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American Public Transportation Association

 Suggested Educational Topic Descriptions

Below are the suggested technical/educational topics for submitting an abstract for the 2011 Bus & Paratransit Conference & International Bus Roadeo.


Fare Media for Paratransit, People with Disabilities, and Older Adults Developing a System Wide Plan for Accessibility, Security, Operational and Passenger Improvements

Abstracts are requested on different types of technologies and the experiences of your organization in their implementation in any or all of three areas:

  1. Abilities and limitations of passengers - Fare media can help or hinder use by older adults and people with disabilities.
  2. Methods of service delivery - Because paratransit is provided by public agencies, contractors, or taxi providers using vehicles ranging from a sedan to a minibus, there are implications for the type of equipment that can be used, that will fit into the physical space, and the degree to which the driver and company management can be expected to use and maintain the equipment.
  3. Accounting and reporting - With paratransit systems providing trips for multiple programs and funded by multiple sponsors, there may be issues with the amount of fares for each rider, how those fares are tracked, and to whom they are credited. Areas of interest include: smart cards, debit cards, and credit cards.

Mainstreaming Riders

Case studies and best-practice methods are being sought that help riders to make a transition from ADA complementary paratransit to fixed-route services, at least for some trips. Moving towards one system or family of services will mean that the two are not seen as altogether separate services and riders are not using a “special” service. Areas of interest include: example of an operational strategy to highlight: using paratransit as a feeder service to fixed-route bus or rail service.

Oversized Wheelchairs and their Securement

The larger, heavier mobility devices (wheelchairs, scooters) can no longer be accommodated within the ADA size and weight definitions (600 lbs. max, a 30" width x 48" length size, and a three-foot turning radius). The trend is towards larger and heavier. In addition, safe securement of the wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices is a priority, and a problem. For the short-term perspective, how is your organization responding to the increasing demand for rides from passengers with oversized wheelchairs? What are the problems and how have they been overcome? What is your experience with securement mechanisms and practices? In the long-term, what changes should be made to laws, manufacturing, and service practices with regard to the larger and heavier wheelchairs and their safe securement?

Using Taxis for ADA-Paratransit

Tell your story about using taxis, from the provisions in your contracts, to how and when trips are assigned, to cost management, and to feedback received from riders. Case studies and lessons learned are requested. How were good working relationships developed among taxi providers and transit systems? What did driver training consist of? What are the regulations in your area?


Abstracts on accessibility other than those above may be submitted under “other” in this accessibility section.

Business Practices

Industry Best Practices – Showcasing New Ideas , Programs and Services

Everyone has good ideas. Why not take the best of the best and implement them to help us do what we do better? Abstracts should focus on industry-wide best practices, highlighting areas of success, and how to avoid pitfalls along the way.

Economic Impact of Procurement in Times of Uncertain Funding

In this new economy, balancing limited resources with increasing demands for delivering safe, quality, and efficient public transportation are just a few of the daily operations of a transit system. Every day agencies must address a complex set of operational requirements in order to ensure their customers’ transportation needs are met while forecasting and preparing to meet future demands. Abstracts should focus on how agencies and businesses are handling procurement without stalling. Areas of interest include: funding, facility procurement strategies, resource utilization and operations.

Procurement Issues: Blanket Bids

This session will be designed to provide agencies and business with alternative methods to make procurement processes run smoother. Abstracts should focus on procurement regulations, effective procurement policy/procedures, bidding issues, and ways to avoid problems with procurement. Areas of interest include: contract procurement strategies, legal issues, contract pricing, request for proposal (RFP) development, invitations to bid, bid evaluation, risk assessment and contract negotiation and administration.

Procurement and Sustainability: What’s in Store?

As the drive towards greater sustainability in the transit industry intensifies, there is increasing interest in "greening the supply chain" from both transit-related businesses and transit agencies. Yet, this is unchartered territory. Abstracts should focus on policies that are being put in place, what requirements and recommendations can be found in requests for proposals and contracts to date. What more can we expect in the future? Areas of interest include: equipment and vehicles with more energy-efficient alternatives.

Advertising and Bus Wrapping

Bus advertising is a powerful up and coming advertising method for the transit industry. Many have capitalized on its cost effective ways of keep advertising messages in the public eye. At the same time, many are addressing issues such as revenue, safety, and how much is too much. Abstracts should focus on the successes, lessons learned, and practicality of wrapped bus advertising. Areas of interest include: feedback from members of the community, cosmetic damages to buses, and the generation of revenue from advertising.


Abstracts on procurement other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this procurement section.


Maintenance Challenges – Technology Changes and Maintenance Techniques

This session will address creative ways agencies and businesses are ensuring that the right training is reaching the right people. Abstracts should focus on strategies to address/improve employee training and development opportunities. Areas of interest include: computer-based learning programs, new training and/or workplace innovations.

What Best Fits Your Bus?

When buying new or refurbished products for transit systems, what looks good is not always what is best for our systems. Have you purchased new products or services that have fallen short of your expectations? Abstracts should focus on top factors for making smart purchasing decisions. Areas of interest include: lessons learned, bus comparisons, running, cost factors, recommendations of new products and services.

State of Good Repair

Managing your assets can be tough. With weighing options to spend dollars now or later, gain the skills needed to extend the life of your assets and save money. Abstracts should focus on how to make the decision between expansion and maintenance. Areas of interest include: FTA Life Span of the bus and funding.


Abstracts on operations, maintenance and management other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this operations/maintenance/management section.

