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American Public Transportation Association

 Tracks & Topics

APTA 2017 Rail Conference 
Call for Abstracts
All Modes: High-Speed & Intercity Rail, Urban Rail & Commuter Rail


Topics that directly address APTA’s 2015-2019 Strategic Goals have been identified below using the following icons:


Tracks and Educational Topics:

  • Track 1: Technology & Technical Forums
  • Track 2: Operations& Maintenance
  • Track 3: Safety, Security & Emergency Preparedness
  • Track 4: Planning, Sustainability & Finance
  • Track 5: Capital Programs
  • Track 6: Policy, Management & Workforce Development 

Track 1 - Technology & Technical Forums

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Technology has changed how we do things in the transit industry. Innovations are at work daily. This educational track will showcase new and emerging technology options available to streamline operations and provide enhanced services to transit riders. Emerging technologies and current issues in critical fields will be addressed. Abstracts are invited that address any of the following topics: 

  • Technology – emerging technologies, implementation case studies
  • Traction power
  • Communications systems
  • Signal systems
  • Technical issues in implementing PTC technology
  • Rolling stock, railcars
  • Crash energy management
  • Streetcars
  • Track & rail
  • Noise & vibration mitigation
  • Energy, environment & rail
  • Driverless/automated rail
  • Elevators & escalators
  • Ventilation
  • Fire life safety
  • Superstorms and resilient engineering
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices
  • Fare collection security
  • Other topics on technology are encouraged

Track 2 - Operations & Maintenance

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Across the country the maintenance and operations of any transit system – large or small is what gives it credibility. Providing safe, efficient, and quality service for our most important commodity, “the transit rider” is a common factor that is ever changing for the maintenance and operations of any system. This educational track will explore the many vital areas of the maintenance and operations a of transit agency. Abstracts are invited that address any of the following topics: 

  • Rail standards & recommended practices
  • Maintenance programs
  • Metrics, performance measures
  • Rail operations control centers, dispatch, scheduling
  • Intermodal transfers
  • Fare technologies, implementation case studies
  • Elevators & escalators
  • Operations planning
  • Accessibility
  • Superstorms - maintainability & operational risk
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices
  • Other topics in the operations and maintenance areas are encouraged 

Track 3 - Safety, Security & Emergency Preparedness

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Although public transportation remains among the safest modes of transportation, agencies, operators, and riders are all key stakeholders in maintaining its safety. This educational route will provide real-world examples and recommended practices in developing a safety-first culture.  Abstracts are invited that address any of the following topics:      

  • Rail safety programs and safety culture in the dept. & organization; Complying with both Federal Railroad Administration Rail System Safety Plan requirements under Railway Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) and Federal Transit Administration’s new safety management system based National Public transportation safety plan under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)
  • Preventing platform, pedestrian, and trespasser fatalities
  • Safety of track workers
  • Grade crossing safety programs
  • Interface of light rail, streetcars, and traffic
  • Cyber security
  • Security technology
  • Superstorms
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices 
  • Other topics on rail safety, security and emergency prep are encouraged

Track 4 - Planning, Sustainability & Finance

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Transit agencies are teaming up with local partners, cities, and businesses, to achieve success in creating accessible, sustainable, and livable communities throughout the nation. This educational track will provide updates and showcase key examples of the linkages between transportation, land use, and development to form livable communities.  Abstracts are invited that address any of the following topics:  

  • Funding, financing & revenue; self-financed/privately financed projects; value capture, the real cost of meeting federal rules and oversight
  • Environmental process, National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA); how categorical streamlining provisions would be useful 
  • Transit oriented development (TOD)
  • Station area planning
  • Prioritizing rail in the region/alternatives analyses
  • Higher- and high-speed rail
  • New business models for financing
  • Accessibility
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices
  • Superstorms - planning, financing for catastrophic events
  • Other topics in planning, sustainability, and finance are encouraged.

Track 5 - Capital Programs

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 We want to hear from you about your exciting and innovative capital projects. Abstracts are invited that address​ any of the following topics: 

  • Tell the story of your capital project
  • Mega projects around the world
  • Privatization of asset management – outsourcing the whole portfolio or individual components
  • Project management and FTA New Starts program standard-setting
  • Standardization of vehicles and right-of-way infrastructure
  • Alternative delivery
  • Systems engineering
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices
  • Other topics related to capital projects and programs are encouraged.

Track 6 - Policy, Management & Workforce Development 

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This topic area will discuss innovative transportation policy, management, and workforce initiatives. Abstracts are invited that address any of the following topics:  

  • State of good repair (SGR)
  • Asset management
  • Contracting for services, procurement of construction, Buy America
  • Mobility management
  • Streetcars
  • Accessibility, ADA
  • Human resources/Workforce Development/Aging Workforce
  • Labor relations
  • Benchmarking, metrics/best practices
  • Superstorms - leading an organization through a catastrophic event
  • FMLA and employee absenteeism
  • Affordable Care Act, other laws - short tem, long term impact for organizations
  • Future workforce - internship, mentorship programs and opportunities
  • Innovative partnerships and outreach programs to high schools and higher education
  • Other policy, management, and workforce development topics are encourage
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