A look into the future of the U.S. in 2050 will reveal a dramatic increase in population by 30 percent and this will go hand in hand with a shift in consumer preference for public transportation use, according to a future job and trend analysis by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The analysis called The Future of Public Transportation Employment: Bold Visions, Bringing Exciting Opportunities shows that our transportation systems will need to meet the travel demands from the Millennial Generation and Empty Nesters. As a result, we will need to expand public transportation and provide for locating amenities that are easily accessible to them from their housing and jobs.
To address this trend and to help prepare the future youth for these multi-modal public transit jobs of the future, APTA and its members are implementing Public Transportation Career Day on May 16. Public transit systems and businesses across the country will be introducing students in grades K-12 to the careers of tomorrow in the public transportation industry. APTA is encouraging the public transportation community to facilitate outreach activities with the youth in their immediate service area.
“The demographic and social trends will influence the direction of economic and transportation development,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo. “It is up to us to ensure our youth are prepared for the multi-modal transportation careers of tomorrow and to inform them that the public transportation industry will be leading the way.”
“This is the opportunity to market public transit careers to the next generation of prospective workers and the chance to mentor and teach the nation’s youth on how to apply their individual skills to the public transportation industry,” said APTA President Michael Melaniphy. “Public transit systems and businesses are committed to grooming the future transportation professionals of tomorrow to be a part of what will become America’s energy efficient, multi-modal transportation system.”
APTA is encouraging every public transit system, private transit company, and private business member to host an activity that will showcase industry talents and expose youth to the vast array of career opportunities in public transit. Some examples include classroom visits by public transit professionals; providing tours of the local public transit facility; poster and art contests; and free or discounted rides and giveaways.
While many public transit systems and businesses have conducted outreach over the years to their local community to elementary, middle and high school students; APTA is placing a special focus on these efforts in order to begin to prepare youth for the emerging and changing transportation industry.
Current typical careers include rail engineers, architects, accountants, bus and rail operators, mechanics and planners. However, according to the APTA analysis of future employment, there are some careers that one might not initially relate to public transportation but will have a growing partnership with the industry include:
Real Estate Management and Development Professional
Internationally, public transportation agencies often play a role in the real estate directly around their stations, and in some business models, these developments help to defray the costs of operating the transit system, while enhancing ridership. As US systems seek models that will allow them to expand high quality service, there will be a growing need for transportation professionals that have the expertise to fully leverage real estate opportunities near transit stations, in an effort to increase ridership and contribute to the fiscal health of the agency. Utilizing graduate programs that will allow joint degree and multidisciplinary learning between real estate finance and development and transportation policy, will prepare professionals for their opportunity to bring these international models to the US.
There is a need for economists that focus on public transportation investment as a career. The current economics discipline often does not properly account for improvements transit infrastructure. This phenomenon makes it more difficult for public transportation to get the level of support it needs. The discipline needs more practitioners that can articulate the latest thinking and provide the networks that will allow fair public transportation research to thrive.
Economic Development Professionals
As the nation develops new mobility choices, suburbs will seek to develop areas that will have the amenities that the market is looking for—such as pedestrian friendly streetscapes, integrated and easily accessible public transit facilities, and more diverse land uses. Economic development professionals that can enumerate these benefits, which are often called suburban retrofitting, will be able to bring high quality public transportation to areas that currently do not have them, while improving the vibrancy of the suburbs.
The public transportation industry has seen a revolution in recent years in the deployment of customer facing technologies that improve the user experience. These include the provision of real-time information, which allows transit riders to find the precise arrival time of buses and trains on their cellular device; the development of fare payment technologies that allow seamless transfers and payment via cell phone; and the development of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage for passengers on vehicles and within stations. Technology professionals that understand the public transportation industry and the potential to improve the customer experience and connection to public transportation will be in high demand.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.