Riding to connect with riders

Posted on November 1, 2012 by Michael R. Wiley

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.

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