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July 26, 2013

Dual roles in transit: Other duties as assigned

by Nicole Schlosser

In my other role as an editor for School Bus Fleet magazine, I just wrapped up a story about transportation directors who balance two or even three job responsibilities in some cases, and how they manage it all. Relying on a stellar team, delegating to that team, and planning and prioritizing were all listed as key.

However, despite citing supportive teams and developing solid strategic plans, these directors still recounted taking on some out-of-the-ordinary tasks. One found himself serving as a crossing guard for a day when all of the crossing guard staff members and standbys in the district were out sick or unable to make it to work due to inclement weather. Another, in his role as auxiliary services director, was given the task of coordinating facilities management for a summer school program, which included managing schedules for building cleaning and playground availability.

To me, this shows how dedicated those in the school transportation field are to not only doing their jobs well, but the communities they serve.

Additionally, in the world of public transit, we have had a lot of news lately about new CEOs and GMs, from transit systems in Texas, California and Maine. I can only imagine they must be taking on a lot of new and interesting responsibilities as well.

As part of the transit industry, do you have any interesting anecdotes about handling unexpected, possibly loosely-related tasks, in your job as a manager, director, planner, consultant, driver, GM or CEO?

 RELATED: "50 Traits of A Great Transit Manager"

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Tapping the private sector to grow public transit service."

Nicole Schlosser

Senior Editor

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  • Erin Venable[ July 26th, 2013 @ 1:19pm ]

    Our Assistant General Mgr., Allen Hunter (Waco Transit), who keeps things running operationally day-by-day, can also be seen moving bus benches (along with our Director of Maintenance) from here to there (or putting new ones out) because the female Marketing Director (me) lacks the strength and wherewithal to do it herself. Additionally, Allen has also been known to run back and forth between downtown Waco and his house making sure patrons have a steady supply of hot chocolate for Christmas light chocolate that he and his family ended up having to make in his kitchen at the last minute. #nowthatsdedication

  • Tom Hingson[ July 26th, 2013 @ 2:48pm ]

    Everett Transit is a small municipal system with one very large assest, Everett Station. Everett Station is a 64,000 sq. ft., four story builing on a 10 acre multi-modal site. Aside from the transportation element, we lease space to other government offices, private companies and we have several several rentable rooms for classes, parties and meetings. While it can be difficult to run "transit like a business", we do everything we can to run the station like a business to recover more than a million dollars in annual operating expenses.

  • Mary Lou Kemp[ August 1st, 2013 @ 10:53am ]

    CATS (Clovis Area Transit System) is a small demand-response system in the City of Clovis, NM. For several years transit was operating out of borrowed/shared space. In 2007 we were fortunate in that City Fathers supported the building of a new transit facility. With much pride in 2008 we moved in to our new facility. So with a total staff of 12 full time and 3 part time we (all of us) not only provide 68,000 trips annually and all that entails, but also provide custodial, grounds-keeping, facility maintenance & bus washing duties.

  • Kevin Kane[ August 1st, 2013 @ 11:24am ]

    VVTA is a small Transit Agency in Southern CA with a $15M operating budget. We contract out ops and maint but with an administrative staff 9.5 we all wear many hats. As Executive Director I find myself doing route & schedule planning, marketing, DBE, Civil Rights, some procurement. When I first joined VVTA I actually did mechanical repairs on our portable CNG fueling compressor and a few years ago we had a freak snow storm and I was out putting rock salt under bus tires to get them off icy spots and back into service.

  • Nicole Schlosser[ August 1st, 2013 @ 12:46pm ]

    Thanks so much to all of you for sharing your stories. You take on quite a bit! I know that for the handful who responded, there are many more transit GMs, CEOs, etc. who handle a wide variety of "other duties as assigned."

  • joe[ August 9th, 2013 @ 9:55am ]

    Several communities have tasked their airport managers with transit duties as both agencies are grant and revenue funded, heavily regulated, transportation entities critical to the community. might be an interesting follow up story for you.

  • Nicole Schlosser[ August 9th, 2013 @ 2:09pm ]

    Thanks for the suggestion, Joe. That does sound like a good story idea.

  • Pete[ August 15th, 2013 @ 9:40am ]

    The duel roles do not just take place with Director's and Managers. Supervisor's and below also are also tasked with duel roles. For the most part, Duel Roles are becomming a common practice. But we are talking about two different topics. First is Duel Role and the second is (ODA) Other Duties as Assigned. I beleive the diffention of Duel Role in the workforce is performing different job functions; example: Line Spervisor and a Parts Supervisor at the same time. This is a more permanant position. I beleive the diffention of Other Duties as Assigned is more of a temporary assignment than a permanant assignment.

  • Barbara Cline[ January 16th, 2014 @ 6:50am ]

    Prairie Hills Transit (PHT) is a small demand response transit system covering a 12,000 square mile area of the beautiful Black Hills. Throughout my 25 year career here I have always juggled more than transit. Currently we manage a licensed child care center in our new transit facility and operate a senior meals program in another community. All programs are natural partnerships but there are days where rocking the babies or cooking a meal require more flexibility than I can manage. Small operations do it all and many of our staff are filling the positions of two or three specialized staff and doing it quite well. Love all the great ideas-that's how we gauge what we can take on to help support our transit dollars.

  • Charlene Kowalski[ August 29th, 2014 @ 9:01am ]

    At Flint's Mass Transportation Authority,almost every Director is handling two departments. Our IT Director is also handling Paratransit Operations,the maintenance Director is handling Bus Operations, our Comptroller is over Finance and Purchasing departments and as the Marketing Director, I am handling the Customer Service department as well. We have no Assistant General Manager, so our General Manager, Ed Benning, shoulders many of the responsibilities and delegates when he can. Because we have lost more than a million dollars (due to declining property tax collection and other items), we all pitch in to handle the day to day operations of our transportation agency.


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