2019 40 Under 40: Jonathan Steketee

Sept. 13, 2019
Jonathan Steketee, Customer Service & Contract Compliance Manager, Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Persistent
  • Alma Mater: University of California, Davis 
  • Favorite book: “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley 
  • Favorite TV show: “Big Bang Theory”
  • Favorite movie: “Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope” 
  • Favorite hobby(s): Fishing and hiking 
  • Fun fact about yourself: I play the bagpipes. 
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): While traveling in the Netherlands, I was able to take advantage of their amazing rail network, and I have to say that Amsterdam Centraal Train Station was by far my favorite station I have been to. At first glance it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos and sheer size of the building, but when you begin to navigate to your next train, the veil of chaos subsides, and navigating the terminal becomes easy and effortless. Once you begin to work your way through the terminal you realize how beautiful the station has been built and remodeled through the years. With all the modern technology and infrastructure it is hard to believe that it was originally built in 1889! 
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): While I have spent my career working on transit on firm ground, my favorite route on mass transit was taking the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen, British Columbia to Victoria, British Columbia. The ferry route goes through several islands and there is a ton to see. The ferry is huge and the best place to sit is in their café on the back of the ship. It is amazing to see how many people and vehicles go onto the ferry for the trip, it truly is mass transportation!

Jonathan Steketee is the customer service and contract compliance manager for the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) where he oversees the operations contracts for the agency’s fixed route and ADA paratransit, along with managing a staff of five who oversee customer service, fleet management and IT.

Steketee started at LAVTA in 2017 as the interim general manager of MTM’s paratransit brokerage. In 2018, he was asked to join the executive team in his current role. 

During his time at LAVTA, he’s managed the shared autonomous vehicle (SAV) demonstration project and Go Dublin! Both of these projects played a role in LAVTA being named the top transit agency in the state by the California Association for Coordinated Transportation (CALACT), which followed a similar honor from the California Transit Association in October 2018. 

The SAV project is  another tool for improving first and last mile connections to the two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations in the service area. LAVTA’s demonstration project is being carried out in collaboration with the city of Dublin, BART, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Transdev. 

Go Dublin! is a ridesharing partnership which was the first of its kind in the Bay Area and the first to partner with both Uber and Lyft. The program provides a 50 percent subsidy of rideshare trips up to $5 for trips that start and end within the Dublin city limits. Many similar programs lack accessible vehicles, but Steketee worked with Uber to have LAVTA’s Tri-Valley service area be one of the first U.S. test locations for Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles). He also wrote a successful grant application that will enable the program to expand to Pleasanton and Livermore, making the service boundaries the same as LAVTA’s entire service area.  

He began his transit career in 2004 as a bus operator for Unitrans while a student at the University of California, Davis. Unitrans is the largest student run transportation system in the United States. During his four years at Davis, Jonathan was promoted to positions of dispatcher, road supervisor, driver trainer, and outreach and retention coordinator.     

In the eleven years following graduation, he’s held management positions with private sector contract service providers MV Transportation and Ride Right. He also served as director of transportation for Boston Public Schools from 2014-2017, where he managed a department with more than 1,000 employees and a fleet of 742 vehicles.    

He was recently appointed to the conference planning committee and technology committee for CALACT and created an email Listserv for transit operations staff throughout the Bay Area to use to communicate ideas and best practices among peers. 

Over the past two years, he’s made several presentations at state and national conferences, including: 2018 CalACT Fall Technology Conference Microtransit; Partnerships with TNCs 2019 Transportation Research Board Mobility on Demand; A Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Future 2019 CalACT Spring Conference New Mobility; and the Transformation of the American Commuter’s 2019 Urbanism Next Growing Relationships between Public Transit and TNCs.

“I have run large bus operations and was largely limited to day to day operations. But now I get to focus on exciting innovative Mobility as a Service projects, shared autonomous vehicles, and microtransit programs. These projects make me feel a part of the future of transportation, and I am excited to see where it takes us. “

“With any new innovative project, there is seldom any blueprints or previous experience to work from. There are roadblocks that come up, paths that end in failure, and you are blazing your own trail a lot of the time.”

“It’s not easy to go down a new path, and in fact a lot of the time, it can feel daunting. Be brave and be the change.”