“Sometimes, I’ll be out and just hear somebody go ‘hey! It’s the TARTA lady!’” Walker said. “You get to know some of these kids as they start to ride the bus, and you get to watch then grow up and they’ll recognize you someplace else.”
As TARTA’s two most experienced Information Operators, Lynette and Vicki are human wayfinders, who most days can be found at TARTA’s Transit Hub in downtown Toledo. They’ve each been addressing the concerns of customers, answering route questions and getting people on their way to their destinations for over 25 years, whether its been on the phone for passengers who call (419) 243-RIDE (7433) or in person at the Hub’s information desk.
“You get a chance to meet a lot of nice people,” Stanley said. “There are times that are challenging, but then you also get to meet and help some truly nice people.
“TARTA provides a service that a lot of people need in their day-to-day lives. There are a lot who would have a hard time getting to work or the doctor without it, so it’s important that we know the system and help them along.”
Vicki arrived at TARTA in the early nineties as a bus driver before transitioning to an Information Operator, but had worked in customer service at Columbia Gas. That background has served her well in her 29 ½ years with the transit authority, as working with customers has put her in touch with personalities of all kinds.
“You definitely need to have a patience, that’s a requirement,” she said. “You do need to be sensitive because a lot of people have challenges, and you learn how to handle it as you go and do the best you can.
“A lot of it is common courtesy. You treat people like you would treat a family member and give the best answer you can and try to make sure they get on their way safely.”
Lynette, who has been with TARTA for 25 ½ years, reflected on Women’s History Month, and what it’s meant for TARTA to have its first two female chief executives in recent years.
“It’s been great to see that change over the years with more and more women becoming CEOs,” Stanley said. “It’s important that our young women pay attention to that and realize and realize what can happen if they have a passion for something and apply themselves. It’s important that everyone understands they can be heard from and contribute.”
Getting to know the people who ride TARTA has become as second nature as knowing the route schedules for Lynette and Vicki, who seem to know the questions before they’re asked.
“You get the same questions a lot from different people, so you start to know,” Vicki said. “Once you learn the routes, it’s something that sticks in your head.