, these same suppliers have invested millions of dollars in developing and enriching their products and services so transit professionals like you can do your jobs with higher levels of efficiency and safety.
Finally, the staff at METRO will be in full force at our booth and would welcome the opportunity to chat with you and find out how we can better meet your needs. Please stop by and say hello.
Las Vegas is full of distractions, but it's a great place for a transit convention. This industry is serious about its charter of providing top-notch public transportation, but it also knows how to have fun.
See you in September.
Find out more about the EXPO at www.apta.com/expo2002.