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Mission Statement

The APTA Standards Program’s vision is to be North America’s leader for establishing public transportation standards and recommended practices through increased adoption and participation.

The APTA Standards Program’s mission is to develop industry consensus standards and recommended practices to enable safe, efficient, and reliable public transportation. Our goal is to address safety, security, evolving mobility challenges, sustainable operations, and interoperability of processes and equipment.

Documents Available for Public Commenting and Review

APTA’s Standards Development Program has advanced nine documents to the public review and comment. The public commenting period is an essential component of APTA’s consensus-based standards development process. Specifically, for this month, documents are ready to be reviewed by bus and rail executive-level administrators, operators, and transit security professionals. The current set of documents address the following topics:

Commuter, Intercity & HSR (PRESS)

  • Attachment Strength of Interior Fittings for Passenger Railroad Equipment
  • Gap and Creepage Distance

Security & Emergency Mgmt.

  • Developing a Transit Agency Response Plan to a Public Health Emergency
  • Developing a Pandemic Virus Service Restoration Checklist
  • Security and Design Considerations for Restrooms at Public Transportation Passenger Facilities
  • Trash/Recycling Container Placement at Public Transportation Passenger Facilities

Sustainability & Urban Design

  • Transit Parking 101
  • Partnerships to Promote Transit-Oriented Communities
  • Design of On-Street Transit Stops and Access from Surrounding Areas

Visit this page to view documents and submit any comments.

If you experience any difficulties submitting your feedback on APTA’s secured website, please email our team at
The current set of document reviews must be completed by March 5, 2021. Thank you for your continued support of APTA’s Standards Program.


Happy New Year! 2021 promises to be an exciting year, one full of potential, bringing a wealth of new opportunities for the industry. President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, will surely face a variety of challenges in the days to come. COVID-19 vaccinations are underway, and although behind schedule the pathway to returning to normalcy is within the country’s grasp. These factors help to reduce the sense of uncertainty and emphasize the urgency for rebuilding the nation’s public transit and surface infrastructure. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient, and economical transit services and products. To ensure that APTA members are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, APTA has developed a robust schedule of webinars, virtual events and in-person conferences to promote professional development, networking, and innovation throughout the transit industry.

This last month APTA kicked off the New Year with a series of webinars to outline the tremendous challenges ahead in 2021. To learn more about upcoming webinars visit APTAU Learning


Bus Transit Systems

The Bus Rapid Transit Working Group published four documents: “BRT Branding, Imaging and Marketing,” “Bus Rapid Transit Stations and Stops,” “Designing Bus Rapid Transit Running Ways,” and “Bus Rapid Transit Service Design and Operations,” which were approved by the Bus Standards Policy & Planning Committee. The staff advisor met with the working group chair and vice chair to discuss next steps for 2021. A follow-up meeting is tentatively scheduled, once the completion of a budget and staff resources have been developed, to pursue additional BRT standards work in 2021, as well as outreach to promote the documents.

Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines Working Group
The Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines (SBPG) revision is underway. Phase 1 is focused on revision of the Technical Specifications and will continue over the next 11 months. AECOM has been contracted to manage this work.
In advance of the first working group meeting held on Dec. 10, AECOM sent the SBPG document’s Technical Specifications sections to working group members and asked them to send their comments by Jan. 7. Additionally, the SBPG Electric Bus Procurement Guidelines language was made available to the working group members.

APTA and AECOM held weekly meetings to prepare for the first working group meeting and conducted a major outreach effort to create the SBPG Revision Working Group. The group’s first meeting was on Dec. 10. There were 58 participants who attended the 3½-hour virtual meeting. The working group split into three subgroups, each addressing a different section of the SBPG: The first subgroup focused on sections TS 1 through TS 6.9; the second focused on TS 7 through TS 10.4; and the third focused on TS 11 through TS 19.5. Each subgroup met again in January, and all have submitted final proposed revisions of their sections to the contractor. All working group members have been asked to submit revisions of the next section under review in preparation for the second working group meeting March 11.

APTA staff have created an SBPG page on APTAconnect, which will be used as a platform to post reference documents to be downloaded and eventually to ballot the updated SBPG.

The contractor for the electric bus specifications has completed an appendix (Task 2) that elaborates on some key issues around electric bus procurement. It will be attached to the SBPG pending final revisions from the review process. The contractor has begun work on Task 3 to develop procurement language for charging infrastructure. APTA is preparing to recruit a new working group for this effort.

Brake & Chassis Working Group
The working group has one document ready to be balloted pending a final proofreading review by APTA staff and two additional documents that were previously developed that require “affirming” or re-balloting.

The Brake & Chassis Working Group usually meets in person twice a year to develop, review and finalize standards and recommended practices. The group’s plans to meet in person have been canceled due to COVID-19. The group indicated willingness to work via virtual meetings and calls; however, due to agencies’ preoccupation with COVID-19 impacts and responses, there has been little progress. An officers meeting will be scheduled in February to discuss plans for 2021.

