Madison Metro Transit wins national achievement award
By Haley Perrin | Sat, 10/27/2012 - 11:12pm
Madison Metro Transit has advanced in the past few years by adding hybrid buses and simplifying the transit process. In light of such improvements, General Manager Chuck Kamp accepted the largest award in the Metro's history a few weeks ago.
The American Public Transit Association (APTA) chose Madison Metro Transit out of 88 similarly sized systems in North America for the 2012 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for mid-size transit systems.
They notified Madison Metro Transit of the award in early June, and presented them with the award on Oct. 2 at a ceremony that took place at APTA’s annual membership meeting in Seattle, Wash.
“The reason for the lag was because they suggested we do a celebration event to call attention to such a big deal. And that’s just what we did,” said Mick Rusch, Metro’s marketing and customer service manager.
To celebrate, Madison Metro Transit threw a number of customer appreciation events. Staff set up at main transfer points to shake hands, give out coffee and cookies, and thank passengers for assisting in the accomplishment. The company also had many giveaways, including the grand prize of free metro rides for a year.
In August, the company also held a celebration event to inform the press and to thank everyone that helped make the award possible, including drivers and other staff. Speakers at the event included Michael Melaniphy, the president of APTA who flew to Madison to attend, as well as Mayor Paul Soglin.
Customer Service Representative Jessica Sarenich, a 7-year employee of Madison Metro Transit, attended the August event. “Everyone was excited about it, you could feel the energy from employees as well as our customers,” Sarenich said.
To determine the winner, the APTA looked through many applications for the transit system that best represented 11 different categories, including safety, operations, customer service, and environmental sustainability.
One of the main deciding factors for APTA choosing Madison was the shattering of their 40-year passenger record. Last year, Madison Metro Transit served a record 14.9 million riders -- a 9.5 percent increase from the year before.
Some other advancements by Madison Metro Transit in the past three years helped pull in this award. In the summer of 2011 Madison Metro Transit adopted hybrid buses. Approximately 10 percent of their fleet consists of hybrids that boast a 13 percent mpg fuel efficiency improvement over other buses.
The company also teamed up with Google Maps and acquired new smartphone apps last summer to improve bus tracking and schedule planning for passengers. Google Maps provides trip planners, and the apps provide real-time GPS to locate specific buses and identify precise arrival times at bus stops.
In the future, Madison Metro Transit hopes to add more new technologies and further improve rider convenience.
They are currently working on getting QR barcodes that riders can scan with their smartphones on all paper schedules at shelters and in one quarter of bus stops around Madison. They are also running six different studies that are each looking at Rapid Bus Transit.
Rapid Bus Transit is a new concept that provides high capacity transit with straight routes from one side of Madison to the other without looping to many stops around the city. When a bus approaches a traffic signal, RBT will cause the light to turn green, speeding-up transit.
At the celebration in August, Rusch said Mayor Paul Soglin commended Madison Metro Transit as a great program for the city. By having good public transportation that offers services to shopping, schools and recreation, the transit system attracts relocating people and businesses.
Madison Metro Transit has 450 employees, and runs seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“We are obviously really excited to receive this award, but couldn’t have done it without all our employees. It was definitely a team effort here, and we are lucky we had the support of all our passengers, elected officials and taxpayers, who create a culture in the Madison area that supports transit,” Rusch said.
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