Team keeps Metro buses moving

Janice Berlin

Janice Berlin at the Transit Control Center.

Whenever something out of the ordinary happens on a Metro Transit bus, King County’s Transit Control Center (TCC) gets a call.

Janice Berlin, one of three chiefs in the TCC, works to prepare for any situation that could happen on a bus. The TCC monitors everything from a bus breakdown to a medical emergency to a security threat so commuters are kept safe and issues are addressed quickly.

If a bus breaks down, TCC is notified and the responding coordinator dispatches assistance, generally a coach change, field supervisor and mechanic. Priorities are always safety and accommodating the passengers.

“Sometimes buses break down and spill coolant or diesel fuel,” Berlin said. “This can be very serious because we need to act quickly to avoid polluting the water system by allowing the liquid into a storm drain.  In addition to sending field staff to manage the incident along with mechanics, coordinators must notify Metro’s Environmental Compliance Specialist who will order a Vac Truck to clean out the drain if necessary.”

Since Metro wants to ensure everyone is safe while riding the bus, TCC coordinators call dedicated call receivers at King County 911 that give Metro Transit priority and who receive special training so they are familiar with Metro Transit’s operational needs.

Berlin and two other chiefs, along with TCC Superintendent Jeff Wamsley, oversee a team of 21 first-line supervisors working as communications coordinators. They staff the TCC around the clock to keep our regional bus transit network moving.

“This job allows me to use my skills and exercise my sense of humor in my management style; it’s very intellectually challenging,” Berlin said. “I enjoy supervising smart people, and the people that work here are very smart. I began as a part-time bus driver in 1984 and never dreamed I’d be doing this type of work three decades later.”

Berlin and her fellow chiefs ensure that TCC coordinators are up-to-date on training.

“I’m always working on training programs, not just for new coordinator trainees, but for continuing education. Right now we are scheduling classes addressing spring 2016 service changes and enhanced customer service skills for coordinators. “

The Transit Control Center contributes to Metro’s ability to provide safe, reliable transportation to residents and to keep the Puget Sound region moving.