Metro Call-A-Ride is celebrating 25 years of service!
Operators, dispatchers and Metro staff were invited to celebrate the milestone at a reception held at the Call-A-Ride Center on Tuesday. There were decorations, a cake, and a lot of enthusiastic employees!
“Call-A-Ride has been a true resource for the community for 25 years. Our staff works diligently everyday to provide the best customer experience possible,” said Paul Willett, Metro’s Chief of Paratransit Operations & Service Development. “Call-A-Ride’s record speaks for itself. So far, this year 72 percent of all of our customer contacts are unsolicited commendations regarding the van operators, the office staff and the service in general. We are very proud of that number.”
Metro Call-A-Ride makes about 700,000 trips per year, the vast majority for customers who are elderly or disabled and have no other transportation options.
The job of a Call-A-Ride operator is not an easy one. It is physically and mentally demanding. On an average day, the operators will pick up more than 20 passengers. Operators assist customers with all types of physical disabilities and developmental issues to get in and out of the van in every kind of weather. That includes helping passengers with mobility devices onto the lift, operating the lift, and attaching a safety belt.
Operators will tell you GPS systems are an improvement from previously depending on map books, but are not that helpful when they face unexpected street detours.
Casandra Martin and Zelda Richardson have safely delivered thousands of passengers and driven longer than any other operators at Metro Call-A-Ride. Zelda and Casandra are the only two operators who have been with service all 25 years.
Both say they love their jobs. “It’s a social job,” said Zelda. “You meet and greet people. You get to know a lot of passengers. You find out about their families and they find out about yours.” Cassandra said some of their passengers have been Call-A-Ride customers for over 10 years!
Three employees also are celebrating 25 years with Metro Call-A-Ride. Joani Kleinkemper, Reggie Wayne, and Larry Gilmore have all been with the team since the service launched. “It came so fast,” said Reggie. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been 25 years. I’ve really enjoyed my job so the time has really flown by.”
These call a ride veterans don’t consider the other Metro Call-A-Ride employees coworkers, but family. “We’ve gotten to know each other not just as coworkers,” explained Larry. “We know each other personally and individually, as family.”
The entire Call-A-Ride team works to provide customers a safe and reliable means of transportation: Operators, dispatchers, call center employees, and the entire Call-A-Ride division. “It takes a lot of compassion to work here (Call-A-Ride),” said Joani. “You have to be a very compassionate person. We aren’t just voices on the other end of the line. Our riders know us, and we know them.”
“We’re now looking forward to the next 25 years!” Willett said.
Congratulations to Metro Call-A-Ride and all of the division employees on 25 years of outstanding service!
Click here to view more pictures from Call-A-Ride’s 25 Anniversary celebration!