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Youth Summit Sparks the Next Generation of Public Transit Workers


Fifty high school juniors and seniors from around the country converged in Washington, DC, for a packed week of discussions, tours and presentations at this year’s APTA Youth Summit, June 28-July 2.

Speakers from around the industry helped the students explore possible career options related to public transit. The summit is conducted by APTA’s Workforce Development and Educational Services Department and is a component of the association’s initiative to strengthen the growing interest of young people in public transit careers.

Jonathan Hackett of Cincinnati participated in the summit so he could better understand his own community. “I wanted to learn more and transit seems to be a hot button issue in my city, so I wanted to be educated so I could have my own opinion,” he said.

The students met with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority senior staff and toured the system, learned about public transit issues from Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) at a visit to Capitol Hill, met with FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan during a visit to U.S. DOT, spent a morning at Jacobs, an engineering firm, participating in forums and worked on public transit-related projects of their own centered around their unique interests. The Transportation Learning Center also participated in the summit.

Tea Williams of Tulsa said she was intrigued by public relations and was surprised at how much her interests could interconnect with a career in public transit. “We use transit all the time and it’s bigger than people think,” she said. “It’s an everyday essential and people should appreciate it more than they do now.”

Jeffrey Wharton, first vice chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors and president, IMPulse NC LLC, was a session leader during the summit. “These young adults were provided a comprehensive overview of career opportunities in both the private and public sectors of the transit industry and shared their ideas and thoughts for the future,” he said, adding, “The Youth Summit provides a lasting impression on what public transportation is all about and how to make it a full and rewarding career.”

The summit concluded with a panel of experts discussing the future of public transit careers, followed by student presentations on ideas to effectively change the industry. Panelist Ricardo Boulware, associate director of University of Maryland Baltimore County Transit, said he was inspired by the work he saw from students who might be future leaders in the industry.


Participants in this year’s APTA Youth Summit visit the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Steve Barrett Photography 

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