During the holiday season, many companies participate in activities to give back to those in need. At Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), community involvement is part of the culture.
Individually, SEPTA’s employees are active members of their neighborhoods, local organizations and places of worship. Collectively, the authority consistently looks for opportunities that will make an impact for the greater good in its service region.
From donating thousands of toys to local children in need during the annual holiday “Yule Toy” drive to helping beautify neighborhoods for the Philadelphia Mayor’s spring cleanup and joining with customers to collect tons of food during the summer food drive, giving to others is a way of daily operations.
Every holiday season for more than 30 years, SEPTA employees have donated thousands of presents for deserving children in the Greater Philadelphia region.
“We are a service organization, with an emphasis on service, and provide our neighbors with more than just a means of transportation,” said SEPTA GM Joseph Casey. “This is our home and it is our responsibility to give back.”
SEPTA recently extended its community service commitment beyond the Greater Philadelphia region by teaming with the Philadelphia Sports Congress to collect items for care packages to be sent to U.S. troops stationed around the world via Operation Gratitude.
Members of the armed forces, joined by volunteers at SEPTA’s AT&T Station and Philadelphia Headquarters and other Center City locations, collected toiletries, socks, scarves, gloves, CDs, gift cards, and letters of appreciation for servicemen and women.
(From left) Lt. Vaughn Cooper, Lt. Commander Sal Torres and Lt. Joe Bossi collected donations and signed cards from passengers at SEPTA's AT&T Broad Street Line Station.
“The gifts are very much appreciated,” said Lt. Vaughn Cooper, who collected items at AT&T Station on SEPTA’s Broad Street Line.
“Even in this time of email, when there is a letter or package from back home, the feeling is so great,” added Lt. Commander Sal Torres, who was also at the station.
The collection was held in conjunction with the Army-Navy game, which will return to Philadelphia in 2012. Those who donated supplies or signed cards were given the opportunity to win tickets to next year’s game.
“The holidays are a time to be with family, but for many members of our armed forces, the season will be spent thousands of miles from home,” said Casey. “We were pleased to be able to join with the Sports Congress in showing our appreciation for our service men and women by sending small gifts and words of thanks overseas.”
As vital components of their communities that rely on citizens for increased ridership and support, public transit agencies should find ways to make the spirit of giving last not only for the holidays, but throughout the year.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "How do you change the public's perception?" here.
At the Denton County (Texas) Transportation Authority (DCTA), we’re constantly looking for unique ways to engage with passengers, generate brand awareness and increase ridership. This year with Valentine’s Day being on a Saturday, we saw a great opportunity to launch a campaign in which passengers could ride DCTA’s A-train commuter rail and Connect Bus for free on Valentine’s Day all day by saying “Be Mine” to the agency’s rail and bus operators. With low-trending ridership in February, we needed to find a way to increase ridership and brand awareness within Denton County and surrounding cities. Launching the Valentine’s Day promotion definitely would help us achieve this.
Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.
To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.
The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.