Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bonus stories from the Sunset car crash

Bonus Stories: Celebrating All Hands on Deck

An extension of the 12/5/12 paycheck flier: Eye-witness accounts from employees involved in the 11/21/12 service disruption due to the car in the right of way near Sunset.

Working together as a team

When this incident occurred, it stranded one of the last trains of the night in front of the SunTech Building off Highway 26 just east of Sunset TC. We had to evacuate about 30 people in between stations. Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, Washington County Police and our supervisors helped safely remove them from the train to a waiting bus. We also contacted a crane company that had helped us in the past. The crane operator got there relatively quickly and surveyed the area.  By 6 a.m. we had the car off the tracks. But of course we still had to deal with the substantial damage to the overhead left by the BMW crashing through them. The MOW crews worked hard, and long hours to get us back up and running. Two hours ahead of their estimated time. The Field Supervisors and Customer Service folks kept people informed. It really did take a lot of us working together as a team to meet the needs of our customers!
Jay Jackson, Manager, Field Operations

Timely information, positive attitudes--and homemade truffles

Throughout the bus bridge, I worked with several Rail/Bus Supervisors, Inspectors and Ride Guides.  In the morning, I was stationed at the King's Hill platform and supported by the TriMet staff at Goose Hollow and Jeld Wen through information updates, general good attitudes despite the circumstances and a delicious sample of homemade chocolate truffles made by one of the TriMet Supervisors. Both the pumpkin flavored one and the mocha flavored one seemed legendary and carried me through the final few hours of bus bridging at Washington Park. At that location, the team of Bus Supervisors, On-Street Reps and multiple Ride Guides coordinated and communicated well to make the above and below ground transitions flow smoothly. Kudos to the many MAX Shuttle Bus Operators who were often transporting full buses and probably fielded tons of questions throughout the day.
Lauren Audick, On-Street Customer Service Rep

Up & running earlier than expected

Maintenance Of Way performed as a team, followed all safety requirements and returned a system that was severely broken back to Operations early and with the reliability our system is known for.
Rick Kindig, Manager, Maintenance of Way

Positive feedback

Just east of Sunset is a really big pinchpoint. There aren’t many worse places for something like this to happen. What sort of helped was the timing. The extent of the disruption became clear overnight, and when I was paged at 3:30 a.m. we had a pretty good idea of what we were facing. I don’t usually call my folks at 4 in the morning, but I did, and they got going. Lauren, for example, answered the phone at 4, “Good morning, Ed!” and by 5 a.m. she was texting, “Greetings from Galleria.” My team was so flexible throughout the day. We also had a new luxury: Ride Guides. Especially at Washington Park, it was great to have enough people that we could keep in touch between the parking lot and the station, deep underground.
It was really about teamwork with customers. I was at Sunset, where Michelle Davis was the Supervisor. As often happens early in an operation like this, service was imbalanced—there were more buses headed to Beaverton, and more people headed to Portland. Some of them had been waiting for 30 minutes or more. When one Beaverton-bound shuttle bus pulled in behind another, Michelle asked both operators to wait. She talked with the operator in front about switching directions and becoming a Portland-bound shuttle. He agreed, and the three of us got the customers onto the bus in the back. We thanked them for transferring again, and they were pretty understanding when they heard how long the other people had been waiting. The front bus carried one group of people into Portland, and the second one got the others to Beaverton TC.
I have a rule of thumb regarding customer feedback about service disruptions: If we don’t have people acting out on the scene and/or we don’t have many people complaining via phone or other channels, it’s a sign that we performed well. We did receive some complaints about this service disruption, but we also received an unusually high number of commendations. It’s satisfying to see that customers took the time to let us know they noticed—and appreciated—the efforts our employees made to respond to the Sunset event. These are some of the most positive comments I’ve seen in the aftermath of a disruption.
Ed Rosney, Manager, Customer Service

A training day they'll not soon forget

I want to commend Myles Vaylon for doing a great job of conducting the sea of people coming off the MAX trains at BTC. He was working solo on the platform guiding hundreds of customers at a time to each bus, which was a huge task! He gave customers  the choice of  “express buses” for the many commuters who needed to get to downtown only  and other buses that traveled between the transit centers and zoo. It was a great plan to keep customers happy and limit the travel time for our customers. I was glad to help with my trainees, too.
Aaron Baune, Training Supervisor 
(Several transportation trainers received permission to switch from training new operators to driving shuttle buses.)

What evacuating a train looks like

We had "ordered" a bus to pick up passengers evacuated from the train that was stranded by the disruption. It was after midnight, and the offloading area was unpaved and potmarked with potholes and mud and big blotches of dark areas. When the bus arrived, I asked the Operator if he would be willing, with my support and supervision,  to do a three-point turn and back the bus as close to the tracks as possible to shorten the walking distance.  I told him I would back the bus in myself if he wasn't comfortable with it.  He said, "No sweat, I got it handled..You bet!” The Operator wheeled that thing around like it was a suitcase; pulling up and back like he had practiced it a hundred times before.  After parking and without being asked, he assisted in getting everyone onboard with respect. I don't know the name of this Operator because I was too tied up with the events of the night...but THANK YOU for a great job!
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue did an outstanding job helping us to offload the train; in particular one passenger who was terrified because she was certain she couldn't get off without her walker. They escorted her all the way to the bus in the ballast [the rocks surrounding the rails]...without her walker, making her as comfortable as possible and never making her feel inferior or a bother to them or to TriMet.
There were "bumps" during the process...but overall everyone that night (or at least the 3.5 extra hours I was there) worked pretty well together.
David Clayton, Rail Supervisor

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