C-Tran put on a show celebrating recent recognition for its efforts providing transit in Clark County, hosting a ceremony featuring people both local and from across the nation to announce it’s the best in the business.
Surrounded by a circle of buses, a group of elected officials, industry representatives and members of C-Tran themselves gathered at the agency headquarters July 9 to learn that it had received the “Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award” for mid-size agencies from the American Public Transit Association, an organization with more than 1,500 transit agencies across North America.
Following copious thanks for nearly everyone involved with the agency functioning — from employees, government partners and businesses that supply C-Tran — the agency’s executive director, Shawn Donaghy, made the announcement, proudly displayed on a large banner unveiled by the agency’s top-two members of its board of directors — chair Adrian Cortes, a Battle Ground City Councilor, and vice-chair Anne McEnerny-Ogle, mayor of Vancouver.
C-Tran won for the mid-size agency category which is for ones with 4 million to 20 million trips per year, according to a news release from the agency following the announcement. C-Tran tallied about 6.2 million total trips in 2018.
Donaghy said receiving the designation was “the highest honor that a transit system can receive in North America.”
“For a select few agencies this is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, the Academy Awards of the transit industry,” he remarked.
Donaghy talked of a variety of ways that C-Tran was able to achieve the award, both from operations providing transit service as well as instilling a positive workplace culture, enshrined in the agency’s motto of “Our community. Our promise.”
“C-Tran did not reach this achievement on its own,” Donaghy said. He stressed the importance of partnerships in achieving C-Tran’s goals, noting that through good working relationships with local, state and federal governments, other public agencies and private industry, the agency was able to achieve the recognition.
“C-Tran is successful because every single partner here today believes in the mission, and not just the transit one,” Donaghy said, referencing other focuses, like on supporting its own workforce and aging-in-place assistance.
Donaghy, who has headed C-Tran for two years now, got personal, saying that upon arriving as CEO in June 2017 he saw “a community full of energy, vision and drive, wanting to push forward” and a workforce who believed in their service to that community.
“There are jobs and there are opportunities. This is clearly the latter,” Donaghy remarked. “It was the best decision that I have made in my professional career, and it is nothing short of an honor to serve this community alongside our world-class team.”
APTA Chief Operating Officer David Carol said his organization was “extremely proud” of C-Tran. He said that winners of the award were chosen from a group of their peer agencies —
“the best selecting the best” as he put it.
Carol read a letter from APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas congratulating C-Tran on its recognition, where the organization head pointed out some of what led to its selection. The letter noted C-Tran’s ridership had increased 4.6% between 2016 to 2018, which Carol commented was “unusual” for transit agencies.
“We are in a period of time across the U.S. where transit ridership is either stagnant or is going down because of the different ways that people travel,” Carol said. “To have a system that is actually growing ridership is something that … most of the nation is jealous of.”
Skoutelas’ letter pointed to the implementation of The Vine bus rapid transit, allowing buses to operate on the shoulder and a revamp of routes to improve efficiency as leading to that growth.
“Not only has C-Tran created a world-class public transit system, but it has also created a culture and vision of leadership and excellence that is a model for the public transportation industry,” Skoutelas stated in C-Tran’s release.