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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis October 19, 2012
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Nigerian University Students Participate in APTA Annual Meeting
BY CHERYL PYATT, APTA Program Manager-Educational Services, and and JULIA WALKER, Program Manager-International Programs

Public transportation is global and will remain so for generations to come. It is the duty of public transportation officials from around the world to train and educate future leaders and support initiatives that engage and excite young people to become dedicated and lifelong public transit professionals.

APTA realizes the importance of the next generation workforce and—in accordance with the Student Ambassador Program, which encourages students to attend APTA meetings and conferences for free—its International Program took this emphasis to another level by reaching out to students from halfway around the world.

Lagos State University in Nigeria understands the importance of encouraging its public transit students to experience systems worldwide so they can compare operations and management styles and bring home ideas, practices, and technologies. For that reason, the university funded the travel of 21 students and two faculty member to the APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle, followed by a study tour of public transportation in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s busiest and most congested cities.

Since the beginning of the year, Dr. Tajudeen Olukayode Bawa-Allah dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University, has worked with APTA to develop an educational study tour agenda that would provide opportunities for the students to experience U.S. public transit, network with APTA members, and grasp the ins and outs of transit operations throughout the country. He and Dr. Senapon Bakara accompanied the students to Seattle—the first trip to the U.S. for most of the students.

Keeping in mind that Lagos is in a time zone eight hours ahead of Seattle, the students arrived for their briefing Sunday, Sept. 30, alert and ready to go. Paul Larrousse, executive director, National Transit Institute, provided them a full-day overview of U.S. public transportation, including the modes, demographics, and history of U.S. public transportation, principles of service planning, and the role of land use and physical development of the service area.

Larrousse said the students “were very eager to learn about the nature of transit in the U.S. and how we plan and operate our systems. Being able to share this experience was rewarding as we all need to learn from each other.”

During the meeting, the students interacted with both domestic and international attendees at the International Reception and Gala Reception, attended educational sessions, and visited the Products & Services Showcase. But there is only so much one can learn from a conference; the students had to experience Seattle’s public transit for themselves.

Since Lagos is a port city, the students decided to try King County’s water taxi service. The captain gave them a presentation, then took them on a tour to West Seattle where the taxi docked and the students saw a “man overboard” drill. King County Metro also conducted a private tour of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, the Transit/Link Communications and Control Center, and the Atlantic/Central Operations Base.

After the conclusion of the APTA Annual Meeting, the students departed Seattle for Los Angeles. They visited Los Angeles Metro’s Bus Operations Control Center, rode the Metro Red Line subway and Metro Gold Line light rail, and received a briefing about Metro’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program followed by a tour of the BRT Orange Line, among other activities. At the same time, they were able to see Hollywood, Woodland Hills, and Pasadena—all via public transit.

It is exciting to see in these students an enthusiasm for public transit from the industry’s future workforce. It is foreseeable that Lagos will be a leader in the public transit community across the globe once these students are selected to lead its growing transportation network.

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to the staff of King County Metro Transit, King County Water Taxi, King County Ferry District, and Los Angeles Metro for their hospitality.


The delegation of students from Lagos State University who participated in the APTA Annual Meeting.



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