The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority, which is developing a transit system for the CNMI, continues its momentum on passenger assistance and sensitivity training since receiving full certification by the Community Transportation Association of America, according to Alfreda P. Camacho, the special assistant for Public Transportation.
“We have come a long way and continue to build our capacity and our personnel for the diverse clients we expect to avail of our services in the near future. We’ve made it standard procedure for our dispatchers and drivers to practice the highest level of conduct demonstrated in transit services both locally and nationally. We know that in order for COTA to continue delivering safe and courteous transit services for our community, the proper training opportunities should be afforded to the team regularly and we are receiving more positive feedback as a result,” Camacho said.
Camacho added that they remain committed to quality service regardless of race, color or national origin, and promote full and fair participation of transit services.
Since acquiring mobility equipped vans and an American with Disabilities Act-accessible transit bus, personnel preparation for the upcoming transit system, to be called Fixed Route Transit System, has been the central focus, said COTA community planner Diego B. Songsong.
“I want to reiterate and share that we’ve completed the State Management Review audit with the Federal Transit Administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additionally, we’ve completed the A&E design services for the administrative building and maintenance facility and are currently soliciting for a contractor. With so much moving parts, we want to make sure we are prepared in all ways possible,” Songsong said.
Camacho added that they have also implemented the transportation software tracking system for better visibility of scheduling and dispatching data.
“It is important to note that the acquisition of ADA-accessible bus is to conduct realistic tests and route planning versus pre-planning estimates on operational projections and costs associated with the CNMI’s first public transit system.
“I feel that, at the same time, we must continue training our personnel to uphold their safety and ethical conduct. As we move forward, it is our hope that this careful planning will foresee any potential obstacles and ensure sustainable and safe transportation for our community,” Camacho said.
Noting the strides that COTA has made despite the challenges in public transportation, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres praised COTA for its ongoing capacity building and assistance with elderly, military veterans and para-transit services.
“We know that access to transportation is the single most important factor in an individual’s ability to escape poverty. The journey to developing the fixed route system has been met with numerous challenges but COTA has demonstrated its commitment.
“I am pleased with the meticulous planning that has brought the agency to the point of having something tangible for the community to see. Although there is still more work to be done, COTA has ensured that we can present a safe, responsive, and efficient system moving forward,” Torres said. (PR)