Salt Lake City, Utah
John Inglish, General Manager
Utah Transit Authority
Participating in professional and community groups can benefit your organization and help you expand and tap into knowledge that you may not have. I belong to a variety of local, national and international groups that have greatly enhanced the services we offer at the Utah Transit Authority. In determining which groups to join or boards to serve on I ask myself a number of questions.
Will it expand my knowledge? This relates to expanding my knowledge base associated with my primary responsibility as a general manager. I feel that my role is to provide creative problem solving and vision for UTA so any organization I join should help me do that. It should also provide exposure to solutions in other related or unrelated organizations that may stimulate new solution options and thinking.
Will it enhance my passion and vision for transit? This brings awareness of how UTA fits into the broader world and identifies ways we can improve it. Sometimes there are needs out there that you overlook simply because they are different than the status quo; a good organization will help you identify these opportunities. In addition, vision stimulation can result simply from spending time away from your routine home environment while engaged in intellectual pursuits.
What kind of a legacy will participation leave my agency? I look for opportunities that may result in long-term sustainable solutions which will support the interests and objectives of UTA.
Will I have the opportunity to network with my peers? Networking produces relationships which allow more detailed understanding of other organizations’ solutions and may result in support and advocacy for common interests.
What is my return on investment and does participation contribute to transit as a whole? Though this may be subjective, it is a measure of the value to UTA for time and money spent in the organizations’ activities, and to what extent does participation on the board or in the organization produce benefits for public transit in general.
How much time will participation require? This is a measure of personal time (since board meetings often require travel during off hours and weekends and even meetings held on weekends) which may result in family stress, time away from the office which results in less time available for staff consultation, and decision making and meetings, etc.
If I am able to answer those questions positively about a professional organization I am far more likely to join and get involved. Following these criteria has led me to joining and serving on the boards of a number of great organizations. For example, participating in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has given me and my staff the opportunity to exchange best practices with our fellow transit agencies in the United States. Being able to sit down with fellow general managers and discuss issues helps all of us to be better. Whether it’s implementing a new transit mode, identifying the best ways to maintain a bus or looking at the best business model for the agency, there is far more we can learn from each other rather than going it alone.
The International Public Transport Association (UITP) has exposed me to a lot of European transit agencies that have been utilizing public transit for decades longer than we have. They have had the time to find what works and what doesn’t and tapping into that makes my agency better.
It’s also extremely important not to forget your local organizations. Local chambers of commerce, municipal planning organizations and community councils can be great resources. By tightly working with them we are able to identify and create the projects with the most benefit for the people of Utah.
San Francisco, Calif.
Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Executive Director
San Francisco Municpal Transportation Agency