Sun Metro has been named the most Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year for all agencies in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
APTA Ppesident Bill Millar will present the award to Sun Metro in El Paso during a ceremony at 10 a.m., Thurs., June 30, 2011, at the Bert Williams Downtown Transfer Center, 601 Santa Fe. Joining Millar will be U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Mayor John Cook and various state and local dignitaries.
The mass transit department also will offer free rides within city limits all day on Thurs., June 30, to celebrate Sun Metro's latest honor, to thank loyal passengers for making Sun Metro the best transit system in the nation and to offer the whole community an opportunity to try the award-winning system without any apprehension.
APTA, the nation's leading voice and force in advancing public transportation, honors one public transportation system in three size categories every year who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in efficiency and effectiveness.
Sun Metro, which has been managed by First Transit since 2006, won the title in the medium-size category of transit systems providing between 4 million and 20 million rides annually. APTA will formally present the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement award to Sun Metro at its annual meeting in October.
"Being acknowledged by our peers is a huge honor. This recognition is an awesome tribute to the tireless efforts of our employees who have continuously worked to improve and make Sun Metro all that it can be. We want thank our passenger for their unending support which makes this award even more meaningful," said Sun Metro director Jay Banasiak. "Lastly, we want to thank our mass transit department board and city manager who created a vision and propelled us to become one of the best transit agencies in North America."
Systems are judged on their performance over a there-year period. The award is one of the most prestigious recognitions in the transportation industry. The award has previously been given to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (Tampa, Fla.), Intercity Transit (Olympia, Wash.) and Greater Richmond Transit System (Richmond, Va.).
The award is based on quantifiable data, as well as, qualitative performance as it relates to Sun Metro's safety record, operating procedures, customer service, financial management, sustainable practices, workforce development, marketing, technological applications and community involvement during 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Over the last three years Sun Metro has revitalized and strengthened its operation to focus on becoming the least car-dependent city in the Southwest. Some of most notable advancements include the 2008 Texas Transit Association System of the Year award, the completion of four new transfer centers, two safety awards, a 21 percent increase in ridership, the installation of nearly 200 new shelters and the beginning steps toward developing a Rapid Transit System (RTS).
Sun Metro is working diligently to become a first-rate system—a key component of a lively, economically prosperous and culture-rich border community.