Third in a series that describes ETA’s role at the DNC and tips for transportation event staffing

It’s Day 3 for us, and the Democratic National Convention will begin tomorrow. So, it’s time for the ETA transit system to gear up, beginning with picking up all delegates and guests from the Philadelphia National Airport, for those arriving by plane, and from the 30th Street Station, for those arriving by train.

ETA began its first airport run at 6 a.m., with individual routes posted at each terminal. I hung out at Terminal B for the morning and was able to meet some of the amazing ETA staff as well as some of the delegates from Washington state (which is ETA’s headquarters).

ETA staff was stationed both inside the airport and outside, ready to direct folks to their appropriate bus stop and to answer questions. For the DNC, ETA has partnered with Philly Temps and Perm, a local staffing agency in Philadelphia, headed by Christine Faville. Philly Temps supplied supervisors, managers, dispatchers, route managers and all of our load zone staff, and I saw these folks and others in action all day, happily greeting group after group, and making sure that convention attendees’ needs were met.

I need to describe the weather here in Philly. It has been hot – sweltering, in fact. (And I’m from Texas!) ETA staff, supplied by Philly Temps, worked through this heat, and I saw the heart of Philly displayed through smiles and patience. I talked to and saw a lot of staff, like Leon Mitchell, who manned Routes 9 and 10, outside Terminal B for an 8-hour shift. He was professional, helpful, and friendly, as were many others I observed traveling between the airport and the 30th Street Station, Philadelphia’s rail transit center.

In event transportation, staffing at a large venue event can really disrupt the city in which the event is held. To see local staff, many of whom had travel times to work doubled because of the influx of people and vehicles, smile through a hot, hot day was a testament to this city’s hospitality.

ETA also has partnered with seven bus companies and transit agencies to create its event transit system. I met Jay Croft, from Klein Transportation, a local bus services company, who was running Route 3. His main concern was staying on schedule and delivering his riders in a timely manner, goals that align with ETA’s mission.

Later in the evening, ETA’s transit system went to work again to deliver guests to a delegate party held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The atmosphere was lively and definitely celebratory. Once I arrived, I saw multiple staff briefings, and again, staff spread around the museum, positioned at each route station to help passengers, some of whom required ADA transport (Yes, ETA planned for ADA-equipped vehicles.) And again, I observed hardworking, helpful staff. ETA managers, like John Novack, roved between stations, helping troubleshoot and direct bus drivers to their assigned load zones, while staff like Wilber Winborne, Anne Gallagher, David Bedford, and Robert Cromartie helped keep curb lanes clear of vehicles while directing guests to those (incredible!) Rocky steps in front of the museum (where I saw an alpaca. Yes. You read that correctly).

It is true that large venue events require detailed planning and logistics, but you absolutely need the right sized staff who are dedicated to the success of the event to keep those wheels rolling.

Picture captions

  1. Some delegates from Washington state.
  2. ETA staff (l to r) Jorge Munoz, Risa Sady, and Edward Suchy, cover Route 3 bus station at Philadelphia International Airport Terminal B.
  3. Positioned at Routes 7 and 8, Leon Mitchell checks the bus schedule.
  4. Klein Transportation is one of ETA’s partner bus companies. Here, Jay Croft is running Route 3 to deliver delegates to their hotels.
  5. ETA staffers (l to r) Stephanie Czapla and Marlo Taylor kept busy helping direct delegates arriving by train for the 2016 DNC.
  6. ETA staff Novella Winborne helps with directions.
  7. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the site for a delegate party, to kick off the 2016 DNC. Look at those Rocky steps!
  8. Wait—an alpaca? I just wonder how he intended to hoof it up the Rocky steps.
  9. This fountain is across the street from the museum. It was beautiful!
  10. ETA staff gather for a final briefing before the buses begin to arrive.
  11. First buses arrive, and delegates depart.
  12. This Minnesota delegate-at-large was super excited for the whole convention experience.
  13. (l to r) More ETA staff smiling! Liz Meyers, Matthew Chesson, and Jonathon Love contributed to the success of the delegate party. Many thanks!