Standards are an important program activity at APTA and in the public transportation industry. APTA, through its standards policy and planning committees, play a major role in creating active working structures within the organization focused on the development of standards. Several hundred industry volunteers serving on numerous working groups have developed standards for bus transit, rail transit, and commuter rail operations, maintenance, design, procurement, security, safety, technology, and sustainability. These consensus-based documents have a huge impact on the management and operations of these organizations. These standards are used to achieve operational efficiencies, improve safety, reliability, and services, facilities and vehicles.

The APTA Standards Program utilizes the North American Transportation Services Association’s (NATSA) to publish the standards. NATSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of APTA through which APTA executes a variety of service-related efforts including the standards program, peer reviews, and safety audits. NATSA and APTA are used interchangeably for the purposes of standards development. When the APTA Standards Program was first started in the late 1990s, each modal program or topic such as bus transit, rail transit, safety and security, procurement, etc. had their own manual for developing and processing standards. This resulted in differing processes, bylaws and standards format for each of these programs.

APTA standards are developed by the Working Groups using a consensus-based process. With the exception of APTA staff advisors, members of these Working Groups serve voluntarily. The work of these Working Groups represents a consensus of broad expertise, including public transportation systems, builders, suppliers, labor, and government representatives, and others within the industry. APTA’s member organizations and the SDOC do not assume any duties or responsibilities for users of this manual. By publishing this manual, APTA does not ensure anyone using the information contained in the manual against any liability resulting from that use.


Standards Development Oversight Council

The purpose of the Standards Development Oversight Council (SDOC) is to set overall direction for the development and maintenance of standards in the public transportation industry; establish priority programs among APTA’s modal standards development committees and working groups; coordinate standards development activities among these modal groups, and other organizations outside APTA, including the federal government; develop and manage a funding mechanism to support APTA’s standards development activities; and promote the support for and use of standards in the public transportation industry.​

Standards Policy and Planning Committees

APTA has several standards policy and planning committees (SPPC). Each committee is responsible for a set of documents based on transit mode or topic. Their membership consists of the general managers (or designee) of each operating or planned transit system, business members, consultants, and government representatives as ex-officio members. The standards policy and planning committees are responsible for establishing working groups to develop and maintain documents. The SPPC develops and approves working group budgets and work plans. The SPPC establishes priorities and approves all documents for publications.

Working Groups

APTA has 27 active working groups developing standards and best practice documents and several dozen sub-working groups. Working groups are comprised of over 1,200 APTA member and nonmember volunteer stakeholders who represent key segments of the transportation industry. APTA works tirelessly to ensure that these working groups are a fair and balanced representation of the industry. Using a consensus-based process working groups develop and publish a variety of standards documents.

Contact Us

American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
1300-I Street NW, Suite 1200 East
Washington, DC 20005


Mr. James P. LaRusch
telephone: (202) 309-5698

Collie Greenwood
telephone: (404) 848-4608
email: ​

​Eloy Martinez
telephone: (617) 521-8611

Bryan Sooter
telephone (202) 496-4851

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