An estimated 15,000 public transit-agency professionals converged on Houston’s Hilton Americas and George R. Brown Convention Center Oct. 12–15 for the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA’s) 2014 Annual Meeting, which is billed as the industry’s premier event.
With growing ridership, funding continues to be a leading issue for transit agencies around the country. According to a recently released report from APTA, “More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the second quarter of 2014, a 1.1 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of 30 million more trips.”
“The industry is encouraged by an increase in transit ridership over the past few years, but public transit agencies continue to be strapped for funds during a time when federal policy remains uncertain,” says Linda Cherrington, manager of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Transit Mobility Program and head of TTI’s Transportation Planning Division. TTI researchers were active in the APTA Annual Meeting.
On Oct. 11, TTI researchers conducted a pre-conference workshop, the Hot Topics in Transit Workshop, highlighting many of the important issues facing transit systems. Topics covered included research and development, technology and performance, safety, sustainability, and passenger mobility. In addition, TTI researchers gave presentations in breakout sessions and committee meetings.
“Technology will continue to play an important role in enhancing transit operations, improving safety and providing passengers with multiple methods to obtain real-time information,” TTI Assistant Research Scientist Lauren Cochran says. She’s heading up the transit portion of an automated and connected vehicle technologies test bed at the Texas A&M University Riverside Campus.
“I found the range of topics on innovations, best practices and research results very informative and potentially useful for us in the Twin Cities,” says Lucy Galbraith, director of transit-oriented development at the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities. “I think everyone left with new information and lessons from other places they could use in making transit services better and safer.”
“The Hot Topics in Transit Workshop conducted by TTI provided transit agency personnel with updates on recent research projects,” notes Michael Melaniphy, APTA president and chief executive officer. “Learning about innovative approaches to key issues and sharing ideas on further research benefit the transit industry.”
In addition to its meeting presentations and pre-conference workshop, TTI manned a booth at the APTA Expo held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The expo is the world’s largest public transportation exhibition, with more than 750 exhibitors.