Though horse-drawn omnibuses and old-fashioned trolleys may have once been public transportation mainstays, they made way long ago for modern bus lines and light rail systems. After all, a transit authority that doesn't keep pace with vehicular developments, trends and innovations will find itself going nowhere fast.
Along similar lines, a mass transit provider's in-plant must stay up to speed, philosophically and practically.
At Metro, the transit agency serving the St. Louis region, the five-employee in-plant knows this very well. Located just blocks from the Mississippi River—within sight of the city's famous Gateway Arch—the in-house printing and mailing facility recently executed multiple, multi-faceted initiatives that have resulted in improved quality, increased efficiency and major cost savings.
The St. Louis Metro system serves more than 200 municipalities in Missouri and Illinois via light rail, bus and paratransit van systems that, according to the agency, provided transportation to more than 53 million passengers in 2009. Other Metro-controlled operations include the Gateway Arch transportation system, parking facility and riverboat cruises, as well as the St. Louis Downtown Airport. Metro employs approximately 2,300 people.
The in-plant has been supporting Metro for more than 20 years, producing platform schedules, training and employee documentation/manuals, forms, business cards and stationery, newsletters and board meeting materials, among other jobs. The facility also houses a full-service mail center. Both printing and mailing functions are considered part of Metro's Office Services department.
Founded as an offset print shop, the in-plant went digital about 10 years ago with the installation of one color and one monochrome system. Kent Swagler joined the agency in September 2003 to create the IT Software Quality Assurance department. In August 2004, he was appointed director of IT Office Services. Swagler began assessing current conditions and affecting positive change, focusing on the mail room in 2005.