At a press conference held earlier today, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced Knoxville Area Transit as a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. This is a national distinction given out by the American Public Transportation Association—or APTA, for short—to recognize public transit systems that have made significant service improvements in recent years.
Speaking from the John J. Duncan Jr. Transit Center downtown, Rogero commended KAT’s leadership for taking the incentive to update and expand Knoxville’s public transportation system, citing improvements made to 14 of the city’s 23 bus routes and KAT’s redesigned website as especially meaningful examples.
Rogero then recognized several KAT employees who’ve made significant contributions to the organization over the years: bus operators Kenny Dunlap and Richard Beeler, both set to retire later this month after 40 years of accident-free service; Detour Communications Coordinator Aquayla Harrison, who has become indispensable in light of Knoxville’s rampant construction; Beauford Whiteside of the KAT maintenance department; and Safety & Training Manager Odell Draper, who has just been accepted into a prestigious training program run by the Washington D.C.-based Eno Center for Transportation.
After introducing and acknowledging each of them, Rogero handed the conference over to KAT Transit Director Dawn Distler, who enumerated a few more of the specific improvements that helped KAT earn this award, including the “Trolleys and Transit on Tap” program, a series of listening sessions meant to give riders the chance to voice their opinions regarding route layouts and services, and their new, more interactive website, which allows future riders to “build” their desired route virtually via a new “Trip Planner” application powered by Google Maps.
Distler also thanked various people and institutions that were instrumental in making these improvements a reality, including Rogero, the Knoxville City Council, Visit Knoxville, the KPA Board, and the city’s other infrastructural departments,
The press conference concluded with Rogero congratulating every KAT employee over their two-way radio system. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, “for a job well done.”
Featured Photo: Mayor Rogero and City Council members recognize Detour Communications Coordinator Aquayla Harrison, while bus operators Kenny Dunlap and Richard Beeler look on. Photo by Thomas Stubbs.
Thomas Stubbs is a lifelong Knoxvillian, although these days he spends the academic year in Greenville, South Carolina, majoring in History and Communications Studies at Furman University. He’ll be a senior when he returns to Furman in the fall, a fact which mystifies him as much as it does everyone else. He writes a column for Furman’s newspaper, The Paladin, covering theatre and the Greenville arts scene. In his spare time, Thomas may be found singing in any number of choirs or catching up with old friends.
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