Friday, September 9, 2016

"I'm Matt. And I Help People Use It."

Nearly 10 million passengers board a Community Transit vehicle each year. With a service area that spans over 1,300 square miles, these boardings take place in all kinds of environments, from bustling urban areas to sleepy suburbs to outlying rural routes. A lot of our passengers have never taken a bus before, or are intimidated to take the bus from one environment to another. We rely on the efforts of our hardworking Sales & Distribution team, where people like Matt help our passengers use it and ride with confidence.

After thirteen years of working in the transit industry, Matt joined our Sales & Distribution team as a Supervisor just over a year ago. He knew right away it would be a good fit, "When I worked for Everett Transit, Community Transit was one of our partners. Everyone there was always positive and I could tell it was a good place to be. If you're going to work, you might as well find a home. From the very beginning, everyone has been welcoming and supportive. The fact that you can have a real conversation with our CEO means a lot. It starts from the top down."

Our Sales & Distribution department is responsible for distributing route information to a network of over 225 outlets across Snohomish County. From colleges to grocery stores to libraries, this small team of eight is constantly on top of every rider alert and service change. All those time tables you see at bus stops are also managed by this team. A minor service change could mean swapping out materials at 550 bus stops, while major service changes could mean 1,200 stops and take two weeks.

Not all of Matt's team's work is behind the scenes. Sales & Distribution also staffs the RideStore in Lynnwood where they get the opportunity to directly impact our customers. From selling ORCA (One Regional Card for All) products to providing trip information, this team helps people navigate the world of public transportation. Matt says, "The availability of transit options can often turn an unwelcome burden into an exciting new experience. It's so satisfying to help somebody discover this entire new world available to them. The look of relief they have when they realize how easy it is is really rewarding."

One final way that Matt's team makes a difference is by reuniting our customers with their property. You would be surprised at what gets left on our buses! While it's common to find laptops, iPhones, purses and wallets, the RideStore also receives everything from bikes to yard tools. Every day items are either found on the bus or turned into the RideStore by helpful passengers. While the team receives well over 600 items each month, sadly only 25-30% of these are ever claimed. Any item determined to have value that is left unclaimed will eventually be surrendered to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. If you've misplaced your wallet, try checking here first!

At the end of the day, Matt and his team find real value in helping people use our services. "It all comes down to touching the lives of customers. Everyone has somewhere to go. How can we help them?" Thank you, Matt, for overseeing an awesome team that feels truly passionate about our customers. Because of your efforts, new riders are empowered to take advantage of our services and more experienced riders are encouraged to try new ways of getting to where they need to go.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"I'm Shawna. And I Support It."

With a transit system network as vast as ours, it's no wonder that Information Technology is the key to connecting us with our customers. Every division in our agency depends on our hard-working IT department. We rely on talented people like Shawna to help us drive it, maintain it, coordinate it, resource it, plan it, and guide it, all so that we can bring you home.

Giving back to the community has always been important to Shawna. After years spent working on emergency issues supporting technology for Snohomish County 911, Shawna joined the fast-paced but far less stressful environment of Community Transit. "I enjoy being in public service and being part of my community and Community Transit seemed like a good fit. I was immediately impressed by the unique culture here. It felt like a family right away." This connection to community can be on a large scale, or it can be far more intimate, as Shawna discovered when a family tragedy hit just a few months into her employment. "Immediately I felt instant support. I was given a lot of flexibility so I could take care of what was important. It felt like family, and honestly that's how I got through it."

A self-professed "gadget freak" who enjoys taking things apart to see how they work, Shawna has always had an affinity for technology. In addition to providing support for our internal network and help desk, Shawna has been involved in researching special pilot projects and taking the lead in researching hardware and software acquisitions. "So much of what we do in IT is behind the scenes. We troubleshoot in the background in a virtual environment so you can't even see what's being done. It's cheaper, faster, and more streamlined. I'm proud to work for a company that has such cutting-edge technology. Working here is never stagnant. I am always learning something new."

While innovative technology and dynamic problem-solving definitely excites Shawna, what really makes a difference each day are the connections she makes, from her internal team to her colleagues and coworkers. "My team has a broad view and we always back each other up. People are generally grateful for the help we provide. It feels good to work where people are grateful every day. You feel super-special, like you have a superpower."

We think you are a superhero, Shawna! Thank you for being part of our incredibly talented team of technology experts who are always supporting our agency's efforts to see where we can do better to serve our customers. You bring every department at Community Transit to life, all so we can connect in meaningful ways to our customers and bring them home.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"I'm Chuck. And I Plan It."

Designing the routes and schedules for a transit system that extends into two counties and serves tens of thousands of people is part science and part art. We have a team of planners that strategically analyzes and interprets complex data to determine the best way to meet the needs of our customers. Meet Chuck, one of our Schedule Analysts, who strives to ensure our customers receive the timely service they need and deserve.

A commitment to service has always been important to Chuck. His varied career includes being a pastor, a choral director, and a janitor before finding his way to us as a coach operator in 1999. After six years of driving for us, Chuck took on his role developing and monitoring our schedules. It's no small task! "I interpret APTS (Advanced Public Transportation Systems) data. When you factor in the vagaries of weather, traffic, and driving styles, it can be like hitting a moving target. Planning for transfers and connections adds to the complexity, as do the different challenges between urban vs. rural routes. I work with a very talented team that has excellent synergy. We work together to find that "sweet spot" where buses are on time without being too early or too late."

