Back in April, I took a trip to Santa Barbara, California to film a customer video with Ernesto Paredes, Executive Director of Easy Lift Transportation, a non-profit that works with local government to provide paratransit services. Known as “America’s Rivera,” Santa Barbara is only 2 hours from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, but it feels like it’s a world away.
With a Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and the soaring Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is a great place to visit. It’s also one of the top 100 best places to live in America according to this article. Having a disability should not be a barrier to enjoying what the community has to offer. Easy Lift Transportation, an award-winning non-profit paratransit organization, helps make the community accessible to all.
A few months back, I chatted with Ernesto over the phone to help me write a CTAA Digital CT article about how to offer riders exceptional service. Ernesto was happy to share details about Easy Lift’s operations, but it was great to have the opportunity to visit and see Easy Lift staff in action!
Ernesto made it clear that his people – the dispatchers and drivers that interact directly with riders – are primarily responsible for Easy Lift’s good reputation. A commitment to care and “anticipated customer service” are important. Equally important is the ability to serve all the riders that need rides, and always pick them up right place, at the right time.
Easy Lift’s partnership with TripSpark allows Ernesto to give his team the tools they need to deliver better service to more riders. A recent “health check” conducted by Nadia, a TripSpark deployment team lead, helped Ernesto and his team adjust their system settings to allow their system to work better for them. Here’s what Ernesto had to say about the service he’s received from TripSpark:
Santa Barbara a stunning and overall safe community, but there are times when Mother Nature turns on the city and the results can be catastrophic. The dry heat combined with careless fire-starters often leads to forest fires. Recently, deforestation due to fires, combined with torrential storms ended up causing catastrophic mudslides that left vulnerable citizens trapped in their homes. I was saddened to grasp the magnitude of the disaster, but so glad to learn that Easy Lift was able to evacuate disabled residents with relative ease.
In the video, Ernesto explains that using in-vehicle technology that connects drivers and dispatchers allowed his staff to locate riders, navigate through flooded roads and ultimately get riders to a safe location with ease. The floods caused phone lines and cell towers to go down, but Easy Lift’s in-vehicle devices operate on cellular data, so drivers never lost their connection to the back-office.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Easy Lift’s headquarters in the Santa Barbara suburb of Goleta, but eventually, it was time to leave and let Ernesto get back to his responsibilities. Ernesto and his team were full of suggestions for how to spend my remaining hours in the area. I never made it over to the fish restaurant on the pier that was recommended to me. Instead, I discovered an awesome burger joint that just happens to be heavily involved in advocacy and philanthropy to support people with special needs. What a fitting place to end my visit to Santa Barbara, a community where people with disabilities have access to excellent services.