Joshua Baker has been a part of New River Valley Community Services since 2004 and in that time he has taken the agency’s transportation services to the highest level they have ever been since the inception of the program. He also participates on numerous boards and regularly participates in industry events, including Certified Community Transit Manager (CCTM), the Community Transportation Association of America; board member of the Community Transportation Association of Virginia; active member of the Virginia Transit Association; and participates annually in local and statewide drivers roadeo planning, organization and development.
Baker led the establishment of the Radford Transit System in Radford, Va. This service started in August 2011 due in large part to the hard work of him and the local city/university stakeholders. Ever since “pitching” the idea to local government officials as early as 2008 and seeing the need for such a service in the city of Radford and for the Radford University population, Baker took his ideas and turned them into reality by working with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration. He worked with a locally appointed exploratory committee to investigate the feasibility of transit in the area and was able to help secure 100 percent state funding for a feasibility study which was conducted and supported the establishment of the system.
Over the course of the next two years, Baker worked with local officials helping to guide them through the process of establishing the system. When it came time to select an operator, he led the way in responding to the Request for Proposals of a vendor to operate the system. Having already established a reputation as one of the best and most effective human service transportation providers in the region, the group tasked with selecting the provider had an easy choice selecting New River Valley Community Services. This was unique in itself as never in the history of Virginia had a community service board such as NRVCS operated such an encompassing and broad reaching transportation unit.
To date, Baker has seen his work and success not only in the core services of human service transportation but also in the statewide recognized Radford Transit System. As a result of his team leadership, Radford Transit has seen some of the highest ridership growth in the recent history of a new system in Virginia. In just its second year of operation the system has seen a 76 percent increase in ridership carrying more than 325,000 passenger trips in a city with a population of just 16,408.
“I landed in public transportation almost by accident. As a student at Virginia Tech I joined many of the folks in my freshman class riding the Blacksburg Transit bus to and from my various on and off campus activities. Early on I noticed a posting advertising for drivers and thought to myself, ‘That sounds like a scary job, but would be awesome to learn how to do!’
“I pulled together the nerve and applied, got the job and fell in love with it. Throughout my entire college career I worked in various functions within the organization gaining useful knowledge and insight into the transportation industry. I met a lot of great people and really learned what it takes to operate a successful transportation system.
“Shortly after graduating from school I landed my first job with New River Valley Community Services as its transportation manager. The folks I worked for then and now provided me great opportunity and stood behind me in my visions as we grew our human service transportation and eventually started Radford Transit.