The Aggie: What does the position of general manager entail?
Palmere: “The General Manager is the career staff person responsible for Unitrans. Because so many of Unitrans essential functions are performed by students under the supervision of student managers, much of what the General Manager (GM) does is related to providing direction, advice and mentoring for students. The GM, like the other Unitrans career staff, provides continuity for the overall direction of the organization, as well as longer-term projects such as budgeting, grant management and capital projects. I also work closely with our partner agencies, especially the City of Davis, as well as other campus departments.”
What do you hope to bring to Unitrans?
“Unitrans is a remarkable success story of a campus and community service so I want to continue the sense of pride in what has been accomplished in its 45-year history. I also want to make sure that safety and customer service remain our primary objectives. Having been in the public transportation industry for over 30 years, I bring a sense of perspective and knowledge about other transit systems and how that can help us make improvements.”
What is the best part about working for Unitrans? Are there any cons?
“I think the best part of working for Unitrans is energy and intelligence of the people who work there — both the students and career staff. It is a real treat to see the creative solutions that they come up with when confronted with a challenge. I also enjoy being part of the city and campus efforts in encouraging alternative transportation. Davis is a well-recognized leader in that area. The difficult part about the job comes every spring when we lose so many great people to graduation. Of course, we are happy that they are moving on to in their chosen field, but it is a little sad to have to say goodbye to so many people who have put so much of their time and talent into Unitrans.”
What are three words to describe the Unitrans community?
“Dedicated, energetic, fun.”
What characteristics do you look for in a Unitrans bus driver?
“Initially, we look for someone who is responsible and interested in customer service. Once the driver training process begins we also look at their progress in driving a bus safely — which they must master before becoming a driver.”
What’s your favorite bus route?
“I like to ride the bus on weekends, especially the O line, and see the diversity of our ridership going to lots of different destinations.”
What is a pet peeve you have about bus passengers?
“My pet peeve is actually with car drivers who do not let a bus back into the traffic lane when it is pulling out of a stop. The bus may have 40 or more people on it waiting to move, but the one person in the car feels like they have to get in front of it and keep all those people from getting to where they are going.”
Where do you see Unitrans heading in the future? What can be improved?
“I think the key for Unitrans’ future is sustainability — both environmental and financial sustainability. Unitrans is a key ingredient in a more sustainable transportation system for the campus and the city and it needs to be part of a menu of transportation options which allow people to live car-free (or at least with reduced auto-use). At the same time, the only way it can perform that role is if it is well-managed and forward thinking so that it has the funds needed to keep improving its service and facilities.”
STEPHANIE B. NGUYEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.