By Guillermo “Gil” Goytia
Eight years ago, Metro began a tradition of recognizing one of its eleven bus divisions as “Division of the Year.” Most recently, Division 3 in Cypress Park took the crown. What does it take to win? Just ask Guillermo Goytia, the division’s director of transportation operations. With a dozen family members in the business, teamwork practically runs in his blood.
My parents emigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico in 1962. They crossed the border with nine kids. They settled in East Los Angeles, which is where I was born. That made me the first US-born child in the family. There were 11 kids in all.
My parents never worked in transportation. My dad made a living as a carpenter building furniture and cabinetry. My mom worked in a poultry processing plant on top of raising my brothers and sisters. No one knew that transportation would become the unofficial family business.
- My oldest brother Alfredo started with Metro’s predecessor, the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD), in the mid 70s. He was a bus operator and retired in 2000. Today, his son Alfred works at Metro as a rail operator.
- My brother Ruben also started with SCRTD in the 70s and worked as a mechanic. He retired in 2012 as an equipment maintenance supervisor but his daughter Veronica still works here in facilities maintenance.
- My older brother Rudy started as a bus operator during the early 1980s. He retired five years ago.
- My older sister Angie started here in 1990. She eventually worked in customer service for TAP, and she retired earlier this year.
- My younger brother Steven started here after me. He’s still working here as a senior mechanic.
- And my wife Yvonne has been a contact center specialist here at Metro for the past four years.
Family is big at Metro. Over my 37-year career, I’ve met so many spouses, partners, siblings, parents, and children working at various bus and rail divisions and sometimes even in the same building. Especially here at Division 3 in Cypress Park, one of our oldest divisions. There are three sisters who work out of this division –– all bus operators. One of them has a son who works here too. And not only did Art Leahy, the former CEO of the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD), get his start here –– his parents met at this division as streetcar operators.
It was my older brothers who encouraged me to apply for a job at RTD. They had all served in the military –– two of them were helicopter mechanics for the army, and they all found the work at RTD rewarding, with great benefits. It took a while to get my foot in the door, but I was hired after my third try. I started my career in 1986 as a customer information clerk, and moved to the operations side as a division dispatcher twelve years later. In 2009, I was promoted to assistant manager of Division 1 in the Arts District. I’ve worked at a handful of divisions before coming to Division 3 earlier this year.
Running a bus division is a 24/7 operation. The work never stops. But it’s rewarding to get to know the operators and support them when they need it –– after all, life happens outside of work. In this way, every bus division is a little like a family, even if we aren’t connected by blood.
In 2022, my division won ‘Division of the Year.’ That was one of my biggest career highlights. There are 11 bus divisions at Metro and winning the honor is not easy. There are many metrics that we factor in when deciding the winning division. We measure things like the percentage of on-time bus arrivals, the vehicle accident rate, bus cleanliness, the number of miles between road calls, and the number of customer complaints. We keep tabs on everything.
This year, I hit another milestone. My division won again. Some people have joked that I have a magic touch, but I know that none of it is magic. I have been blessed with a great team. Now we’re working to keep up the momentum so we can do it again next year.
One of my heroes is Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers. He knew a thing or two about having a winning attitude –– the Super Bowl trophy is named for him. I have a plaque of him up in my office. Sometimes I read his words of wisdom when I need some inspiration.
“Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing,” the plaque reads. “You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
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Categories: Transportation News