When I ask him about the amount of community involvement in the project, his first comment is, “Huge.
“We have a very vocal community so I’m going to do something unique, I’m going to start a blog and we’re going to be posting images and samples on the blog to get feedback.
The goal is to have three rough prototypes designed and then take those to the public to get the feedback and narrow it down to one and push that design forward.
“Hopefully people will say, ‘Oh I hate this, it’s going to block my sign, or what ever.” He stresses, “We’re going to be doing massive public outreach meetings, working with boards and commissions and, of course, the city council, to help them as we develop it.”
Something else unique that has been already tried out at one of their stops is using rubber instead of concrete. Merced explains that it’s recycled, old rubber and it’s been in place about two years now. The city was doing it on sidewalks, because tree roots damage concrete.
“This way they can grind the roots down a bit, pop this back on and if it grows back, you just lift up these sections and grind it down again,” he explains.
“Our concern was the wheelchairs; will a wheelchair roll on it easily? So far it’s been good.” He adds, “It’s kind of cool; it’s a recycled item. We’re always looking for something that has some positive impact.
“We kind of stole the idea from the street maintenance. We’ll give them credit.”
When I ask Negriff what she thinks the most important thing for transit directors is she doesn’t even hesitate to answer. “The main thing is to have a mentor and to also be a mentor. I think that is my thing that has most influenced me; I’ve had great mentors.
“Being a mentor or having a mentor, I can not impress the importance of doing that and really just going up to someone and saying, if you see something in an employee or colleague that you feel you can help to enhance them or make them better, encourage someone to actually take the risk.”
When talking about management, she says, “There is no one way to run a transit system. There are some basic fundamentals that you need to understand about it, but every transit system has the opportunity and potential to be great.
“You just have to have the right people and the right resources and the right connection with your community.” About Big Blue Bus she says, “The biggest challenge is to always find ways to make our organization better because we can start on an exciting path. I’ve seen a lot of change in this organization in the years that I’ve been here.”