Q: John, everyone is anxious to meet you and find out more so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in the East Bay, in Albany, and went to college at City College of San Francisco and then SF State. I started out studying graphic design, before switching my major to political science. I mostly listen to Classic Rock now, and some Heavy Metal, but in the early-mid-nineties, I was a huge U2 fan. I live in Richmond. I’m married with two dogs and a cat. In my free time, I like exploring the East Bay hills, cooking, and woodworking.
Q: We know you came from transit, but where and how does it compare to SolTrans?
A: Before SolTrans I worked at SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit) for a number of years, and at the San Francisco Paratransit broker’s office before that. Each agency has its own unique culture and way of doing things. In general, at a smaller agency you work on a wide variety of tasks and at a larger one, you specialize a bit more. For me, that makes it much more interesting to work for a smaller agency like SolTrans. There is also a big difference in perspective between the public agency and private contractor sides of the industry, both of which I’ve experienced. I think both sides bring something valuable to the table, and it’s important to understand and engage with both viewpoints, to get the best results.
Q: Why SolTrans?
A: When the opportunity to work at SolTrans came across my radar, it just looked too good to pass up. It’s exciting to be working for an agency where I feel like the things I do can have a real impact. SolTrans is obviously a very young agency, but I think we’re ready to take some big steps in a number of interesting areas. We’re small enough to be nimble, which presents some fun possibilities, and we’re very lucky to have a Board of Directors who are forward-thinking and supportive of our trying new things. We also have a fantastic staff, and a great partnership with our contractor, so I think we’re well positioned to do some amazing things in the near future. I’m really looking forward to seeing what SolTrans becomes over the next few years and being a part of that.
Q: What are some of your goals for your tenure here at SolTrans?
A: I hope to help SolTrans as it modernizes and grows into itself a bit. Being a very small agency, and a young one, a lot of our processes are still being defined. I generally take a result-oriented but process-focused approach to things – I’m interested in how well the process supports the desired result, and look for any areas that can be streamlined or simplified. Overall, I think SolTrans basically does a good job, given the resources we have available. I’d like to help SolTrans get to the next level by updating a few of our policies and procedures, seeing that they’re aligned with our overall goals, and making sure our team is well equipped to be successful at whatever we do. I’d also like to strengthen SolTrans’ ties to the rest of the Bay Area transit scene, both to bring back good ideas and to share whatever we learn along the way.
Q: Any other thoughts you want to share about the goals and changes you plan to do?
A: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built to last. The public transit industry is changing quickly – by public transit industry standards. I think now is an important time to look hard at “the way we’ve always done it” and determine as objectively as possible if we’re doing it the right way, or at least in the best way available to us now. It’s important to remember that what comes next requires both motivation and patience. Lasting change often feels painfully slow, but you can’t always see the full effect until you look back toward where you started. I think the real test of our success now will be to look back in a few years and see the progress that SolTrans has made from today.
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