By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

photo3Although it has a certain cachet to it, the “SamTrans Way” is more than a sentiment that informs the work we do—it is a commitment we make to our customers each and every day.  To honor that commitment SamTrans places a great deal of emphasis on innovative transit practices and policies, and fostering a supportive workplace environment.

A sterling example of the latter philosophy is the Transit and Paratransit Management Certificate Program offered by SamTrans. The program, administered through the University of the Pacific brings industry professionals from across the state and region to the SamTrans headquarters for a series of college-level seminars, which touch upon a variety of areas related to transportation.

A total of nine courses, each lasting roughly eight hours, are included in the program. The topics range from budgeting and financial management to legal issues in employee relations to marketing and customer service. SamTrans, in collaboration with Caltrans, offers the course free for participating employees. The last session of the current program, covering leadership effectiveness strategies, will be held Nov. 15. Employees who complete at least eight of the nine classes will receive a certificate.

“This is a professional development opportunity, where employees are able to explore unfamiliar aspects of public transit,” said Jeff Johnson, SamTrans manager of transit operations training. “It’s also an opportunity for supervisors to challenge employees to a higher level of vocational knowledge. Courses like this enhance performance, and elevate the quality of candidates for promotional opportunities.”

The series wrapping up this month will be the second one hosted by SamTrans. Eleven employees enrolled in the program. An additional 16 workers took the course when it was first offered in 2011.

One of the certificate recipients shows off the goods.
One of the certificate recipients shows off the goods.

Kathie Hollinger, assistant superintendent, South Base Operations, said the course work covered in the program’s latest session has been very beneficial.

“I have a lot of experience in field work, but I really didn’t have a lot of background in the office,” said Hollinger, who has been with SamTrans for 38 years. “The course touches on things like effective communication skills and legal issues in employment relations—things I deal with all the time now that I’m an assistant superintendent.”

Hollinger said she didn’t take the course simply to bolster her resume. Instead, she saw it as an opportunity to get a better understanding of general transit issues.

“It’s great to have another picture on the wall with a new certificate, but I really thought it was important to have the overall knowledge that the course offers,” said Hollinger. “SamTrans has really developed some great learning programs over the last several years. I’m looking forward to taking more of them.”

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