May 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Jameson Auten welcomed as LTD’s next leader

9 min read
Board members and the community welcomed new Lane Transit District CEO Jameson Auten at his first board of directors meeting.

A warm welcome for Jameson Auten at his first monthly board meeting with the Lane Transit District.

[00:00:06] Caitlin Vargas (Lane Transit District Board President): We’re so thrilled to have you here. It was a long road. We are so happy that you accepted this position. We’re so excited about your leadership and we can’t wait to work with you… And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Jameson for his very first ‘Comments from the CEO.’

[00:00:24] Jameson Auten (LTD Chief Executive Officer): Well, thank you. First off, I want to piggyback on President Vargas’s comments. I’m excited about the future here at LTD and I’m excited for a few reasons.

[00:00:36] First and foremost: The board. I want to thank the board. I think the board is engaged. The board was able to get validation on the organization recently on the trip to APTA (American Public Transit Association) to hear how the organization is viewed.

[00:00:52] I want to thank the LTD team, the team here. I’ve had opportunity to kind of roll on, roll into this gig in a different kind of way. The team here is committed. From your executives to your operators, to your staff, to your fleet mechanics, to your facilities folks—the team’s committed. The team wants to do the right thing. The team wants to serve the public in the right ways.

[00:01:16] The community. I’ve had the opportunity to have lots of conversations around the community. The community’s engaged. The community is vested in what we do. They recognize the value of what we do, particularly when we right-size it and do it in ways that are intentional and impactful for those we serve.

And we thank Rob (Zako of Better Eugene Springfield Transportation) sitting in the audience. Rob’s an advocate. He will give you a dose of reality and that’s what we need. We need a dose of reality to make sure that we’re serving the communities the right way.

[00:01:43] I want to thank the two gentlemen sitting in the front row, the leadership of the ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union). They’ve been very helpful both to me personally and my family (explaining benefits) and other things—touring the system, looking at the nuances of what our operators, what our fleet mechanics go through each day in a very positive way, in a way that it says that they want to pull on the rope just as hard as everyone else.

[00:02:03] I think we have work to do. It’s around how we take in feedback, how we put that feedback in a decision-making process. We’ll speak to that a little bit later in the meeting.

[00:02:13] But for my first 100 days, I just wanted to share just four key areas that I want to focus around.

[00:02:19] Those areas are around engagement, both with our communities, with our passengers, with our employees. We want to engage and see what their experience is and how we can build on that.

[00:02:28] Organizational alignment. We have a strategic business plan. We have key people in key places. We want to make sure that we’re set up in ways that are going to lead to success and what we’ve identified as success measures.

[00:02:41] Our talent, our internal talent, making sure that we have the proper talent, that the skill sets are there, and that there’s an opportunity to grow professionally in what we do each day, ’cause there’s a direct benefit to the community.

[00:02:54] And then our mission, vision, and values, making sure that we’re living those each day and that they’re defined across the organization.

[00:03:03] So my first few weeks here have been positive. We’re going to have a town hall meeting on Friday to kind of lay out what the focus will be.

[00:03:10] We’ll have a follow-up town hall at the end of 100 days, which will be Valentine’s Day. So hopefully it’s still a love fest. And we will tell what we’re, where we’re tracking at that point as well. So, very pleased to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.

[00:03:23] John Q: Public comment speakers welcomed the new CEO.

[00:03:27] Bill Bradley (Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757): My name’s Bill Bradley. I’m from Cottage Grove, representing ATU 757. I’ve had the opportunity to come before the board, multiple times, highs, lows. It’s been quite a rollercoaster the last few years.

[00:03:38] Today I’m coming at a high. I think we’re coming in with a lot of optimism.

[00:03:43] I’m hearing a lot from my members (about) the kind of legwork, the groundwork that our new CEO Jameson Auten is doing. Even before he started day one on the job, he was here, he was meeting with members, he was meeting with community members. He was touring fleet, he was riding buses.

[00:03:57] That speaks a lot to our members just to see him out there, and get to know their name and face— not through a picture, but through an in-person meeting, which was wonderful.

[00:04:05] Jameson has been easy to communicate with. I think we have a chance to take this district to the next level.

[00:04:12] Obviously, we’re still running a reduced service to our community. We have a lot of opportunity in front of us to build this system back better.

[00:04:19] We have a lot of things in the fire right now that we can really talk about and make big changes and set this district on the course for the next three, four, five years to make sure that the community’s getting served, which ultimately is what we’re here to do.

[00:04:32] Leo Folsom: Hi, my name’s Leo. I’m here representing the Southeast Neighbors Transportation Committee, and we just wanted to say hello and welcome to Jameson. We’re really glad you’re here. We’re looking forward to working with you and preserving the bus routes of South Eugene. They’re important to us and, you know, we want to do everything we can to help them thrive and serve the community.

