APTA wants all its members to excel and be recognized—and that’s why the association offers a variety of award and competition programs. From safety and customer service to vehicle safety and maintenance skills, APTA provides numerous opportunities for its individual and organizational members to shine.
Call Center Challenge
For example, APTA’s annual Call Center Challenge, held during the Marketing & Communications Workshop, honors the outstanding efforts of APTA member transit system call center personnel to handle real-life scenarios. Robert Nedrow, a senior customer service representative with Seattle’s Sound Transit, said winning the 2011 APTA Call Center Challenge was the most memorable experience of his public transportation career.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something truly sensational,” he said, “and I felt honored just to be chosen to represent Sound Transit. Winning was just an added bonus because it was the people who truly made the entire event successful and meaningful.” He received extensive recognition from fellow employees, the board of directors, and followers of Sound Transit’s Twitter feed, as well as local news media and Passenger Transport.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) employs two earlier Call Center Challenge winners, Iris Bernard-Glover (2010) and Robyn Jeoffroy (2009).
Bernard-Glover called her experience in the competition “enjoyable, uplifting, and quite exhilarating,” noting the truth of dealing with the “outrageous or humorous questions and situations we experience within the transportation industry.”
Jeoffroy described how the competition brought her together with leaders in her field. “I personally enjoyed observing how other call center professionals handled difficult calls and resolved customer’s concerns,” she added. “I have taken the knowledge gained from the Call Center Challenge experience to improve my skills. I use the experience and knowledge daily to provide the best customer service for my customers…each and every call.”
APTA Award Program
Each year at the APTA Annual Meeting, the association presents a slate of awards honoring excellence in the public transportation industry on both the individual and organizational levels. APTA named Hugh A. Mose, general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority in State College, PA, its Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in 2010.
“Receiving the 2010 Public Transportation Manager of the Year award has absolutely been the high point of my career,” Mose said. “The award has resulted in more recognition from my industry colleagues than I ever imagined, generated praise in my own community that still continues a year later, and became an ongoing source of good-natured ribbing from my family and friends….It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me professionally in the 35 years in the transit industry.”
The AdWheel Award competition, now in its 33rd year, honors outstanding marketing and communications efforts. It encompasses print, broadcast, campaign, social media, and special event categories for various sizes of public transit agencies and business members.
“Any kind of national recognition that the SFRTA/Tri-Rail receives only enhances our stature within our local community and validates the efforts of the authority’s professional team,” said Bonnie Arnold, public information officer, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), Pompano Beach, FL. “At a time when marketing and communications budgets are being slashed by agencies across the nation, our budget has remained consistent, in part because of winning awards like AdWheel. We proudly house our AdWheel Awards in a display case in our lobby and the entire agency takes pride in them because they represent a team effort by numerous departments, not just marketing and communications.”
Richard Maxwell, assistant vice president of marketing, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Fort Worth, TX, agreed with Arnold. “I love the excitement of competing against my peers. First and foremost, I want to do good work that will make a difference for my agency and community, i.e. increasing ridership or awareness, etc. But secondly, AdWheel gives me feedback on how successful my efforts are compared to other peer agencies in terms of best practices and creativity, and that helps me to improve whether I win or not. I have been fortunate to win awards but still the most important aspect of AdWheel is the sharing of ideas within our industry. I get more new ideas by seeing the other entries than anything else I do.”
Other award programs under the APTA umbrella include the International Bus Roadeo and International Rail Rodeo, which honor the best of the best bus and rail operators and maintenance teams, as well as the Bus Operator Customer Service Challenge, and the Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards.