During Justin Vonashek’s time in the industry, and at Metra, he has excelled in the various positions he has held: transportation specialist; corporate trainmaster; manager, schedules and services; and director, regulatory compliance.
As transportation specialist, Vonashek worked on the Chicago Union Station District assisting in overseeing the day-to-day operation on Metra’s busiest district. He assisted in supervising trainmen and engineers to ensure the operation was safe and on-time on a daily basis. This required him to be on call 24/7, including weekends and holidays.
When he was a corporate trainmaster he was responsible for working as a liaison with the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway suburban operations to ensure the consistency of operational performance, safety and service delivery with Metra standards.
While working as manager, schedule and services, Vonashek was responsible for the train schedules on all of Metra’s 11 lines, operating more than 700 trains daily, serving nearly 82 million passengers annually. He was also instrumental in putting Metra train schedules on Google Transit very early in development.
With the opening of 35th Street/Lou Jones Station (near U.S. Cellular – Chicago White Sox), he assisted in the development of extra train service for Chicago White Sox home games, a first for Metra. He has also improved safety at the corporate headquarters. He designed and implemented quarterly safety meetings. As part of those meetings, emergency duty assignments (emergency coordinator, exit monitor, elevator monitor, etc.) were assigned to volunteers for emergency situations in the building. Safety briefings prior to meetings at corporate headquarters were also implemented as a result of the safety meetings. He also authored Metra’s response to operating emergencies, utilized during service disruptions on Metra’s system.
As director, regulatory compliance, Vonashek represents Metra on various committees including the Federal Railroad Administration Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and American Public Transportation Association Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards (PRESS). He also represents Metra on various RSAC working groups and task forces (i.e. risk reduction, minimum training standards, fatigue management, etc.), many of which are currently the result of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
Vonashek is also in the process of implementing an electronic device distraction awareness safety campaign for all Metra employees informing them of the dangers of using electronic devices while on duty. One aspect of the program includes an emergency contact magnet for employees to give to their friends and families for use while they are on duty. This will allow them to leave their cell phones behind and not be distracted while on duty.
He is also responsible for preparing and submitting all formal responses related to petitions for reconsideration, comments to notice of proposed rulemakings (NPRM) and waivers to federal regulations.
Vonashek is a graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing his MBA in management science.
“The most exciting part about working in operations is that no two days are alike. The ever changing environment has provided me an opportunity to be involved in, and learn, many aspects of the operation throughout my career. Working in this industry is extremely rewarding. Metra is an integral part of the regional transit system that provides transportation to hundreds of thousands of passengers daily, many of whom rely upon the service as their primary mode of transportation.”