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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis January 27, 2012
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Meet Meg Kester!

Margeurite “Meg” Kester
Marketing and Communications Manager
Intercity Transit
Olympia, WA

How many people work at your agency? 306.

How long have you worked in the industry? 17 years.

How long have you been an APTA member? Intercity Transit has been an APTA member at least as long as I’ve been here.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?

Public transportation is very relevant and very important, and it’s work I find meaningful. I could be marketing gadgets in the private sector, but I think public transportation is good government and it’s something I feel good being connected to—it’s rewarding to me personally as well as professionally.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?

Certainly the networking and the information exchange opportunities. Beyond conferences, there’s the abundance of information available through APTA staff and the web site. I do think that the marketing, communications, and media relations support that APTA provides is of tremendous value, as is the legislative work. I think it’s really important for transit to have a voice, especially in this day and age. And finally, I think the Leadership APTA program is very valuable.

Please explain why or how this has helped.

It is through receiving information about best practices, having the exchange of information, and taking advantage of training opportunities that we achieve agency improvement.

I’m also referencing the broader industry improvement, because the “old transit” is a thing of the past. Transit today has to be and is much more innovative in how it delivers its services. When we have APTA supporting the messaging, then what we try to do as a singular transit agency in our community becomes a much bigger and more impressive message that gets greater attention and an increased response—so we are leveraging that information.

It helps us be successful, not only in ridership, but also with education and awareness—on the value of public transportation.

We also value the legislative activities that APTA organizes and leads. What might be happening on a national or state level does indeed help us on our state and local levels. It both gets attention paid to our issues and brings us funding for capital projects and purchasing new buses.

For example, when APTA presented Intercity Transit with its Outstanding Public Transportation System award, we got a whole lot of traction out of that. Our local elected officials and members of the public in our own community stood up, took note, and celebrated. And the reason we won that award is the community was using our system in record numbers, plus we were getting record levels of federal funding to improve our facilities, and in the midst of all that we were implementing new and innovative programs.

With all those kinds of things happening, in part because of our APTA membership and the benefits that come with it, it results in success and a major award—and becomes almost an affirmation: not only for Intercity Transit, but also for the community that supports it.

What do you like most about your job?

What I love about doing meaningful and important work is that I get to do it with interesting and great people—both at Intercity Transit and people involved in transit across the board. People who are passionate and committed and knowledgeable and talented—and have a motivation to contribute—is motivating and rewarding to me.

What is unique about your agency/business?

One thing that people might be surprised to know is that Mike Harbour, our general manager, was named Boss of the Year last December by the Thurston Chamber of Commerce. With 500 people in the room, he got a standing ovation! People know, respect, and are very fond of him, and his staff thinks the world of him—and his specially prepared breakfasts and homemade cookies, not to mention his riding a stationary bike for an hour to benefit United Way.

Another thing: Intercity Transit was one of the first agencies to sign on to APTA's Sustainability Commitment and has a robust sustainability program.

Something else unique … we’re a mid-sized system, but in the last few years, even with budget constraints, we’ve had three staffers go through Leadership APTA training (including me!)—and there’s a fourth staffer in the current class.

Editor’s Note: Meg participated in this interview while snowbound in her home during the worst snow/ice storm the Pacific Northwest has experienced in 100 years.

Make sure you see Meg's video now that you've read this!

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