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 our STEP program (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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

"I'm Mary. And I Resource It."

Each weekday over 36,000 passengers rely on us to bring them home. It takes a dedicated team of employees who are passionate about the passenger to make this happen. How do we find such a wonderful group of people? Through our talented Human Resources department, where individuals like Mary get excited to grow relationships, build confidence, and empower employees to be successful.

First impressions are everything. Mary remembers the sense of belonging she felt when first hired in 2004 as an administrative clerk. "They were prepared for me. Everything I needed was ready for me before I got there. That felt great." As a Human Resources Assistant for nearly ten years, Mary has been making all new hires feel valued from day one. "Part of my role is giving a benefits orientation to all new hires. It's such a positive position! I get to meet everyone in the agency which is rare. For many people it's their first impression of Human Resources, so I try to be friendly, open, and welcoming."

For Mary, it's not just about establishing good relationships with employees. She is committed to maintaining and growing those relationships as well. "I try to treat each person as an individual, to make time for them. It's important to be accessible, to give everyone my full attention. I don't think of my job as a job. I'm here because I want to be. These aren't just new hires, they're coworkers I'm excited to meet and get to know."

Helping others navigate sensitive issues also presents Mary with an opportunity to create a safe and trusted environment for employees. "I help them gain the skills and tools they need to be successful. By being a good listener, I am able to help them build on their strengths. I get excited that people will come and talk with me and share their personal stories."

Employees who are valued from the day they walk in our door, end up being employees who are happy to come to work. This translates to a work environment where employees feel they have a voice and a support system to be successful. Thank you, Mary, for fostering a work environment that feels like family. A family that believes in bringing people home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Be A Clean Air Superhero" Contest Winners, Ages 1-5

We asked kids all over Snohomish County to show us how they would help our favorite pollution-fighting superhero, Oxy Gene, clean the air we breathe. Thanks, kids, for entering our "Be A Clean Air Superhero" contest! There were so many great ideas that we chose multiple winners for each age category.

The winners from our 1-5 age group are super fun! Whether with wings, a cape, or a huge smile, these five year olds know that planting trees and flowers is an important part of keeping our air clean. We'll be sharing their cheerful drawings on Oxy Gene's web page and on social media all week long.

Join us next week for winners from our 6-8 age group category!
Northshore Christian Academy, Age 5
Preschool Pals, Age 5
Heatherwood Pre-K, Age 5

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"I'm Royce. And I Take Care of It."

Maintaining an operation as large as ours requires more than the skill of our talented mechanics. We couldn't get our buses on the road without the support of our Facilities Maintenance team. From our state-of-the-art shop to our corporate offices to every bus stop spread across 1,305 square miles, Facilities Technicians like Royce take care of it all.

A retired Navy man, Royce has dedicated his career to public service. Since joining our ranks in 1995, he's seen his team grow from five to twenty people to meet the needs of our customers. The crew is split into two groups: road and base. Our road crew cleans and maintains all of the bus stops, stations, and signage for our extensive route system. Our base crew maintains the buildings that house our corporate offices and maintenance shops. This includes all of the support equipment our mechanics use to keep our buses in prime working condition, such as lifts, pumps, exhaust motors, etc. Our Facilities Maintenance team even maintains a steam bay which cleans each vehicle's engine before mechanics begin their work.

In Royce's early years at Community Transit, when our facilities were much smaller, technicians functioned more as generalists, doing a little bit of everything. Of course this meant more specialized skills had to be contracted out. Now, Facilities Maintenance has grown to include certified plumbers, HVAC technicians, electricians, and welders. "In the past we figured out how to fix things on our own," says Royce. "Now we work together as a team to problem solve. You don't have to feel bad if you don't know something. There's no criticism, only encouragement. We have each other's backs."

By bringing on highly-skilled technicians, we now keep all of our maintenance in-house so we can control the quality of work. "There's a real pride of ownership here," says Royce. "Everyone has the same goal in mind: serve the customer. It's a great sense of accomplishment knowing the equipment you maintain is used safely by other people."

Thank you, Royce, for taking care of our facilities, our equipment, our route stops, our employees, and our riders.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"I'm Jessica. And I Coordinate It."

Did you know that nearly 10 million passengers board a Community Transit vehicle each year? With a service area of over 1,300 square miles, from Stanwood to Seattle, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure our buses get our passengers where they need to go. We rely on a team of fantastic trouble shooters who can solve problems on the fly to make sure service is as seamless and timely as possible. People like Jessica, one of our cool-headed, fast-thinking Dispatchers!

Over 36,000 passengers use our service on an average weekday, and the majority board during peak commuter hours. This means a large part of our fleet is doing a "morning pullout" between 4:00 - 7:00 a.m. Dedicated Dispatchers like Jessica are starting their day at 3:30 a.m., taking roll call and pulling up multiple online screens which display real time information about each bus. As the morning progresses, challenges inevitably occur, such as bus delays or breakdowns. If a bus does break down, Jessica will have to coordinate a coach exchange (this could be a coach out of service nearby or one from the bus yard). A Road Supervisor will need to be arranged, coordinated conversations with our Maintenance Department to send out a truck will happen, and our Customer Service representatives will be alerted to let customers know there may be a delay.

Jessica loves the challenge of putting the puzzle back together, "Every day starts out with the puzzle pieces perfect. When it explodes and the pieces go everywhere, I put it back together to make it work, keep service on the road and the customer happy. It makes me feel good when I can make things work. I feel like I make a difference, like I'm helping the community."

Jessica credits two main things with her success on the job. The first is her year-and-a-half stint as a Coach Operator before she took on her Dispatch position in 2010. "My time as a driver informs what I do. I know what it's like out there. It makes me more compassionate. Coach Operators are our customers too, and it's important to develop good relationships with them. It helps us all work really well together to solve problems." Jessica also praises her team for helping her get through hectic times. "There are 5-6 of us working collaboratively at any one time. There's a great sense of camaraderie. If one person is slammed, we all offer help. We always have each other's backs."

Next time your bus is running late, remember there is a team of people like Jessica who are working hard to bring you home.