Heading to work, school or home by bus or simply planning a transit trip for fun? There’s a team of GoTriangle staff working to ensure that you get to your destination and have a nice day on the way! On National Public Transportation Career Day, meet those who work behind the scenes and behind the wheel to make rides run smoothly in the Triangle. They arrived at their jobs from different paths and places, but all share the same love—people.
In 2003, Norman Elliott was trying to adjust to early retirement after his company was bought and his 30-year career as factory worker in Moncure, N.C., ended. He was riding the bus in Apex and knowing that he “gets bored easily,” decided to ask the operator, “ ‘Are ya’ll hiring?’ ”
“Yes, man!” was the response.
Elliott applied and was offered the job, where he’s been ever since working as an “extraboard,” a position with flexible duties that change each day according to needs. While he enjoys the variety of the work, he says it’s the daily interaction with people and co-workers that makes his job feel more like a “hobby.” He especially likes directing people where they need to go, whether it’s to the social security office, train station or museum. “It’s very interesting because you meet a lot of people,” he says. “It’s just a lot of fun, but at the same time, I see the need of people and take care of their need.”
Christal DeCastro spends her day making sure bus routes run smoothly, but she says the “biggest thing” she loves about her job as GoTriangle’s operations supervisor is working with employees and riders. “You’ve got all different types of people, all different socio-economic backgrounds, so it’s nice to work with the customers as well as to work with the different operators and dispatchers and supervisors that work here.”
DeCastro came to GoTriangle eight years ago after a downturn in the construction industry left her out of work at her job in the heating and air conditioning business. She had a lot of experience as a supervisor and manager but had never worked in bus transit. “I had never thought about transportation,” she says. “I went to college for history and education on my way to law school. So this was definitely not anything that was on my radar. When I came here, I knew absolutely nothing about transportation.”
GoTriangle gave DeCastro the opportunity to earn her commercial driver’s license, and she learned the rest of what she needed to know through her manager’s mentoring and on the job. “I’d go out on routes and see what it is that operators were doing, so I’d be able to supervise and dispatch.”
Transit Service Planner
Mary Kate Morookian enjoyed traveling on trains and buses when she visited other cities and chose graduate school in New York for that reason. “It was part of the experience of being there,” she says. “I decided to focus on planning and eventually move back home to North Carolina and try to bring some of those transit ideals home to planning. I think they go hand in hand. It’s nice to be a part of something that really affects people’s daily lives. It’s not just a route. It is how people drop their kids off to school. It’s how they get to work. It’s how people go shopping.”
As a planner, Morookian says her job begins with listening to what people need, especially regarding what’s working in transit and what’s not. “You also have to balance what you’re hearing with actual data. So we analyze ridership data. [We] look at a route, [to see] if it is on time. If it is not, or if it is not getting a lot of ridership, could we move it? Could we change the schedule? So we look at ‘where does it make sense to have transit?’ or ‘how do we make transit better where it is?’ ”
Customer Service Associate
Juan Alencastro also puts meeting people at the top of his list of what he likes about his job as a customer service associate. He was working in the tax office at the United Nations in New York when he decided to take a job at GoTriangle. Fluent in Spanish and English, Alencastro helps customers plan their trips, whether they are residents or tourists.
“People call from out of town and are just visiting the Triangle, and they actually will call in and find out if we go to certain locations—if they can take a bus to sightseeing, museums, to malls,” he says. “It’s good to be able to tell them, ‘Yes, we actually do go there. You can spend a day there and come back on public transit.’ ”
Sustainable Travel Services Manager
Shelly Parker says knowing that her work as a sustainable travel services manager helps others motivates her every day. “I know that working at GoTriangle truly makes a difference,” she says. “We help employees and students across the region find carpools that save money on parking fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars over the year. If someone has a medical condition that prevents them from driving or can’t afford a car, even if it is just a temporary situation, taking the bus can be an easy answer to get around town or across the Triangle.”
Marketing manager Wendy Mallon says people in the community make doing her job easy because transit advocates are everywhere!
“Marketing transit is such a pleasure,” she says. “We never have a shortage of fans to help tell our story. People are so passionate about transit and that’s what makes marketing it so much fun! Using marketing methods as a way to reach out to folks who may not have tried transit in the past, and showing them the possibilities, is what I love most. Our community changes as transit changes—and the results are told by everyday people who are living their lives and sharing what they’ve learned. It’s my job to help them tell that story. “
Interested in joining our team as an employee or intern? Visit our careers page!