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Exclusive: METRO's Most Influential People of the Decade

Posted on October 23, 2014 by METRO Staff

“The path to influence is the ability to balance both strength and warmth to gain the respect and trust of others.” This quote from a recent Fast Company article is a succinct way of describing what makes people influential. The public transportation industry is loaded with influential people — they have to be to get things done in such a challenging arena.

In 2014, METRO Magazine is celebrating its 110th anniversary. To commemorate that milestone, we wanted to highlight some of the influential people from the public side of the transportation industry from the past decade (2004 – 2014).

We’d like to thank those who submitted nominations for this article. While we were unable to include everyone that was nominated, this brief list gives you an idea of the talented, bold people who have made a lasting impact on public transportation and been an inspiration to others.

 

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
President
Not since Dwight D. Eisenhower has an American President put such a focus on transportation issues.
Immediately upon taking office, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008 (ARRA), which provided $48.1 billion for transportation initiatives, including $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects and rail congestion grants, with priority for high-speed rail; $6.9 billion for new equipment for public transportation projects; $1.5 billion for national surface transportation discretionary grants; and $1.3 billion for Amtrak.

ARRA also created the TIGER grant program, which funded approximately $3.1 billion in national surface transportation projects between 2009 to 2012, and most recently awarded $600 million to 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2011, Obama became the first U.S. President to mention public transportation during his State of the Union address, including the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you [to] go places in half the time it takes to travel by car,” he said. “For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”

In July 2012, President Obama signed the 27-month surface transportation bill, dubbed MAP-21. The bill funded public transportation at current levels for the final three months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, $10.578 billion in FY 2013 and $10.695 billion in FY 2014. Funding authorized from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund amounted to $8.478 billion in FY 2013 and $8.595 billion in FY 2014, with $2.1 billion authorized from the General Fund in each fiscal year.

As MAP-21 approaches expiration, the Administration unveiled the $302 billion “Grow America Act” in February, which reflects Obama’s vision for a four-year surface transportation bill that would create millions of jobs and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges while providing much-needed certainty for local and state governments and addressing the country’s future needs.                   

 

Michael Melaniphy
Michael Melaniphy
Michael Melaniphy
President/CEO
American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
Melaniphy began his 26-year public transportation career at Indiana University where he worked as a bus driver for the university basketball team coached by the legendary Bobby Knight.

Now, Melaniphy holds perhaps the most high-level position in the industry as president/CEO of APTA.
Remaining extremely active in the industry, Melaniphy proudly serves on the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), as well as on the boards of both RailVolution and the Transportation Learning Resource Center. In addition to his post at APTA, he is a commissioner on the Alliance to Save Energy’s Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy. He also serves on the boards of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and the National Center for Transit Research at CUTR - University South Florida.

Melaniphy has testified on Capitol Hill regarding several public transportation issues and met the president and First Lady after only months on the job.

“Just knowing that we have reached the table to such a point that, within months of being on the job, I was invited to the White House to meet the president and the first lady said a lot about APTA’s stature in Washington, D.C.,” Melaniphy told METRO Magazine in 2012. “It was a tremendous experience; it is as great as you think it might be. They are truly engaging people, they were very nice to talk with and it was great to be able to tell a little bit of APTA’s story.”

Melaniphy brings private-sector experience to his APTA post, having previously served as VP, public sector, at Motor Coach Industries Inc., where he worked for more than 10 years and was responsible for operations in the U.S. and Canada. During this time he was very active within APTA, having served as chair of the 2011 International Expo Committee, chair of the Awards Committee and vice chair of the Business Member Board of Governors.

He is a 2005 graduate of Leadership APTA and has also served as vice chair of the TRB’s TOPS committee and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Transit Museum.

Phil Washington
Phil Washington
Phil Washington
GM/CEO
Denver Regional Transportation District
With the RTD for 14 years, including the last four as GM/CEO, RTD has undertaken a huge number of innovative cost-effective and customer-focused initiatives to build projects and improve service to the public under Washington.
Perhaps the most visible is RTD’s FasTracks Program, which is building 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, adding 21,000 new parking spaces and redeveloping Union Station.

The W Line, RTD’s first FasTracks-funded rail line, opened in 2013 eight months ahead of schedule and within adopted budget — adding 12 miles for a system-wide total of 47 miles.

Facing challenges to keep the program funded and moving, Washington has challenged staff to create innovative approaches, such as partnering with the private sector on the Eagle P3 — a $2.2 billion project that includes the East Rail Line to Denver International Airport, the Gold Rail Line, a segment of Northwest Rail, the commuter rail maintenance facility and rail fleet. The project is set to open in 2016.

