2020 Photo Contest: Rural Transit Heroes


Some heroes wear capes . . . and others wear masks.


The National RTAP 2020 "Rural Transit Heroes" Photo Contest honors those who have gone above and beyond to make sure their passengers travel safely and comfortably in all situations.  We received over 50 photos of transit heroes who have spurred innovations to help rural and tribal transit agencies overcome challenges and find new solutions, helped provide essential transportation or delivery of vital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, and assisted vulnerable populations through transit.  All these heroes deserve to be commended and celebrated!

Photos were judged by a panel on the following criteria: photo quality, artistic design, originality, and creative depiction of a true Rural Transit Hero. Entries will be showcased on our website and social media, tweeted at our #RuralTransitHeroes Twitter Chat on October 20, 2020,2:00-4:00 PM ET, and displayed at one or more future conferences.  All submissions will receive plaques honoring the heroes.


First Place

Via Mobility Services Driver

Via Mobility Services, Boulder, Colorado
Photography by Krzysztof Walder, Studio Six Branding

Transit agencies like Via Mobility Services are working around-the-clock to clean and disinfect our systems, creating safer and healthier environments.  It is important now more than ever, that we bring transit to life with authentic images that reflect the detailed cleaning procedures and protocol that transit agencies and their staff are implementing to ensure the safety of our communities, riders and staff.


Second Place

Gary McFarland, Paratransit Services

Gary McFarland, Paratransit Services,
Truckee Transit, Bremerton, Washington

Gary is responsible for overseeing operations and training at Truckee Transit for Paratransit Services.  He embodies our organizational values and behaviors, seeks to deliver excellence, and sees tasks through by helping, supporting and developing others.  Gary knows that effective teamwork makes a difference, notices when people need extra support and can be relied upon at all times.  When he observes that the team needs a boost, he acts upon it with his unstinting enthusiasm.  Gary is highly professional; he makes suggestions for improvements but never forgets the importance of fun.  He is also a volunteer firefighter and a bench press world record holder!!

One could say that Gary is “doing his job” but what “makes a difference” is the way he does it, the compassion he shows for others, his commitment, and his attitude.  These traits cannot be taught!  The Truckee area is fortunate to be served by him and we are fortunate to have him lead our Truckee Team. 


Third Place

Mike Fisher, HIRTA Public Transit

Mike Fisher, HIRTA Public Transit, Urbandale, Iowa
Photography and artwork by Danny Schnathorst, Mobility Outreach Coordinator, HIRTA

Mike is dedicated to giving back to his community and is always willing to go the extra mile for the people he serves daily. Since the beginning of COVID-19, he has went above and beyond, by working extra shifts in Knoxville and helping facilitate maintenance tasks. Mike has a reputation of being a person of high character who always has a positive attitude. HIRTA is proud to have Mike Fisher as one of our drivers.


Honorable Mention

Michael Wilson, Flint Hills Area Transportation

Michael Wilson, Flint Hills Area Transportation
Manhattan, Kansas
Photography by Rachel Foss, Transportation Planner, Flint Hills MPO

The CARES Act has enabled my agency to go above and beyond in our community. One example of this is volunteering to run a Meals on Wheels route for 7 weeks. The Meals on Wheels program in Manhattan, KS provides over 100 meals per day to Seniors who rely on the service for nutrition. As the Mobility Manager it has been a true joy to help in this program. This is why I feel that our Bus Operators are all true heroes.


Honorable Mention

Felipe Moncada-Ortega, Snowmass Village Shuttle

Felipe Moncada-Ortega, Snowmass Village Shuttle
Snowmass Village, Colorado
Photography by Krzysztof Walder, Studio Six Branding

The Town of Snowmass Village is doing all that it can to keep passengers as safe as possible on its Village Shuttle by following COVID protocol. Drivers like Felipe Moncada-Ortega are happily taking their riders to the things they want and need to do in this picturesque and active Colorado mountain community.




View all of the winners in our Facebook album and all of the photo submissions on our Facebook page (we'll be adding a few heroes and their stories each week).  We're also posting some of the heroes on our Instagram page.  Finally, on October 20, 2020, 2:00-3:00 PM ET all of these heroes and many more will be showcased during our #RuralTransitHeroes Twitter ChatLearn more about the chat or RSVP.