News: Transit Center passenger experience realigned to centralized location
Story by Senior Airman Brett Clashman
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan- Whether a service member is heading to Afghanistan or redeploying back to their home station, they want their transient experience to be simple.
A consolidation of the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan’s Passenger Terminal and U.S. Customs Processing Center into a centralized location is aimed at doing just that.
Utilizing Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21, a process to identify performance gaps in organizations, subject matter experts from the 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group and U.S. Customs developed a plan in 2011 to save passenger movement time for inbound and outbound personnel. The objective was to reduce processing times, waste, and correct equipment and infrastructure shortfalls.
After AFSO21 identified what could improve, the 376 EMSG developed the idea of consolidating the mobility functions to better support two of the four mission pillars at the Transit Center - airlift and onward movement.
“We had the customs processing center on one side [of the Transit Center] and the passenger terminal in a different location,” said Lt. Col. Jason Engle, 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron director of operations deployed out of Joint Base Charleston, S.C. “Personnel had to walk 20 minutes from one place to another. When you have a transportation factor in a process like this, looking at it from an AFSO21 perspective, it equals waste.”
With the goal of eliminating waste when possible, the revised terminal was built in the vacated space of the fitness center, allowing for an increase in passenger holding capacity from around 500 to 800 people. The customs center transitioned to where the passenger terminal was previously located. This allowed for the Transit Center to reduce both pedestrian and baggage truck traffic.
Walkways were also constructed outside the terminal to allow better pedestrian flow, enhancing the onward movement mission, said Engle, a native of Belleville, Ill.
Significant changes were made to increase the functionality of the terminal. Consolidating command and control of passengers from two facilities down to one allows better information and passenger services available for flights.
The terminal is separated into two areas, one for deployers heading to Afghanistan and one for redeployers coming back home.
“We keep one half [of the Passenger Terminal] for deployers already through customs since they’re heading down range,” Engle said. “The other half is for redeployers heading back home so they process through customs and come straight to us. We have to ensure they stay cleared before departing.”
The Aerial Port Flight had to overcome many challenges to move locations while continuing the onward movement mission but couldn’t have completed it without the help of fellow organizations across the Transit Center, said Engle.
The 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron played a vital role in ensuring the passenger terminal was completed before the 30,000 U.S. troop reposturing expected in September 2012.
“After the fitness center was vacated, we went in there and got down to business,” said Capt. Dustin Creed, 376 ECES programs flight commander deployed out of Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
“We had to redo the floor, put up walls as well as oversee the construction of the baggage yard connected to it,” said Creed, a native of Tollhouse, Calif.
The weather shelter in the baggage yard holds more than 100 pallet positions for transient baggage, which is a 57 percent increase in weather enclosed secure storage. The foundation of the shelter is also at an elevated slope to prevent flooding to keep bags dry.
Transiting service members returning from Afghanistan are surprised with the new system in place at the facilities.
“It really sucked hauling my gear all the way across [the Transit Center] when I was on my way to Afghanistan,” said Lance Cpl. Jason Eckburn, 32nd Platoon, Bravo Company rifleman. “Realizing I just have to walk across the street now is a major improvement for folks coming through here.”