“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.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.
As a city, Leipzig is an excellent example of the German principals of transport planning and service as well as eastern Germany’s long history. The city has benefitted from large amounts of investment in infrastructure over the years since German reunification and most transport systems seem to be new or rebuilt, expanded and in a very good current state of repair. The most notable element in the transport mix is inevitably the enormous and historic main railway station, which is one of the largest, but certainly not busiest, in Europe.
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.