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RTA hires firms to seek new leader and new vision

December 18, 2018

RTA hires firms to seek new leader and new vision

CLEVELAND, Ohio—The board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority voted today to hire a search firm for a new leader and a public transit consulting firm for a new vision

For up to $85,000, Krauthhamer and Associates of Bethesda, Md., will search for a new staff leader for RTA. For up to $173,691, Jarrett Walker and Associations of Portland, Ore., will recommend both modifications and innovations in routes, vehicles and more to take effect through the early 2020s.

The authority has already commissioned separate studies of its operations, rail cars, fares and economic impact.

Board member Georgine Welo, who led the search committee, said, “It took something of a disaster to bring all this forward, but it’s an exciting time. If you’re going to redo your kitchen, you want to make sure everything is done, the plumbing and electricity, not just a new cabinet.”

RTA’s long-time president, George Dixon III, resigned this spring amid allegations of owing the authority more than $1.1 million for undeserved benefits, mostly healthcare. RTA’s 18-year staff leader, Joe Calabrese, stepped down in September to serve as a senior advisor before retiring in early 2020.

Like Calabrese and the current interim leader, Floun’say Caver, the permanent leader will start out as chief executive officer, general manager and secretary-treasurer. But board members are considering passing the secretary and treasurer duties before long to one or more other staffers.

Officials hope to hire someone to start in March and to receive up the vision study in October. Leaders of both firms have promised to seek input from the board, staff, riders and public before making recommendations.

Board member Valarie McCall, former chair of the American Public Transportation Association, has worked with both firms through the association and praised them both.

From the audience of today’s meeting, Rev. Pamela Pinkney-Butts urged the board to give Caver the permanent job without a search. “Dr. Caver has earned that position, and he does an excellent job.”

But Chris Stocking, head of the advocacy group Clevelanders for Public Transit, said, “We need to make sure we’re bringing in the right person and we’re asking the right questions.”

Caver has spent 15 years with RTA, overseeing operations, the budget and more.

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