As I write this inaugural County Connection General Manager blog, I am struck by the thought that Thanksgiving is already upon us. On my Thankful List are all 254 employees at County Connection. Without their hard work and dedication, there would be no County Connection and no bus service in central Contra Costa County.
Public transportation service is very much a people business. As we like to say in the industry, “It’s All About the People!” Each person involved with County Connection plays a vital role in the delivery of our services each and every day. I’d like to briefly walk you through the organization, so you can see what it takes to ensure that we provide as valuable a service as we can.
Capable and caring bus operators
County Connection bus operators are some of the best-trained and safest bus operators in America. Upon hire, each operator goes through a demanding seven week training course before they are allowed to service the public. They also go through a minimum of eight hours of refresher training every year. Our bus operators are the front line folks, and public face of County Connection as they interact with the public and our passengers. They do us proud at County Connection as they operate a large piece of machinery through busy streets, and get thousands of passengers safely and timely to their destinations each day.
Top shelf mechanics and maintenance crews
The bus operators could not perform the great job they do, without reliable, safe, and well maintained equipment. Our maintenance staff ensures this is what they have and are among the best in the world. Today’s transit buses have an array of intricate pieces of equipment from wheelchair lifts to fareboxes, to communication systems, all controlled in part by computer systems. A bus mechanic is really a bus systems specialist with an understanding of complex technology. County Connection road calls for equipment failure is extremely low, and boasts one of the best maintained bus fleets in the industry. Our miles between road calls are often more than double the national standard.
Experienced support staff
Both our bus operators and mechanics are supported by the finest administrative staff in the industry. The scheduling of our fixed-route services is highly technical and complex. The scheduling process – which is computer aided – must take into account BART train schedules, school bell times, traffic conditions, rest breaks for our bus operators, as well other factors. Without good route schedules, our services cannot be reliable, on time, or even safe. Thus, our schedulers perform a critical function. Our customer service employees daily help countless individuals plan their use of County Connection, as well adjoining services like BART. Meanwhile, our marketing staff can often be found at events, like farmer’s markets, art fairs, or local schools, promoting County Connection and generating ridership interest.
Finally, we have a great support team that ensures that meeting agendas are posted timely and accurately, that inquiries from the public are responded to promptly, that our financial records are complete, accurate, and timely, and so on. These folks are dedicated to ensuring the public can understand what services we offer, how those decisions are made, and how they can participate in that.
Each year, we recognize a few employees that have gone above and beyond, and are more than outstanding in their service to County Connection. It is always a difficult decision, because there are often many deserving individuals. At our recently held 2013 Employee Appreciation Day we recognized a few outstanding individuals. Among them was our Chair’s Award for Excellence winner for 2013: County Connection bus operator Sheila Hunter. Sheila frequently receives unsolicited commendations from her passengers and has a great safety record. But, it was a unique and selfless moment in 2013 that contributed to her recognition. In short, she helped a wheelchair bound person that had fallen over get back upright, and tended to the individual until her ride arrived to pick her up and she wasn’t even a County Connection passenger!
This is the kind of spirit and initiative that permeates our employees at County Connection. It is why we are so successful as an organization and why I’m thankful this holiday season to be a part of it.
County Connection General Manager