Management & Operations

APTA Expo, the Place to Be

Posted on April 28, 2008

E very four years, Americans elect a new president; a critical event in the evolution and direction of this country. Every three years, however, another event takes place that has evolutionary implications in the public transportation arena — APTA’s Expo.

This year’s triennial industry showcase will be held in San Diego from Oct. 6 to 8 in conjuction with the Annual Meeting, which starts a day earlier. An estimated 20,000 people from around the globe will converge on the San Diego Convention Center. The folks at APTA expect 40 countries to be represented.

What they’ll see is more than a spectacle of buses, railcars, streetcars and ancillary equipment and services. They’ll be treated to an inspiring look at how public transportation’s importance has been elevated to a new level as the world grapples with the challenges of global warming and sustainable growth.

“These factors are more vital now than ever,” says Jerry Premo, executive vice president at DMJM Harris and chair of the APTA Expo committee. “Environmental issues will be highlighted in various sessions at the Annual Meeting. There’s a tremendous amount of interest in these issues.”

That interest, Premo says, is just as strong on the private side as it is on the public side. “The exhibitors are going to be holding 45-minute working discussions on environmental and technological issues on the show floor,” he says. “I think it’s fair to say that these are issues that the private side is looking forward to highlighting.”

Technology plays key role

Emerging technology will be another key topic at the Expo. Alternative fuels, for example, are increasingly important to meeting our environmental goals. The Expo promises to showcase the latest advances in alt fuels, such as hybrid, fuel cell and biofuels, and the technology that provides the framework for these green products.

Also on display will be an array of innovative safety and security products. The threat of an attack on a bus or rail system has to be factored into all operational considerations and equipment procurement decisions. The Expo will give transportation professionals a chance to educate themselves about the latest developments — many involving signficant investment on the part of the business community — and how to manage the risk of introducing technological change into their operations.

Hosts have much to offer

In addition to exhibits spread across 300,000 square feet of the convention center, there’s much more to see at the Expo. Its beachfront location and world-renowned tourist attractions notwithstanding, San Diego offers a rich selection of transit-related learning opportunities. San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) will be the main hosts of the Expo.

Premo said he’s been impressed by the tours planned by the two agencies. Among other things, MTS will show off its light rail system, while NCTD will provide guests with a tour of its SPRINTER line, a DMU-based commuter rail line that opened for revenue service in early March.

It’s not too early to start planning your visit to San Diego. As a member of the Expo committee, I can promise you that it will be an investment that will pay off many times over. After all, how many chances do you get to choose a new president and attend an APTA Expo in the same year? Not many. Do not miss this opportunity! For more information about the Expo, visit

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