Trillium’s mission is on our homepage: we make transit easier to use. Living up to that mission is the purpose of our work. We believe that more transit trips and fewer driving trips means a safer and more just world, but we also see that driving is easy while taking transit is too often tough. By making transit even just a little easier to use, we change the calculus of the modern world, and encourage a few people to catch the bus or train. Since founding Trillium in 2007, Aaron Antrim has pursued that mission sustainably and with integrity as our President.
While we’ve never changed our mission, Trillium has always been a growing and evolving organization. Our strategies in pursuit of our mission have developed and expanded from Aaron’s first job making GTFS data sets for HTA in Humboldt County, California. When I joined the company over six years ago, we had adopted website development and were exploring online mapping as a service. Four years ago, we began to focus on improving the clarity of GTFS specification. More recently, we’ve been working to expand the reach of GTFS (to include, for example, flexible services and ridership data). Throughout this time we’ve kept delivering the consistent GTFS and website services clients have come to depend on us for. In 2017 we relaunched our flagship application and we’ve already revamped half the new application since then. This year we added support in GTFS Manager for Transit Alerts and in three weeks we’ll be launching an updated version of our Interactive Map. We’ve reinvested our profits into sustainable growth, an amazing staff, and improved software for our clients and our internal operations.
As our organization has expanded, we’ve found we need to create a structure that holds us to account. In our consulting services (and pretty much anywhere we talk, for that matter) we hold agencies and other companies to account for making transit easy to use, and for serving the missions that they state in their marketing materials. We don’t accept excuses and we tell people clearly when we think a different approach is required. We can’t accept excuses from ourselves either, and our developing organizational structure must foster that internal responsibility to our mission.
On January 1st, I’ll become Trillium’s CEO. Heidi Guenin, bringing nearly a decade of transportation and public health expertise and new to Trillium in June 2019, will take on my current role of General Manager. Aaron will become a Senior Consultant.
On the same day, we’ll begin offering profit sharing to all our staff and paid sabbaticals after 4 years of employment, on top of the other benefits we offer staff such as health insurance, paid transit, a 401k contribution, federal holidays off, PTO, and flexible scheduling. Ensuring that all our staff can live financially stable lives and participate in the success of Trillium is both a good long-term business strategy, and reflects our dedication to the equity fostered by public transit.
These changes will happen 2 weeks after Trillium’s first Advisory Board meeting. We’ll spend 4 hours with three professionals coming from different perspectives, who we’ve hired to come in and tell us whether we’re living up to our mission. Ensuring that there is a group of people with access to proprietary information about our company and able to analyze and audit that information is critical to ensure that we are liable to our mission.
The continuing evolution of Trillium is about maintaining the organizational sustainability and integrity that Aaron developed, even as we grow into a larger institution.
Organizational sustainability is about money. Trillium has never taken on private investment. Aaron owns 100% of the company, doesn’t have an exit strategy, and we intend to keep it that way to avoid encumbering our mission. So in order to be ready to make transit easier to use tomorrow, Trillium needs to be a profitable company. Accordingly, we try to be shrewd and competitive, consistently investing in our core competencies and positioning ourselves to be successful in the market.
Organizational integrity is about utilizing the profit we make and growth we experience to contribute to our mission. My job as CEO is, in my contract, not to make Aaron money. As above, organizational sustainability necessitates that we’re profitable, and yeah–I’ll get fired if we’re not. But I have no mandate to maximize Trillium’s profit, and I won’t. As CEO, my effort will be focused on changing how the world works: making transit easier to use. That’s what we’re doing.
We’re looking forward to working with the powerful and dedicated transportation revolutionaries at MobilityData, Cal-ITP, VTrans, ODOT, USDOT, and for the over 300 transit agencies who rely on us to deliver high quality rider information. We welcome you to join us, either as a client, a partner–or just as a person who sends us emails and tweets telling us how we could more effectively pursue our mission. Let’s make it happen together.