“As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), it is an honor to serve as the first Latina Chair of the American Public Transportation Association. It is important to recognize the contributions and the important presence of Hispanic leaders in the public transportation industry. And it is equally important to highlight the significant role public transportation plays in our community.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to hard work and service. Public transportation is important to many in the Hispanic community who rely heavily on it to get back and forth to work, to get to medical appointments or to use it to connect them to all a community has to offer. For some, it is the first rung on the ladder to economic opportunity.
With my theme as Chair of APTA being “Public Transportation it is All About the People” let’s explore how some of our Hispanic leaders are making a contribution in our industry today.
David Armijo serves as the General Manager of AC Transit which is the third-largest public bus system in California, serving 13 cities. Mr. Armijo has more than 30 years experience in public service and is a highly recognized transportation executive working in aviation, toll roads and the public transit industry. APTA selected him to serve on its Executive Committee and Board of Directors.
Rosa Navejar is currently president of the Rios Group and Former Board Member of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. She serves on the APTA Executive Committee and also served as the president of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This year former Secretary Ray LaHood appointed Ms. Navejar to the National Freight Advisory Committee. This committee of 47 from across the U.S. will make recommendations to now Secretary Fox on freight movement in the U.S.
Frank Alejandro began his career 35 years ago as a bus operator. He is now the chief operations officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan authority where he oversees and directs the activities of Metro’s bus and rail service that includes six rail lines and more than 1,800 peak hour buses. Riders board Metro buses and trains about 1.5 million times on average weekday.
Ysela Llort is Director of Miami-Dade Transit. She has an extensive background in public service that includes Assistant County Manager, responsible for Miami-Dade County’s transportation departments, as well as the County's Consumer Services Department. Ms. Llort also was responsible for overseeing the Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust and the Metropolitan Planning Organization. In addition, Ms. Llort also served as the Florida Department of Transportation’s Assistant Secretary for Intermodal Systems Development.
These leaders are just a few examples of Hispanics making an impact in the public transit industry. While we take pride in our Hispanic leaders, public transportation is also about the people we employ. And Hispanics are represented in all levels of our industry which directly employs 400,000 people and indirectly 1.5 million employees. The workforce is the lifeblood of our industry. They make it possible to provide over 10.5 billion trips a year and sustain a $52 billion dollar industry.
Public transportation is not only about trains and buses, rails and routes, or schedules or stations. Those things are important, but it’s what’s inside that count – the people we serve. I am proud to be a part of an industry that has a strong legacy of developing Hispanic leaders while serving the needs of people of all walks of life in our community.”
# # #
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.