Chuck and his team work 3-6 months ahead of any service changes. This includes spending time each week in the field timing and gathering information for our scheduling software. Schedule Analysts, like Chuck, are required to maintain their Commercial Driver's License and drive buses in the field to help plan and revise routes. "I get excited about the detail work. I enjoy getting out in the field to see how routes are working."

For someone who has looked for opportunities to be of service in his career, transit service has proved to be very rewarding. "Community Transit is such a positive and caring community. People are good listeners and encourage each other. They enrich your life like a family. It's modeled from the top down. Everyone is always striving to do better, to provide convenient and reliable service to our customers, some of whom are transit dependent."

Thank you, Chuck, for sharing your passion for service with our colleagues, our customers, and our community.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Community Transit "Moves" Me, for Good!

"Transit helps me help the environment." Did you know that each year cars spew 1.5 tons of pollution into the air around Puget Sound? Getting vehicles off the road dramatically improves our air quality. And combining a bike trip with a Community Transit bus is a smart way to commute. Not only does it feel great, you know you're doing your part to help our environment by reducing car emissions.

Many of us, especially in more urban areas, live only a short bike ride from a bus route. In just a few minutes, you could be hopping on one of our buses and on your way to work or school. Every Community Transit bus is equipped with a bike rack to hold at least two bikes. If you've worried that it's hard to use a bike rack, don't be. It's easy! Whether you use a rack on the front of a bus, or load your bike onboard a Swift bus, it only takes a moment or two to secure your bike before you're on your way.

While the weather is nice, get out there and give bikes and buses a go. It's a chance to do right by your body and the environment. We're there for you. Let Community Transit move you, for good!

Transit moves me, for good! from Community Transit on Vimeo.

Friday, July 29, 2016

"Be A Clean Air Superhero" Contest Winners, Agest 9+

Congratulations to our final "Be A Clean Air Superhero" winners! These kids know that having a great imagination and a sense of humor are important when you're battling pollution. Our fifth grade winner drew a detailed plan for a machine where dirty air comes in and clean air comes out, while our fourth grade winner fights pollution with a smile (and a perfectly coordinated outfit, of course). We'll be sharing these pictures on Oxy Gene's web page and on social media.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. Oxy Gene is thrilled so many of you really care about keeping our air clean.
Marshall Elementary, Fifth Grade
Hilltop Elementary, Fourth Grade

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"I'm Parminder. And I Drive It."

Coach Operators do more than safely drive our buses. They connect our customers with work, school, medical care, errands, friends and family. Our drivers are the first friendly face people see when they board. For many of our customers, seeing their regular coach operators every day fosters a sense of community, too. Drivers like Parminder are the face of our agency, and we rely on them to bring our customers home.

A lot has changed at Community Transit since Parminder arrived here from India over 25 years ago. Our bus fleet has evolved to include Double Tall and Swift vehicles, our service area has expanded to over 1,300 square miles, and our coach operator team has doubled in size to over 300 drivers. And we continue to grow! Our drivers now operate routes which include spacious rural regions, charming small towns, and bustling metro areas. Parminder enjoys this change of pace and scenery, "I've done a lot of different routes, and now I drive from Stanwood to Smokey Point/Arlington. I go around lakes and see cattle grazing in fields. I enjoy the mixture of small town driving and countryside driving."

On routes with less congestion, like Parminder's, there's an opportunity for drivers to build a relationship with their regular riders. "I get a lot of senior citizens who are running errands. They call me kid. I feel very blessed to provide service to these people. It makes me feel happy and welcome." It's not all commuters and seniors that Parminder gets to engage with, though. He is also part of a team of 5-6 drivers who drive our articulated buses as part of STEP (School Transit Education Program). He even gets to join Oxy Gene in parades across Snohomish County driving one of the antique buses that were part of our fleet when he first started working with us."

Coach operators like Parminder get behind the wheel after completing and passing a six week comprehensive training program. After graduating from our program they continue to receive training on new routes and new equipment. They also receive yearly ride checks from instructors where they get feedback and coaching on their driving skills. Lastly, our drivers attend yearly refresher training where they are kept abreast of new topics in their field. It is this commitment to supporting our coach operators that really makes a difference. Parminder says, "The atmosphere here is really nice. My colleagues are always helpful, from dispatch to other drivers. There's a lot of teamwork."

Thank you, Parminder, for working hard for over 25 years to bring our customers home. I'm sure they enjoy your smile and positive attitude as much as we do.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Be A Clean Air Superhero" Contest Winners, Ages 6-8

When you ask a bunch of second and third graders how they would help clean our air, you end up with wonderfully imaginative solutions! There's "Seed Man" who plants seeds that will never get weeds, "Clean Air Man" whose super power is blowing out clean air, "Energy Man" who turns off all unattended lights, "Water Woman" who rains down clean water on our crops, and a kitty that blows bubbles that capture pollution.

Thanks, kids, for sharing your creative ideas. Oxy Gene appreciates how much you care about our environment. We're sharing your pictures on Oxy Gene's web page and social media. Check it out!

Join us later this month for winners from our 9-11 age group category!

Serene Lake Elementary, Third Grade

Serene Lake Elementary, Third Grade

Serene Lake Elementary, Third Grade

Marshall Elementary, Second Grade

Serene Lake Elementary, Third Grade