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The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) has long been a champion of recruiting, retaining and advancing women in the transit industry. Now the Agency has a regional award to prove it.

The Inland Empire chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), an international organization that promotes female leadership in the transportation industry, has recognized RTA with an Employer of the Year Award. The award goes to RTA for its focus on empowering and engaging women whether they are driving the buses or serving in executive roles.

“RTA has worked hard to create a workplace culture that celebrates diversity and provides opportunities for women to thrive in their careers,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Larry Rubio. “I am so proud of the women in this industry who are doing extraordinary things and keeping this complex business of public transit moving.”

Over the past 10 years, RTA has more than quadrupled the number of women serving in executive positions with plenty more in management roles. In the past year alone, four women have been promoted to management or executive positions. None more significant than the recent advancement of Kristin Warsinski who was unanimously chosen by Board members this fall to be RTA’s next chief executive officer, filling a position held by Rubio who has had the title since 2001.

Women are certainly having a high impact at RTA. In fact, women either manage or direct operations, human resources, contract operations, finance, procurement and planning departments. Plus the number of female coach operators has grown from 43 percent a decade ago to nearly 50 percent today.

In 2019, RTA welcomed its first female maintenance supervisor and the number of female servicers who ensure buses are cleaned, fueled and ready for the day, has climbed from just one a decade ago to eight today, an increase of 700 percent. The Agency’s executive team, which is comprised of 11 members, has changed drastically over the years to include more women. Ten years ago, only one person in the group was female. Now five members, or 45 percent are female.

One of them is Chief Administrative Services Officer Laura Camacho, who has overseen RTA’s human resources department for the past 20 years. Camacho has also benefitted from RTA paying some of her bachelor’s and all of her master’s degree to help advance her career.

“RTA is thrilled to be part of an effort to build a gender diverse workforce where people feel valued,” Camacho said. “There’s no doubt that when we have women in the workforce serving in a variety of roles, we are putting ourselves in a position to provide a great experience for our diverse group of customers, empower and engage our workforce and be a sustainable business for the long haul.”

Female leadership isn’t limited to staff. RTA’s governing board, which is comprised of 22 elected officials from 18 cities and four members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, has been female-led for four of the past five years. Current Chair Linda Krupa served in both 2017 and 2021 and previous Chair Bridgette Moore served from 2018 to 2020. Both women have helped the Agency safely steer through the financial challenges of the pandemic and introduce a variety of ambitious programs including mobile ticketing and free rides for youth and college students.

“This award is a testament to the work RTA does every day to provide a service that not only focuses on customer service, but also celebrates the people who are delivering the service,” Krupa said. “RTA wants to reflect the community it serves and that means committing to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.”

The award comes during a significant period for RTA which is working hard to rebound from the pandemic and give its customers more reasons to ride the bus. Over the next few years, RTA is expected to kick off a microtransit pilot program in the Hemet-San Jacinto area, create new transit centers in Riverside and Hemet, and welcome a new fleet of clean-air buses.

Jillian Guizado, who is the president of the local WTS chapter, said the award couldn’t have come at a better time. “RTA deserves a lot of credit for advancing women in the transportation industry,” Guizado said. “With their focus on equality, the recent appointment of a female CEO, and their ongoing commitment to community, RTA is certainly leading the charge in how business should be done.”