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SEPTA and CIS: Partnering to Opening Doors

David Gaines
SEPTA Media Relations

It is no secret that SEPTA is one of the best employers in the city of Philadelphia. To ensure that people of all abilities have a chance to join the family, SEPTA recently began a partnership with Community Integrated Services (CIS) to open new doors to transit operation opportunities. This partnership will work in conjunction with services like CCT Connect and the Senior Ride Free Program to provide optimal service for all SEPTA patrons.

CIS is the largest job search and job support bureau in the Philadelphia region helping people with disabilities find employment and achieve success in their jobs. Over the course of 25 years, they have helped thousands people connect with employment opportunities and have assisted them as they grew and thrived in their new fields.

"Unlike many companies, CIS is customized and tailored to the individual," said Michael Levin, a counselor and assessment training specialist at CIS. "Our goal is to help people with disabilities obtain viable jobs and become self-sustaining employees."

When CIS reached out SEPTA and asked for a one-time opportunity for one of their clients to volunteer in Market East Station as a Passenger Service representative for a few hours, SEPTA readily approved, delighted with the opportunity to broaden its outreach.

On August 6, CIS's client, 22-year-old Dominic Passante-Contaldi, and his supervisor, Michael Levin, arrived at Market East Station. They were greeted by SEPTA representatives and Dominic was given a white SEPTA Ambassador shirt, solidifying his status as a SEPTA Passenger Service representative. Armed with his extensive knowledge of SEPTA's train routes, Dominic sat behind Market East's 'A' Section Passenger Service desk and happily assumed his role.

During his time as a Passenger Service representative, Dominic gave train arrival times and platform numbers to inquiring Regional Rail riders; he delivered directions to lost travelers; helped escort confused tourists; and he also got the chance to fulfill his dream of announcing incoming trains over the public address system.

Dominic is no stranger to Market East Station. He told SEPTA that he visits Market East daily, and that it is his favorite stop during his frequent recreational rides on the Regional Rail. He knows the rules of conduct within the station, the history of the station, and even majority of the songs that are played repeatedly in the station throughout the day. Dominic was well prepared for the job.

"The job requires a lot of memorization and articulation skills," explained Luther Chiles, the Passenger Service representative that offered Dominic his station. "For him to be able to just sit down and deliver like that is amazing."

Opportunities like the one presented to Dominic are rare, but as SEPTA and CIS continue collaborating, they will become increasingly available.

"It was wonderful seeing Dom put his amazing knowledge of SEPTA to work for our customers," said Cassandra West, SEPTA's Regulatory Paratransit Coordinator who met and supported Dominic during his volunteering hours.

"SEPTA is dedicated to building a culture of accessibility and inclusion," West added. "We love partnering with community organizations like CIS and hope we can find a way to help CIS continue developing work-ready skills and real-world experiences for other individuals like Dom."

Dominic Passante-Contaldi with SEPTA employees at Market East Station during his Aug. 6 visit.

Dominic makes an announcement for SEPTA customers.

Dominic discusses SEPTA with employees on the platform at Market East.

Dominic Passante-Contaldi