Working to repair an association faced with the recent departure of its largest transit property and the resignation of its president/CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Interim President/CEO Richard A. White and Chair Valarie J. McCall laid out the group’s plan to move forward during a press conference at the Bus & Paratransit Conference this week in Charlotte, N.C.
White and McCall explained that APTA’s path forward took place almost immediately after Michael Melaniphy tendered his resignation on Friday, April 29. By Saturday, APTA’s VP, Member Services, White, who has more than 41 years of experience in the industry, including stays at Oakland, Calif.’s BART and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, was tapped to lead the association on an interim basis.
By Monday, both White and McCall were in Washington, D.C., holding an “all hands” Monday morning meeting and forming a list of 30 key stakeholders, including the Federal Transit Administration and U.S. DOT, transit properties such as the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which discontinued its membership in April; and partner organizations including AASHTO. By the end of the week, each of those key stakeholders had been touched to reiterate APTA’s commitment to them to continue on the path forward as a unified voice for transportation, said White.
In fact, the process to repair its relationship with the MTA, and hopefully, get them back as members has already started, according to White and McCall.
APTA’s plan includes strengthening and restoring the group’s foundation, getting its “governance back in order” and further clarifying the value of membership for each of the various groups it represents.
One key of APTA’s “moving forward” message is continuing to advocate in a united voice as it has in the past and is often viewed as one of its greatest strengths.
While discussing the universal win for public transportation with the passage of the FAST Act, McCall stressed that the need to unify and focus on the next surface transportation bill is now.
More urgently on the advocacy front, APTA is participating in the fourth annual National Infrastructure Week this week, which aims to bring broader attention to the need to consistently invest and maintain the nation’s aging infrastructure, including its public transportation systems.
White discussed the $86 billion backlog to get the nation’s transportation infrastructure and the $43 billion needed, annually, to then maintain that infrastructure. To send that message home, both McCall and White will participate in a media conference call on Thursday, which will include GMs and CEOs from across the nation who are dealing with day-to-day real-world challenges of providing public transit service after multiple decades of “American disinvestment in infrastructure.”
Other participants on the call will include Joseph Calabrese, GM/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter; and Ed Mortimer, executive director, transportation infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, McCall explained there is no timetable for replacing Melaniphy, though plans are already in place to engage in a transparent process, which will include hiring a search firm to identify possible candidates.
“Fortunately, there is no shortage of talent in this industry,” said McCall on the search.