Bus Operator Safety Training Working Group
The Bus Operator Safety Training Working Group is working to establish a recurring monthly call. The group solicited more volunteers to develop a recommended practice during the Bus Safety Committee Meeting in November. The Safety and Security Certification Working Group held a GoToMeeting call Nov. 2 with the working group chair, Kevin Jones, to discuss edits to the section “Projects that do not meet the $100 million threshold” and to review the comments provided by working group members. The Safety and Security Certification Working Group held a call Dec. 7. The group will continue to discuss and review projects that do not meet the $100 million threshold and address comments. On Jan. 11, the working group reviewed Section 2, “Rail vehicle procurements.”

Commuter, Intercity & HSR (PRESS)

Five documents were sent before the Commuter, Intercity & HSR Working Group. These were APTA PR-E-S-001-98, Rev. 3, “Electrical Integrity Insulation”; APTA PR-M-RP-001-97, Rev. 2, “End-of-Car Connections with Tightlock and Interlocking Knuckle-Type Couplers”; APTA PR-M-S-028-20, “Brake Control Valve Equipment Qualification—Testing Requirements”; APTA PR-M-S-029-20, “Pneumatic Piping for Vehicles”; and APTA PR-M-S-030-20, “ECP Passenger Cable-Based Braking System—ECP-Ready Configurations.”

At the end of December, four documents were undergoing working group ballot. These documents are APTA PR-E-RP-002-98, Rev. 2, “Installation of Wire and Cable on Passenger Rolling Stock”; APTA PR-E-RP-004-98, Rev. 2, “Gap and Creepage Distance”; APTA PR-E-RP-009-98, Rev. 2, “Ampacities for Wire and Cable Used on Passenger Rolling Stock with Flame, Smoke and Toxicity Considerations”; and APTA PR-M-S-031-21, “Low-Speed Curving Performance of Railroad Passenger Equipment.”

Also expected to be ready for Public Comment at the end of January is APTA PR-M-RP-009-98, Rev. 2, “Truck Design.” Numerous other revisions continue to push forward in the Contruction and Structural, Electrical, Mechanical, Passenger Systems and WheelRail Interface Working Groups with ballots for many of the documents currently under review targeted for the coming months.

The Electrical Working Group continues to meet twice a month to work on revisions and the Emergency Systems TAG (consisting of the Electrical, Inspection & Maintenance, and Passenger Systems Working Groups) continues to meet every three weeks to work on revisions and replacements to CFR-cited Standards.


The MaaS Working Group and the Contracts with TNCs Working Group were both active in the month of December. The “Guidelines for Transit Agencies to Begin Implementing MaaS” document was on schedule to be submitted to the standards review process by the end of September 2020; however, there have been delays with making the document cohesive, and there were also delays with editing due to the new editor selection process and the limited labor capacity of the staff advisor. The staff advisor is finishing implementing edits and then will schedule a full working group call before submitting to the formal standards review process.

The Contracts with TNCs Working Group held its most recent meeting on Dec. 16 and continued building the draft document through the group’s cohesive outline. Subgroups have been working offline. The co-chairs of the Contracts with TNCs Working Group have been in regular communication with the APTA staff advisor and plan to have a draft document submitted to the formal standards review process in the next few months. The document has a lot of content and is on a fast track to be submitted to the formal standards review process.

Rail Transit Systems

Operating Practices Working Group
On Dec. 17, OPWG had a leadership meeting to discuss the status of its standards and recommended practices and the progress on cleaning up the OPWG membership list. Currently, standards in progress include the following:

  • “Track Allocation” was put out for balloting on Oct. 28 but did not receive enough votes to establish a quorum. This is at 30% completion.
  •  “Defensive Rail Operations” is being readied to go into balloting. This recommended practice has also been reviewed by members of the Safety group. This is at 10% completion.
  •  “Managing Changes Affecting Rail Operations” is being edited to be put out for balloting. This is at 10% completion.
  •  “Employee Development” came back from the full OPWG review and is at the stage of addressing comments. This is at 10% completion.

Some of the documents mentioned were to be balloted in January. To ensure that a quorum can be established, the membership list has been updated. In late November, each member was asked to confirm interest in remaining a member of the working group. This effort led to cleaning up the membership list. There are now 48 individuals representing 38 organizations.

Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Working Group

On Dec. 2, the VIM Working Group had a leadership meeting to discuss the status of small working groups and prepare for the monthly working group meeting, which took place Dec. 17. The small working groups include:

  • “Emergency Signage” (James Hurley, Casey Blaze, Bill McClellan, Gary Lee, Richard Seaton). This is at 10% completion.
  • “Emergency Egress/Access for Rail Transit Vehicles” (Bill McClellan, Gary Lee, Richard Seaton).
  • “Rail Transit Vehicle Passenger Emergency Systems” and “Coupler Systems Periodic Inspection and Maintenance” (Scott Nicoll, Casey Blaze, Ryan Fortune).
  •  “Rail Transit Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Training and Qualifications Requirements” (Scott Nicoll, Gary Lee, Jaime Aleman, Ryan Fortune).