Policy, Planning & Marketing

Regional Planning: Get Involved

Regional planning choices are being made every day. In order to effectively shape the future of public transportation, we must be a part of the process to address the issues that affect our communities and regions! Abstracts should focus on regional planning and address issues such as transportation and land use planning, economic development, environmental planning, and sustainability. Areas of interest include: partnerships, mobility, local jurisdictions, and transit-oriented development.


Abstracts on policy, planning and marketing other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this policy/planning/marketing section.

Safety & Security

Distracted Driving: The Age of Overloading

Increased traffic congestion, road rage and demanding customers are prime examples of the many problems bus operators must effectively manage while driving. There are more challenges for bus operators today than ever before. To help curb this problem and provide our industry with safer and more focused drivers, what is the ultimate question? Are we overloading our drivers? Abstracts should focus on effective methods and tools to manage "stuff on the bus" and what agencies are doing to reduce driver distraction. Areas of interest include: best practices, at-risk behaviors and safety, safety/security effectiveness and technology.

The Many Different Types of Driver Barriers/Operator Protection

Are we protecting our operators? How are others addressing these issues within the industry? Developing and maintaining sound programs for safety, security and emergency preparedness is no longer just prudent business practice but has emerged as the most significant challenge for transit agencies, their employees, riders, and the public in today’s changing world. Abstracts should focus on options for driver barriers/protection. Areas of interest include: lessons learned, safety/security program assessment and technology.


Abstracts on safety and security other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this safety & security section.


Going Green is Easy –Let’s Tackle Doing Things Smarter and Saving More

Across the country the public demand for sustainable buses, trains, structures and processes is rapidly increasing. Like many businesses in the United States, transit agencies have begun embarking upon the journey toward going green. We’ve greened our facilities and fleets, examined infrastructures and equipment and have identified ways to become more environmentally sustainable; however, one question remains: How can we do things smarter?

Abstracts should focus on new projects that promote sustainability. Areas of interest include: sustainability, equipment and vehicles with more energy-efficient alternatives.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations and Targets

A number of states and regions have set greenhouse gas emission reductions targets. Abstracts should focus on how the transportation environment is being affected and how transit agencies are playing a key role. Areas of interest include: state specific examples of gas emission regulations.


Abstracts on sustainability other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this sustainability section.


Impacts of New Technology On Your Capital Maintenance Facilities

Implementing new technologies can be a challenge for transit professionals. There is a constant tension between perfecting current technology and procedures and testing new processes and innovative solutions to provide reliable, quality service on the street. We are seeking abstracts that address innovative maintenance practices, testing and/or implementing new technologies, solutions to providing upgraded passenger experience, and maintaining new technologies. Areas of interest include: innovative maintenance practices, testing and/or implementing new technologies, and maintaining new technologies

Alternative Fuel Technology

Alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies have made significant inroads in public transit operations. With the numerous alternative fuel technologies on the market such as clean diesel buses, compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, hythane buses, hybrid buses and fuel cell buses, abstracts should focus on comparisons and contrasts on these technologies. Areas of interest include: cost, availability of fuel, performance, safety and emissions.

Electronic Payment Systems – What’s Next Transit?

Electronic payment systems are the norm in almost all modes of commercial transportation. What advances are next and how will advancement increase revenues and reduce the high cost of handling cash? Abstracts should focus on new technologies to optimize and manage transit revenues. Areas of interest include: standards for transit passes, international issues, electronic ticketing, and mobile technologies.


Abstracts on technology other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this technology section.

Workforce Development

Transit and Higher Education Partnerships – Everyone Wins!

Transit and higher education partnerships have an unprecedented win-win opportunity in our industry’s history. Transit agencies and businesses have a breadth of needs to train and develop their staff in specific skills areas. All too often, these same organizations are looking for interns to research specific problems. How are agencies using state and federal training programs to improve the workforce? Abstracts should focus on best practices building partnership with university transportation centers, local and community colleges. Areas of interest include: innovations and success stories in developing programs and courses, solutions to address training, intern, and research needs, organizational approach to preparing for and adapt to change.

Labor Management Partnerships - The Only Road to Success

Transit agencies and labor unions play key partnership roles as our industry looks ahead to develop current and new workers, to help provide for the employee’s future, and to provide quality service for our customers. We share common goals, and we recognize our different perspectives and approaches. Abstracts should focus on how we identify and reach our common goals respective of our differences. This session will be designed to bring together executive leaders from both transit agencies and labor unions for a candid dialogue on how successful partnerships and differences provide the bridge to success. Areas of interest include: reports of recent successful union agreements, examples of what your agency or organization has done working with unions to achieve goals.

Who is Supervising Whom? Do We Have the Right Skills? An Industry Round Table

The transit workforce has spoken. Recent APTA survey results tell us that supervisory skills training at all levels for both public and private sectors is one of the industry’s hottest needs. Supervisory skill levels and perceptions vary; yet, all levels of leaders, from front line to executive leadership, recognize the need for improvement. Today’s leaders need new, state-of-the art skills to lead in today’s struggling economy, to understand new challenges and demands, employee needs and customer expectations, and to be more effective and informed transit professionals. Abstracts should focus on critical supervisory skills needs, recommended solutions and best practices, current and new resources and programs, and formulas. Areas of interest include: leadership training, supervisory aspects, and training techniques.


Abstracts on workforce development other than those above may be submitted under "other" in this workforce development section.

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