Additionally, Washington is the driving force behind Denver’s Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) program, the largest transit public-private partnership in the country that seeks to leverage existing training resources through unique workforce development opportunities.

The WIN collaborative partnership between RTD, the Community College of Denver, Denver Transit Partners and the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, helps job seekers, companies, and local communities through the creation of career opportunities in the transportation and construction industries. This is accomplished through identifying, assessing, training, and placing community members into careers related to transportation and mixed-use development projects that grow the local workforce and strengthens the economy.

 

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
A staunch advocate for the environment, Boxer has been a member of the U.S. Senate since 1992 and is the current chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW).

Boxer was instrumental in the passage of ARRA and helped champion the continuation of the TIGER grant program.
Boxer was also key in shaping surface transportation legislation in the Senate, which eventually became MAP-21. In those efforts, Boxer worked in a bipartisan way with ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) to get a bill done that also streamlined environmental reviews for transportation projects.

With a new surface transportation bill currently on the Hill, Boxer and the Senate EPW committee could be instrumental again in getting legislation passed as well as continued funding of the Highway Trust Fund.

Joseph Casey
Joseph Casey
Joseph Casey
GM
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
As GM of the sixth-largest transit operation in the U.S., Casey is responsible for a 9,300-person organization providing multi-modal public transit services to a 2,200-square-mile, five-county service region and selected destinations in New Jersey and Delaware.

Casey has been committed to focusing the organization on customer service and courtesy, cleanliness, communications, and convenience, while delivering quality transit services to customers and the region.  

As a regional business, SEPTA has taken a leadership role adopting a comprehensive sustainability program focusing on initiatives ranging from building an eco-fleet, developing alternative energy generation and storage, to station and facility recycling.  

In recognition of its efforts, SEPTA received both APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation System Award and APTA Gold Sustainability Recognition in 2012.  

Thanks in large part to Casey’s key role as a tireless advocate for finding a dedicated, long-term funding source to address SEPTA’s critical infrastructure improvements, Act 89, which provides new resources for transportation in Pennsylvania, went into effect in January 2014.

Casey serves on the board of directors and several committees of APTA and the Transportation Learning Center; the Board of Fellows of the Temple University Center on Regional Politics; the Board of the March of Dimes Building and Construction Committee; the Advisory Council for the Consortium for Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation; and is a founding member of the Leadership Consortium for the Metropolitan Rail Discussion Group.   

He has also been recognized with the 2011 Service to Humanity Award presented by the March of Dimes, honored by Women in Transportation Philadelphia (WTS) with the 2011 Philadelphia Award, and received the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials 2011 Executive of the Year Award.

 

Marcia Ferranto
Marcia Ferranto
Marcia Ferranto
President/CEO
Women’s Transportation Seminar
When joining the WTS as the executive director, Ferranto brought more than two decades of experience to the position in advocating educational and career development for women.

With the future of the transportation industry in crisis due to the workforce gap, WTS is working on filling the pipeline through the attraction of young women; building awareness around transportation as a viable career choice. Ferranto’s initiatives to fill the pipeline include the creation of Transportation YOU in coordination with U.S. DOT and the ratification of WTS student chapters across the U.S.

Recognizing that the dearth of women in the highest levels of leadership in transportation is not conducive to leader-to-leader engagement, Ferranto also created the WTS Executive Women’s Roundtable. The annual 1 1/2-day event brings together the top 40 women in the industry to learn from one another. Through their engagement, WTS has fostered a stronger group of leaders to forge the path for the women who will join them at those top levels.

Realizing men play a vital role in the retention and advancement of women in the industry, through Ferranto’s leadership the male demographic in WTS membership has also significantly increased.

 

Keith Parker
Keith Parker
Keith Parker
GM/CEO
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
The current GM/CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Parker’s career has included public and private-sector experiences in diverse communities around the country, including stints at San Antonio VIA Metropolitan Transit and N.C.’s Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).

Under Parker’s leadership, VIA and CATS enjoyed some of the highest ridership increases in the country, while maintaining some of the lowest costs. The transit agencies  also won numerous local, state and national awards in areas such as safety, maintenance, environmental innovations and overall excellence.

Upon taking over at MARTA in Dec. 2012, Parker began focusing on changing the perception of the agency, which had been viewed as not protecting taxpayer dollars well.

