Wildcats@Work with Steven P. Brown

Steven P. Brown
UA alumnus Steven P. Brown '78 is the general manager of Gold Coast Transit District. He oversees 200 employees and the operation of 56 buses in Western Ventura County, California. Read about how Steven's degree in public administration from the UA prepared him for his current role.

What is your current career and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
As the general manager of the Gold Coast Transit District, I oversee the entire operation of our transit district, which includes 56 buses and about 200 employees providing bus service in Western Ventura County, California. We serve the cities of Oxnard, Ventura, Port Hueneme, Ojai, and the unincorporated areas of Ventura County surrounding those cities. Our annual ridership is almost four million passengers on 20 routes in the area. 

We also provide Americans with Disabilities (ADA) service to passengers in our service area that are seniors or persons with disabilities and can’t use the fixed route service. Last year, 114,000 riders used this service. The ADA service is provided by a private contractor that uses vehicles owned by the district and provides their own employees and performs maintenance on those vehicles. 

I work with a management team made up of an assistant GM and five departments including operations, maintenance, planning and marketing, human resources, and finance/administration. I report directly to a five-member board of directors comprised of elected officials for each of our member agencies. We have monthly board of directors meetings for which I oversee preparation of the agenda and reports that inform the board of projects underway. I also seek approval of new programs, projects and large expenditures.

We are currently in the process of building a new operations and maintenance facility that will house our entire operation and allow us to expand in the future to as many as 125 vehicles and approximately 425 total staff. This new $55-million facility is scheduled to open this spring.

How did your time at the UA prepare you to make networking connections and be successful as a professional?
My time at the UA, where I received my B.S. in public management, gave me the knowledge of the differences of public sector and private sector working environments. This helped me understand that, especially in the public transit sector, we don’t necessarily compete with each other. Instead, we all provide essential services to our communities, learn from each other, and exchange ideas and best practices. For example, we don’t compete with Santa Barbara MTD or Los Angeles MTA, but rather are able to talk with staff at those agencies to get ideas about how to better provide service to our residents. This is true throughout the industry. 

While at the UA, I was able to work with other students and some faculty to learn best practices and ideas on finance in the public sector, human resources, planning, government rules and regulations, and how to market on a limited budget.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Listen and learn from your bosses, your peers and your subordinates. Treat people with respect and understand that every person has a different personality and has different needs.