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Friday, September 14, 2012

Your daily dose of MARTA news: new GM search reportedly down to two candidates, feds award system $3.9 million for new buses

* The search for a general manager to replace Bev Scott as MARTA's head honcho — she steps down before the end of the year — is reportedly down to two candidates, says Maria Saporta — and both potential candidates have no experience working with the metro Atlanta transit agency. The two lucky rail and bus maestros: Keith Parker, president and CEO of San Antonio's VIA Metropolitan Transit; and Stephen Bland, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. Writes Saporta:

Parker joined the VIA Metropolitan Transit system in 2009 after having served with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) — an organization he joined in 2000 as chief operating officer.

From 2004 to 2007, Parker became assistant city manager for the City of Charlotte. He was then named as the CEO of CATS in 2007, a position he held for about two years. Parker also was CEO of the Clark County Transit Authority in Vancouver Washington.

Bland became CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in 2006 overseeing the system’s bus, light rail and para-transit service.

Before moving to Pittsburgh, Bland was executive director of the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, N.Y. He also is a past chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association and a past president of the New York Public Transit Association.

Saporta's post includes a good round-up of the political powerplays we have been — and should expect to see — involving MARTA as we inch closer to the next legislative session. Give it a read.

* The news comes on the heels of a Thursday press conference by a diverse coalition of environmentalists and anti-tax advocates criticizing the GM search, which they think was conducted behind closed doors.

* Transit systems across the country are receiving nearly $60 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to "purchase and support cleaner, greener buses that reduce harmful emissions and improve fuel economy." MARTA's been awarded $3.9 million, which it will use to "replace compressed natural gas (CNG) buses that have met the end of their useful life with new CNG buses, thereby reducing emissions, extending the useful life of their fleet, and creating greater capacity and reliability for their ridership."

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