Bathrick’s first year as PT Manager filled with challenges, achievements
Mark Bathrick took the reins as the manager of ITD’s Public Transportation Office a year ago, in mid-November 2014. In the 12 months since, the section has been completely overhauled, creating initiatives that dovetail with the department’s overall vision, fostered an environment that spurs public transportation providers toward success, and also managed to save more than $600,000 dollars in annual costs.
Bathrick recently sat down with the Transporter to talk about accomplishments and opportunities for further success:
OOC: Looking back on Year One, what excites you most about the future?
MB: In addition to the accomplishments already mentioned, we also received our first ever “A” grade in the State Management Review from the Federal Transit Administration. But most importantly, through the dedicated work of the Public Transportation team, we have provided a solid and transparent foundation for stable public transportation operations in Idaho for years to come.
OOC: What has been your biggest challenge in the new job?
MB: The biggest challenge that public transportation faces statewide is the growing demand for service and the ever-increasing propensity to use public transportation in our day-to-day lives. For decades, outside of the large metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles, public transportation has been associated with providing transportation for the elderly, medical appointments, or for those who have no other means of transportation. During my first year, we’ve made a concerted effort to not only brand public transportation as a way to provide mobility to these critically important sectors of our populace, but also to show that public transportation is actually a driving force behind economic development and job growth. This transformation comes at a critical point in Idaho’s growth, as we seek to encourage new business to locate to Idaho and promote the growth and expansion of those already present. That is why we are excited to announce the development and launch of the Idaho Workforce Transportation Initiative, which will be sponsored by the Public Transportation Office in 2016. This Initiative will provide front-line education and training to Idaho employers and, more importantly, direct employees on commute options and job access.
OOC: What has been your biggest asset in overcoming the challenges?
MB: I would have to say that undoubtedly my biggest asset is the incredible team we have put together in the Public Transportation Office and the immense support and guidance I have received during my tenure from so many leaders throughout ITD. There is significant responsibility put on our staff as they serve as the department’s resource on all issues related to public transportation. I have been so proud to see their enthusiasm as we have worked diligently to reorganize Public Transportation and rebuild the program from the ground up. Their desire for success is a remarkable testament to the continuing culture of change we have seen throughout the department. I would also be remiss not to mention the support and guidance I have received from Monica Crider and the Executive Team. Change is always a difficult journey, but their support during the early stages of our transition proved crucial to the success we have enjoyed during the past year.
OOC: Describe a typical day in the life of the PT manager.
MB: As I’m sure many of my colleagues at ITD can attest, there really never is a “typical” day. The Public Transportation Office operates in a unique world, in that we serve as the “one-stop shop” for public transportation for the department. On a daily basis, we deal with everything from grant applications and review, public-transportation operating and capital reimbursements and grant management, both fiscal and safety compliance, performance management and monitoring, planning, and outreach/public transportation involvement. We are also engaged with our national partners at the Federal Transit Administration on a continual basis, and our state and local partners including Medicaid, Commerce, and Labor. In keeping with the director’s vision, one of the first items implemented when I took over was a program overhaul that saw us create four key grant-management programs and three strategic programs, patterned after the departments' mission; the Public Transportation Safety Program, Outreach Program, and Economic Development Program. This unique structuring has allowed staff to take a proactive approach to engaging stakeholders and partners across the state, including working with the Idaho State Police on vehicle inspections, performing the first-ever Statewide Public Transportation Site Visit tour, and building the foundation for our Idaho Workforce Transportation Initiative. We also serve on a number of committees both as members and ex-officio advisors across the state, working with legislators, local elected officials, and advocates to connect Idaho citizens with public transportation.
OOC: What is your vision for Public Transportation in 2016?
MB: 2016 promises to be an exciting year for Public Transportation. Our 2016 vision is “Building a Solid Foundation for a Mobile Future.” We have two important efforts that will kick off during 2016. Number one is the development of the first-ever comprehensive Statewide Public Transportation Plan. The plan will look at the current state of public transportation in Idaho, and where projected growth and future investment will best suit the needs of a growing Idaho. It will also continue to build upon our performance-measurement program, so greater efficiency and cost effectiveness can be demonstrated not only to transit providers, but policy makers and the public as well. Our second effort is the launch of the Idaho Workforce Transportation Initiative. This Initiative will combine both the previous Statewide Rideshare platform, which provides a web platform for carpooling, vanpool, and public transportation options, and the previous Mobility Support Grant Program, which is focused on one-on-one education of public transportation options. Through this program, grantees will work in direct partnership with our office, to meet with Idaho employers and employees and provide travel training on commute options available. The focus will be on spurring continued economic growth in all areas of the state. Public transportation will continue to provide frontline service to public transportation providers and local partners on a day-to-day basis, ensuring that public transportation operations continue to function throughout the state.