Raymond Brinker, a TRACS driver, making the rounds on Tuesday, Jan.17th, 2015 in the TRACS van. The TRACS serivce provides a safe alternative for students walking home at night. (Zhuojun Xiao/B&W Photo)

T.R.A.C.S. drivers help students get home safely at night

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Transportation Services is committed to keeping students safe and providing quality service with their Take a Ride Around Campus Safely program, better known as T.R.A.C.S.

“Safety is paramount,” said Robert Bruneio, manager of Transportation Services. “We wouldn’t hire anyone with any issues.”

All the employees who work for Transportation Services begin the hiring process with initial background checks. Once they select the best pool of candidates, they are put through drug and alcohol testing, Bruneio said.

T.R.A.C.S. is an important part of the Lehigh community because it provides an alternative method of transportation around campus that is safe, especially late at night. The T.R.A.C.S. program started in September of 1987 for safety purposes.

“We had several incidents, both on and off campus, with students being victims of crime, robbery, burglary, things like that,” Bruneio said.

They wanted to put an extra service and provide a safe ride around campus, and a safe way of doing so, said Bruneio.

When T.R.A.C.S. first started, there was only one van operating, with less consistent hours. The reason for the increase in the number of vans was an increase in ridership.

“The demand was certainly there,” Bruneio said.

Now there are two vans that operate from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

There are 21 T.R.A.C.S. stops throughout the main campus. That means there are 21 different places where students can be picked up, and taken to, Bruneio said.

When asked about the differences between hiring bus drivers and T.R.A.C.S. vans drivers, Bruneio said the most important thing is to find someone who is the right fit for the job.

“We take folks who have experience,” Bruneio said. “I look for folks who have experience with students. Maybe they had a law enforcement background, or public services or public safety background.”

Bruneio said it is the goal of Transportation Services to make sure its drivers are providing the best customer service to the students.

“The drivers are all kind and outgoing in that they’re always willing to have a conversation or ask how your day went,” Wade Homer, ’15, said.

Jerry Guerriere is a T.R.A.C.S. driver who works Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. He currently works two jobs, which includes part time at T.R.A.C.S. and part time at a storage unit service. Prior to starting work for T.R.A.C.S., he drove for Dunbar Armored.

He said he enjoys being a T.R.A.C.S. driver as it gives him a chance to interact and meet different students.

“I used to be in car sales, and I enjoy meeting people,” Guerriere said. “I’ve met people that went to the same grammar school and live near where I grew up. When you have one or two people in there, you can have a nice conversation.”

Guerriere referred to himself as the guy with Smarties in his van. He often also has sing-a-longs to “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and even decorated his van with Christmas lights for the holidays.

Several differences exist between T.R.A.C.S. drivers and Lehigh bus drivers. T.R.A.C.S. drivers are not required to have commercial drivers licenses, while the Lehigh bus drivers are. Anyone driving a vehicle with more than 15 people will require a commercial drivers license. T.R.AC.S. drivers operate vehicles that seat up to 15 people.

T.R.A.C.S. van drivers do it as a part-time job and are wage workers, while the Lehigh bus drivers are full-time, career drivers. Some T.R.A.C.S. drivers work for a different organization during the day, while others are retired.

“A lot of our part time drivers are professional drivers. They work for the school districts and coach buses,” Bruneio said.

Although the T.R.A.C.S. drivers do not have commercial drivers licenses, they are still put through the same physicals across the board that the Lehigh bus drivers are put through, Bruneio said.

“If they go out and obtain commercial drivers licenses, then they can certainly work other positions,” Bruneio said. “We don’t mandate that they get trained as commercial driver license drivers.”

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