January 17, 2011
The classifieds in this issue include 1 notice, 12 bids & proposals, and 7 job opportunities!
APTA Looks Forward to 2011
BY MICHAEL J. SCANLON, APTA Chair
Winston Churchill once wrote: “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
It is my nature to be optimistic. At the same time, I am no Pollyanna. I recognize the importance of maintaining full awareness of the difficulties that face our industry in 2011 and the work involved in transforming those difficulties into opportunities.
For the past two years, we have enjoyed an unprecedented level of support from a new administration and Congress.
The shift in power from last November’s election, however, should not deter us from seeking continued support for a transportation industry that has historically been bipartisan. And even as some of our most ardent champions leave office, we have the opportunity to identify new champions who will embrace our basic message.
I congratulate Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He has long been a stalwart supporter of public transit. It was my pleasure to first meet John when I worked in Broward County, FL, and I look forward to working with him this year.
With the congressional change, our task now is to build on old alliances, develop new ones, and continue to inform and—where necessary—educate policymakers and the public alike on the critical nature of transportation.
Selling Our Story
Last year, we told our story. This year, we must sell our story.
And to do that, we must practice what I’m calling the art of inclusion. What do I mean by inclusion? I mean that public transportation’s reach—literally and figuratively—is incredibly wide and deep, and that richness brings in an untold number of stakeholders (many of whom may not know they actually are stakeholders!).
So we need to include new partners from the world of biking, energy conservation, community planning—you name the subject, its advocates are probably stakeholders.
In fact, I charge all of us not only to keep our friends, but also make new ones! Let’s all reach out beyond “the usual suspects.”
The coming year is about educating and selling our elected leaders and their constituents on the critical need for a national public transportation investment program that is clean, green, growth-inducing, job-creating, and forward-looking.
Trumpeting Public Transportation’s Many Benefits
Public transportation is a jobs program, a quality infrastructure program that benefits the communities it serves, an environmental program, and an economic growth program.
Public transportation will not only reverse the damaging impact of climate change, but also free us from the burden of relying on foreign oil.
Public transportation is how we move goods and people, both private and public. Our American economy is dependent upon the mobility public transit provides us—what I have long called the fifth freedom.
Transportation is good not just for our industry, because this industry touches everyone, everywhere. Every part of this economy is affected in some way.
Further, economic growth is not possible without transportation and, therefore, will be an essential component of any program that will bring the economy out of its malaise and provide the means to drive down the federal deficit.
In short, pushing for greater federal investment in public transportation is a good policy: it’s the right program and it’s smart politics.
Clearly, the top priority is authorization of the nation’s transportation program, but there are other opportunities, some of them quite significant.
Looking Ahead to High-Speed Rail
We must be ready to speak to the transformational potential of high-speed rail, the most significant infrastructure project in our nation’s history since the Highways Act. It was President Eisenhower’s vision that enabled our country to grow and prosper. It is therefore not possible to overstate the transformative effect of the automobile on our lives—and how it drove our economy for the past 50 years.
Times change, however, and where people want to live is changing as well, with a trend today being a move back towards America’s core cities. Public transit’s advocacy of safe streets, livable communities, and transit-oriented development is part and parcel of this “migration.”
I believe that high-speed rail can spur a growth in connectivity and be the catalyst for a revival of city communities and neighborhoods and a quality of life that is spent in the company of family and friends—all of whom are served by a sustainable network of transit, highways, roads, and transportation systems.
We will not replace the automobile, nor should we seek to do so. As we all know, it is not necessary for everyone to ride a bus or train for public transit to be deemed “successful.” We just have to achieve a better balance in transportation modes. In short, we must provide more choices.
Skepticism about high-speed rail is understandable—believe me, there is no larger or more vigorous group of skeptics than those within the communities I serve on the San Francisco Peninsula.
That’s why it becomes our task to explain its benefits and instill the vision of a national rail system interconnected with local and regional networks.
Yes, times are tough and most of us spend our days wrestling with the daily challenge of providing service and trying to make it through one more difficult year.
And to our business members—times are tough for you, too. You face ever-tighter budgets, more competition for orders, and—like us—continuing uncertainty regarding federal funding.
These are the circumstances presented to us, these are the difficulties we face, and, I truly believe, these are the opportunities presented to us.
It is with confidence, therefore, in our industry and the men and women who serve it—who serve our customers, our communities, our economy, and our nation—that I look ahead to 2011 and see it as a year of vast opportunity.
Please join me in making 2011 the year of authorization, of opportunity, and of inclusion.