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SARTA Outreach Specialists

2016-04-14-14-51-39

By Kristie Petty-Cox
When most people think about jobs at Stark Area Reginal Transit Authority (SARTA) they think of bus drivers. SARTA has a lot of bus drivers or coach operators; however, there are a many other vital jobs. Have you ever heard of our Outreach Specialists? They are a key part of our community outreach by providing Travel Training, representing SARTA on committees, attending community events and much more.

    1. In mid-2009, SARTA was awarded grant funding that specifically focused on training seniors and Proline users annually on the use of SARTA’s fixed route services. With this grant funding, SARTA created a Travel Training Program and launched it in January 2010. It quickly became popular with current riders and those interested in becoming riders. As a result, the program evolved into what we have today which teaches riders how to:
    1. • Use our Fixed Route and Proline Services
    1. • Use GoLine for booking Proline trips
    1. • Utilize SARTA’s Schedules and Google Transit to plan trips
    1. • Use SARTA’s FREE PinPoint and its features to receive real-time transit information
    1. • Locate and transfer to other buses
    1. • Pay fares and purchase tickets and passes

We developed the Travel Training Program to be approximately one-hour sessions in group settings. They are done at Libraries, SARTA’s office, county offices, schools, social service agencies, churches or any other facility that would like to have a session.
For those who request or require more in-depth fixed route training, we offer one-on-one sessions. These are normally done once a trainee has completed a group session; however, there are times when we review the material covered in a group session while doing a one-on-one training. One-on-one sessions can be done in many ways; however, the most beneficial to the trainee is to have the Outreach Specialist assist the trainee in planning a trip they would normally take. For example, the Outreach Specialist and a trainee will plan and take a trip from their home to work or a store and then back. There are also times when a current rider will request assistance in planning and taking a trip they have not done before. Our Outreach Specialists are happy to assist until the rider is familiar and comfortable using our fixed route services. For riders who are familiar with using our Fixed Route services and just need a little assistance with planning a trip, our Outreach Specialists can assist them over the phone.
For riders who utilize our Proline Services, we offer one-on-one training sessions. The rider learns how to book and cancel trips by phone or with GoLine, our trip booking system, how to board the bus either by the wheelchair lift or the stairs, how to pay your bus fare and purchasing passes/tickets. Like with our fixed route one-on-one sessions, there are times a Proline rider requests or requires additional assistance when planning and taking a trip. In those cases, our Outreach Specialists will work with the trainee to plan and take their trip (just like with the fixed routes trainees).
Since launching our Travel Training Program in 2010, our Outreach Specialists have provided confidence and knowledge about our Fixed Route and Proline Services, the state of the art technologies available to the riders and our various programs to over 16,000 riders! Our training program has become so well known among our transit industry peers that they now are contacting us seeking advice on building and improving their training programs. Due to the popularity of our Outreach Specialists (and our Travel Training program) our Outreach Specialists are often invited to participate on various committees that are working to improve the lives of Stark County residents. A few committees our Outreach Specialists are involved with are Project Homeless Connect, The Homeless Collaborative, Citizens Circle, Veterans Task Force and Safe Communities
Throughout the year, Stark County hosts various events geared to seniors, job seekers, kids, students, outdoor enthusiasts and much more. If you have attended any of the events held, you may have spoken with one of our Outreach Specialists at the SARTA booth/table. At these events, they answer questions, inform the community on SARTA’s transportation services, provide valuable feedback on the community’s needs and programs as well as give out fun promotional items. Some of the community events they participate in are:
• Project Homeless Connect
• JFS Senior Forum
• Senior events
• Family fun events
• Trunk or Treat in Massillon and Canton
• Back to School Events
• Community Parades
• University and College Orientations
• Stark County Fair
When our Outreach Specialists are not out and about in the community they are:
• Managing our National Transit Database (NTD) passenger counts that are reported to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This is required by FTA to be done throughout the year.
• Communicating information out to riders on our social media sites, PinPoint, the monitors at each transit center and website.
• Coordinating training presentations for all the 5th grade classes in Canton City for their Career Development program.
• Providing guided tours of SARTA’s facilities to area schools who are interested in learning more about SARTA’s operations.
Our Outreach Specialists really are the face of SARTA, in addition to the Coach Operators in the community.

SARTA Outreach Specialists

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