Manager's Forum

Jacob Snow
General Manager
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) serves as both the transportation planning and transit agency for the Las Vegas Valley. These roles allow the RTC to have a tremendous impact on the daily lives of those who live in and visit Southern Nevada. That impact makes public involvement crucial. We engage the community in a number of different ways. This involvement allows our organization to educate current and future transit riders, receive feedback from various points of view and successfully serve Southern Nevada’s 1.9 million residents and nearly 40 million annual visitors.

Perhaps the best way to sum up our philosophy on public involvement is to go to the same places as those who will be impacted by a project. The RTC interacts with the community at large regional events, local neighborhood meetings, schools and even the mall. Our focus is determining who is impacted by a project, whether they are people living in a neighborhood or business owners in a commercial district, and then identify the places within those areas where we can reach those who will be impacted. That may mean participating in events at local parks and schools, visiting businesses door-to-door or spending a weekend answering questions at a local mall. Our key is to go where the people are.

One successful way we’ve found to reach large numbers of people is through transportation fairs. Twice a year, the RTC sponsors fairs at local malls. These fairs are an opportunity for the public to comment on the RTC’s projects and ask questions of staff. Staff members from both our transit and transportation planning departments attend, giving residents one-stop shopping for transportation information. Our staff also regularly participates in town advisory board meetings, town hall meetings and, on average, eight general community events each month. We’ve also recently launched a new speakers’ bureau program. The speakers’ bureau sends our staff out into the community to local clubs and organizations to talk about our transportation vision for Southern Nevada.

Another way that the RTC works to reach residents is with our On the Move television program. The show is produced monthly and airs on local government access television stations. A typical show might teach viewers about a corridor study, how to get to a baseball game using transit and how our new interactive transit trip planner can help you plan a trip on the bus without ever leaving your home.

Three citizen committees are also important parts of our community outreach efforts. Our Citizens Advisory Committee provides valuable feedback on our Regional Transportation Plan and our Transportation Improvement Program. A second committee provides feedback on bus shelters and stops throughout the community, focusing on how to ensure that our stops are safe and clean for the people who use them. We also work to involve the older members of our community. The RTC’s Older Americans/Disabilities Transportation Advisory Committee is made up of both the senior and disabled members of the community and it is invaluable in providing feedback for a number of RTC policies and programs. In addition, our staff members regularly participate in outreach events at local senior centers, where they teach seniors how to ride our fixed-route bus system as well as the specialized fixed-route and door-to-door senior services.

One of the most important groups that the RTC works to engage is the youth in the Las Vegas Valley. The more children introduced to transit, the more likely they are to utilize it as adults. It’s that concept that led us to develop our “Let’s Go!” outreach program. This program brings RTC transit vehicles to various schools and presents the children with information regarding transportation that is geared toward their ages. The children learn rules and tips for riding our system and share that experience with their parents.

In conclusion, the RTC is committed to including our community in our successes and we’re equally open to feedback on how we can serve our community better. Our vision — a safe, convenient and effective regional transportation system that enhances mobility and air quality for citizens and visitors — can only be achieved through this type of involvement.

Joyce Olson
Chief Executive Officer
Snohomish Community Transit

With a name like Community Transit, you have to be involved in your communities. That is something I have always stressed throughout my 13 years as the CEO of Snohomish County’s transit provider.

One of our core values is “respect for the communities we serve.” As an agency we show that every day by providing much-needed transportation throughout our service area. As individuals, we show that respect by volunteering in our communities, and being generous with our time and personal financial contributions.

Our employees drive many of the projects in which we participate. At Community Transit, throughout the year our Employee Association sponsors food drives, clothing drives, several blood drives and a toy drive during the holidays, all of which are run by employees who volunteer their time.

In addition, teams of employees get involved in other projects, including the United Way and the Snohomish County Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society. In addition to supporting the annual local United Way campaign, our employees volunteer for the United Way’s annual “Day of Caring,” working with local school children and doing hands-on projects at local parks or social service agencies. Our Relay for Life team just completed its effort for 2007, raising more than $5,100, beating its goal by more than 20 percent. Most of that came from donations made by employees who supported their coworkers on the team.

