2021 40 Under 40: Dustin Strandberg

Nov. 23, 2021
Dustin Strandberg, Fleet and Facilities Manager, Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Tenacious
  • Fun fact about yourself: I currently play guitar in a local band in Hesperia, Calif.,that released a song EP a year ago, and are about to head back to the studio to work on a full album.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent: I am very partial to the small Inari Station in Kyoto, Japan. It was very charming to me, being such a small station right outside of Fushimi-Inari shrine was very comfortable.

Dustin Strandberg entered the transit industry in 2005 as a bus washer for VVTA. In the years since, he held the positions of utility supervisor and parts manager before becoming a fleet analyst in 2014. Now, Strandberg serves as the fleet and facilities manager.

During his tenure at VVTA, he has been a key player in gathering and analyzing data and implementing the authority’s Zero Emission Bus plan, putting VVTA’s first seven battery-electric buses into service in September of 2019. Since the implementation of California Air Resource Boards Innovative Clean Transit Regulation, he has been working with other industry professionals, sharing data and lessons learned to encourage the success of zero emission bus implementation at VVTA and throughout the transit industry.

In addition to these efforts, Strandberg has maximized the use of VVTA's Ron Turley & Associates (RTA) Maintenance Management System (MMS) by tailoring the preventative maintenance inspections according to individual vehicle maintenance requirements and instituted paperless inspections using tablets. The program auto-generates work orders on individual line-item inspection failures ensuring all items are addressed and repaired, eliminating the chance for human error. He has developed and spearheaded paperless driver daily bus inspections using the existing Android tablets from the Syncromatics Intelligent Transit System (ITS), thereby creating an easier method for maintenance and operations to review reports before the driver and bus leave the yard for their assigned work. This has significantly added to the efficiency of the maintenance and operations departments. He has also developed a method to incorporate facility maintenance schedules into the existing RTA MMS so that daily, weekly, monthly and annual maintenance can be tracked accurately along with any needed repairs.

Strandberg has also developed a system of creating manuals on the shared drive and linking appropriate items to the RTA system. Now, technicians can access the necessary manual information with a click of a button.

He is currently working with contractor management on miles between road calls and repeat failures, developing a system to track and review every maintenance failure for the root cause. By developing this spreadsheet, he has assisted the contractor with the necessary tools to delve into the cause of repeat failures, thereby reducing malfunctions and down time.

In addition to his contributions at VVTA, Strandberg has developed several webinars and presented for APTA, CTA and CalACT on implementing battery-electric buses and tracking methods to measure their successes and efficiencies. He is part of the Zero Emission Bus Subcommittee for CTA, and he has been approached by other transit agencies regarding the PMI program he developed. He has become the go-to guy for ITS and electric bus technologies and will be instrumental in VVTA’s implementation of fuel cell electric buses and infrastructure.

He is also committed to sharing the industry with students. He is a member of the Mountain Desert Career Pathways (MDCP), an organization devoted to connecting high school students to local career opportunities. During the pandemic, he hosted online, interactive classes on mechatronics for local students. He is also an active participant in the Girl Scouts’ Classroom-to-Career Transit Days that allows young girls to visit VVTA and explore career opportunities in the transit industry. 

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

When I met my boss/mentor Ron Zirges in 2005. I was 19 and at the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I needed a job to satisfy my bills and basic needs. I was offered a cleaner position at a contract for the local transit agency and decided to accept as I didn’t have a job at the time. During my time as a cleaner I attended the local community college in hopes of making a career in the IT world. After dipping my feet in the IT waters, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do and started the search again. While searching I continued working with Ron, following him around the industry. Eventually I realized that I already have a career in transit, so I decided I would work hard to learn as much as possible from Ron, my peers, and the industry.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the work that goes into innovation and improvement. Transit in the last 15 years has not stayed stagnant. If you’re not improving in all aspects of transit, you’re being left behind. Improving yourself, your team, software, hardware, tools, your facilities, are all necessary to keep up with the extreme changes happening in Transit. With the alternative fuel technologies already here, business practices and methods all have to change in order to not only maintain excellent quality and service, but to improve the agency and excel in the industry.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Improvement and innovation. While they are what I enjoy most about my job, I also believe that they’re the most challenging part. We all have our own thoughts and ideas, sometimes getting others to understand innovation and change can be very taxing and requires tremendous, and continuous, care and planning for any change to occur successfully.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

The accomplishment that I’m most proud of isn’t any one accomplishment, but everything I’ve done to be where I am. I am so proud to be able to succeed in the transit industry and I am so grateful to be able to come so far in such a great industry with such a caring community always willing to help each other in all aspects of transit and business.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

You’re not alone. You can always rely on your peers. The transit industry is full of extremely knowledgeable people that are always willing to help, provide feedback, and give out their knowledge just for the sake of being able to help.

Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA)
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