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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has elected Regional Transportation District of Denver General Manager Phillip Washington as chairman.He succeeds Peter Varga, chief executive officer of the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) of Grand Rapids, Mich. APTA elected its 2014-15 officers at its annual EXPO this week in Houston. Valarie McCall, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's board, was chosen as vice chair, while Doran Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit in West Covina, Calif., was re-elected as secretary-treasurer.Also at yesterday's opening session, APTA officials discussed the impact public transportation has as an economic driver, as well as the need for long-term public investment in transportation infrastructure."Predictable, long-term investment in public transportation is critical to making communities economically competitive," said APTA President and Chief Executive Michael Melaniphy in a prepared statement. "Investment in public transportation drives growth. It attracts development, increases property values along its corridors, and creates transit-oriented communities."The industry directly employs about 400,000 individuals, and for each $1 billion invested in public transportation, 50,700 jobs are supported and created, APTA estimates. Work commutes comprise nearly 60 percent of public transportation trips. In 2013, 10.7 billion trips were taken on public transit – the highest ridership in 57 years.