APTA EXPO 2023: APTA’s big show returns to Orlando

Sept. 19, 2023
Following a successful APTA TRANSform and EXPO in 2021, the association is preparing an event that will engage and inform attendees.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will reconvene in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 8-11, 2023, for APTA TRANSform and EXPO, the largest gathering of North America transit professionals. The event will return to the Orange County Convention Center, where the industry gathered in 2021 for one of the first in-person gatherings following shutdowns brought on by COVID-19. While the 2021 event was a success and celebrated the industry’s achievement serving communities throughout the pandemic, lingering travel restrictions prevented many international attendees from traveling to APTA TRANSform and EXPO in 2021. The 2023 event will mark the return of international transit professionals and their valuable perspectives. APTA expects more than 600 global suppliers and more than 12,000 industry professionals from 88 countries to attend the 2023 show.

The event will offer time to reconnect with industry colleagues, expand professional networks and broaden industry knowledge with engaging educational sessions.

The event’s opening and closing keynote speakers will inspire attendees and provide thought-provoking speeches on two of the event’s key themes: Cutting-edge technology and equity.

The opening keynote will take place on Monday, Oct. 9 at 8:15 a.m. Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney will deliver a speech, “AI is Not Your Enemy.” As head of innovation and creativity at Disney, Wardle helped teams at Disney Parks, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Imagineering and Animation to innovate, creating magical new storylines and amazing experiences for consumers around the globe. He now brings his Disney experience to audiences around the world, delivering a series of keynotes, masterclasses and ideation forums that help people capture unlikely connections, leading to both disruptive thinking and revolutionary ideas.

Wardle’s Monday morning keynote is one of several technology focused sessions attendees can find in the TRANSform program, which include:

  • Oct. 10, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Transforming Transit: Harnessing the Power of AI and Augmented Reality
  • Oct. 10, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Fast Tracks: A Showcase of Rail Transit Innovation
  • Oct. 10, 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.; The Best of Innovation in 7 Minutes or Less

The closing keynote of the event will be delivered on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Speaker Piers Kowalski, human performance coach and consultant, will deliver a speech covering why DEI matters in the workplace. Kowalski is described as an average father of two with a not so average story. Kowalski realized at 36 that he was transgender. He shares his story of pain, self-discovery, fear, love and hope to help others better understand the transgender experience, community and humanity. After sharing his personal story, Kowalski invites the audience to ask questions – extending openness to all, gratitude for the willingness to learn together and grace for mistakes that are a part of learning and growth.

Kowalski’s closing speech will wrap up an important focus on equity that attendees will see throughout the show. Several sessions covering the topic are planned, including:

  • Oct. 8, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; Racial Equity Commitment Round Table: A year of progress
  • Oct. 10, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Building Equity Together: The Power of Partnerships
  • Oct. 10, 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Painting a Mosaic: How Women Executives Are Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Oct. 11, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.; Equity and E-Payments: Navigating the Transition to Cashless

The 2023 APTA TRANSform Conference and EXPO will also feature the first Equity Summit, which will take place prior to the official start of the show on Oct. 6 from 1:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. APTA says the Equity Summit is designed to acknowledge and leverage transit’s vital role in communities and help APTA members innovate and maintain a competitive advantage by embracing equity to drive impactful change within their organizations and within their communities. Experts will equip attendees with the tools needed to ensure equity principles continue to be valued and pursued.

Another specialty learning track to be organized at this year’s show is a Procurement Summit, which will include two sessions on Oct. 9, three sessions on Oct. 10 and two sessions on Oct. 11 focused on elevating and navigating procurement strategies and solutions.

The learning and networking opportunities extend to the APTA EXPO show floor, where more than 600 vendors will have their products and service on display. APTA EXPO opening will occur on Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. after the opening general session. The EXPO floor will be open Oct. 9, 10 and 11. In addition to hands-on opportunities to learn about products, the show floor will offer free learning zones. The Innovation Zone will feature products and technologies changing the way the industry looks at the rider experience, sustainability and the overall business of public transport. The Solutions Zone will feature applications and service-based presentations offering solutions to common industry challenges, including outcome-based procurement, tire monitoring and zero-emission fleet planning and deployment. Hot Topics Zones I and II will feature the latest developments impacting and disrupting transit systems. The Procurement Zone will help attendees determine strategies for more effective procurements to bring greater value to agencies.

APTA EXPO will also feature an autonomous vehicle demonstration where attendees can take a ride on the latest autonomous vehicles. There will also be a headshot station where attendees can get a free professional headshot, APTA Central, which features a variety of APTA products and services, and a relaxation station for attendees to take a break and recharge before heading to their next educational session or exploring more of the show floor.

To view the program, a list of exhibitors and to register, visit aptaexpo.com.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.