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EPVA AWARDS BUS OPERATORS FOR EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE TO ELDERLY AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

EPVA Celebrates Program's 10th Anniversary

NEWARK, NJ, December 4, 2001 -- NJ TRANSIT and the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) teamed up today to honor 15 NJ TRANSIT bus operators for exceptional service and sensitivity to senior citizens and passengers with disabilities, while celebrating the programs 10th anniversary.

Each bus operator -- recognized by their passengers for demonstrating exceptional courtesy and professionalism to senior citizens and persons with disabilities -- was presented with a certificate of appreciation and a special lapel pin by NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh, NJ TRANSIT Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Stanley J. Rosenblum, EPVA Associate Executive Director John Del Colle and NJ TRANSIT Deputy General Manager of Bus Operations Jim Gigantino. The name of each operator was then entered into a random drawing for a color television donated by EPVA and a DVD player donated by Ricon Corporation. (A list of the winning operators is attached).

"NJ TRANSIT is committed to providing quality transportation services for everyone, including senior citizens and customers with disabilities," said Warsh. "No one should be prevented from using public transportation because of a disability. I applaud each of these operators for their critical efforts in making sure NJ TRANSIT provides the best service to all our customers."

Del Colle commended NJ TRANSIT for its continued efforts to serve senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

"EPVA is once again proud to sponsor such an important event that recognizes bus operators who, on a daily basis, go the extra mile to provide quality service to our elderly and disabled residents," Del Colle said. "This year's event is an especially significant one as we are celebrating the Program's 10th anniversary and a decade of consistent courtesy, sensitivity and professionalism on the part of bus operators throughout the state."

Beginning in October, bilingual posters with tear-off nomination forms were displayed on NJ TRANSIT buses so passengers could nominate operators for the 10th annual award. More than 550 nominations were received from customers throughout the state.

Since 1988, NJ TRANSIT has trained its bus drivers to be sensitive to the needs of senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Through operator sensitivity training, NJ TRANSIT provides employees with the technical skills needed to operate mobility equipment as well as interpersonal skills essential to serving riders who have difficulty boarding and exiting vehicles. The training program begins with a discussion of operators' past experiences and a role-playing exercise in which trainees "become" the senior citizens and individuals with disabilities they serve.

In 1997, the agency upgraded its training program by adding an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bus operators certification program. Operators are required to be certified in the use of all the accessibility equipment available at their bus garage. In addition, they are instructed in: procedures for boarding and deboarding mobility-impaired passengers, announcing stops for visually-impaired passengers and collecting reduced fares for persons with disabilities; customer service; and the legal obligations under ADA. Operators must score 100 percent on a standardized test to receive their certification from the agency.

The EPVA -- the largest chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America -- was founded in 1946 to serve the needs of paralyzed veterans residing in New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania. EPVA has fought successfully for tax benefits to help businesses remove barriers to the disabled in existing facilities and for new laws mandating accessibility and barrier-free design in new construction. In addition, EPVA provides support for ongoing medical research and sponsors several wheelchair sports teams.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing bus, rail and light rail services for 380,600 daily commuters on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

EPVA AWARD WINNERS

Name

Hometowns

Antoinette Williams

Sicklerville

Linda Crenshaw

Newark

Luis Morales

Jersey City

Willie Easter

East Orange

Joseph Smith

Paterson

Ed Bailey

Lanoka Harbor

Leon Matlock

Browns Mills

Shelly Scales

Vineland

Robert Kalczuk

Lake Hopatcong

Mary Lynch

Jersey City

Frank Oliver

Paterson

James Harris

South Plainfield

Fermonides Fernandez

Jersey City

BH Gaynor

Palisades Park

Gloria Smith

Camden

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