Since Twin Transit’s new General Manager Rob LaFontaine took over the community’s public transportation system on Oct. 17, he reports spending the past six months looking for ways to upgrade the business’s efficiency.
“Twin Transit’s greatest overall need is modernization,” LaFontaine said.
One of LaFontaine’s top priorities is to start construction on a new administrative and driver training facility.
“This is a shovel-ready project that has been discussed for some time,” LaFontaine said.
LaFontaine said the last training session for the drivers was held inside the Twin Transit shop.
“It worked,” LaFontaine said. “But we literally had drivers sitting on blankets.”
The proposed $1.1 million, 5,000-square-foot facility would provide space for transit users to purchase bus passes and give Twin Transit a modern driver training room.
“We don’t have a place to meet with the public,” LaFontaine said.
Last month, Lafontaine submitted a Federal Transit Administration grant that if approved would fund 80 percent of the construction costs for a new facility.
Grant awards will not be known until July.
Twin Transit’s 2012 budget is $1.9 million, with nearly 65 percent of the budget coming from a 0.2 percent local sales tax.
Twin Transit employees 27 people and has seen 12 percent more ridership from March 2011 compared to March 2012, with about 2,500 more passengers.
LaFontaine, who relocated from Bullhead City, Ariz., is also working to increase Twin Transit’s public outreach.
Twin Transit is working on a new website as a primary way to communicate with riders.
“We want to embrace the web as well as social media providers like Facebook and Twitter to help get important information out to the public,” LaFontaine said.
Transit riders who use smartphones will be able to receive real-time updates on route delays or schedule changes.
LaFontaine became Twin Transit’s fourth manager after working as an administrative analyst and transit manager for the city government in Arizona.
LaFontaine said he is regularly applying for grants and searching for ways to work with the passengers, which includes offering paratransit services for disabled riders.
“We’re going to be looking at all of our routes and working to eliminate areas of inefficiency,” LaFontaine said.
Kyle Spurr: (360) 807-8239