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APTA mulls ways to increase revenue

The association's annual revenue has remained flat for more than a decade, says APTA Chair Doran Barnes.
Photo – APTA's 'Passenger Transport' newsletter


The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has begun evaluating ideas to modernize its business model and increase revenue.

The association's total number of members and yearly revenue have remained generally flat for more than 10 years, APTA Chair Doran Barnes wrote in his "Observations and Aspirations" newsletter.

However, more than 2,000 public transit organizations are not yet APTA members, he noted.

In addition, "several anomalies" in the association's model for charging membership fees have caused inequalities between what transit agencies and business members pay, Barnes wrote.

The inequality stems from a cap on business member dues, which means that not all members pay their fair share, according to Barnes. The association last reviewed its membership dues model in 2000.

Furthermore, a growing number of other associations are competing for APTA's members and their attendance.

"These issues threaten the future of APTA and our ability to anticipate and meet the evolving needs of the public transportation community," Barnes wrote. "We need to modernize our business model to grow revenue faster than costs, thereby allowing us to offer more valuable services to our members and potential members."

APTA Immediate Past Chair Valarie McCall in May 2016 established a revenue task force to study the association's challenges.

The task force's five working groups have met at least once a month so far this year. Their deliberations were guided by global consulting firm MCI USA.

The working groups review membership categories, evaluate current meeting fees, assess opportunities for non-dues revenue, study the prospects of collaborating on membership with similar organizations, and consider the current pricing structure of APTA's advertising model.

This month, several focus groups are scheduled to gather feedback on proposed changes to the association. In early September, the final recommendations will be presented to APTA's executive committee for consideration.

The same process will take place at the full board meeting in October prior to APTA's annual meeting.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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