APTA Events Draw Record Attendance in Anaheim


man speaking at podium
Paul P. Skoutelas

NEARLY 1,000 ATTENDEES GATHERED IN Anaheim, CA, for APTA’s co-located 2023 APTAtech and Sustainability / Operations Planning and Scheduling Workshops July 30–Aug. 2.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas highlighted in his welcome remarks at the Opening General Session: “By bringing together sustainability professionals, fare-collection innovators, IT and operational tech experts, planners, schedulers, suppliers and a diverse group of transit professionals, we hope to encourage cross-pollination and collaboration. Think of this as our industry greenhouse to explore innovative solutions for a wide range of needs, from a cleaner environment and improved data management; to autonomous vehicles, automatic fare collection and the use of AI; from cybersecurity protections and more efficient procurement; to building a future-ready workforce and advancing greater equity.”

man speaking at podium
Gene Hernandez
man speaking at podium
Darrell Johnson

Skoutelas also discussed trends in public transit ridership, with numbers nationally reflecting slight gains in recent weeks, but still lower than pre-pandemic figures. He highlighted the importance of lessons learned and best practices to be shared throughout the week.

The Opening General Session also featured remarks from Darrell Johnson and City of Yorba Linda Mayor Gene Hernandez, CEO and board chair, respectively, of host agency Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). They highlighted OCTA’s structure as a multi-faceted organization, with jurisdiction over bus transportation, highways, toll roads, complete streets, sustainability and a four-mile streetcar line scheduled to open between Santa Ana and Garden Grove in 2024.

woman speaking at podium
Manjit Sooch
woman speaking at podium
Christina Belmont

Also providing addresses in the Opening General Session were Christina Belmont, chair of the APTAtech Program Committee and APTA’s Fare Collection Committee and vice president of marketing, SDI Presence LLC; Manjit Sooch, chair of APTA’s Research and Technology Committee and Chief Innovation Officers Peer Exchange and director of innovation and technology, Alameda Contra-Costa Transit District; Amy Shatzkin, chair of the Sustainability Committee and deputy director, environmental affairs, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA; and Lacy Bell, chair of the Transit Operations Planning and Scheduling Subcommittee and principal – Seattle office lead, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. All played key leadership roles in organizing various portions of the agenda, and each invited and encouraged attendees to become involved in their respective committees.

Among the program highlights was a CEO Roundtable Luncheon, where leaders of several technology-driven organizations shared their experiences, perspectives and strategies for successfully implementing technology today and going forward. Darrell Johnson moderated the session, with Robert Powers of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Carl Sedoryk of Monterey-Salinas Transit, and Charlotte Shaw of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, AL, serving as panelists.

woman smiling and speaking at podium
Lacy Bell
woman smiling and speaking at podium
Amy Shatzkin

Community and opportunity champion Dr. Beverly Scott offered personal and organizational thoughts on how to reset, lead, grow and add value in a period of disruption, change and transformation. UCLA Professor Brian Taylor, a leading national authority, spoke of shifting travel trends and how the transit community can best position itself. And Debs Schrimmer of the USDOE / USDOT Joint Office of Energy and Transportation was featured in a General Session “Stepping-up to the Challenges of Zero-Emission Fleet Transition.”

Throughout the week, attendees had the opportunity to participate in engaging and interactive sessions, including Speed Networking, Transit Trivia Match Game, and the Innovation Challenge. Numerous roundtable sessions brought together chief innovation officers, chief information officers and environmental management system specialists, among others.

Conference presentations will be made available to attendees over the coming weeks.