Still celebrating four wins from earlier this year, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) scored several more honors this fall, including Executive Director Michael Tree being named the California Transit Association's Transit Professional of the Year.
"An outstanding individual who has provided strong leadership and vision to a small transit system or made a notable contribution that benefits public transit in general" receives the award every year, according to a statement from LAVTA, which operates the Wheels and Rapid buses and Dial-a-Ride paratransit service throughout the Tri-Valley.
Tree's involvement in steadily increasing ridership over the past several years, issuing unlimited access transit passes to all Las Positas College students, improving connectivity to BART and other transit agencies, and launching both the rideshare partnership program Go Dublin and a Shared Autonomous Vehicle project were a few of the reasons that the public transit veteran was chosen for the honor.
For more than 25 years, Tree has worked in various public sector executive management roles, including as general manager for the Missoula Urban Transportation District in Montana before joining LAVTA. He has also served as city manager for the city of Twentynine Palms, and general manager for Sierra Management, operator of the town of Porterville's public transit network.
Several more LAVTA staff members recently received national recognition for serving in the public transit industry.
LAVTA was presented with an AdWheel Grand Award by the American Public Transportation Association at the annual TRANSform Conference in New York City in October. The annual competition honors the best marketing and communications outreach practices by North American transit systems.
Earlier this year, LAVTA received four AdWheel awards in the small operator category for Electronic Media, Special Event, Funding Partnership and Educational Partnership.
The agency's partnership with Las Positas College to promote student ridership and the passage of a student mobility initiative to give the program a sustainable revenue source were what cinched the Educational Partnership AdWheel Grand Award for the LAVTA marketing team, which consists of Tony McCaulay, director of planning and marketing, and Christy Navarro, marketing and communications specialist.
The duo joined LAVTA in 2017 and oversees all creative, design, copywriting and public outreach at the agency. Prior to working at LAVTA, McCaulay led the marketing department for the Regional Transportation District in Denver and Navarro was a marketing specialist at Summit Financial Group in San Ramon.
Another LAVTA employee was also honored last month; customer service and contract compliance manager Jonathan Steketee was named one of the country's top "40 Under 40" by Mass Transit magazine. Each year, the publication recognizes young employees making a splash in public transit work.
Steketee started with LAVTA in 2018 and is responsible for their fixed route and paratransit services, as well as directing a staff of five who oversee customer service, fleet management and IT. He also presides over LAVTA's shared autonomous vehicle demonstration project and the Go Dublin! Program.