Our city’s public transportation agency, Capital Metro, is about to get a new leader. Earlier this week, the Cap Metro board of directors revealed the list of four finalists who are being interviewed to become the next CEO and president of Cap Metro.
Whoever is chosen will be replacing Linda Watson, who has served as Cap Metro’s CEO and president since 2010. She is retiring at the end of the year.
So who are the candidates?
As Cap Metro explained in a press release, the candidates are:
- Randy Clarke – Vice President, Operations and Member Services, American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Clarke has worked for the trade association APTA since April 2016 and spent seven years in various positions with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, including as deputy chief operating officer and assistant general manager of Engineering, Maintenance and Preparedness and senior director of security.
- Erika Mazza – Deputy General Manager, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority. She has spent the past five years with the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority in Flagstaff and has been its deputy general manager since 2016. Mazza is responsible for the Planning, Capital, Facilities, Public Affairs and Mobility divisions. She also served the cities of Flagstaff and Boulder, Colo., with responsibility for overseeing Human Services and Housing.
- Darrell Mobley – Director, Department of Public Works & Transportation, Prince George’s County. This role gives Mobley responsibility for the county’s portion of the Maryland Transit Administration’s Purple Line construction project and bus, paratransit and roadway operations. He’s been in that position since 2013. His previous service included time as deputy transportation secretary and acting transportation secretary for the state of Maryland.
- Raymond Suarez – Chief Operating Officer, Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA). Suarez became COO of the DCTA in 2014. Prior to that, he was the chief administrative officer of the Trinity Railway Express, a commuter rail service operated as a joint venture of Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. He also has held executive positions with technology firms in Silicon Valley and in Michigan.
Why is this important?
This a big moment for Cap Metro. The agency is at a crossroads. Austin’s traffic has grown significantly worse in recent years, while transit ridership has actually gone down and costs have gone up. On top of that, Austin has big plans to be a carbon-free city by 2050 (or sooner if possible) and that likely won’t happen without a major makeover to our public transportation system.
In an attempt to begin to address some of these issues, in 2018, Cap Metro has plans to make the biggest changes ever to its system. In a plan they’re calling Connections 2025, Cap Metro is consolidating and removing bus lines in some parts of town in order to boost frequency on other routes. The hope is that this will boost ridership without burdening the agency with a lot of extra costs, but the decision to cut some routes has been controversial. The new CEO and president will be responsible for overseeing this transition.
So what comes next?
The Cap Metro board will conduct the next round of interviews on January 8th and then as early as January 9th, take a vote to pick their final candidate. At their January 29th meeting, they’ll vote on a final contract with their chosen candidate.
So how do you get involved?
The next Cap Metro CEO and president will have a major impact on the future of public transportation in this city. If this is an area that you’re interested in, there are two ways for you to participate in the CEO and president selection process.
- Contact a member of the Cap Metro board – The Cap Metro board is made up of an array of local elected officials, including Austin City Council members Delia Garza, Ann Kitchen, and Sabino “Pio” Renteria, as well as Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion. If you have an opinion about who the next Cap Metro CEO and president should be, you can send an email to their office, or give them a call.
- Attend a public meeting with the candidates – On Monday, January 8th from 6pm to 8pm Cap Metro is hosting a public meeting with the final four candidates at the AISD Performing Arts Center in the Mueller neighborhood.