*** Deadline for submissions has passed ***

This year, APTA will be hosting the Sustainability/Operations Planning and Scheduling Workshop in-person in Pittsburgh, PA, August 7-10, 2022. We encourage you to join the hundreds who are already planning to attend this premier event for industry professionals which will help them learn best practices needed to enhance their transit agencies and organizations.

Guidelines for Presentation Submission

Below are a few guidelines that will help you with your submission. You will find more details at the below link.

  • Presentation submitters must belong to an APTA member organization.
  • All presentation summaries must be submitted online through the APTA website.
  • Summaries must be 350 words or less (about a half page in length).
  • Although we suggest that you submit based on the topics identified, we also encourage submission on topics that are not listed. If you have a topic that does not fall within one of the suggested sessions, please select “other” when submitting your summary. Save

Planning Schedule

  • Presentation summaries due to APTA – April 15, 2022
  • Workshop registration opens – TBD
  • Decision notifications – May 31, 2022

Please review the educational topic areas prior to submitting your presentation summary. There are eight major topic areas and subtopics ideas for each listed below:

Climate Action

  • Climate Mitigation: The new federal administration has renewed a focus on climate change mitigation and emphasized the role of public infrastructure as a key delivery mechanism for local to global solutions.
    • How are agencies planning for greenhouse gas mitigation from planning and design to construction and operations?
    • How do agency climate mitigation efforts connect to the broader climate action planning that’s happening at the city, regional and state level?
  • Community Resilience:
    • What are the key lessons learned from developing resilient transit infrastructure (related to emergencies, natural disasters, climate change or significant changes in development patterns and demographics) and can they be used to address issues of social and racial justice?
    • How can transit agencies also design resilient communities? Are there ways in which transit agencies can plan and design for resilient infrastructure to better support diversity and inclusion and mitigate inequitable social and economic impacts?

Demystifying Data

  • Transit Data: Recent years have seen a surge of new and powerful capabilities in the area of data analysis, for both transit business decisions and customer information. Share success stories in the growing use of cell phone data, increasingly common open data standards such as GTFS and its extensions, and the “never as easy as it sounds” integration of fare collection and ridership data. Which “old school” techniques still stand the test of time?  Which new tools and platforms have made work faster, easier, and better?
  • Sustainability Data: Making sustainability a reality relies on being able to use data to inform advocacy and decision making. What data and tools have been instrumental in enabling your organization to prioritize initiatives ranging from resource conservation to the clean fuels transition and equitable outreach.
  • Moving Beyond Ridership: Ridership data has been the go-to metric for evaluating transit effectiveness and efficiency. The rise of on-demand/microtransit service has increasingly called into question whether or not ridership or productivity alone are reasonable measures of a successful project or system. What other metrics are important?  How do planners and other transit officials balance relevance with simplicity and comparability with other agencies?

Operating in a COVID World

  • Collaborating Virtually: Online platforms like Zoom and MS Teams have made virtual meetings universal for open houses, board meetings, workshops, internal staff meetings, in-reach programs, surveying and more. What strategies will your agency be keeping?  What has your agency done to maintain a good feedback pipeline from customers?  And with the prevalence of working from home, has your agency taken any steps to promote or maintain in-person contact with coworkers, the customers, and front-line employees?
  • Operator Retention Strategies: The job of a bus operator has never been easy, and it has only gotten more challenging during the pandemic. How can we as planners — and schedulers in particular — create solutions to attract and retain operators? What strategies can we use to balance the customer need for robust service with the operator need for a work/life balance? How can we structure compensation, benefits, schedules, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, split shifts, etc. to keep operators happy and keep our systems moving? If you could “start from scratch” in schedule-land, how would you craft the bus operator’s job differently?
  • Service Disruptions: Detour design and communications for planned closures and unforeseen events often blurs the lines of departmental responsibility. COVID-related service reductions are often emergencies, with less lead time. The nationwide labor shortage also makes service cancellations a much more common occurrence. What creative ways has your agency devised to plan and prepare for, respond operationally, and alert customers to service disruptions?

Zero-Emission Fleets

  • Problem Solving Together: Today’s experiences will affect the path to a full zero-emission future. As transit agencies incorporate more zero-emission buses into their fleets, there is more data about vehicle performance and management.
    • Share your successes and challenges addressing vehicle range, new vehicle costs, operator scheduling issues, large scale battery recharging infrastructure, hydrogen storage, and the day-to-day operation of a garage with a mixed fleet.  How has your experience or the experience of others effected your future fleet plans?
  • Zero Emission Transition Plan: In December 2021, FTA informed transit agencies that the statutory provisions for the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program (49 U.S.C. § 5339(b)) and the Low or No Emission Program (49 U.S.C. § 5339(c)) And the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) include the requirement that any application for projects related to zero-emission vehicles include a Zero-Emission Transition Plan.
    • What are lessons learned from developing your agency’s Zero Emissions Transition Plan? Did you start from scratch? Modify an existing plan?
    • How does the Zero Emissions Transition plan impact your ability to pilot different technologies?

