A profile piece for Governing focuses on the work of Keith Parker, who since 2012 has been leading the ninth-largest transportation agency in the country: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).
After decades of disappointment and acrimony, MARTA has made positive gains in recent years. "But for all the favorable outside news, community leaders say the biggest factor in MARTA’s transformation is Keith Parker," writes Daniel C. Vock in Governing.
Among Parker's contributions, according to the article, are a visible presence in the community (and riding transit, no less) and shrewd operations decisions that have helped the agency save money. For instance, "Parker slashed the agency’s use of outside technology consultants and brought the work in-house. That saved $14 million a year. He pushed for the conversion of the remaining 30 percent of the bus fleet that ran on diesel to natural gas. Natural gas costs roughly a quarter as much as diesel, so the switch saved $5 million a year. All told, rather than losing as much as $33 million his first year, as projected, MARTA closed the books with a $9 million surplus."
Then there are the service improvements: "Parker managed to reduce the wait times between trains from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. He hired bus drivers and reopened bathrooms." MARTA has also made news recently for a plan to sell air rights above train stations and for five transit oriented development projects on MARTA land.
Vock's article credits Parkers successes with improving the relationship between the agency and the state legislature.
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