The leaders of the businesses and agencies that support public transportation in New York are meeting for a two-day conference in Saratoga Springs. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports that the industry is focusing on forging new partnerships.
The New York Public Transit Industry Partners in Progress Conference and Expo at the Saratoga City Center brings together a variety of players that drive public transportation in the Empire State.
Carm Basile is CEO of the Capital District Transportation Authority and President of New York State Public Transit Association, the group that hosts the annual event in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration Region II.
“Yeah its a very interesting mix of people, you have professional staff at transit properties, you have people from the state department of transportation, and you have a number of vendors and suppliers to the industry, the private sector, manufacturers that spur economic opportunity.”
Speakers at the event include FTA Region II Leader Marilyn Shazor, Joan McDonald, the 11th Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, and industry leaders.
"You know frankly you get more out of just exchanging ideas than anything else.”
And it’s on the Expo floor where connections are made.
The booths on the trade show floor are surrounded by several large buses and vehicles. It’s here that the representatives of companies from across the country can show off the latest in public transportation technology at product demonstrations and mingle with transit professionals in the public and private sector.
Jim Gallagher is Vice President of BusStuf. He came up from Orefield, Pa. to attend the expo.
"BusStuf's an independent sales company, we are manufacturers' reps for nine different manufacturers.”
Gallagher said that his efforts toward forming partnerships at the expo are two-fold.
"Number one is to make sure our government and our government reps understand the financing we need and what's happening with the money that we get grants for, as well as building relationships with the transit component users that are here, building the relationship there to keep the trust up, make sure the product works well and support them and anything they need."
Paul Findeisen, a sales representative for Eastern Marketing group, said that the expo is beneficial to the businesses whose products he’s marketing and the public transit agencies.
"The customers, the people that run the transit operations, they're all pretty much cut down on how many people they can have, you know everybody's cutting budgets, so they don't have time to see vendors, they don't have time to see as many people as they used to, because they're closed down. So an event like this, they're taking one day and seeing a whole bunch of vendors. So it works out for both sides.”
Carm Basile of CDTA says he’s noticed that in the past five years since the economic downturn, the demand for public transportation has gone up.
“We have areas in our system where we don't have enough seats. We don't have enough buses on those routes. It's a testament to the good work we've done, but it's gotten to the point now where customers want more service, they are demanding more service. We are unable to respond as quickly as we should.”
Basile said that for CDTA, ridership is at a 30-year high. However, because that increase came in a more difficult economic climate, public funding has been an issue.
“In a quest for efficiency, in a quest to save money, we scaled our systems back, so now you have more riders, less service, and demand for more. And we are just not able to quickly respond.”
The New York Public Transit Industry Partners in Progress Conference and Expo is the state’s only transit industry tradeshow.