PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We at CBS3 believe Black history is American history, and all month long we are introducing you to some unsung heroes. Today, we want you to meet two women who have each spent three decades with SEPTA, and now they hold top positions with the company.
Both are creating a new trail at one of the largest public transportation systems in the country.READ MORE: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Allowing States To Ban Abortion
On any given day, as many as 2,100 SEPTA vehicles are in motion throughout Philadelphia and its suburbs. Trains, buses, and trolleys are transporting thousands of passengers to and from their destinations. Behind the scenes, two women are at the helm of keeping the transportation system moving, Crystal Cooper and Aleta Evans.
“As chief officer for subway elevated, I am responsible for station cleaning as well as transportation services for the Market Frankford and the Broad Street Line,” Cooper said.
Cooper has more than 30 years with the transportation system, working her way up through the ranks. She is only the second Black woman to hold her position, a position made even more critical during the ongoing pandemic.
“Station cleaning has definitely escalated in terms of priority during the pandemic,” Cooper said. “We’ve had to increase what we do in terms of sterilizing and disinfecting a lot of the high touch areas in the station.”
While Cooper maintains the day to day safety protocols along one of the busiest train lines, Evans takes us into the massive SEPTA control center — the nerve center that helps control the safe movement of all SEPTA vehicles.READ MORE: Philadelphia School Of Circus Arts In West Mounty Airy Kicks Off Summer Camp
“We are governed mostly by rules, regulations, policies,” Evans said. “If they’re not following all of those things at any given time, someone, unfortunately, could either end up hurt, maimed, or dead, and it’s a lot of responsibility.”
Evans started out as a bus driver 36 years ago and is now the chief operating officer of the control center. She is the first Black woman to hold that position.
“As being the first Black woman, hopefully, it will have other younger Black women that are in the operations department, they’ll have those same aspirations,” Evans said.
Cooper and Evans are blazing a management train at one of the largest public transportation agencies in the country. They have words of advice for those within the ranks of SEPTA’s 9,000 employees aspiring to do more.
“I encourage them to be eager, ask questions, look for mentors,” Cooper said.MORE NEWS: Roe v. Wade Overturned: Here's What It Means For Residents In Pennsylvania, New Jersey And Delaware
“Never forget where you came from, to always remember that because that’s important. Believe in yourself,” Evans said.