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League of Railway Women Names Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins as 2020 Railway Woman of the Year

Washington, DC, October 21, 2020 – The League of Railway Women (LRW) named Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins the winner of the 2020 Railway Woman of the Year award. Wiggins was honored at a virtual presentation during the online 2020 League of Railway Women Virtual Annual Conference.
Washington, DC, October 21, 2020 – The League of Railway Women (LRW) named Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins the winner of the 2020 Railway Woman of the Year award. Wiggins was honored at a virtual presentation during the online 2020 League of Railway Women Virtual Annual Conference..

Co-sponsored by Progressive Railroading, this annual award is presented to a woman in the rail industry who demonstrates vision, initiative, creativity and guidance in a leadership role within her professional railway field; is innovative, a problem-solver and overcomes challenges; and brings consistent excellence to her organization and surrounding community.

“As the first woman and African American to lead Metrolink, Southern California's commuter rail service, Stephanie Wiggins has brought diversity and inclusion to all levels of the commuter rail agency, from the C-suite to train conductors,” said LRW President Amanda Trainor Patrick. “Her leadership of Metrolink during an unprecedented pandemic with a focus on providing outstanding customer experience, improving system operations and modernizing business practices speaks volumes to her ongoing effort to improve the organization as a whole.”

LRW Awards Chair Lisa Tackach said, “This year's nominations for the 2020 Railway Woman of the Year award set another record high and highlighted an outstanding group of women in the rail industry. Stephanie Wiggins' nomination rose above this competitive field, and we are pleased to honor her as Railway Woman of the Year for 2020.”

Under Ms. Wiggins' direction, Metrolink, a 275-employee strong commuter railroad with seven routes across a six-county, 538 route-mile system, has focused on its mission to provide safe, efficient, dependable and on-time transportation service that offers outstanding customer experience and enhances quality of life.

Since assuming leadership of Metrolink in January 2019, Ms. Wiggins has overseen a reduction of trespasser and pedestrian strikes, worked on improved Wi-Fi for customers, and retiring older, less energy-efficient locomotives.

Ms. Wiggins made safety and security a foundational value, and the core of the three pillars of service she set upon her arrival at Metrolink. She believes that everyone shares a role in keeping themselves and others safe. As the first passenger railroad in the nation to operate fully integrated Positive Train Control (PTC) technology to prevent train collisions and derailments, Metrolink is a leader in the use of this technology. Under Ms. Wiggins, Metrolink is sharing this knowledge and training with other rail operators.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Ms. Wiggins quickly revised the agency's telecommuting policy so that all non-workplace essential staff could work remotely, instituted CEO-led virtual coffee breaks to institute real-time, two way communications on pandemic efforts, and boost morale. Ms. Wiggins understood customers' concerns about their safety and knew gaining the public's confidence was key to regaining ridership, which had dropped by more than 90%.

In April, an online survey was distributed to 226,000 riders to better understand their thoughts and how Metrolink could ease their concerns. The agency discovered that customers were aligned in their desire for well-disinfected trains, social distancing measures and hand sanitizers on every train. In response, more staff was hired to clean trains throughout the day, the use of electrostatic sprayers to disinfect train cars daily was added and additional hand sanitizer was placed in every car. Face masks were required and an online tool, “How Full is My Train?” was created for riders to check recent ridership of their train to ensure space for socially distancing. 

Each milestone was announced as it happened through email and stakeholder outreach, traditional and social media news and online. These communications, coming through the voice of the CEO, were informative yet empathetic and garnered more than 5.5 million impressions.  

“As a member of the Metrolink Board of Directors and a friend, I am so pleased that Stephanie is being recognized as LRW's Railway Woman of the Year. From her work ethic to her visionary way of thinking, she is truly worthy of this honor,” said Metrolink Board Chair Brian Humphrey, who has been a member of the agency's Board of Directors since 1997 representing the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

“The fact that she is the first woman and person of color to lead our agency are important milestones, but at the same time she wasn't hired because of gender or race; she was chosen because she was the best person for the job. Stephanie was continuing to grow ridership, which was fantastic, but since the pandemic, she has shown innovative ways to navigate an exceptionally challenging situation. Her efforts of collaboration and inclusion with riders and other stakeholders are outstanding, and I am excited for Metrolink's future with Stephanie at the helm.”

Prior to leading Metrolink, Ms. Wiggins held high-level positions at three of the five-member agencies that comprise Metrolink. She was deputy CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) where she provided leadership in formulating and achieving strategic public transportation objectives, including the passage of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by 71 percent of voters in LA County. 

While at Metro, she also served as the Executive Director of Vendor/Contract Management, where she implemented procurement streamlining initiatives and greatly expanded Metro's utilization of small and historically underutilized businesses.  

Prior to that role, Ms. Wiggins was the executive officer and project director of the Congestion Reduction/Express Lanes Program where she launched the first high occupancy toll lanes in LA County along the I-10 and I-110 Express Lanes. This project improved travel times and reliability on two of the county's most congested freeway corridors.

She previously served for nine years in management positions at the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and started her transportation career at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority. 

The Railway Woman of the Year Advisory Committee, which helps select each year's awardee, includes former WOY recipients Mary Proc, Lisa Stabler, Jo Strang, Anamaria Bonilla and Tracy DeLeon, along with Tackach. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Emilia Marceta, LRW Chair, Public Relations & Outreach, info@railwaywomen.org; LRW Awards Contact: Lisa Tackach, LRW Awards Chair, E-Mail: awards@railwaywomen.org.

About the League of Railway Women

Founded in 1997, the League of Railway Women (LRW) is committed to improving the railroad industry by connecting and cultivating women in rail. Our mission is to advance the representation, recognition and opportunities for women, thereby promoting diversity and improving the business results of the railroad industry. Learn more at www.railwaywomen.org; follow the LRW on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Want to read more about our winner?
From the Editor: LRW names Metrolink's Wiggins 'Railway Woman of the Year', November 2020
LRW names Metrolink CEO Wiggins 'Woman of the Year' [10/22/2020]

 

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