“We have instituted a number of major reforms that are making the agency more efficient every day, while our costs are going down pretty significantly,” Parker told METRO in February. “MARTA’s only balanced its budget, where revenues actually exceeded expenses, twice in the last 15 years, and we were able to do that very quickly.”

Parker also created the “Ride with Respect” program — an effort to let passengers and potential passengers know that when they ride MARTA’s service, they should expect to be able to ride in a safe, unencumbered manner, while also holding people accountable who are disruptive or uncivil.

Parker’s focus on financial accountability has translated into allowing MARTA to begin using its cost savings to begin investing back into its customers.

The agency is currently working on improving its bus routes and on-time performance, while also significantly improving frequency on its train system.

 

Peter Rogoff
Peter Rogoff
Peter Rogoff
Under Secretary, Policy
U.S. Department of Transportation
Confirmed as Federal Transit Administrator in May 2009, Rogoff led the agency through a period of historic change and process improvements to meet the American public’s growing need for public transportation services.

Rogoff was instrumental in helping the Obama Administration develop and transmit new safety legislation to Congress, which is now part of MAP-21, granting FTA new authority for the first time in over 40 years to establish and enforce minimum transit safety standards on all federally funded rail transit systems.

He also led a successful effort to streamline the FTA’s processes, including the New Starts program, and initiated important revisions and clarifications to FTA’s policies for ensuring all funding recipients comply fully with federal civil rights laws and the impacts of proposed transit construction projects on low-income and minority communities are taken fully into account.

Under Rogoff’s leadership, the FTA signed more capital construction agreements in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 for transit projects than in any two-year period in the agency’s history. He has used his position on the Transportation Secretary’s Credit Council to advance transit participation in U.S. DOT credit assistance programs, including the TIFIA program, which aids in making funds available for major capital transit projects.

Recently, Rogoff was appointed under secretary, policy, for the U.S. DOT by new Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

 

Paul Jablonski
Paul Jablonski
Paul Jablonski
CEO
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
Jablonski has been at the helm of San Diego MTS for almost 11 years. When he was named CEO, the agency had just been ripped apart by legislation that took all non-operating functions away from MTS. Jablonski totally rebuilt MTS to restore planning functions, to eliminate operating silos in bus and light rail divisions, eliminate operating redundancies, improve operating efficiencies and much more.

Today, MTS is a model of State of Good Repair, leading efforts to renovate the entire Trolley network, build new bus maintenance facilities and procure new buses (now 80% CNG) and low-floor trolleys. Jablonski has negotiated 14 labor contracts to create more sustainable pensions and increase attendance.

Recently, MTS partnered with Masabi to launch a mobile ticketing app that enables passengers to purchase day passes via smartphones for specials events including San Diego Chargers football games  and the annual ComicCon event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people to the San Diego area over three days.

MTS is also at the top among peer agencies in almost every performance measure. Additionally, Jablonski was at the helm of the California Transit Association during some of the most tumultuous years for the industry. He fought to restore state funding, led efforts to ward off Federal withholding of grants due to California pension reform, negotiated axle-weight regulations and helped revamp the association’s branding. Jablonski is now on the APTA executive committee.

 

James Oberstar
James Oberstar
James Oberstar
Former Chair
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Oberstar, the longest serving congressmen in Minnesota history, was a long-time transportation advocate and served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) beginning in 1974, before becoming chairman in 2007.
Oberstar’s legacy is visible throughout his home state, where his influence secured funding for public works projects, including the Northstar commuter rail system and the rebuilding of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge, helping to secure $250 million for the latter within days of its collapse.

At the federal level, Oberstar had an international reputation as an expert and as an advocate of public investments to spur private growth. He became known as an ardent champion of “intermodality.”

Oberstar authored, co-sponsored and helped pass the $295 billion SAFTEA-LU surface transportation bill and was a strong supporter of ARRA.

Oberstar’s tenure in Congress and the T&I Committee came to an abrupt end after his surprise defeat by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) in 2010.

Oberstar died in May at the age of 79.

“He was a tireless advocate for safety, consumer protections and robust federal investment so that the American public could continue to enjoy the best transportation system in the world,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx. “His personal imprint on our national transportation policies across all modes cannot be overstated. His principles and his legislative accomplishments continue to guide the work of the U.S. Department of Transportation each and every day.”

 

Ray LaHood
Ray LaHood
Ray LaHood
Former Secretary of Transportation
A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, LaHood was named Secretary of Transportation by President Barack Obama in 2008. Upon confirmation in early 2009, LaHood was immediately charged with overseeing the U.S. DOT, which boasts more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget.

