GM Joe Casey (center) kicked off SEPTA’s 2012 food drive to benefit Philabundance. Since 2009, the agency has collected over 65 tons of food during the month-long drive. Casey is the driving force behind the event.
As public service institutions, transit organizations’ involvement in their communities should extend beyond bus routes and train stations. Organizations must practice social responsibility through service activities — not only during the holiday season when many are filled with “peace, love and goodwill toward others,” but throughout the year, too.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) demonstrates good citizenship collectively as an organization and through its employees’ individual community service activities. From an annual summer food drive — which collected 19 tons of food in 2012 and more than 65 tons since 2009 — and the holiday employee toy drive, to increased efforts to bring more veterans into its workforce, SEPTA makes a difference in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Individually, many of SEPTA’s more than 9,000 employees participate in some volunteer endeavor — in their neighborhoods, athletic associations, places of worship and organizations like Habitat for Humanity. The commitment to help starts at the top of the agency, where SEPTA’s management leads by example.
“How can you ask your employees to give their time and contribute to causes if you aren’t willing to do the same?” asked SEPTA GM Joseph Casey, who holds leadership positions with several organizations, including the Transportation Learning Center board of directors (serving as treasurer this year) and the March of Dimes Transportation, Building & Construction Committee board. He is also the driving force behind SEPTA’s participation with the “Stop Hunger at Your Station” Food Drive for Philabundance and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s annual “Philly Spring Clean-Up.”
“We can all make excuses for how busy we are, but there is always time to help our neighbors and charitable causes in some way,” Casey added.
One of SEPTA’s most recent community service programs included hosting Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for Philadelphia’s older adults at the Authority’s Market East Regional Rail station. Deputy GM Jeff Knueppel and Assistant GM Susan Van Buren were among SEPTA’s leadership staff on hand to serve the attendees.
One group that has been the recipient of SEPTA’s long-term support is the March of Dimes - Pennsylvania Chapter Southeast Division, specifically their Transportation, Building & Construction Awards luncheon. The agency’s Deputy GM, Jeff Knueppel, is in his second year chairing the event, which is the largest special event in the state of Pennsylvania.
Many people get involved with organizations because the cause hits a personal note — this is how Knueppel explains his work with the March of Dimes.
“I have been concerned about issues the March of Dimes works for for many years and have a sincere desire to help however I can,” he said. “I started out as a regular member of their board, but I knew I could do more and wanted to make more of a difference.”
In his first year as the luncheon chair, Knueppel helped the March of Dimes raise $314,000, well over the goal of $280,000.
“Jeff is a valuable member of our volunteer leadership,” said Alexis Dowhie Moyer, the March of Dimes’ senior community director. “We rely a lot on our volunteers and Jeff truly has made his mark on this event and continues to do so.”
SEPTA Assistant GM for Human Resources Susan Van Buren donates her time and expertise to the United Way.
Like Knueppel, SEPTA Assistant GM, Human Resources, Susan Van Buren also donates her time and expertise to organizations she believes in, like the United Way. Now finishing her term as a member of the United Way’s board, Van Buren also worked for that institution while in college.
“I was an administrative assistant and I fielded calls from people who needed basic necessities, food and shelter. As a kid from the suburbs, I hadn’t dealt with those issues before,” she said.
Throughout her career, Van Buren has led United Way annual giving campaigns for her employers and currently serves on the organization’s Human Resources Advisory Committee. For her work in that role, Van Buren was honored by the United Way.
Despite the success of current initiatives, SEPTA leadership knows there is always room for growth.
“We have to make an investment in our communities,” said Van Buren. “We should never stop looking for ways to help. We can always do more.”
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "'Putting a different spin on transit ads" here.
...as a transportation planner who has worked on bus rapid transit-style systems in the greater Washington region, I’ve noticed a disconnect in the public’s expectations versus the reality of the systems they’re getting. It got me wondering: do people have an accurate picture of what BRT means or the benefits the systems provide? During public-planning sessions, I’ve heard a lot of feedback on BRT. The gist is, “That’s really nice that the bus is a different color and the station platform is fancy, but I just want it to be on time.”
After acts of terrorism — domestic or international — law enforcement agencies are almost always asked: “How are you ‘ramping up’ your security efforts?”
Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent buying buses and railcars every year. Although the national unemployment rate has declined since the Great Recession, for low-income families and communities of color, the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits and good, family-supporting jobs can’t come fast enough. We need strategies that revive U.S. manufacturing and other industries that can create the kind of jobs we want.
The recently adjourned 2016 Democratic National Convention put Philadelphia in the national — and international — spotlight once again. For the third time in four years, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority transported thousands of visitors to the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding counties. As with the U.S. Open in 2013 and the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in 2015, public transit was a key component for all event activities.
Everywhere, evidence reveals how we’re moving into a less-consumptive, sharing-based society. Whether it’s people’s homes, torrent files or a car ride downtown, sharing is in. As environmentally conscious and economically prudent reducers and re-users, millennials are choosing non-traditional forms of transportation. This behavior has already had a huge impact on the way the transit industry is planning for its future.