The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) triennial Expo, taking place in Houston from Oct. 12 to 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, will offer attendees more resources than ever on transportation’s role in forming more livable and sustainable communities as well as international best practices. Meanwhile, host agency Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro) will showcase its new rail transportation lines and the vibrant communities they serve.
The show floor will illustrate Expo 2014’s theme, “Powering Possibilities” with ample opportunity for public transportation professionals to participate in educational sessions, forums, tours and networking events. Additionally, this year’s Annual Meeting will be held in conjunction with Expo 2014.
Five Learning Labs on the show floor will highlight the latest product innovations as well as international presentations with lessons learned from what’s happening all around the world, Jeff Wharton, president, IMPulse NC and the chair of the APTA Expo Advisory Committee, says.
In leading the planning for this year’s Expo, Wharton aimed to expand beyond APTA’s traditional lineup of products, services, technologies and showcases, and provide a new dimension to and experience of public transportation, he says.
He did just that with a new offering this year that will reach out to the architecture and development segment of the industry. APTA added a new space on the convention center’s third floor, called “Mobility Management for Livable and Sustainable Communities,” which will feature a special plaza focusing on livable and sustainable communities, complete streets and transit oriented development. It is designed to generate new membership for APTA as the lead association for this transit niche.
Many of APTA’s developer and architect business members will have booths both on the main floor and in the plaza addressing sustainability and livability, Wharton says.
He adds the idea for the additional exhibit hall came into being after the 2011 Expo in New Orleans as the committee reviewed the unique three-story layout of the convention center and considered what to do with open floor space on the third level.
APTA will continue, as with the 2011 Expo in New Orleans, a business-to-business event that opens the floor specifically to exhibitors for networking before being joined by the general public as well as a photo contest on Facebook.
With more than 279,000 square feet of show floor space, over 750 global exhibitors and 15,000-plus attendees from more than 70 countries, APTA hopes to attract not only CEOs from transit agencies but procurement and operations and maintenance groups.
“That’s where the business is conducted: the people on the front lines that see the needs and can learn from all the new product innovations and technologies out there,” Wharton says. “We’re focused on being able to match business members with customers and the mutual success of all parties … this will be so much more than just a transit show.”
Houston plays host
Metro, the host agency, has helped APTA plan the mega-event, particularly Gwen Johnson, special projects manager, and Tom Lambert, CEO, who says that the Houston community is looking forward to having “15,000 to 17,000 of our closest friends join us.”
The host session will cover various multimodal approaches Metro has successfully implemented to serve the region — rail expansion, converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes, and adapting its bus network to changing employment patterns and demographics.
Metro is conducting an “Arts in Transit” tour, which will showcase its rail expansion program as well as local art in each of the communities that it expanded its services to throughout downtown and Northern Houston last December, Lambert says.