Friday, April 29, 2011

Bus Supervisors Know Routes, Roads and Hills

Dana Osborn knows every road, every hill, every bus stop in Snohomish County.

You think I am exaggerating.

Dana has worked for Community Transit for 19 years. In his current job as transportation supervisor in charge of construction, he devises the reroutes and rider alerts needed when buses must avoid road work or special events.

When snow falls, a whole team of people come up with the reroutes needed to keep the buses moving. But it is Dana who recently wrote down the entire list of all the regular reroutes used during snow to avoid the known hills and hazards of Snohomish County. Hopefully we won't be needing that list for awhile.

It’s almost Dana’s busy season, when he works with cities and their contractors and tries to keep up with parades and events that temporarily block streets. He knows that if westbound Route 116 can’t turn onto Mill Creek Boulevard, for instance, three stops will be missed. He knows where the next closest stops are, so riders can find alternatives.

Dana does most of this work at a desk. He has an email list of 162 people he notifies when a route change is needed. Some of his work he does behind the wheel of a supervisor van, checking for safe turns or posting alerts. But sometimes, he devises reroutes on his way to work. Like when the Route 202 bus he was riding was stuck in traffic, as usual, at 4th Street in Marysville. He advised the driver to continue south on State Avenue and use the back way to avoid the congestion without missing any bus stops.

For all his technical knowledge, Dana is a people-person. He cares about bus riders – keeping them informed, getting them where they need to go. During our service changes, Dana directs the crew who posts rider alerts at bus stops where major impacts occur. The first service change Dana worked in that capacity was in 2003, when Community Transit renumbered and rerouted much of our service. Transportation supervisors posted 700 bus stop alerts, then made a trip to Seattle to get 200 more alert boards for posting.

Dana enjoys his co-workers, and can always be counted on to bring them a smile with his constant puns and self-deprecating humor. There’s a more famous Dana Osborn in the Puget Sound, for instance. “The other Dana has a rock band. I’ve just been banned,” says the bus supervisor.

He claims to be part of the dynamic duo of “Oxy” super heroes at Community Transit. “There’s Oxy Gene and Oxy Moron,” he says.

But in truth, Dana is a hero, too – championing bus riders and bus drivers in his everyday, understated way by providing rider and driver alert communications. “There’s a lot of good people out there that depend on the information,” he says.

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