Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Speaker of the Week!

PROGRAM: Lauren Skiver, CEO of Sunline Transit

Ms. Skiver began her career in bus transit as a maintenance worker for a bus company on the east coast.  She is now the CEO of a “small” transit company called Sunline Transit.  This company has the bus transit business in the Coachella Valley, it also manages all that needs to be managed about taxi cabs/service, and it is on the cutting edge of generating, testing, and the selling of, alternative fuels.  The buses in the valley primarily run on hydrogen cell fuel that is made here from landfill compressed gas.  It is the first such agency in the US to run almost its entire fleet on this energy.  Although the US is backing off on its push for clean air alternative zero emission vehicles, all over the world there is an increase for it and Sunline Transit is in the market of creating the energy cells. 

The bus company has 14 routes with 76 buses, additional paratransit vehicles available to be called to provide transit to the invalids.  It made 4.5 million passenger trips in a year.

Measure A funds 54% of the company, there is limited money available in federal subsidies and the company, because of its track record in development receives a lot of grant support for their future endeavors.  74% of their cost is in wages/benefits with 300 plus employees, all but 100 are part of a union.  Bus rides and paratransit rides are all highly subsidized.

The company has monthly performance management meetings with real numbers and adequate data to update their decisions.  The company supports a Culture of Excellence which is far beyond just showing up each day.  Working excellently requires training of employees.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell bus is in its 9th generation iteration.  With each the cost is going down and when the market goes up, the costs will continue to go now.  The cost of such a bus in 2018 is $1.7 million.  Sunline also has 3 all battery electric buses built in Lancaster, CA by a Chinese company each of which costs $900,000. This is a newer concept that Sunline is trying as it keeps ahead of the business of public transit.

The company is currently 30% solar energy driven in their buildings and plan to be 100% within the next few years.