In nominating LaHood, Obama said “Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I’m asking to lead the Department of Transportation.”

During his tenure, he helped the president execute his vision for surface transportation as well funding for transportation programs created through ARRA.

LaHood also helped create the TIGER grant program and oversaw the nation’s first high-speed rail program, touting it as the future of the nation the same way the Interstate Highway system was in the 1950s.

A major focus for LaHood was his “rampage” against distracted driving, creating the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” in 2012, which offered a comprehensive strategy to address the growing and dangerous practice of using handheld cell phones behind the wheel. The plan outlined concrete steps stakeholders around the country — from lawmakers and safety organizations to families and younger drivers — could take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving.

 

Darell Johnson
Darell Johnson
Darrell Johnson
CEO
Orange County Transportation Authority
Although he has only been CEO at OCTA since early 2013, Johnson has been instrumental in the agency’s successes for several years, serving as deputy CEO to Will Kempton.

In addition to capital project delivery through Measure M Orange County’s voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, Johnson has placed an emphasis on enhancing the efficiency and safety of OCTA bus and Metrolink commuter-rail operations, which serves more than one million passengers each week.

One of Johnson’s first actions as CEO was to request a Safety Peer Review from APTA, and last year, he helped launch OCTA’s first limited-stop bus service, with ridership surpassing initial projections. Ridership also continues to climb on bus and Metrolink service to special events in the county and region, including the Angels Express trains to baseball games and OC Fair Express bus service.

As Johnson leads the effort to enhance all modes of transportation for the residents, businesses and tourists of Orange County, he has done so with an emphasis on keeping OCTA a financially sound agency that safeguards taxpayer dollars. Johnson implemented a pension-reform plan that will save Orange County taxpayers $85 million during the next 20 years. A new contract for ACCESS paratransit service was executed resulting in a $46 million savings. A refinancing of the 91 Express Lanes debt resulted in a savings of more than $26 million over the next two decades and the lease for OCTA Headquarters was renegotiated to save $40 million during the next 30 years.

Johnson is also responsible for developing and implementing short-range and long-range goals and business plans to support the successful implementation of the agency’s strategic vision. He represents OCTA on local, state and national issues related to transportation programs and policies, and in 2012, was elected to serve on APTA’s board of directors.

 

Joyce Rose
Joyce Rose
Joyce Rose
President/CEO
Operation Lifesaver
Previous to being named president/CEO of Operation Lifesaver Inc., Rose was a veteran Congressional staffer with over 20 years of experience in transportation policy.

She became staff director for the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials in 2008, after serving as a professional staff member on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House T&I Committee.

As staff director, Rose drafted, negotiated and helped secure passage of MAP-21. She also worked on the passage of Amtrak authorization and rail safety bills in 2008, and helped draft the transit provisions in SAFETEA-LU.

As president/CEO of OLI, Rose leads efforts by the non-profit education group to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property through a nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety.

In 2013, Rose and APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to renew and intensify collaboration on transportation safety and jointly develop new educational materials.

The MOU commits both organizations to ensure their policies and positions on rail and transit safety are consistent; work as partners to develop and distribute safety education and awareness materials to improve rail passenger transportation safety, both for passengers and for members of the general public; and to jointly participate on technical committees affecting rail and transit safety.

 

Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas
President/Executive Director
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
As president/executive director of DART since 2001, Thomas has doubled its light rail system twice to become the nation’s longest at 85 miles.

Thomas has also developed a progressive clean fuels program that included migrating its fleet of around 650 buses to clean-burning CNG for which it partnered with Clean Energy to design and install a network of filling stations.

“It wasn’t something we took lightly,” Thomas explained in a recent blog for METRO. “As a taxpayer-supported agency, it’s contingent on us to examine every option we have, and to balance cost-effectiveness with other factors such as service quality and environmental impact.”

In August, DART opened its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) station four months ahead of schedule and under budget.

With the launch of the new five-mile extension from Belt Line Station to Terminal A at DFW, riders are now able to walk about 300 feet from the station to the terminal, making it convenient for people traveling to and from the Dallas/Fort Worth area as well as for people who work at or near the airport.

“Opening a project of this complexity early and under budget is a great testament to the work of our DART team and our colleagues at DFW Airport,” Thomas told METRO shortly before the station’s opening. “Support from the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Aviation Administration was also crucial to beating the targeted opening.”

