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Meet Maryanne Roberts!

Maryanne Roberts
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Affairs, U.S. Bombardier Transportation
Horsham, PA
Member, APTA Board of Directors; Awards, High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail, and EXPO committees

How many people do you employ at your business?
Bombardier Transportation is a global leader in rail technology with a broad ­portfolio that includes railcars and locomotives, sub-systems, maintenance ­services, system integration, and signaling. We employ 36,000 people in 38 ­countries around the world.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I began my career in the public transportation industry in 1986, joining Bombardier as a communications coordinator. In 1995 I joined Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor communications department just as Amtrak was gearing up for the introduction of Acela service. I returned to Bombardier 10 years ago.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I have been an APTA member throughout my career at Bombardier. Among the highlights have been managing Bombardier’s participation at six EXPOs, including moving a bi-level Amtrak Superliner II sleeper car into the convention center in New Orleans in 1993 and just barely clearing the door!

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I hadn’t planned on a career in public transportation, but I guess that it was inevitable. I grew up in Massachusetts, but my maternal grandmother lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, and my family used to travel by train to visit her. Also, as a kid, my idea of a “good time” was to ride the T into and around Boston. Once I began working at ­Bombardier, I knew that this was the industry for me!

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
To borrow APTA outgoing Chair Flora Castillo’s theme for the past year, “It’s all about the people.” Many of the people I’ve met on the APTA staff and with other APTA member companies and organizations have been more than just professional colleagues to me; some have been mentors, and most are longtime ­personal friends.

Please explain why or how this has helped.
It took me a little while to figure out, but the best way to enjoy the full benefits of an APTA membership is to get involved. It’s not enough to attend a conference or two each year;

APTA has dozens of committees that welcome volunteers. My involvement on some of these committees has provided me with opportunities not only to develop personal relationships and meet industry decision-makers, but also to increase my knowledge of the industry, to exchange ideas with my peers and, hopefully to increase Bombardier’s visibility.

What do you like most about your job?
I find great satisfaction in working in an industry that makes a difference in people’s lives and provides a variety of environmentally responsible mobility solutions for people going to work, to school, to medical appointments, shopping, and so on.

I also find great satisfaction in working for a company that manufactures products and provides good jobs at our manufacturing sites in the United States.

I still get a kick out of traveling from Philadelphia to Boston to visit my family or traveling to Chicago for an APTA conference, for example, and being able to ride on a railcar built by Bombardier.

What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?
People often ask me about the origin of our company name. Bombardier is a ­family name—Joseph-Armand Bombardier was a Quebec inventor and ­entrepreneur who ­created motorized vehicles for travel over snow, including the well-known Ski-Doo ­snowmobile.

In the 1970s, the company diversified into rail transit equipment with a ­contract for new subway cars for Montreal, and in the 1980s entered the ­aerospace ­sector. Today, Bombardier is the world’s only manufacturer of planes and trains!

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