History of PPTA
Our Early Beginnings
After months of discussions and negotiations, the leadership of PAMTA and PACT agreed that one united association would present a stronger voice to advocate on behalf of Pennsylvania’s public transportation providers. It was a challenging task for PPTA’s founding fathers to bring together two of the nation’s largest transit systems, some of the country’s more rural providers, many small community transportation organizations, and a strong coalition of small and medium sized urban providers. Today, most of the state’s public transportation providers, a majority of transportation management associations and a large segment of the transportation business community are the valued members of PPTA. Beginning in 1997 with 76 members and a budget of $75,000, PPTA now boasts more than 150 members and an operating budget over a half million dollars.
The association’s course has not been without a few bumps in the road, but the united focus on its mission to be the foremost advocate for public transportation and mobility management in the Commonwealth, serves as a bond and a guide for the association’s development. It is the commitment and active involve- ment of each member organization’s general manger/executive director that makes PPTA THE forum for the exchange of information and technology, training and technical assistance, and the development and advancement of legislative and regulatory initiatives. Over the years, PPTA’s committee structure has grown to address the varying needs of public transportation providers. Since its early beginnings, the committees have strengthened PPTA and keep the organization dedicated to meeting member needs.
To begin operations independent of the association management company that supported PPTA in January of 1997, a collaborative relationship was established with Penn State University’s Transportation Institute (PTI). PTI provided office space and administrative support services to the organization and its first staff executive beginning in December of 1997. Housed in Penn State’s Eastgate Center, on Seventh Street in Harrisburg, PPTA rapidly matured into an independent association. In 2001 the organization severed its ties with PTI and moved its offices to 600 North Third Street in Harrisburg. Located at an ideal location close to the Capitol Building and PennDOT offices, PPTA offers its members a comfortable meeting space and a welcoming home away from home.
PPTA hosts an annual bus and paratransit roadeo to competitively test driver skills and brings members together for meetings in the summer and the fall. A legislative conference is held to provide an opportunity for members to meet with state representatives in their Harrisburg offices. Building upon the tradition of an annual public transportation seminar, PPTA developed the format into a multifaceted program that offers educational workshops on a variety of pertinent topics. The EXPO has grown from several vendor tables in a hallway and buses outside in a parking lot, into more than 60 exhibitors all under one roof, including indoor bus displays. The PPTA Spring Conference and EXPO has become one of the premier shows on the east coast, bringing together more than 400 transportation professionals for training, education and networking each year. Highlights of the annual event include an award program to recognize the Super Stars of Transit and to honor graduates of TransitSCORE and the Professional Supervisory Program.
Our Education Programs
In July of 2001, in partnership with PennDOT, PPTA assumed the administrative responsibilities of Pennsylvania’s component of the Rural Transportation Assistance Program, PennTRAIN, which offers a host of services and opportunities. Its premier training program, TransitSCORE (formerly named PennSCORE) is committed to creating “Safe, Courteous, On-time, Reliable, Excellent” bus and van operators. Designed to provide the very best training tools, methods and resources, this comprehensive training program grew out of the grassroots efforts of individuals from PPTA’s Operations Committee. In 1999, offering 96 hours of training to 14graduates, the program now presents 120 hours of training in seven different subject areas. More than 135 graduates from across Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New York have earned the Master Trainer certification. PennTRAIN has produced several maintenance manager programs and has offered peer-to-peer maintenance assistance services to rural and community transportation providers. From a collaborative relationship started in 2003 with the Transit Career Ladder Partnership, a variety of maintenance related programs have been offered to more than 400 public transportation maintenance staff. Transit marketing, human resources, financial management, and operations training round out the PennTRAIN schedule. Additional programming offering leadership training to the executive staff of transit systems and on-site board training enhance the ability of transit systems across the Commonwealth to operate with transparency and accountability. Other services include technical assistance, a resource center/library, and scholarships to attend training programs. Led by the PPTA advisory committee, PennTRAIN will continue to improve the skills of people working in public transportation, the safety and comfort of people who use public transportation, and the overall performance and image of public transportation in Pennsylvania.
The PPTA government affairs committee works with the board of directors and the membership to develop a legislative and regulatory agenda to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s public transportation systems. With a concerted effort in 1997, which resulted in the passage of Act 3, PPTA members worked tirelessly to craft a groundbreaking funding structure to move the Commonwealth’s public transportation services forward. Today, PPTA continues to focus on a plan to address long-term funding needs for urban, rural and community transportation providers. Other state initiatives include support of transportation demonstration projects that resulted in transportation for persons with disabilities (PWD), refinements to the medical assistance transportation program requirements and monitoring worker’s compensation, workplace safety and collective bargaining. The association’s other active committees include operations, maintenance, marketing, financial officers, human resources, membership, technology, and community transportation. Each committee is charged with a broad role and responsibility to identify and develop methods to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s public transportation providers as they strive to increase efficiency and productivity.
Our Collaborative Relationships
As PPTA continues to protect and advance the interests of its members, both the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) play significant roles. Members participate in the committees and programs offered by each organization and actively support legislative efforts at the national level. More than 25 PPTA members join in the association’s annual trip to Washington, DC to meet with the Pennsylvania Delegation. The association also enjoys a cooperative and collaborative relationship with the Bureau of Public Transportation and works collectively to offer support, streamline processes, and gather data as needed.
Building PPTA step by step over the years has been a rewarding endeavor for all public transportation providers in the Commonwealth, which is demonstrated by their broad representation. While each day is filled with challenges and the only guarantee for the future is constant change, the members of PPTA can rely on the association to be there to advocate, educate and communicate.