As the GM of the Calif.-based Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT), it is critical to continuously expand my knowledge of all aspects of RT's bus and light rail system.
To lead the agency and have a vision for the future, I need to not only think broadly, but understand the daily challenges employees and customers face at the street level. What aspects of RT service are customers most pleased with, what long-term improvements would they like to see and where are the opportunities to make immediate changes?
I’ve found that a great way to stay on top of the day-to-day happenings is to ride RT’s buses and trains regularly, either as part of my commute or while conducting RT business.
Taking this idea one step further, RT staff and I started the ‘Ride with the GM’ program in 2010. Each October, I choose a few days a week to interact with riders by traveling throughout the RT system. My itinerary is posted on the RT website.
‘Ride with the GM’ is a real opportunity to show riders that RT leadership is concerned with our quality of service and looking for firsthand knowledge of the system. During my tour, I introduce myself to as many people as possible, ask for comments or suggestions, and immediately follow up with the appropriate departments to address issues or concerns.
I’m very encouraged by the number of customers that compliment RT operators and express appreciation for RT service. I’m also receptive when customers offer solutions to improve cleanliness of stations, add bench seats at certain bus stops and improve connections at transfer areas.
During the first two weeks of the 2012 ‘Ride with the GM’ program, a popular topic has been RT’s recent service improvements. On Sept. 2, 2012, RT extended night service on light rail and nine major bus routes, increased frequency on highly-utilized bus routes and restructured others to better serve riders. Feedback has been positive and ridership strong, as I encountered standing-room only passenger loads on various routes during off-peak hours. I’m also optimistic that ridership will continue to increase as people gain a better understanding of the benefits offered by the changes.
While I regularly ride the RT system, the ‘Ride with the GM’ program offers a unique opportunity to schedule multiple blocks of time to interact with our customers face-to-face. RT gains valuable information, customers are encouraged to take a stake in their service and I make a few new friends – all in a day’s work.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "'OCTA CEO: Local control key to rail service integration" here.
There is an epidemic of safety accidents, absenteeism and high turnover among transit’s front line employees and it’s bleeding the transportation industry billions of dollars. But the inoculation may be closer than you think. Employee engagement is the best immunization for what’s ailing the industry.
Video surveillance technology is a vital component to transit and rail operations as agencies recognize the value such solutions offer. A comprehensive system does more than deliver high quality video and audio recordings. Supporting data and software tools increase the efficiency of agencies’ video management operations, substantiate liability claims and investigations, and promote safety for both passengers and operators alike.
In case you missed it, Pope Francis visited America — and was followed by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims during his stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. It’s fitting, given Pope Francis’ penchant for public transportation, that transit played a key role in taking the masses to papal visit activities.
A transit authority’s website, contact center tools and social media are all critical touch points for customers as they engage with transit agencies. At this stage in the relationship, the focus should be on informing and educating prospective customers so they have the incentive to provide their demographic information (e.g. email address, cell phone number, social media contact, etc.).
Typically, when riding the rails in the Philadelphia region, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority customers can purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes — even onboard tickets — for their journeys. But the weekend of Sept. 26 to 27 will be far from a typical weekend in Philadelphia — Pope Francis will be in town, along with an estimated 1.5 to two million people attending public events along the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.