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Let's talk transform: an APTA 2019 recap

Another great APTA Annual meeting has come and gone, but not without leaving us with a wealth of knowledge to mull over.

This year’s meeting was hosted in the city that never sleeps at the New York Marriott Marquis. The big city lights paled in comparison to the powerful discussions happening inside, and we’re here to recap some of the major themes that we drew from informational sessions and enlightening conversations.

Equity and curbspace

  • Curbspace management could be the answer to keeping transit at the forefront of mobility as the ecosystem continues to change. The caveat? The curb is a limited resource and the competition to own it is stiff. There is a dire need to capture meaningful data and engagement with curb-users to achieve a better understanding of their needs. From there, behaviors will begin to take shape and the path to pricing the curb will become clearer.

Engaging with the public

  • Understanding the needs and expectations of riders is key when making mobility decisions for your community, especially as the available options of moving around continue to grow. Regardless of how transit agencies approach engaging with their public, ensuring that tax-paying citizens’ opinions and needs are respected should be a top priority.

Embracing and integrating micro-mobility services

  • The old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them” reigns true when discussing how many public transit agencies are viewing their relationship with micro-mobility service providers. Remaining flexible and keeping an open mind is key as we never know what micro-mobility technology we’ll be presented with next.

To data or not to data?

  • The topic of data isn’t new to APTA, but this year there seemed to be a special focus on how much of it is actually necessary for decision-making, especially with its imperfect nature. By and large, the sentiment remains the same, data gathering is a critical piece to solving for public transit’s shortcomings, even if the results are flawed at times. Another resounding sentiment surrounding data? It must be open and shared to be effective.

Perceptions of public transit

  • In Europe, ridership is increasing year over year, so how can we explain the perpetual ridership decline occurring in transit agencies across the United States? To start, public transit is seen as a service worth investing in for Europe, with funding being 5-10x higher than we see in the U.S. The perception of transit is also vastly different in Europe, with their residents largely believing it’s “hip” to utilize public transit services. These limitations are clearly intertwined. With more funding, transit agencies would be able to invest in new services while creating a more desirable experience for existing ones.

Let us know what themes you took away from the 2019 APTA Annual Meeting! Otherwise, we’ll see you next year in Anaheim for the 2020 meeting!