Transportation Riders United

Regardless of RTA Leadership Change, Transit Still Matters

On March 16, the RTA has removed Michael Ford as CEO and selected Deputy CEO Tiffany Gunter to serve as Interim CEO effective immediately.

Regardless of leadership, the RTA mission and our region’s transit needs remain unchanged.

The RTA Board, Interim CEO and other staff remain “absolutely committed to the goal” of “building a more comprehensive, connected, convenient and better funded public transit system.”

At the meeting, the chair applauded the work of Michael Ford:

“Michael was instrumental in the completion of the Master Plan, creation of the Reflex Service and building an awareness of the need for a regional transit system in southeast Michigan. However, the board felt it was time to move in a new direction,” said Paul Hillegonds, RTA Board Chairman.

The chair also made it clear that they explored reimbursements Mr. Ford had received and found no wrongdoing, citing lack of clarity and noting the he’s repaid expenses deemed inappropriate.

The RTA board unanimously voted to terminate Mr. Ford “without cause.” Under his contract, he will receive his full pay and benefits due through October.

Deputy CEO Tiffany Gunter, who has been a key leader in the RTA for more than two years, will serve as Interim CEO. No timetable has been announced for selection of a permanent CEO.

Clearly, questions remain:

  • What modifications need to be made to the Regional Transit Plan to better suit the many varied transit needs of this region?
  • Will voters have another chance to fund regional transit in November 2018?
  • How else can the RTA improve regional transit coordination and service with minimal new funding?

Some county leaders want to wait three years or more before seeking the dedicated regional funding our region needs to improve transit, regardless of the enormous needs.

The RTA will start answering these questions at their Board retreat in April.

What do you think?

TRU has set up an easy online tool to send a message to the RTA and County leaders that #TransitStillMatters. Urge them to move quickly to fund transit improvements!

Transit is too important to too many people for setbacks like the ballot loss and CEO changes to break our progress. TRU is deeply committed to continuing to fight for more and better transit.