[00:04:53] Also, I just wanted to extend a thank-you to Don Nordin, who served as our representative on the LTD board…Pretty much every meeting we have, every two weeks, your name comes up and there’s just so much gratitude and appreciation for your service, so thank you.

[00:05:08] Also wanted to note that we are actively meeting with bus drivers. We’re supportive of their efforts, trying to do what we can to support them and help them do well at their jobs and also be well at their jobs. That’s just really on the top of our mind.

[00:05:24] Rob Zako (Better Eugene Springfield Transportation): I’m Rob Zako. I live in Eugene. I’m executive director of Better Eugene Springfield Transportation

[00:05:29] Jameson, we’re really excited to have you here. Let me know, let BEST know, let our partners know how we can support you, the organization. We want you all to be successful. We know that there are challenges. The flip side of challenges are opportunities. There are ways to do things better. And like Bill said, we’re looking forward to it. So, let’s get on the bus and let’s make some good stuff happen.

[00:05:47] John Q: In his first official meeting with the board, after his first ‘Message from the CEO,’ he presented his first agenda item.

[00:05:55] Jameson Auten: Well, thank you. Board, the item in front of you is a community outreach and communications assessment.

[00:06:01] There have been several board meetings here where there have been questions around outreach and how we gather feedback and if we go to great enough efforts to really gather that feedback and incorporate it into the decision-making process.

[00:06:14] Through conversations in the community in various quarters, that theme has arisen as well. How do we get more input into decision-making? How do we become more transparent in what we do?

[00:06:26] How do we go after community outreach? What is the public’s expectation versus their experience and the reality? Is there a gap analysis there that we need to look at? How does that translate into a greater level of transparency and a ‘best practices,’ if you would, that LTD can implement?

[00:06:47] We’re implementers. LTD is implementers and we should be in a place where we’re the best implementers in the country. And what we implement is built upon with good solid feedback from our communities that we serve, that allow us to provide services that are right-sized and intentionally effective for our users.

[00:07:08] We’ll put the scope together. We’ll have the scope evaluated for completeness by outside, external stakeholders, and then we’ll procure a consultant to do this work for us. We’re looking to create an external steering group where LTD staff will serve as a resource through the process. We want to co-create how we move forward with our communities and with those who keep the lights on— you know, our business community, our stakeholders, and have them have a say and seat at the table.

[00:07:41] So we’ll be coming back to you at the next work session with a scope of work for this. And we feel it’s a good time to do this. It’s a good time to assess. You know, MovingAhead has raised certain questions, and we see those in the media.

[00:07:54] And we want to be able to address those. Not just for the MovingAhead project, but for how we move ahead, period. And have that into our work process.

[00:08:04] Michelle Webber (LTD Board): I don’t really have a question, more of a comment in appreciation for bringing this forward. I think it’s really important that we have these conversations with our community and understand what we should be delivering to them.

[00:08:17] Susan Cox (LTD Board): Jameson, first of all, welcome. But thank you for this initiative. I’m someone that has been concerned about what I felt like was not adequate community input and especially because of COVID, much of it was unavoidable. But I see this as a really positive reset and I think the community is going to embrace it.

[00:08:38] I think that you will move ahead on the other side with a lot more robust, enthusiastic involvement from the community. So thank you for doing so. I really support it.

[00:08:51] Pete Knox (LTD Board): Yeah, this is something of a priority for me and I really look forward to seeing what, as you kind of outlined, as you said, a 30,000-foot view of your plan, and really interested to see how that’s going to unfold. I think this is a perfect time to really look at this, especially as we come out of COVID. Thank you for doing this.

[00:09:11] Don Nordin (LTD Board): I certainly don’t want to throw away the baby with the bathwater here… I guess I want to recognize that there’s been a lot of work—very good work—a lot of consultation from all over the country and, you know, it’s still a valuable project. It just maybe needs some more community involvement, which you just discussed.

[00:09:38] Jameson Auten: Thank you. And I want to acknowledge the work that the staff both here and the city have done. We do really good work. I think that part of what we’re trying to identify is, how can we do better in terms of getting that community engagement and bringing that into the process.

[00:09:55] But also how do we tell the story? You know, how do we tell the story on the what’s in it for me and what does this build for the future of the areas that we serve? So we’ll be looking at those pieces. And certainly the staff does a fantastic job in planning and again is recognized.

[00:10:09] Our goal is to make sure that John Q. Public understands what’s going on and how they can get input into the overall process and if there’s something else we can do to facilitate that.

[00:10:20] John Q: The first LTD board meeting of the Jameson Auten era.

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