“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower said it well when he used this metaphor to describe the men and women who actively protect the freedom of the greatest nation on earth.
Nearly 26 million Americans alive today have served in the military. That includes 71 individuals employed at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).
This month, to commemorate Veterans Day, OCTA hosted a ceremony honoring our employees who have spent time in the military. The event recognized coach operators, maintenance workers and administrative employees who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
The event was an opportunity to reflect and also to thank those who have served bravely in the U.S. armed forces. These men and women are continuing their commitment to public service as employees at OCTA. They have made the transition from the military to serving the people of Orange County as well as their fellow OCTA employees.
Honoring and recognizing our employees, both veterans and others, shouldn’t just happen once a year. We must take an active role in developing and retaining our workforce.
This is especially important in light of the current economic turmoil. Our employees, just like employees in the private sector, have made many sacrifices in recent years. Hiring and wage freezes are commonplace, layoffs have taken place and service levels have suffered.
As an industry, we have to find unique ways to retain our employees and attract top talent to ensure we are providing a high-quality service to the public. Through programs such as the Veterans Day event, we can engage our workforce, letting them know they are appreciated.
OCTA has numerous programs in place to develop and recognize our employees, including a newly launched Leadership Development Academy, a program to train those who will be stepping into executive management positions in the future. We also have a formal mentoring program that pairs employees and encourages development at all levels of the organization.
I also strongly believe in fostering positive employee morale and building camaraderie among administrative and transit personnel. We do this through events like softball, basketball and flag football competitions, and my personal favorite, a 5-mile race vs. our neighboring transit agency Los Angeles Metro. As an aside, I am pleased to report that OCTA recently won the event this year, sending the loser’s trophy back to MTA.
Just as President Eisenhower said we can not lie down on the tracks and wait for the train of the future to run us over, we must find ways to empower, retain and attract employees who will carry on the future of our transportation agencies.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "'A tale of transit in two cities" here.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Driverless cars have been in the news for quite some time. Last September, I speculated in PC 360, an insurance trade magazine, that insurance premiums for autos could decrease by as much as 40% over the next five years as autonomous cars made travel much safer. I increased my estimate to a 75% decrease in insurance premiums by extending the timeline to 15 years. When I wrote those two articles, I remember thinking how much of a personal paradigm shift was needed to accept a driverless car as safe. Now, it appears that driverless buses are in the near future as well.
What do transit authorities like SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART have in common other than transporting thousands, even millions of riders every day? All were recently ranked as four of the U.S.’s 500 “Best Employers” by Forbes magazine.
SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART were among 25 organizations included in Forbes’ “Transportation & Logistics” category, along with Southwest Airlines, Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific and Greyhound. In fact, SEPTA (#33) and MBTA (#49) placed higher than Apple (#55) and SEPTA was the highest ranked company in Pennsylvania.