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Show Jeff Your Work Day

Kristin Geiger
Public Information Manager

SEPTA's version of the multi-Emmy award winning television series Undercover Boss took place last week when Deputy General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel spent an entire day at Midvale Bus District shadowing Vehicle Readiness Coordinator (VRC) Raymond Staas. The reverse shadowing experience was the part of an Authority-wide "Show Jeff Your Work Day" contest where employees applied for a chance to take the Deputy GM to work with them for the day.

Raymond Staas, a fourteen-year employee, won the contest initiated by the Authority's Building A SEPTA Customer Service Culture's (BASCSC) Action Team 3.

"There's always something that has to be done to ensure that Midvale operations run smoothly," he said. "It starts as soon as you get here."

And by "it", Staas is referring to his busy job. Each day, Staas is responsible for directing incoming buses off of the street to designated parking areas, assigning outgoing buses to operators, ensuring that buses wrapped with advertising or automated passenger counting systems are assigned to pre-designated routes and communicating with the on-site foreman, SEPTA's Control Center and fellow VRC Dan Jones. To ensure a smooth running operation, Staas and Jones must know where each bus is at all times.

At 7:30 a.m. sharp, the first-ever "Show Jeff Your Work Day" started and Staas wasted no time explaining his daily duties to the Deputy GM. He and Deputy GM Knueppel walked through Midvale's massive bus storage bay toward a small square shaped building known as the blockers booth. The booth is staffed twenty-four hours a day and each shift must communicate with the next.

After the official changing of the guard, Staas and Knueppel walked from one side of the massive bus storage bay to the other, taking inventory of all parked buses on the Midvale District's Blocking Sheet. The long white sheet is essentially a paper layout of the storage bay. Every parking space is numbered and once parked, the bus numbers are written into the corresponding slot. VRC's must make sure that the sheet is updated throughout the day.

"I like coming out into the field to see what our employees do," Knueppel said. It reminds me of what's important in getting our service out."

And during his day at Midvale, Knueppel had an opportunity to interact with many SEPTA employees. As operators brought their buses back to the district from their morning runs, they saw Staas and Jones familiar faces, but encountered one new one.

"Hi I'm the Deputy General Manager," Knueppel said. "I'm here today to learn a little more about Midvale operations and want to thank you for all that you do."

Before parking, each operator must flash the bus's headlights and lower the wheelchair lift to show the VRC that both are operating correctly. If these items malfunction or any other mechanical issue exists on the bus it is directed to park adjacent to the mechanical booth at the other end of the storage bay. The operator submits paperwork to verify whether the bus is in working condition or needs repair. VRC's must review and keep track of this paperwork. These checks help to prevent mechanical issues from happening down the line when the bus is out on the road full of passengers. Buses parked outside of the mechanical booth could be quick fixes or may need to be taken out of service for the rest of that day. Either way, Staas must keep track of that for the afternoon rush.

He assigns buses with the operators' and passengers' safety in mind. "Everybody wants a Cadillac," Staas said. "But at the end of the day, every operable bus must go out and I'm by the book."

Staas added that his job is a challenge he wouldn't trade in for world. He lists the afternoon runs on the window for operators to ensure that the bus pulls out of the district when it's supposed to. Staas stressed the importance of organization and communication. If VRC's don't know where every bus is on Midvale's property, they could run out of buses to assign operators in the afternoon.

"I saw the day with the Deputy General manager Jeff Knueppel as an opportunity," Staas said. "My job is always changing and I really wanted to be chosen so that I could show him what we do to help the system run as smooth as possible."

Show Jeff Your Work Day winner Raymond Staas (left) and fellow Vehicle Readiness Coordinator Dan Jones (right) pose with Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel (Center) at SEPTA's Midvale Bus District.

As operators return buses to the district, Vehicle Readiness Coordinator Raymond Staas and Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel check headlights and wheelchair lifts to ensure all are safe for afternoon service.

Inside of the mechanical booth at Midvale, Philip Carey and Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel discuss bus maintenance.

Raymond Staas, a fourteen-year employee, looks forward to meeting the challenges set before him each day.