Putting the miles in ‘milestone’

Come celebrate 30 years!

Seawolf Shuttle safely arrived at their latest milestone this semester. The team of nine drivers reached over 200,000 miles of being at-fault accident-free.

Over the last three years, Seawolf Shuttle has not been responsible for any of the accidents that may have occurred, continuing to keep students’ transportation a smooth ride.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

A celebration for the drivers was held March 10 in the Gordon Hartlieb breakroom. Eight of the nine drivers, staff members from UAA’s Facilities and Maintenance Operations and Chancellor Sam Gingerich attended.

“I know this crowd well,” Heather Pawlak, interim associate director of Operations said at the celebration. “I’ve managed them for about six years now and they’re a great group of folks. About three years ago, we decided that we wanted to start tracking at-fault accidents and I can’t say more about the professionalism of the [drivers].”

The celebration started with thank yous from Pawlak and Gingerich followed by pizza, cupcakes and a surprise bonus to all the drivers in their next paycheck. A new sign will be put inside all the shuttles by next semester that show off the team’s achievement and highlights the significance of 200,000 miles, which the sign says is the equivalent of over eight times around the world.

“Your efforts here are incredible. They are appreciated. Yeah, there’s a direct impact on the bottom line, but obviously, you don’t do that every day; you don’t do what you do every day because of the impact, you do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Gingerich said at the celebration.

During the fall and spring semesters, Seawolf Shuttles average hours of operations are approximately 14.25 hours per day. Monday through Thursday are longer days, averaging around 15.5 hours, and Fridays are shorter, averaging an operating day of 9.5 hours.

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“I’m extremely proud of the drivers’ efforts to operate safely and expand their safety record number of days, miles year after year,” Pawlak said. “I’m glad that the team has embraced the mindset that repetitive safe practices become safe habits, and in the world of professional transportation a three-year record without an at-fault accident is impressive, to say the least.”

The team has the common goal of keeping the campus and students safe, but also share the common interest of providing for students and building connections with them.

“I like being able to, in some small way, help the students with their education as in driving them to class on time and keeping snacks available for them so they aren’t hungry. That’s two less things for them to worry about during their busy day,” Donald Walker, a driver for the last six years, said.

“We love our job because of the students who ride our shuttles. We have pride in our university and in the service we provide. We listen, we encourage, we support,” Judith Arp, lead driver for UAA, said.

Shuttle drivers recognized at this event include Arp, Dani Been, Richard Crook, Janeen Herr, Robert Reif, Katharine Swift, Larry Vanderlinden, Donald Walker and Nicholas Weaver.