As an agency, we also strive to assist our communities. About seven years ago, our agency lost a major funding source and had to eliminate all weekend service and reduce our other service. Many of the most impacted people were those who depended on the service to get to work, medical appointments or social services. To continue to help these people, Community Transit created the Van GO program, where we donate surplus vanpool vehicles to community non-profit groups, which then use the vehicles to help community members. While we have been fortunate to have our funding restored through a public vote, we have continued the Van GO program. This August we will grant 10 more vehicles to local 501(c)3 groups, bringing our totals to 66 vans and 18 mini-buses donated in the past seven years.

We also reach out to young members of our community through our Student Transit Education Program (STEP). We have our STEP coordinator on staff to visit local schools, libraries, camps and clubs to explain to children about safely riding the bus. After a fun-filled session in the classroom, the coordinator takes the students for a ride on a Community Transit bus, where they can practice the safe-riding practices they just learned. This program reaches more than 10,000 children each year.

We also have a very popular mascot, Oxy Gene — the defender of truth, justice and really clean air — who participates in dozens of community events each year, from parades to holiday tree lighting events.

Community Transit also is very involved in local Chambers of Commerce, with agency staff serving on vital committees and providing their individual talents to these community-leading organizations. Members of our staff also participate in public service organizations such as Rotary, and serve as volunteer board members for a variety of groups that support children, youth, troubled teens, adults in need and senior citizens. Many others participate as adult volunteers with Scouts and other youth organizations, and as coaches for youth sports.

Whether it’s the agency donating a van to a social service agency or a coach operator who helps with his daughter’s softball team, community involvement is a critical part of Community Transit’s service to the people of Snohomish County. We’re proud of the good work we do for Snohomish County.

Frank Kobliski
Executive Director
Central New York Regional Transportation Authority

At the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority, we define service to the community far more broadly than the official core mission of providing Centro’s public transit service effectively each day.

As with any of our sister properties nationwide, public transit in Central New York is heavily underwritten by the taxpayers at all levels of government. It is, then, incumbent upon us as a public servant to make every effort to bring “extra value” to our constituencies.

Among the ways in which the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority brings this added value are 1. organizational initiatives that touch the lives of citizens who otherwise may not be users of public transit and 2. the involvement of employees individually and collectively in community-based activities which are a critical part of the local fabric.

Examples of the former are many, and include an ever-expanding network of public routes, often operated on a regional basis, which support recreational and public service events that drive the local economy and enhance community life.

Centro park-and-aide services, which we have developed over many years, annually bring scores of people to festivals across the region, including the Oswego Harborfest, the Utica Boilermaker Run, the Syracuse JazzFest and WinterFest, to name a few. In addition, Centro’s development and continued expansion of regional park-and-ride routes to the New York State Fair provide access to this twelve-day event for thousands who would otherwise not be able to enjoy this statewide attraction. Of the nearly one million fair attendees each year, more than 300,000 of them use Centro to beat traffic congestion and arrive right at the main gate.

At a more “micro” level, Centro frequently enhances holiday events in its local communities, among them being celebrations of Juneteenth and St. Patrick’s Day, along with a festive holiday “Santa Bus” operating throughout Syracuse each December.

For its part in addressing community-based needs, Centro has long been a non-traditional and reliable partner. At the organization level, we have been a leader for 25 years in local efforts to combat drunken and impaired driving by motorists, hosting, promoting and leading an annual awareness program known as the “Lights On Caravan” in several of our member counties.

Working in close partnership with the local 9-1-1 Centers, Centro is frequently on the scene of various major incidents, providing shelter to our fire and police forces, as well as to victims of fires and other major mishaps. When a passenger train collision occurred in Syracuse, Centro buses were en route to the scene for rescue and shelter services even before being called to do so by the local emergency management center.

Employee participation in local volunteer efforts is encouraged and supported by Centro management. Employees at all levels are active participants in various aspects of many charitable / non-profit organizations. Centro rank-and-file employees annually team up with management staff to conduct fund-raising raffles within the organization to benefit various local charities and families in need.

Within the past year, I had the privilege of serving as chairman of the annual fundraiser for the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Through the generous donation of time and money by many Centro employees, their families and friends, Centro raised in excess of $24,000, a record for the greatest single contribution to an event which locally raised more than $300,000, also a record.

In sum, Centro and its family of employees embrace the role of public service every day in many ways.