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Transit Board Members Seminar Focuses on Advocacy, Social Equity, Funding

BY CHERYL PYATT, Program Manager-Educational ­Services

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) hosted more than 100 public transit board and support staff members who discussed governance, policy, and leadership at APTA’s recent Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar.

APTA Chair Peter Varga, chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy hosted the Chair and President’s Roundtable session focused on Varga’s priorities to organize, energize, and authorize a long-term surface transportation bill, and on APTA’s advocacy campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows.”

Varga challenged attendees to advocate for public transportation at the national, state, and local levels, adding that “it’s a challenging time but it’s the right opportunity to put a bold plan together for transit.”

Keynote Speaker Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson welcomed attendees with a focused and rousing discussion about the equality and social equity of public transit and its importance to communities such as Cleveland. “What we do for those with the least closes the gap; it is not charity or welfare, it is providing an equitable share in the prosperity of the community,” Jackson said.

Engaging and experienced speakers from across the industry offered presentations on governance, fixed route services, safety, stakeholder engagement, MPO partnerships, labor relations, and board development, just to name a few topics.

The seminar also featured peer-to-peer exchanges in small groups organized by system size during which board members shared their experiences in succession planning, new funding sources, workforce development, and ADA requirements.

The seminar also included committee meetings and the election of a new slate of officers for the Transit Board Members Committee: chair, Valarie McCall, member of the APTA Executive Committee and board member, Greater Cleveland RTA; vice chair, Randall ­Chrisman, board member, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; secretary, David Stackrow, board chair, Capital ­District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY; and Region VI representative, Carol Herrera, executive board treasurer/audit-controller, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA.

RTA hosted several tours of its award-winning HealthLine BRT system, its downtown trolleybus system, and four recently completed rail lines and stations in the heart of Cleveland.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District will host the 2015 Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar, July 18-21.

The Transit Board Member Handbook was unveiled at the meeting. This online publication provides information for new and veteran board members on issues covering roles and responsibilities, the board’s committee structure, leadership qualities, the selection of and relationship with the CEO, ADA, and strategic planning. Find it at the APTA website.

Speakers at the Opening General Session of APTA’s recent Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar in Cleveland include, from left, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; Fred Daniels, board member, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Valarie McCall, member, APTA Executive Committee, and board member, Greater Cleveland RTA; Beth Vidaurri, chair, APTA Transit Board Members Board Support Subcommittee, and manager of the executive office, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority; Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson; George Dixon, board president, Greater Cleveland RTA, and former APTA chair; and APTA Chair Peter Varga, chief executive officer, The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI.

Photo courtesy of Jerome Masek, Greater Cleveland RTA

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