Employee of the Quarter and Year: Mark Montgomery
February 16, 2021
Behind the scenes at every transit agency is a team of individuals maintaining the home base where the groundwork is laid to deliver bus service to our communities every day. Omnitrans is lucky to have Facilities Manager Mark Montgomery leading the team responsible for keeping the agency’s headquarters functional – from heating and air conditioning, to keeping the lights and water running, to meeting custodial needs and upkeep.
At their February meeting, the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized Mark as the 2020 Employee of the Year, as well as Employee of the Quarter for October-December 2020, for fearlessly leading Omnitrans into a new era and securing critical electrification infrastructure in anticipation of the agency’s first 100% battery powered zero-emission buses (ZEB).
In 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a regulation setting a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually begin transitioning to 100% zero emission bus fleets by 2040. With this goal in mind, Omnitrans quickly began looking for optimal ways and funding partnerships to begin working toward this goal.
Omnitrans pursued the Southern California Edison (SCE) Charge Ready Transport Program to install electrical infrastructure needed to power ZEBs at low or no cost to the agency. “This is a highly competitive program which we needed to compete against other agencies for,” explained Mark.
Mark led the charge, completing extensive applications and leading site visits. Once accepted, there were other requirements to meet. Charging equipment requirements included studious research to verify that equipment met guidelines set by SCE, and a lengthy, involved process known as easement (granting the right to use or enter property without possessing it), which Mark meticulously oversaw.
The ongoing pandemic presented an additional obstacle requiring the buy-in of a property adjacent to our West Valley facility in Montclair to sign easement documents. Mark overcame this barrier and SCE has begun construction at both facilities, which he continues to oversee. Once the electric service is running, Omnitrans is responsible for installing the charging equipment itself. Competitive solicitation for electrical contracting is underway.
“ZEB vehicles are new to Omnitrans, and to the transit industry altogether,” says Mark. “It was a challenge determining the right type of charging equipment. I attended webinars to learn what is available, reached out to fellow agencies for recommendations, and worked with Director Connie Raya and Maintenance Managers in concerted effort to ensure we had the knowledge to make the most informed decisions.”
With Omnitrans’ first 100% electric buses ready to debut in the coming months, Mark is enthusiastic about this new frontier for the agency. After all, it was Omnitrans’ innovative spirit in making the switch from diesel to natural gas that compelled Mark to apply for his job 15 years ago. “There are big challenges ahead to meet the zero-emission milestone, from the buses to the infrastructure, but I look forward to that. It will be for the greater good to adopt this new technology for cleaner air for the communities in our region,” he says.
As he looks toward the future, Mark is excited to continue learning alongside his team, which is a point of pride for him. Last year, his team was responsible for the design and creation of custom bus driver barriers to minimize contact between our operators and customers during an unprecedented public health crisis. Outside of Omnitrans, Mark looks forward to healing from a recent injury enough to safely continuing his favorite hobby of cycling in his spare time.
“The development and individual accomplishments of the facilities team have been proud moments,” Mark continued. “With every new challenge, their technical capabilities get enhanced, and we can do more projects to improve the agency. Seeing their satisfaction in completing tasks is fulfilling. I am honored to receive this award but it’s really the team behind facilities management that should get all the kudos as well.”