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Luther Diggs Knows Operations - Down To The Nuts And Bolts

As the Assistant General Manager (AGM) of Operations, one would assume that Luther Diggs had developed a master plan to secure the top spot in SEPTA's Operations Division. However, according to him, he didn't follow any calculated moves.

"I had no plan. I never consciously or actively went after any promotion. Instead, I focused on doing the best job I could do, and hard work got me my next position," says Diggs.

Prior to coming to SEPTA 27 years ago, Diggs spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, the first two in the infantry in Vietnam and the last two maintaining military vehicles stateside. After receiving an honorable discharge, he began a career in the trucking industry. Both jobs prepared him well for working at SEPTA. In the military he learned discipline; from the trucking business he learned accountability.

"If one of our leased refrigerated trucks broke down in the middle of nowhere and the meat inside went bad, I had to pay for it," he remarked, adding, "It was my job to make sure that truck didn't break down." He soon developed the saying, "No junk on the street." When Diggs started working at SEPTA, he brought his motto and determined attitude with him. Then and now, he insists that all vehicles under his control are maintained at the highest level and in a state of good repair."

AGM Diggs is ultimately responsible for SEPTA's entire fleet of over 2,000 vehicles - buses, trolleys, subway-elevated and Regional Rail cars. This includes the operation and maintenance of all 23 SEPTA shops and the management of 6,800 employees. His responsibility also includes managing the New Vehicle Group, which is in the process of purchasing hundreds of new hybrid buses and 120 Silverliner V Regional Rail Cars.

His other equally important job is to get all of those vehicles out on the rails and roadways, on schedule and on time - 365 days a year. From within the state-of the-art Control Center, a centralized facility where the Authority-wide movement of every train, trolley and bus is managed by dispatchers and controllers, Diggs and his staff take pride in facilitating safe operations and efficient passenger movement throughout the system.

Diggs began his career at SEPTA as a foreman at the Allegheny Bus Depot. He was one of the first individuals to be hired "off the streets" for the junior management position. At the time, most foremen worked their way up from the ranks. Over the years, he has served as Director of Maintenance, Assistant Chief Officer of Maintenance, Chief Officer of Suburban Operations, Chief Officer of Transportation and Chief Officer of Vehicle Engineering and Maintenance. With each promotion, his responsibility, knowledge, and reputation increased.

Also under Diggs' watch is labor relations - and he has the perfect mindset for this task.

"My goal as AGM of Operations is to get people working together and to promote better productivity. I don't want to waste time figuring out who's at fault, who's to blame. I just want the problem solved quickly and right, the first time," says Diggs. "I want the people who work for me to know they have the ability to be heard, affect change and contribute. There's so much to learn about how this transit system works, and in operations you learn it all, down to the nuts and bolts."

Diggs, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Germantown High School, now resides in Delaware. He is the father of three grown children and grandfather of five.

Luther Diggs, Assistant GM of Operations

Diggs and General Manager Joseph M. Casey

Diggs talks with Control Center workers

Diggs moves from task to task during his busy workday