Equity and Inclusion

  • Measuring Equity: Transit agencies have been evaluating service changes under FTA Title VI standards for decades. The measures adopted to do this, though, have clear shortcomings. For example, using service hours as a metric may penalize projects that make buses faster and applying Title VI only to service changes creates a bias towards preserving the status quo, potentially locking in past inequities.
    • What are agencies doing to measure equity in new ways? How can we use data to better understand the needs of the riders who depend on transit services the most? How does your agency best serve lower income, limited English proficiency and communities of color?
  • Zero Fare Operations: In recent years, experimenting with fare-free operations arose as a buzzy concept in the transit industry to address everything from equity to safety and security issues. Some transit agencies have taken the concept and run with it either by removing fares from existing service or implementing new fare-free services.
    • Are you planning on continuing or even expanding fare-free offerings? Would low-fare alternatives be worth exploring?
  • Racial Equity: We solicit companies and agencies that have signed onto APTA’s Commitment Program to discuss how this tangible roadmap to advancing racial equity is being implemented at your organization – even if it’s just launching.
    • How does APTA’s Racial Equity Commitment dovetail with your company’s mission, vision and values? How does the Commitment align with existing or emerging programs and initiatives? How are you planning on aligning your work on this commitment to your sustainability initiatives and goals?

Investing in Transit

  • Priority Transit Investments: The start of the COVID pandemic led to an immediate drop in traffic. Some transit agencies and cities saw this as an opportunity to trial and implement bus priority measures, especially bus lanes, in a time when there would be far less short-term disruption and when traffic could adjust more easily.
  • Funding Transit for the Long-Term: What are expected to be the funding sources for traditional transit in the future?  As we all know, no major transit agency in the U.S. and Canada is funded solely out of the farebox.  Some utilize sales taxes, others utilize property taxes, and others are eligible to receive state funding.

Sustainable Operations Frameworks 

  • Environmental Management Systems: What aspect of implementing sustainable operations has been the most achievable or challenging during the past few years? What are some of the lessons learned for: implementing and maintaining environmental management systems; reporting on progress towards sustainability goals; deploying water, waste, and energy efficiency or zero emissions vehicle projects; implementing sustainable construction practices?
  • Sustainability Certifications: How do you decode the alphabet soup of acronyms for green building, green infrastructure, sustainable landscaping and health standards? From LEED and Envision to Sustainable Sites, Well and FitWell, how do agencies make heads or tails of the best third-party rating systems and certifications for sustainability? Why does getting certified matter and how can it move the needle at your organization?  Which certifications have been effective and cost-efficient?

Scheduling and Network Design

  • Headway Based Service: When transit operates at high frequencies, riders plan their trips based on headways, not schedules. In theory, that offers an opportunity for transit agencies to operate service differently, adjusting bus departure times on the fly to even out headways and avoid bunching. Doing this, though, requires an entirely differently approach to operations.
    • What have systems that have tried to implement headway management found? What are the challenges, and what works? What are the international best practices, and what do systems across the world that operate based on headways do differently than standard US practice?
  • Innovative Mobility Alternatives (Microtransit): Over the last few years alternative approaches to conventional fixed route bus service have been created to provide first and last mile service to fixed guideway or fixed route transit services, to replace low performing fixed route bus service or to extend service to low density areas. The development of new apps and providers of services, such as transportation network companies and firms specializing in on demand microtransit have disrupted local mobility and provide new opportunities for providing accessibility.
    • What should be the goals of alternative mobility approaches? How is success measured and what role should microtransit play in the provision of local accessibility? Are issues of accessibility and equity being adequately met?
  • Layovers: The creation and adjustment of bus layover locations affect both Planners and Schedulers.  Planners investigate and create the routes, and coordinate with Schedulers on beginning, end, and short-turn layover points.  Schedulers develop service based on the routing, demographics, and expectations of the Planners.
    • As a Planner, have you received requests to relocate a layover location, whether on street, or on private property, such as a major shopping mall?  Have you had to relocate due to perceived social issues?
    • As a Scheduler have you been asked to adjust layover, or recovery time, as there is too little or too much scheduled?
    • As an organization, what has your agency done to identify and resolve potential issues?
  • Frequent Service Changes / Operator Shortages: Two years into COVID, people are clamoring for a “return to normal.”  Simply put, the supply (operators) is far below demand (requests for service) in virtually every area of the transit industry.
    • What steps has your agency taken to balance between the two?  How have your short-range plans been changed as a result of the ever-changing supply and demand?  Have you shifted to more frequent system-wide service changes or even more frequent interim service changes?
  • Bus Network Redesigns: The pandemic has changed many assumptions about the way that bus networks function to maintain and grow ridership. Some authorities that have gone through network redesigns may find that both their goals and measures of success have changed. Data analysis has become challenging because it may be difficult to determine how much impact the redesign had on ridership versus other factors. Budget challenges may constrain the potential of a new network to deliver on its promises of reshaping service to meet needs.
    • If you have been involved in a prior redesign, are you re-evaluating the changes that you made? What metrics are you using to make decisions?
    • If you are currently in a redesign process, what data are you using to evaluate change and how much trust do you place in its ability to anticipate trends? Has customer and stakeholder feedback been a challenge, an opportunity or both?
    • If you are pondering a redesign, has the pandemic accelerated the need or led to more caution about how to go forward?

*** Deadline for submissions has passed ***

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