Paratransit Employees Recognized for Exceptional Customer Service 11/14/2018 (New Orleans ) – More than 1300 clients rely on the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) Paratransit service to get around New Orleans each month. But for Barbara Marsh, a reservationist with the department, those riders are more than numbers. “There’s Loretta, her son does physical rehabilitation so she goes to see him,” Marsh explained. “We try to make sure she gets there and gets back. And Larry. He goes to see his wife every day because he takes care of her. He goes to that nursing home faithfully.” Marsh’s attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2017, she’s received ten commendations, including a Certificate of Appreciation for her customer service. The RTA’s paratransit service helps elderly or disabled riders who cannot use standard buses or streetcars in the system. Because providing public transit for the elderly and disabled can be complicated and challenging – the department receives a high volume of calls. Each reservationist answer anywhere from 150 to 200 phone calls a day. “Some of them don’t remember their number or get the wrong address. You have to back them up and help walk them through the process. Or you have to explain how the system works… that an hour won’t get you there and back,” said Marsh. “As long as you can take that little bit extra to help them get where they’re going and understand what’s going on – you won’t have a problem.” Fellow RTA Paratransit reservationist, Eulas Short, understands firsthand the problems that disabled riders face when navigating public transit. Diagnosed with transverse myelitis at 23, a neurological disorder that causes the inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord and interrupts the messages the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body, Short uses a wheelchair to get around – and relies on RTA’s paratransit services as well. “When I’m talking to them, I put myself in their place. We’re going through the same situations because we’re disabled people. I kind of understand what mindset they have. We may have different disabilities, but we are in the same boat. I think it makes me better at what I do,” said Short. A 22-year veteran of the RTA, Short has received numerous commendations from customers as well. RTA’s paratransit department is always looking for new ways to enhance the rider experience, such as offering on-line booking. But Stephen Neal says his employees’ willingness to connect is what stands out. “The word ‘professional’ doesn’t even begin to describe them. [Short and Marsh] are patient, compassionate,” remarked Neal. “They’re somehow able to take the time to give that personal touch to each and every one of their clients. In this line of work, with all the calls they get – that’s incredible.” “It’s not just good service, they build friendships,” he said. To learn more, visit: www.norta.com or call Ride Line at 504-248-3900.