Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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58 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 Ann Dawson-August 30 CNG New Flyer buses. The first new bus was in use by June of 2013, with all the vehicles on the street by September that same year. "I was able to bring in very new vehi- cles within a six-month timeframe and get them on the property earlier than antici- pated by communicating efciently with the bus builder," she says. BJCTA is currently in the midst of one of its biggest projects with the City of Bir- mingham. Together they are building a one-stop-shop intermodal transporta- tion center that will house Amtrak, BJC- TA administration, intercity buses and a new terminal. BJCTA is also trying to expand its ser- vices by setting up super stops/transfer points in other locations within its region as well as establishing commuter shuttles. It's also in the process of installing more equipment, such as cameras, GPS and au- tomatic passenger counters, on its vehi- cles. A new mobile app is also now avail- able enabling BJCTA passengers to plan their complete bus trips. "We want to make sure we're going to all the places that people want to go and be able to be that spark that moves economic development forward," Daw- son says. "I believe in what APTA says: 'where transit goes, the community grows.'"— Brittni Rubin Ann Dawson-August's involvement in transportation started through a manage- ment internship with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authori- ty (SEPTA). She was a 27-year-old Army reservist working as a maintenance ad- ministrative technician with the U.S. gov- ernment when a colonel in her unit, who worked at SEPTA, made a pivotal recom- mendation. "SEPTA started a pilot management program to introduce minorities and women to the public transportation in- dustry," Dawson-August says. "Some po- sitions they were interviewing for were considered "non-traditional" for women. The colonel in my unit thought it'd be a great ft because of my experience in qual- ity control and with the reserves." After her internship, Dawson-August stayed with SEPTA for 13 years, working for a variety of departments, including the subway elevated division, public rela- tions/marketing, paratransit and govern- ment afairs. In 1997 she went on to serve as the op- erations director of Santee Wateree Re- gional Transportation Authority (SWR- TA) in Sumter, S.C., where she was born. She was eventually promoted to human resources director followed by executive director and CEO. SWRTA is the second largest small urban and rural transit au- thority in the state. Dawson-August be- came the frst African-American woman to serve as CEO of the agency. In this position, she was able to secure funding to build a new intermodal trans- portation center within a four-year time span and push for more technology on- board vehicles. Dawson-August stayed with SWRTA for 15 years before applying to her current job with Birmingham-Jefferson Coun- ty Transit Authority (BJCTA), which she started in January of 2013. She initially wanted to help a city and state known for playing an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement and eventually became the frst female CEO of BJCTA. "I'm on a spiritual journey to give back to a community that went through so much in the '50's and '60's," Dawson-Au- gust says. "What they did back then allows me to sit in this seat, so I want to help build a better transit system to serve the citizens in this area." BJCTA is the largest transit agency in the state of Alabama, serving Birming- ham, the largest city, and Jefferson, the largest county. Te agency has about 340 employees. In her current position, Daw- son-August is responsible for the over- all agency administration. She ensures BJCTA is ofering reliable and safe trans- portation to citizens on a daily basis and interacts with employees; government officials; and local partnering organiza- tions. She also makes sure BJCTA main- tains and operates within a stable budget. "Unpredictable annual funding is the most challenging part of the job," Daw- son-August says. "But I can't look at it on a daily basis as being a challenge. I have to get ofcials to understand the econom- ic benefit of public transportation, and then, look at what we're currently receiv- ing and put the best quality transit possi- ble on the street." Since starting in January of 2013, Daw- son-August has led the team to purchase WOMEN IN TRANSPORTATION Following 15 years in Sumter, S.C., Dawson-August joined BJCTA in January 2013. Executive Director TITLE Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority ORGANIZATION Birmingham, Ala. CITY

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