SWTA’s 2021 Freedom Through Transit Virtual Annual Conference

2021 Conference graphic
2021 Freedom Through Transit Virtual Annual Conference

SWTA invites you to join us for our 2021 Freedom Through Transit Virtual Annual Conference. This year, we’ll be meeting together via virtual format due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our members’ travel budgets and policies.

The basic conference agenda will feature three sessions on Wednesday, February 17th and two sessions on Thursday, February 18th (we will only include consecutive sessions with no concurrent breakouts or workshops). Our agenda features a mix of exciting featured speakers, key developments from the SWTA Nation during the COVID pandemic and important sessions for SWTA members: a legislative strategy session to engage the new Congress and Biden Administration, and our annual members’ meeting.

See the Event Schedule below for the complete conference schedule.

A NOTE ON REGISTRATION FEES: COVID-19 has brought many challenges as well as new opportunities for our members and friends. For this reason, there is no registration fee for this Virtual Annual Conference. If, however, you have included registration fees in your current budget and would like the opportunity to pay an optional registration fee to offset SWTA’s expense of holding this conference, please check the “Optional Registration Contribution” when registering.

Your registration confirmation email will contain details on accessing our virtual sessions.

Be Sure To Enter SWTA’s 2021 Word Search Challenge sponsored by Schetky Bus & Van Sales: Download the form below, find as many transit-related words as you can, then scan & send to SWTA Member Services Manager Kary Hughes at Entries must be received by COB Tuesday, February 16th. Winners selected based on time completed forms received AND conference registration submitted. Three (3) top winners each receive $100 gift cards and two (2) runners-up each receive a $50 gift card. Winners announced at 11:25 a.m. CDT, following our Collaboration Session on Thursday, February 18th. MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN. Transit Agency staff & personnel ONLY; no vendors or sponsors, please.

2021 Virtual Annual Conference Sponsors – Thank You For Your Support

2021 Virtual Annual Conference Sponsors
2021 Virtual Annual Conference Sponsors

Sponsor Name Sponsorshship Website
Avail Technologies Presenting Sponsor
Creative Bus Sales Featured Sponsor
Proterra Session Sponsor
TripSpark Technologies Session Sponsor
MV Transportation Collaboration Session Sponsor
Remix Collaboration Session Sponsor
Schetky Bus & Van Sales Word Search Sponsor
Keolis North America Collaboration Session Sponsor
Mass Transit Magazine Media Partner


Wednesday, February 17, 2021 (all times Central Time)
11:00 a.m.

Kickoff Collaboration Session: Integrating Equity Into Your Workflow

Presented by remix

Description: More and more cities across North America are working to integrate equity analysis into all workflows. Transportation equity is a diverse and growing topic. It takes on many forms, whether it is refining grant applications, building responsive outreach plans, or determining potential impacts of infrastructure investments. Given the wide scope of potential transportation equity projects, how can agencies efficiently use the tools and data they have to bring their projects to life?

Join this roundtable to hear how agencies are integrating equity into their workflows and dig into the practical applications of this critical topic.

Special Notes about this session:

1. It has a separate (free) registration - Please Click HERE to register

2. It is formatted for transit agency practitioners to allow them to freely exchange best practices. This session will not be open to vendor participants.

1:00 p.m.

​Welcome to the 2021 Freedom Through Transit Annual Conference – Rich Sampson, SWTA Executive Director & Joel Gardner, SWTA Chair

1:10 p.m.

Keynote Session: Embracing a Bold Vision for Your Community’s Transit Future – Robbie Makinen, Chief Executive Officer: Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA)

Presented by Proterra

1:40 p.m.

A Message from our Presenting Sponsor: Avail Technologies

David Mugica, Director of Business Development & Nathan Byrd, Sales Specialist

2:00 p.m.

SWTA Legislative Strategy Update – SWTA’s Legislative Committee

Introduction: Alexandra Aitken, SWTA Communications Specialist

Discussion leaders: Rich Sampson, SWTA Executive Director; Eron Linn, SWTA Legislative Committee Chair - Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Katie Kachel, Partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell

2:45 p.m.

SWTA Members’ Meeting: Elections for 2021-2022 Officers & Board of Directors positions

Introduction: Kary Hughes, SWTA Member Services Manager

3:00 p.m.

Adjourn for the day

Thursday, February 18 (all times Central Time)
10:00 a.m.

A Message from our Featured Sponsor: Creative Bus Sales

Brent Roy, Regional Transit Sales

10:05 a.m.

​Launching New Service in the COVID Era: 3 Examples from Across the SWTA Nation – Presented by TripSpark

-Denver RTD’s N Line rail corridor: Pauletta Tonilas – Asst. General Manager, Communications - Regional Transit District

-Oklahoma’s New PICK Transportation program, serving 23 rural counties: Kendra McGeady, Director of Transit - Pelivan Transit & Patricia Dinoa, PICK Mobility Manager

-NCRTD’s New Mora-Las Vegas (N.M.) regional bus service: Delilah Garcia, Operations Director, North Central Regional Transit District

11:25 a.m.

SWTA Word Search Challenge Winners Announcement – Presented by Schetky Bus & Van Sales

(Download the Word Search Challenge below, MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN! – Open only to transit agency personnel – no vendors or sponsors, please)



Collaboration Session: Navigating in a Post-Covid World: Workforce and Technology Solutions for Transit

Presented by MV Transportation

Learn specifics of how transit agencies shifted their workforce to remote work as COVID unfolded and how the culture and procedures implemented may offer better efficiency and employee satisfaction over the long-term.

-Jim Haring – Chief Information Officer, MV Transportation

-Jeff Arndt – SWTA Chair and President & CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit

-Cynthia Brooks Barnes – Dispatch Manager, MV Transportation

11:35 a.m.

Adjourn for the day

Friday, February 19 (all times Central Time)
10:00 a.m.

Capstone Collaboration Session: ​Restoring Transit Ridership as We Move Beyond COVID

Presented by Keolis North America

Representatives of large, medium-sized and rural transit systems share their approaches to rebuilding ridership as the COVID era (hopefully) draws to a close. Featuring:

-CJ Bright, Director of Evolving Mobility – Keolis North America

-Erika Mazza, Vice President, Operations – Keolis North America

-Brian Carter, Executive Vice President - Chief Experience & Engagement Officer – Capital Metro, Austin, TX

-Charles Frazer, Chief Executive Officer – Rock Region Metro, Little Rock, AR

-Sarah Hidalgo-Cook, General Manager – Southwest Area Regional Transit District, Uvalde, TX

-Susan Tierney, Communications Manager – Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ

11:30 a.m.

Adjourn – See You in Santa Fe July 19 – 22 for SWTA’s 2021 Summer University Conference

Contact Information

Rich Sampson


2021 Word Search Challenge – Sponsored by Schetky Bus & Van Sales (MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN!)
2021-2022 Board of Directors Nominees
2021 SWTA Virtual Annual Conference Program

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