Employee of the Quarter Anna Jaiswal
November 11, 2020
This month, Development Planning Manager Anna Jaiswal was recognized as Employee of the Quarter by the Omnitrans Board of Directors. Over the last three months, Anna has tirelessly collaborated with agency departments, external partners, and congressional offices to position Omnitrans well for competitive grant funding opportunities. She has consistently led several grant application projects that receive the highest possible ratings by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA).
In partnership with community organizations, Anna currently awaits a decision on the $1 million Clean Mobility Options grant for an electric vehicle microtransit project in the Bloomington area. “It is a rare opportunity for a grant to pay for operation of transit service,” says Anna. Because of this, the grant required in-depth public engagement prior to applying, which scared off several potential applicants.
Anna’s recent efforts on this grant included leading a survey to assess the community’s transit needs, presenting to three community groups amid a pandemic, and putting together a comprehensive assessment that looked at data to demonstrate the need for transit service in the area using meaningful community feedback.
“Anna is the agency lead on several complex Omnitrans projects and grants where she deftly navigates internal and external agency politics with real political consequences,” says Director of Strategic Development Jeremiah Bryant. “She consistently does this well, continuing to position the agency for the best possible outcome. In each case with grants, she has taken limited information and turned them into complete, detailed grant applications.”
Now more than ever, it is crucial for public transit agencies to pursue grant funding to improve their services. Grants allow agencies to go above and beyond the basic funds that keep operations going by allowing innovation and service expansion. By 2040, Omnitrans will need to convert the entire bus fleet to zero emission buses, and Anna has been hard at work to secure grant funds to assist with vehicle charging infrastructure and for the electric buses themselves.
“I think we have seen the necessity to be more creative and innovative to develop new projects that meet the needs of our community, like piloting microtransit,” says Anna. “Currently, we are working with another agency on a grant for mobile fare payment technology, which is helpful in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is important to try to keep bringing in funding sources that will help us do what will better serve our riders.”
This is only half of what Anna’s job entails, however. She also oversees development projects with partner cities and private property developers to ensure that public transit is included in new developments, including: bus shelters, ADA-compliant bus stops, rapid transit lines, active transportation plans, and overall transit integration in the growth of the communities we serve. In fact, the San Bernardino Transit Center was one of the projects she oversaw early on in her tenure at Omnitrans.
“Working with our communities to improve our transportation systems is what I always wanted to do,” says Anna, who holds a master’s degree in community planning with emphasis on public transit. “I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to do this under Director of Strategic Development Jeremiah Bryant and our senior leadership team. They have given me the freedom to be able to make a difference and contribution in our community.”
When Anna is not working toward building safer, people-friendly transit systems for those who choose to walk, bike, or ride transit instead of driving a car, she is likely playing with her five-year-old son, practicing Bollywood dance, or participating in the Redlands Traffic and Parking Commission and the Inland Empire Bicycling Alliance. She is a true transit advocate for our communities – ever since she was living back home in Cincinnati – and Omnitrans is lucky to have her on our team. Congratulations on your stellar work, Anna!