Mayor Ron Nirenberg and new VIA Board Chair Rey Saldaña got an early morning behind-the-scenes look at VIA’s facilities and operations, and witnessed the pre-dawn bus rollout on Thursday, July 11.
The pair met with VIA operators, the Maintenance team, and members of VIA’s senior leadership team, including President and CEO Jeff Arndt, Deputy CEO Keith Hom, Senior Vice President of Development Kammy Horne, and Senior Vice President of Public Engagement Jon Gary Herrera.
Nirenberg and Saldaña toured the VIA Transit Center and met with schedulers and supervisors who explained the daily process of scheduling more 1,300 van and bus operators, getting the buses rolling out and getting the community moving before the sun comes up.
“What impressed me most, getting here at 5 a.m., was understanding the complexity that the consumer never sees behind the experience of riding the bus,” Saldaña said following the tour. “From my perspective, it looks second to none. From the operators to the systems that are put in place, it’s exciting to see so many people who are walking into work at 4 or 5 a.m. with a smile on their face.”
While the visit allowed both to see the operations and challenges VIA faces daily, the pair made the affair light-hearted, joking with operators and posing for photos and selfies.
“I voted for the first time this last election and now I get to meet the man I voted for,” exuberant VIA Van Operator Jimmie Criollo, Jr. said, while taking a photo with the Nirenberg.
The tour also included a visit to the Fleet and Facilities building, where the mayor talked with several Maintenance Team members about the work they do on a daily basis to keep buses and vans operational. Nirenberg and Saldaña also were able to see the VIA body shop and tour VIA CNG fueling station, the largest in the North America.
Mayor Nirenberg was overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into the everyday functions and imagined what VIA could do with additional support.
“It’s an impressive operation, and more proof that’s not about VIA doing more with less funding; but that they’re doing more with less capacity in general,” Nirenberg said. “I’m grateful that we’ve come this far in a short period of time with the quality of service that VIA is producing. And it’s more impetus for us to get on the ball with providing them a full deck of cards to play with.”