Monday, October 22, 2012

New MARTA boss to ride system every day, probably won't tolerate people blaring music on train

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The incoming general manager and CEO of MARTA dropped by Atlanta on Friday to officially ink his five-year contract, which will pay him an annual base salary of $320,000.

Keith Parker, who recently stepped down as the head of San Antonio's VIA transit system, briefly visited MARTA's Lindbergh Center headquarters to meet with the agency's board and briefly speak with reporters.

According to Maria Saporta, Parker's expressed interest in finding a home located near a MARTA stop and riding the bus and rail system each day. That's a smart move which could raise employee morale, help higher-ups understand riders' woes and frustrations, and boost MARTA's image. Parker also discussed some techniques he's used in the past to make organizations more efficient:

During his transit career — both in Charlotte and San Antonio, Parker said he had tried all sorts of approaches to run a more efficient operation. In Charlotte, he tried the concept of “managed competition,” where the agency’s employees would compete against the private sector for the work.

“The public sector employees were so competitive that private companies quit competing,” Parker said. When he comes to Atlanta, Parker pledged to look into all the options for the best solutions.

That's an interesting concept, one which we haven't heard mentioned in local political circles since Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell's 2009 campaign. One program Parker's used in the past that'd be helpful in Atlanta: "Bus rider clinic" days. According to Ashley Robbins of Citizens for Progressive Transit, Parker offered fare holidays and assistance to help convince choice riders to use the system.

Here's WAGA's coverage of Parker's Friday pit stop.

Parker's eligible for a $25,000 annuity for each year of his contract if he remains in the position until June 30, 2017. He might also receive bonuses for "meeting or exceeding predetermined performance goals" set by MARTA's board of directors. His first day on the job is Dec. 10.

UPDATE, 2:43 p.m. Here's Parker's contract (PDF), which MARTA uploaded to its website.

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