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November 2020

Rail News: Passenger Rail

From the Editor: LRW names Metrolink's Wiggins 'Railway Woman of the Year'


Last month, the League of Railway Women (LRW) named Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins its 2020 Railway Woman of the Year.

Co-sponsored by Progressive Railroading, the award is presented annually 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.

Wiggins was honored at an Oct. 21 presentation during the 2020 League of Railway Women Virtual Annual Conference.

“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 agency, from the C-suite to train conductors,” LRW President Amanda Trainor Patrick said in a press release. “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.”

Wiggins assumed leadership of Metrolink in January 2019. The 275-employee commuter railroad operates with seven routes across a six-county, 538 route-mile system. 

Since taking Metrolink’s reins, Wiggins has overseen a reduction of trespasser and pedestrian strikes; worked on Wi-Fi improvements for riders; retired older, less energy-efficient locomotives; and spearheaded the railroad’s COVID-19 pandemic response. 

When the pandemic hit in March, Wiggins revised the agency’s telecommuting policy so all non-workplace essential staff could work remotely. She also instituted CEO-led virtual coffee breaks to enable real-time, two way communications on pandemic efforts. Wiggins hired more staff to clean trains throughout the day, added the use of electrostatic sprayers to disinfect train cars daily, and ensured hand sanitizer was available in every rail car. Face masks were required on trains and an online tool was created for riders to check recent ridership of their train to ensure space for social distancing. 

Prior to leading Metrolink, 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, 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. 

She also served in various management positions at the Riverside County Transportation Commission and started her transportation career at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority. 




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