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2011- Women In Transportation: Judie Smith

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Joanne Tucker, Assistant Editor

With MV since 2001, Judie Smith's 24 contracts in her region total more than $68 million in annual revenue and 14 divisions.
With MV since 2001, Judie Smith's 24 contracts in her region total more than $68 million in annual revenue and 14 divisions.
With experience in accounting, Judie Smith wanted to gain more knowledge of the operations of Los Angeles-based school bus and public transit contractor, Mayflower Contract Services (MCS), where she had her first transit job in the accounting department. She told her boss she wanted to advance, so for six months she worked one-on-one with everyone from the GM to the maintenance department. "I still appreciate the day they put me in a jumpsuit," she says.

After Smith completed the training, she was handed duties for paratransit services. "We started winning these contracts and so I got placed over what they called the 'Little Cities,' " she says, which included surrounding Los Angeles cities such as Downey, Cudahy and Bell Gardens. This group of contracts turned into a managerial position, "Next thing I knew I was responsible for managing the 'Little Cities,' " she says.

After two years at MCS, Smith managed Pomona Valley (Calif.) Transportation Authority for a short period until MCS wanted her back in 1995 to work on the L.A. DASH program. MCS was subsequently sold to Laidlaw Transit Services, which held on to Smith, who became the district manager with oversight of three divisions and about 12 contracts for the transit company.

Working on the L.A. DASH program confirmed Smith's passions for public transportation. She decided to take a ride one day and sat next to an elderly woman who began to tell her all the reasons she rides DASH and what it meant to her. "At that moment, I realized we offered something to people who otherwise wouldn't know how they would get around," Smith says. "This woman really depended on the service we provide to remain independent. That moment was very real; it continues to resonate with me."

In 2001, MV Transportation Inc. contacted Smith, and at the time MV only had two total contracts in Southern California. After meeting with one of the owners and hearing the company's story, "I just felt compelled to work for MV," she says, adding that at least 10 of her previous contracts followed her to her new position as GM of MV's L.A. office.

"I fly under the radar sometimes, but my relationships with the clients and the people that work for me and with me are very strong," she says.

In 2006, Smith managed MV's paratransit contract with Access Services, which included more than 200 employees based out of Van Nuys, Calif. The agency at the time experienced issues with service and employee relations. Smith decided to get to the bottom of the concerns and brought everyone in, including drivers, dispatchers and passengers.

"Access had monthly provider meetings already, but I felt it was important to have it on a smaller scale, where we could really get in tune with the people we carry every day," she says, adding that since these early improvements, the Van Nuys location became the showcase office for MV.

"I always felt that was a good indicator we were doing something right."
This period at Access Services gave Smith all the knowledge she needed about paratransit, and in 2008, Smith applied for the regional VP of Southern California position. "My boys were old enough, so I felt I could spread my wings a little," she says.

In August of this year, MV was awarded a five-year, $90 million contract with a combination of 156 buses for the city of Los Angeles, which adds to the 23 other contracts she oversees. The 24 contracts in her region total more than $68 million in annual revenue and 14 divisions.

"We're on the move and I'm glad to be part of that," she says. 

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