The National Transit Institute has recognized Pierce Transit and one other agency (LA County’s Metro) with the Model Program Award:
The second recipient of this year’s Model Program Award, Pierce Transit, … developed and implemented Project Innovation in 2008. Project Innovation is a multi-faceted program that creates an employee volunteer-based research and development arm of the agency. During a Project Innovation cycle, five teams of employees from across the agency participate in intensive training and then work independently to brainstorm ideas for projects or initiatives focused in the areas of increasing ridership, making transit “cool,” and green or sustainable practices. The ideas are then vetted and tested for applicability, cost, and benefits to Pierce Transit, before being presented to the Board of Commissioners.
In 2008, 19 ideas were presented to the Board, including “Real Time Bus Information System,” “Customer Appreciation Days,” Energy Star Certification,” “Workplace Wellness Initiative,” and “Big Belly Solar Trashcan.” Of the original 19 ideas presented, the Board approved 16 for further study or immediate implementation. These 16 ideas were provided resources through the budgeting process. The 2009 Project Innovation team ideas will be presented this fall.
The NTI, based at Rutgers University, is funded by the “Federal Transit Administration to develop, promote, and deliver training and education programs for the public transit industry”.
According to Pierce Transit spokesman Lars Erickson, Project Innovation has already resulted in operating savings that avoid service cuts, many of the seed ideas for PT Tomorrow, the pilot “Big Belly” solar trash can that saves on garbage collection costs and reduces litter, and the plan to install cameras on buses beginning next summer.