Contra Costa County is one of the nine counties in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area. It consists of an ethnically diverse area that is one of the wealthiest regions in the United States. Lower cost developments into the rural east area are creating bedroom communities to serve the edge cities. Servicing Eastern Contra Costa County is Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Tri Delta Transit.
Jeanne Krieg, chief executive officer at Tri Delta Transit, says the agency is working hard to meet the growing demands for service in the area, one of the fastest growing regions in Northern California. With funding coming through the MPO for the San Francisco Bay Area, the money is slated to be used on maintenance of all the existing systems. Krieg explains, “The result of that is the systems in growing areas really don’t have the funds to grow and that’s been a struggle for us. We’ve managed and we’re growing a little bit at a time.” But, she says, “There are many areas of the newer parts of Eastern Contra County that we just can’t serve. We don’t have equipment or the funding to run.”
Falling in Love with Transit
About her start in transit, Krieg says, “Like most people, I fell into it. My background is actually in sales and marketing.” She was traveling all over the country as a national sales manager for a publishing company based in St. Louis, but living in California, so she was continually on the road.
“I grew up moving over the country and so I never really had a home and then before I came to work here, I always commuted across the country. All my jobs, it was never home-based in my community.
“I saw an ad in the Sunday paper for a marketing director three miles from my house and I could hardly believe it because I live in the suburbs of San Francisco and jobs like this are few and far between.” She emphasizes, “For the first time I saw the opportunity to live and work in the same community and not only that, do something that contributes to the community to make the community better.”
She continues, “I got the job and I remember the interview like it was yesterday.” Even though it was a little more than 17 years ago. “I wanted that job more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life, I remember that clearly.” So she came to Tri Delta Transit as a director of marketing.
She started at Tri Delta Transit in 1991 and became general manager in 1995; a series of being in the right place at the right time she says. “I don’t know if you’ve ever had a job that you truly loved,” she asks me, “but this is it for me. There is nothing so great to have found that finally.”
Her activity in the industry shows her enthusiasm about her job. “I’m most active in the California Transit Association, although I’ve pulled back some on that because I feel like it’s time for others to participate.
And, of course the American Public Transportation Association. I’m very active in that.” She says of her involvement, “I think it’s important for me both personally and for my agency because through my activities and participation, I meet a lot of people who have really smart ideas. Some of the problems that we all have, they have unique solutions and I can pick up the phone and call somebody in Colorado or South Carolina or Florida with a question that I know that they’ll have the answer to.
“It’s invaluable. It really adds depth and breadth to my own knowledge in the industry and what is important and what I should be working for and watching,” she emphasizes. “It adds to the quality of my life, as well as the quality of my agency.”
Speaking of the smart ideas and unique solutions coming from other agencies, we talk about something that her staff came up with, an area for strollers on the buses. “That stroller area in the buses has actually worked out better than I ever imagined,” Krieg exclaims. “We formed a stroller committee, as silly as that sounds, and they met and they met and they met and they came up with this idea. Why don’t we just take one of the seats out and make an area big enough for strollers and when there aren’t strollers on the buses, standees’, there’s more room for them.
“We actually received an award from a local Hispanic organization for listening to their needs. A lot of young mothers out there with their one, two or three children and their stroller and their shopping bags and so on, it’s very difficult to travel that way.” Krieg continues, “We made the stroller area for them and you would have thought we had given them a winning lottery ticket. We deploy the lift for them and they can just ride the lift up and push their stroller in the little area. They don’t have to fold it and juggle the kids.”
During the interview with Krieg, she continually turns everything back to reflect on her staff. She uses the stroller section on the buses as a reflection of the working environment. “There’s a synergy. They just come in, a great group of people.” She elaborates, “I’m pretty sure that everybody who comes here wants to be here. We all work because we have to, but I think if I went around and asked each one of them if they had a choice working somewhere else, they wouldn’t. They come up with very clever stuff like the stroller area and we had bike racks on our buses in the early part of the bike-rack era.”
Later she mentions a particularly proud moment regarding her staff. “In 2003 my roadeo team, the drivers and mechanics won the International Roadeo. It was a very proud moment.” She stresses, “Of course that was my employees that did that, but it was our agency that accomplished that. I was so proud of them.
“They went to that roadeo and did what they do every day. Some of the other not-to-be-mentioned teams train nonstop for the roadeo and of course they win. Of course they do because they are professional roadeo competitors, but that my team just went there and did what they do everyday; that was just awesome to see them win.”
Like most other agencies, she says the agency is a big believer in training. “We have programs going on all the time, vendors often come in ensuring the mechanics and the operators are current on the latest and greatest whatever, whatever the item-of-the-day is.”
Elaborating about her team, Krieg says, “There are so many proud moments. Like all agencies, Tri Delta Transit has reached many important milestones over the years.” Those include community awards, the roadeo win, performance goal achievements, recognition by powerful politicians, service expansion, equipment innovation and another one we talked specifically about, AdWheel wins.
I had seen the winning TV commercial at last year’s AdWheel awards ceremony and it can be viewed currently on YouTube. The commercial, “We Go Everywhere,” is done to Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere Man” and was done in-house. Krieg says Mike Furnary, director of marketing at Tri Delta Transit, is determined to win another award this year. “Last year we won an Adwheel award for the radio ad, another Star Grand Award.” She adds, “He’s great, very clever, and with my background being in marketing, I can particularly appreciate it.
“Every person that walks in the door is just awesome, everybody. And it’s just like a synergy. You know, individually we would probably be nothing, but together people come in here and people come up with the most brilliant ideas.” She adds, “It’s really fun to see what they’re good at.
“Any employee recognition — such as the roadeo and AdWheel — makes me proud because others see what I see everyday: a group of motivated professionals who work hard everyday to make sure Tri Delta Transit is the best transit system possible.”
More Related Information:
Archived Article: Developing a Carpooling and Vanpooling Option
Archived Article: Maintenance Testing