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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis July 26, 2013
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Board Members, Support Staff Focus on Governance, Policy at Workshop
BY LYNNE MORSEN, APTA Director-Program Management

Public transit board members and staff members learned about legislative goals at the federal level, institutional models for providing mobility in a region, strategic planning, and other topics of importance during APTA’s Transit Board Members Seminar & Board Support Employee Development Workshop, July 20-23, in Austin, TX.

The Capital Metropolitan Transpor­tation Authority was host system for the program, attended by 116 people representing 44 public transit agencies.

APTA Chair Flora M. Castillo told attendees: “The resources and insights gained at this seminar and the advantages of connecting with colleagues from all over the country inform board members about best practices, so when they return home, they are able to provide the best guidance and policy development.”

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy spoke about the association’s ongoing commitment to tackle federal legislative and policy issues, such as Buy America, public transit security, and ­patent trolls. “We have provided FTA with industry input on circulars, policy guidance, and rulemakings associated with the law, and we continue to prepare consensus views on pending issues,” he said.

Melaniphy and Castillo also led an interactive roundtable discussion with workshop participants on the federal role in public transportation, workforce development, and APTA.

Additional topics addressed by seminar participants included MAP-21, the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act; hiring a chief executive officer; procurement and construction management oversight; and safety initiatives. Discussions covered issues of funding, financing, and revenue sources including public-private and public-public partnerships and tax increment financing.

Professional development training sessions examined resolving conflicts by understanding factors that motivate people and building strong teams by ­creating a shared vision.

In small groups organized by APTA-designated regions comprising several states, board members shared their experiences in succession planning and integrating of all modes of transportation, including bicycle and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Open discussions focused on the challenges of rebuilding infrastructure while meeting increasing ridership demand and the dynamics of redesigning governing bodies.

Because hiring a chief executive officer is a board responsibility, board members from small, mid-size, and large or multi­modal systems spoke about how they determine the qualities needed in a new chief executive. One agency representative cited a “wish list [that] included vision, leadership, listening, and people skills; knowledge of technology; ­public transit experience; ability to handle ­problems head-on; union negotiating experience; and experience working with the Federal Transit Administration.”

Attendees also discussed whether to use an internal hiring process or work with a recruitment firm for the process and strategies a new CEO can use to begin involving employees and the community.

In a session on the board’s role in procurement and construction management, speakers described methods to manage risk, especially between contractors and subcontractors, and suggested questions that board members might pose during the process, including those related to capacity and capabilities, risk tolerance, and reasons for choosing a procurement model.


Photos by Huelon Harrison

Frederick L. Daniels Jr., second from right, chair of the Transit Board Members Committee and board chairman, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, at the seminar with, from left, Norm Chafetz, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX, host system; Don Hartman, Denton County Transportation, Lewisville, TX; and Andre McEwing, Fort Worth Transportation Authority.

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