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CCT Training Prepares Operators & Riders For Service

Rachelle Hill
SEPTA Public and Government Affairs Division

SEPTA's customer service department recently hit a major milestone: 10 thousand operators trained to serve the disability community. Add in the number of riders who have been assisted through outreach effort, and that number climbs significantly - and helps keep customer service and operations moving smoothly.

It's all part of SEPTA's Customized Community Transportation (CCT) operation, through which door-to-door service is provided to the senior citizen and disability communities. There are two parts of the program: Senior Shared-Ride for registered seniors 65 and older in Philadelphia, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit program.

Trained operators navigate the 425 SEPTA CCT vehicles on the road each day to help those with special needs get to their destinations. Local contractors are responsible for CCT operators and their assigned routes. All operators are required to be certified in passenger assistance and defensive driving.

Since 1999, the training program has been centralized at SEPTA headquarters in Center City. The training consists of map reading, reservations and scheduling, policies and procedures, and passenger awareness and support. Blindfolded trainees are guided through an obstacle course that simulates on the job experiences in order to get the perspective of the passengers they will be assisting.

"CCT is very different from regular fixed route driving, as our drivers are dealing directly with disabled individuals and going in and out of homes and various locations" said Warren Montague, Director of Service Operations. "We are very proud to have hit the 10,000 level in operators trained to provide service for the disabled community."

In addition to CCT, SEPTA fixed routes also serve those with disabilities with the support of employees like Hank Stahl, an outreach coordinator and education specialist. Hank retired in September after ten years of outstanding service to SEPTA and the disabled riding public. As an individual with cerebral palsy, Hank not only taught the disabled community how to use SEPTA, but also encouraged them to use public transportation to gain more independence.

One of Hank's major responsibilities was SEPTA's Bus Familiarization Program. The program concentrates on high school students who are unable to qualify for paratransit services. Hank reached out to over 7,800 disabled students, teaching them how to efficiently use public transportation in their every day lives. "Every time I witnessed a student using SEPTA for the first time on their own, I felt like I really accomplished something." Hank believed encouraging disabled individuals to use public transportation builds confidence and strength.

Hank also took part in SEPTA's ADA Focus Program. He worked with SEPTA operators to familiarize them with ADA procedures and give them the perspective of riders with special needs, showing them the common issues faced on public transportation. The program enables operators to provide proper accommodations for disabled passengers.

During his ten years at SEPTA, Hank became an enthusiast and avid user of the system. "The more I ride SEPTA, the more I see operators embracing the Americans with Disabilities Act and the disabled community." Hank's service to the Authority and the public helped strengthen SEPTA's dedication to serving individuals with disabilities.


Participants of a recent SEPTA CCT training session.

Hank Stahl, an outreach coordinator and education specialist.

Stahl, CCT Shared Ride Supervisor Chevelle Coaxum and Lynn Keehfuss, ADA Appeals Coordinator.