AVTA wins transit excellence award

AVTA Chair Norman L. Hickling accepted the award at a luncheon in Palm Springs Wednesday.

LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has gone from singing the blues to winning blue ribbons.

The California Transit Association (CTA) announced that AVTA has won the Small Operators’ 2012 Transit Excellence Award.  The announcement came during a special luncheon Wednesday afternoon at the annual CTA Conference in Palm Springs.

AVTA was selected from small operators state-wide who were nominated for a variety of accomplishments, ranging from innovative programs and services to effective problem solving techniques, as well as successful marketing campaigns.

“This is huge for the AVTA!” said Board Chairman Norm Hickling.  “The AVTA staff has worked diligently over the past two years to bring the agency in line with industry standards and they are now beginning to see the fruits of their labor.”

AVTA came under fire two years ago after three top administrators resigned amid allegations of financial improprieties.

The negative publicity led to AVTA being the subject of several audits, which uncovered a series of major findings. Over the next 18 months, the agency addressed 75 audit findings under the direction of the new Executive Director Julie Austin.

“We have come very far in a short amount of time,” said Austin. “It feels good, and we could not have achieved this turnaround without a supportive Board of Directors and hard-working staff. With the audit findings closed out, we can now increase our focus on system refinements to better serve our customers. ”

AVTA provides local, commuter and dial-a-ride service to a population of more than 400,000 residents in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County. Its total service area covers 1,200 square miles and it is bounded by the Kern County line to the north, the San Bernardino County line to the east, the Angeles National Forest to the south, and Interstate 5 to the West.

(Information via press release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.)