This new emphasis on customer service has also been noticed by our passengers. As MTA expanded service and more operators were hired, MTA’s Customer Care staff had a significant reduction in the number of complaints related to passenger relations.
Not only did this change improve the experience of those who were using MTA’s services previously, but it also helped in retaining new riders who tried the service for the first time. Since 2002, MTA has experienced a 50 percent increase in ridership, with only a small increase in service hours. While a number of internal and external factors have come into play to create this increase, the professionalism and courtesy of our drivers has been a big part of ensuring that our passengers remain customers of MTA.
Finally, it should be noted that the changes we made to our recruiting program were done with the realization that hiring operators without driving experience would require a great deal of additional work for both the HR and training departments. Fortunately, the both staffs recognized and embraced the “big picture” of how excellent recruiting enables an organization to continuously exceed expectations and provide the highest possible level of service to our customers.
Despite economic changes that have affected the country as a whole, the United States has experienced five years of economic growth and relatively low unemployment rates. The great city of El Paso, Texas, is no different and has seen significant job growth with the expansion of Fort Bliss through the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).
El Paso, Texas
Lloyd Williams, MBA
Assistant Director of Operations
El Paso is facing a tighter labor market especially in the transportation sector. Sun Metro, El Paso’s public transit system, faces increasing competition from a number of employers that include a number of school districts, government transportation contractors, trucking companies and over-the-road bus lines. As transit managers, we are concerned about attracting and retaining quality applicants, about the ability of new hires to successfully complete our intensive training program and about how the potential operator will provide great customer service to the citizens of this great city.
At Sun Metro we are always looking for innovative, better and streamlined ways to become a choice employer. Being a city of El Paso department, Sun Metro employees fall under civil service protocol. It is management’s view that we should use this as a recruiting tool. Working for city government brings a sense of stability that the private industry cannot compete with. Layoffs are almost nonexistent in El Paso’s municipal government, and even if there are cuts, city management does everything possible to place that employee in some other comparable city department. This job security is critical in today’s workforce and has proved very valuable in going after quality operators. Working conditions for bus operators are undeniably challenging, but there may be other aspects of the job that Sun Metro can, like great pay, city government benefits, job security, working with people, opportunities for advancement, organizational excellence, ability to work independently and the opportunity to impact the daily lives of thousands of citizens that rely on our services.
Sun Metro is currently using the Internet to enhance its recruiting efforts. Our Web page receives a large number of visitors wanting information on specific route information and this could turn out to be a potential operator in the making. One great thing about our Web site is that it presents a logical sequence of information that is designed to provide potential prospects a broad scope of information about working for Sun Metro.
As important as it is to hire quality operators, it is equally as important to retain quality employees. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates it costs approximately $3,000 to $7,000 to replace an employee. Costs are also sustained through lower productivity from the time our operator decides to leave Sun Metro until we hire, train and bring to speed his or her replacement. It is my belief that retention is achieved though equity and fairness, autonomy, having employees be part of the process in what we are trying to achieve and opportunities for advancement for employees who want to better themselves and their family’s well-being.