Management & Operations

How to open the lines of communication

Posted on July 1, 2002 by Walt Smothers, Transit Authority of River City

For those of us in the transit industry, communication with our customers and within our agencies is key to our success. At the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, Ky., we have taken steps to improve communication among all employees and with our customers. One of these steps is the initiation of the “team” concept by our executive director, J. Barry Barker. Launched in 1995, the concept began with the introduction of an open-door policy with the executive director. About two years ago, Mr. Barker began hosting regular “Talk About TARC” agency-wide get-togethers that discuss various TARC programs and services, giving operators and maintenance staff the chance to ask questions and communicate concerns to executive management. These sessions have been a lifesaver for TARC. In addition to fostering communication, they give operators the chance to voice customers’ concerns about policies or service, frequently helping management anticipate and address problems. E-mail empowerment Another step we’ve taken to “open the lines” in the TARC workplace is the recent installation of a new computer system that provides an e-mail address for every employee. This is not being used to its full potential yet by all employees, but I have noticed a change in some employees’ attitudes. They now feel like they’re part of the team. In time, as more employees use the new e-mail system, I expect to see even more changes in attitudes. Among the most crucial lines of communication are those between the transportation and maintenance departments. TARC’s director of transportation, Alyce French Johnson, and our maintenance director, Jimmy Buckner, are constantly working to make these lines of communication better. Two of the tools they rely on are the defect cards left on the coaches by operators, and the swapping off of coaches that break down while in service. When the Gillig low-floor coaches were first introduced at TARC in June 1995, operators were writing defect cards for “dragging brakes” when what they were really feeling was the start of the transmission retarder when the brakes were applied. With an open communication line between transportation, maintenance and operator training, this situation was resolved. Precision is important Swapping-off of coaches that break down while in service has been and occasionally remains a problem for us. Sometimes a misunderstanding or miscommunication occurs between the radio operator and the coach operator, resulting in the coach not being at the location where the mechanic has been dispatched to repair or swap-off the coach. We’ve worked hard to change that by reminding our operators to be as specific as possible about identifying their location, and staying there until help arrives. And our radio operators are also trained to ask for and get this information, and to remind the coach operator to stay put until help arrives. It’s the team concept in action when we help each other to communicate and do our job better. We’re working on getting even better at swap-offs, and with more training and better communication, I know we will. With communication, as with anything we do in life, there is always room for improvement. Here at TARC, we make a daily effort to improve on everything we do, with the main emphasis and effort geared to serving our customers. No pun intended, but it’s our “driving force.” As always, if you have any questions for me, e-mail them to [email protected].

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Port Authority CEO making review of fare enforcement policy a priority

The proposed policy would use armed policy officers to enforce fare payment.

Chicago RTA approves 5-year 'Invest in Transit' strategic plan

New regional plan sets a bold, yet practical, vision for “public transit as the core of the region’s robust transportation mobility network.”

TriMet Board names single finalist in GM search

Doug Kelsey joined the agency in 2015 and quickly improved the overall on-time performance of the transit system.

UTA's free-fare day adds 29K riders

The agency said the single-day ridership on FrontRunner commuter trains was up by 66% for a total of 30,016 boardings, while ridership on the TRAX light rail was up by 32%, for a total of 79,825 boardings.

Capital Metro selects new President/CEO

Randy Clarke has served as the VP, operations and member services, at the American Public Transportation Association since April 2016.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close