- Associated Press - Saturday, July 23, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - When Michelle Felix was a child, rides on a public transportation meant family time and amusement, such as going to a Seattle Mariners game.

“If we were doing something like that, it was typically a fun outing,” she said. “I have lots of fond memories.”

As it turns out, the public bus rides sowed the seeds of a career.

The 36-year-old is the new public transportation manager at the Metropolitan Area Commuter System or MACS in Fairbanks.

She moved here six weeks ago from People Mover in Anchorage, where Felix worked as communications manager.

She has a background in marketing and management from years in the banking industry.

Felix switched to public transportation after earning a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Soon after she was hired at People Mover, something clicked, she said.

“All of my random work experience finally came together,” Felix said. “I just sort of fell in love with transit. I knew this is where I am supposed to be.”

Felix knows Fairbanks well. Her mother grew up here, and she spent summers here visiting her grandmother, the late Grace Greenlee. The family vacationed at a cabin at Harding Lake.

Felix also attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks and worked as an administrative assistant at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce from 2003-05.

At People Mover, Felix made a mentor out of the director and learned as much as she could, she said.

She spent 13 months working for Anchorage’s bus system, handling marketing, paratransit eligibility and overseeing a customer service staff of about a dozen people.

Felix now manages a division of 45 people, mostly drivers. She works on marketing and makes sure the bus system runs efficiently.

“A big part of what I do is make sure that the community knows what we are doing, knows our availability,” Felix said.

She is currently working with Mammoth Marketing on a new commercial promoting the bus system.

It’s a Part 2 to the “Alaska Man” commercial, a parody of the quintessential Alaska man riding the bus, that went viral last year.

The idea for a humorous ad came from Adam Barth, Felix’s predecessor.

The outcome caused a buzz in transit circles around the state, Felix said, and raised the bar as far as bus system ads go.

Felix said the bus system in Fairbanks operates smoothly. She credited the experienced drivers and maintenance crew.

No major changes to MACS are planned, she said.

“I am still feeling very new,” Felix said. “What we do here with what we have is amazing.”

Felix, who is married to a musician, has two children, ages 2 and 3.

“Coming back to be near family was very attractive,” she said.

___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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