APTA staff have set up OneDrive folders for collaboration.


The working group generally splits into smaller working groups assigning themselves to various recommended practices/standards. When the subgroup feels the document is well-drafted, that document will then be presented to the working group at large for comments. The document undergoes the most strenuous review and feedback when the working group meets in person, twice annually. However, these in-person meetings have been canceled due to COVID-19. The working group members have committed to additional work/review via virtual meetings and calls; however, due to agencies’ preoccupation with virus preparedness, and the lack of a formal, dedicated, three-day in-person review process, progress is markedly slower.

Security & Emergency Management 
It is with great sadness that we report that retired DART Chief of Police James Spiller, the chair of the Security Standards and Policy Committee, passed away. His military funeral was Jan. 16. All the Security Standards working groups are finalizing their calendar year work plans with a view toward updating existing standards. APTA is happy to report that the TSA grant that supports the development of Security Standards was renewed for its last option year.

The Infrastructure System Security Working Group met Jan. 19 to discuss the status of the many recommended practices scheduled to be published and the development of new ones. The “Security Risk Assessment Methodology for Public Transit” recommended practice is scheduled to be published in March. The “Trash/Recycling Container Placement at Public Transportation Passenger Facilities” recommended practice is scheduled to advance to public comment in February.

The Enterprise Cybersecurity Working Group (ECSWG) held a joint meeting with the Control and Communications Security Working Group (CCSWG) Jan. 21 to discuss updates to documents that are being developed. The working group voted Dr. Julius Smith from DART as its chair. The working group discussed the “Developing a Cybersecurity Program” recommended practice to ensure that it aligns with the cyber-maturity model that the working group is developing. The group agreed that the CCSWG will review the “Supply Chain” and “Developing a Cybersecurity Program” documents during the next joint meeting. The “Managing Cloud Vendor Risk” ballot has been reopened. The “Approaching Access Management” recommended practice will be reviewed to mitigate comments received during balloting.

The “Securing Control and Communication System in the Rail Transit Environment” recommended practice was balloted by the working group. The working group also balloted “Use of SIEMs (Security Information and Event Monitors) for Rail Wayside and Railcars.” Both recommended practices have comments from balloting that need mitigation. The working group continues to issue its monthly document called the SKIM. The SKIM shares articles and analysis, as well as resources, regarding cybersecurity. The review of documents by both the CCSWG and the ECSWG is to ensure that there is input from both OT and IT professionals.

Sustainability & Urban Design
The Urban Design Working Group chair and the staff advisor received back four documents that were sent to the Standards Program manager to receive technical editing on Nov. 23. The staff advisor is doing one last check before peer review. Working group members look forward to peer review of their refreshed documents.

The recommended practices “Defining Transit Areas of Influence” and “Best Practices for Integrating Art into Capital Projects” do not currently have designated working group members updating them. However, both require only minimal changes. The chair plans to update these documents in coordination with the staff advisor and others if needed.

The working group was delayed with editing the documents before they were submitted to the review process but is excited to have these refreshed documents published after the formal review process is completed.

Technology for Transit Systems

The inaugural meeting of the newly reestablished Technology Standards PPC was Dec. 17. It featured an informative orientation presentation from Eugene Reed and an opportunity for a meet-and-greet among the PPC members. The group also discussed the next steps and expectations for the committee/working groups.

The next meeting will take place Jan. 27, and that meeting will be devoted to determining the status of currently published documents (whether they need to be updated or sunsetted) and what the priorities for the standards working groups will be for 2021.


Tips for Using Your Online Community More Effectively
Use the Discussion Board. Use the discussion board to ask questions and collect responses from transit professionals.
You can gain thoughtful insights and/or network with other transit professionals. Share files, hyperlinks and photos to add supporting materials and resources to your discussion posts.

  1. Use a provocative statement for your subject line, or ask a question.
  2. Keep the length of your post between 50 and 250 words (nobody reads web pages anymore; they skim them.)
  3. Start with the end in mind. You want to solicit responses in response to something, so open your post with a question.
  4. Self-disclose. Explain why you are asking the question.
  5. Use good grammar, and check spelling. Nothing derails a post like an awkward or incoherent sentence.
  6. Make sure you are asking the correct audience. Perhaps your next post should be sent to a different group.
  7. Ask for practical solutions that could be implemented.
  8. Add attachments to your post if it will help explain your ask. Don’t worry; they will be automatically saved to the community library folder.


APTA has started collecting adoption and usage data related to its Standards Program. The goal of the initiative is to assess the industry’s compliance with consensus-based standards and best practices. The data collection period will end on July 31. Visitors to the Standards website will be asked to complete a short pop-up survey to identify their intended use/purpose for using a standard-related document. This data will be aggregated with document downloads and unique web page visits to assess the industry’s usage of APTA standards.


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