The MARTA board of directors voted Thursday to select Keith T. Parker as MARTA’s next General Manager and Chief Executive Officer.
Parker oversees all aspects of the San Antonio region's primary transit system, which provides bus, streetcar and paratransit service daily for nearly 150,000 riders.
The MARTA situation in Atlanta has become a hostile environment and earlier this week, Mayor Kasim Reed told Midtown Patch that now is the time to “focus on the performance and health” of the transit system.
“The new leadership is going to come in right away and determine what needs to be done to keep the amount of coverage at the level that we have right now,” said Reed, who as of Monday had yet to meet or speak with Parker.
“What has concerned me is this lunge towards union bashing, and being anti-employee,'' Reed continued. "I don’t like the kind of language that’s been discussed around MARTA. MARTA is one of the 10 largest transit systems in the United States of America and functions with no state support. I’m not complaining about that issue, but what I am saying is that the people who work and operate MARTA everyday do a better job than they get credit for.”
Before to taking the San Antonio job in 2009, Parker served as CEO for the Charlotte Area Transit System. Parker started in Charlotte in 2000 as Chief Operating Officer where he was responsible for bus and paratransit operations and helped develop light-rail plans for the transit system.
He also served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Charlotte from 2004 through 2007, where his portfolio included the police and fire departments, as well as Charlotte/Douglas Airport.
Prior to his experience in North Carolina, Parker was the CEO for the Clark County Transit Authority in Vancouver, Washington and Deputy Director of the transit agency in Richmond, Virginia.
Parker has a bachelor degree in political science, a master degree in urban and regional planning, and master of business administration. He is a certified urban planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
“We strongly believe that Keith Parker is the best choice for MARTA,” Frederick L. Daniels, Jr. Chairman of the MARTA Board, said in a statement. “We are extremely proud of the work we have done to this point, and we are very confident that we have picked the right man, for the right job at the right time.”
Parker was selected after a nationwide search conducted by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. He was one of two finalists considered to run MARTA, which is the the 9th largest transit system in the nation.
Current MARTA GM/CEO Beverly Scott announced last year she would not seek to renew her five-year contract. Scott has been CEO since 2007.
- Patch Editor Hunt Archbold contributed to this report