CASTA Announces 2012 Annual Awards Recipients

September 14, 2012 - Statewide Transportation Plan - Denver, CO – The Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) has announced the recipients of its 2012 Annual Awards.

The CASTA Awards Program recognizes contributions of individuals or agen­cies in Colorado with outstanding programs or projects or who have made notable contributions to transit. Award winners were recognized at the 33rd Annual CASTA/CDOT Fall Transit Conference Awards Banquet in Grand Junction, Colorado on September 6, 2012.

The awards are as follows:

Transit Administrator of the Year – Maribeth Lewis-Baker, Town of Breckenridge
The Transit Administrator of the Year Award goes to the transit professional who has dedicated their wisdom and experience to transit.  This award was presented to Maribeth Lewis-Baker, Transit Manager Town of Breckenridge.  Maribeth is a cutting-edge, knowledgeable and skillful transit manager.  Early this year, Maribeth leveraged some of Breckenridge’s FTA Section 5309 funding to work with a software company to develop an affordable notepad application for counting passengers.  Not only will this app save her agency time and money, the agency will also receive a royalty on any subsequent sales of this software package.

“The on-board tablet for ridership collection started as our team talking out loud about how we could do our job better,” said Maribeth Lewis-Baker, Breckenridge Transit Manager.  “It has been very engaging for our employees to have a part in the design of such an innovation in our industry and it has been very exciting watching what started out as a basic idea actually come to life.”

Friend of Transit Award – Southern Ute Indian Tribe
The Friend of Transit Award recognizes a person or organization outside the transit industry that has made significant contributions to the transit services in their community.  This year the award was given to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has been supporting transit in their community since the 1980’s and their continued support is what makes the Road Runner Transit so vibrant today.  Road Runner Transit is a division of Southern Ute Community Action Programs.  Since its inception Road Runner Transit has increased its ridership by over 2000%.

Transit Employee of the Year Award – Amber Blake
The Transit Employee of the Year Award honors a transit employee who has made an outstanding contribution to the operations of a Colorado Transit System.  This year the judges selected Amber Blake, City of Durango Multi Modal Administrator, for her work on the City of Durango multi-modal transportation master plan.  Her commitment to developing this planning document is well known; a coworker said that “It is no exaggeration to say that Amber wore out at least two pairs of running shoes and numerous bike tires collecting the data included in the plan.”  In addition, Amber and the Multi Modal Transportation Master Plan were also recently recognized on a CNN podcast.

Amber said “It’s an honor to receive this award, I am humbled to be recognized by my peers for the success of our multi-modal program, including comprehensive education and outreach to the community, and the adoption of our implementation focused Multi Modal Transportation Master Plan.”

Transit Champion Award – Angela Schreffler
The Transit Champion Award recognizes an individual who has championed transit in his or her community and made significant contributions over a number of years.  This award was presented to Angela Schreffler, Executive Director of the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council.  Under Angela’s leadership, DRMAC has grown from a one-person shop to a four-person staff.  She has successfully partnered with RTD-Denver, DRCOG, and numerous local transit and human service agencies in order to address many aspects of transportation coordination including issues specific to veterans, technical capacity (software and call center abilities) and aging Coloradoans transitioning to non-automobile transportation options.

Marketing Award – Via Mobility Services
The Marketing Award recognizes an effective and innovative marketing program run by a transit agency. This year’s Transit Marketing award was given to Via Mobility Services – formerly Special Transit of Boulder, CO.  Not only did they change their name, this agency went through a comprehensive rebranding process that included a new logo, new graphics, new website, and new messaging.  Their marketing strategy took advantage of both traditional and contemporary media to launch the new brand, including digital advertising and a Facebook contest.

Lenna Kottke, Via Mobility Services Executive Director said “Changing our name from Special Transit to Via has been an organization-wide process.  While it’s been a lot of work and not something to be undertaken lightly, it has allowed us to reintroduce ourselves to the community.  It’s been energizing for our staff and has elevated community awareness of the full spectrum of mobility services we provide.”

Open Category Award – Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT)
The Open Category Award was created to honor unique accomplishments in the transit industry. This year, CASTA recognized Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) for their role in the Waldo Canyon fire this summer. The staff of MMT and their private contractors were able to mobilize and effectively contribute to the very successful evacuation process when the Waldo Canyon fire unexpectedly and quickly advanced towards houses and nursing facilities. MMT evacuated 100 residents from nursing homes-most of whom were in wheelchairs, with mobile oxygen and medication packets-who desperately needed immediate transportation.

Small Transit System of the Year Award – City of Blackhawk
The Small Transit System of the Year Award honors the CASTA member transit system that operates fewer than 10 vehicles. This year, the Small Transit System of the Year Award was presented to the City of Blackhawk. The agency’s nomination stated: “The Blackhawk Tramway is an alternative to the automobile, reduces traffic congestion, and supports a cleaner mountain environment.”  Tom Isbester, the City of Blackhawk Director of Public Works, noted that “There is a lot of work that goes into running even a small system such as ours.”  He thanked the “city fleet department for doing an outstanding job of keeping the aging fleet on the road” among other contributors to the system.

Medium Transit System of the Year Award – Durango Transit
The Medium Transit System of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding CASTA member transit system operating 12 to 24 vehicles. This year’s award recipient is Durango Transit. Durango Transit has enjoyed a 19% increase in ridership in 2012 following a 21% increase in ridership in 2011. In addition to growing ridership they have completed and adopted a Multi Modal Transportation Master Plan, and continued providing safe, efficient, and accessible service to their community.  Amber Blake, Durango Transit Multi Modal Administrator, stated that “The success of our transit system is in large part due to the vision and motivation of our Transit Operations Manager, Kent Harris.”

Large Transit System of the Year Award – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA)
The Large Transit System of the Year Award is given to a CASTA member agency with more than 25 buses. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) is this year’s award recipient. The nomination cited the VelociRFTA project – the first rural Bus Rapid Transit system in the United States- possibly the world!  RFTA broke ground on the project in April and is scheduled to go into service in Fall 2013.  VelociRFTA has already generated about 250 jobs in Colorado, from steel manufacturers in Colorado Springs to a construction company based in Glenwood Springs.  Kent Blackmer, RFTA Director of Operations, said that “RFTA is incredibly appreciative of entire transit community in the state of Colorado because we recognize our collective efforts pay dividends to each transit system. Unlike many other organizations and businesses, the success of one transit organization does not detract from other systems it feeds their success.”

CASTA is Colorado’s statewide trade association for transit providers, vendors, government agencies and other interested organizations. CASTA promotes the development, operation and enhancement of safe and effective public transportation by working with local, state and federal legislators; providing training; speaking for the industry to the public and media and building coalitions.