As partners, three major agencies create a model program to promote best practices
The National Transit Institute (NTI), New Brunswick, NJ, presented its 2014 Model Program Award to Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) for their Multi-Agency Exchange (MAX) program.
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In this innovative leadership development and learning exchange program, the transit authorities each select eight participants and a facilitator to participate; working in advance to plan the overall program and individually coordinate the conference at each respective agency.
This program came about after a discussion in 2011 between DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas, RTD General Manager Phillip Washington, and Metro General Manager Art Leahy. The three executives realized that their respective transit agencies had much in common and that their staffs could benefit by discussing how each agency addresses common challenges.
In four-day MAX conferences held at each agency headquarters, attendees develop a deeper and broader understanding of public transit management, share innovative ideas to help their agencies better prepare for their stated mission, share the information learned and champion best practices.
Through MAX, staff members have discovered new and different approaches to common transit challenges. They say in several instances, their agencies have adopted or improved business practices, processes or procedures borrowed from their counterparts.
For example, Metro is considering implementing a mobile ticketing smartphone application similar DART’s new GoPass to allow passengers to purchase and store transit passes on their phones. The Denver RTD Transit Watch program served as a model for the DART Police texting tool.
The agencies have completed two one-year cycles of the MAX program with the third cycle currently underway.
The partner agencies have invited a fourth transit agency to join and other agencies have expressed intent to form new groups. There is discussion at a national level to make Multi-Agency Exchange an industry-wide program.
The National Transit Institute was created by Congress and receives funding from the Federal Transit Administration to develop, promote, and deliver training and education programs for the public transit industry.