Management & Operations

Planning future of public transportation

Posted on March 24, 2008 by Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher

Envisioning a future offering a multitude of public transportation options is something we’d all like to see. In order to make that happen, we’ve got to start planning now. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) developed its TransitVision 2050 initiative to do just that. This program, which came to fruition last year, intends to look at the major trends that will shape the future 20, 30 and even 50 years ahead.

Elliot G. “Lee” Sander, executive director and CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is chairing the TransitVision task force.

One of the goals of the task force is to “create a long-term vision of public transportation’s role in the fabric of our nation’s surface transportation system over the next several decades.”

Transit vision
Looking ahead, APTA envisions a nation that is no longer dependent on foreign oil and is free from sprawl and gridlock, providing unlimited transportation options. These issues will be mitigated by the presence of an energy-efficient, multi-modal transportation system, which will sustain the nation’s economic vitality and global competitiveness. According to APTA’s vision, “people from all walks of life will have freedom, opportunity and independence to pursue their American dream. The quality-of-life for people in many generations to come is enriched as a result.”

To build on its vision, APTA implemented an inspired outreach program, which included conducting live-streaming Webinars. The programs, which took place last fall, covered valuable topics including: energy and the global economy; environmental issues; and demographic and social trends. If you didn’t get a chance to view the sessions, they are available on APTA’s Website

All of us in the transportation industry have a responsibility to contribute our thoughts about the trends that will impact public transportation in the future and how public transportation should respond to those trends. Be sure to visit APTA’s Website to share your thoughts.

Going green
Here at METRO Magazine, we are doing our part to report on public transportation trends, such as the latest environmentally friendly initiatives being taken on by the transit, motorcoach and manufacturing sectors. Senior Editor Alex Roman reports on this issue in his feature “Transportation Industry Steps up Efforts to Go Green.” Some of the efforts include, building LEED-certified facilities, reclaiming brownfields, using solar energy, reusing materials and instituting recycling programs.

In one instance of recycling, the Metropolitan Tranist Authority of Harris County, Texas was able to save approximately 100,000 gallons of water a month, (a significant number considering its nearly 1,200-vehicle bus fleet) by recycling the water used in its bus washing system.

Email METRO at and let us know what your operation is doing to go green.

Transit systems are also going green by expanding their use of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for their bus rapid transit systems (BRT). In our annual BRT 25, compiled by Assistant Editor Nicole Schlosser, we highlight 30 projects in 25 cities in the U.S. and Canada. According to this year’s survey, transit properties are looking to use hybrid propulsion in significantly higher numbers this year — 56.6 percent compared to last year’s 28 percent — with clean diesel chosen second at 43.3 percent. With those numbers, we’re definitely on our way to a greener future.

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