 

Michael Setzer
Michael Setzer
Michael Setzer
CEO
Transdev, Nassau County
With more than three decades in the industry, Setzer served as GM of a number of large transit systems, including Minneapolis’ Metro Transit, where he opened the state’s first new passenger rail system, the Blue Line. While being responsible for both construction and operation of the new system, Setzer was able to launch the service six months early that was also on budget.

In 2007 he created the Everybody Rides Metro (ERM) foundation in Cincinnati, which uses donated funds to provide discounted transit rides to needy individuals through the agencies that serve them. The program, which won APTA’s Innovation Award in 2008, relieves the agencies’ budgets, provides the individuals mobility, and improves both ridership and fare revenue.

In 2011, Setzer led Transdev’s — then Veolia — successful creation of a public-private operating partnership to operate the former Long Island Bus system, which saved Nassau County, N.Y. millions, while preserving vital service to the community.

Now as CEO of that system, dubbed the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE), Setzer introduced the very first mobile ticketing system in the New York City area, which provides passengers with a more convenient and safer way to pay fares through the use of their smart phones.

In addition to his successes building and growing public transportation systems and ridership, Setzer has also served as coach and mentor to many of today’s industry leaders, as well as several on this very list, including Michael Melaniphy, Keith Parker and Paul Jablonski.

 

Rod Diridon
Rod Diridon
Rod Diridon
Former executive director
Mineta Transportation Institute
Before retiring last June from his position as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, Calif., a position he held since the inception of the institute more than 20 years ago, Diridon has devoted his entire career to transit.

When he chaired the Santa Clara County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, he initiated the first successful public vote to generate tax revenue that would support transit. Other successful tax measures followed. He also was instrumental in bringing light rail transit to the County and to the City of San Jose, where it still serves the local population.

Diridon has chaired several boards related to the San Francisco Bay Area’s mobility, and has served for many years on the board of directors for APTA, including as its chair. He was appointed by two California governors to chair the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and he currently chairs the American High-Speed Rail Association.

Diridon has also traveled around the world making presentations supporting high-speed rail, public transit and the innovative Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), also known as “podcars.” He held several leadership positions with the Union Internationale des Transports Publics, and is the founder/president of the California Trolley and Railroad Corp., raising over $5 million in private and grant funds and creating $20 million in non-profit historic trolley restorations, trolley barn and electrified tracks, along with steam railroad museum and locomotive reconstructions.

Additionally, Diridon has received many awards for his service to public mobility, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of University Transportation Centers. In October, he will be inducted into APTA’s Hall of Fame.

 

Dan Blankenship
Dan Blankenship
Dan Blankenship
CEO
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
For a rural public transportation agency, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) has made quite an impact under the leadership of its CEO Dan Blankenship.

To start, RFTA has won the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) Large Transit Agency of the Year award multiple times, with Blankenship winning Best Transit Administrator in both 2009 and 2011.

In 2012, RFTA was acknowledged as a White House Champion of Change for Transportation Innovation for its VelociRFTA bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which launched in 2013. VelociRFTA is the first rural BRT system in the U.S., with a route uniting five towns along 42 miles of Highway 82 and runs completely on compressed natural gas.
When the system was launched, then U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called RFTA’s BRT system a “model of cooperation.”

Blankenship was important in garnering support and funding for the VelociRFTA system, which included a tax increase that was approved by voters.

Overall, VelociRFTA generated at least 250 jobs in Colorado and significantly reduced the travel time of many workers in the valley. With the VelociRFTA, the commute from Aspen to Glenwood Springs takes less than one hour.

 

Jeannette Sadik-Khan
Jeannette Sadik-Khan
Jannette Sadik-Khan
Former Commissioner New York City Department of Transportation
Under Sadik-Khan, the NYC DOT revamped the entire street workings of the city’s transportation, allowing more focus on bicycle and pedestrian access and minimizing the focus on automobiles.

Her DOT worked on street designs more appropriate for city needs and would do street redesigns with paint and temporary breakaway bollards, then measure changes in capacity and collision frequency and severity before repaving or making other permanent changes.

Under Sadik-Khan’s leadership, the NYC DOT also issued the first strategic plan in the agency’s history. The changes were all measured and analyzed; if popular or successful, they remained and if not successful, they were removed.
Sadik-Khan is also known for her work in implementing the New York City’s 1997 Bicycle Master Plan. In her first year as commissioner bike lane and shared-lane painting doubled from 29 miles in 2006 to 63 miles 2007.

In the following five years, an additional 254 miles of bike lanes or shared lanes were painted. She also installed the city’s first parking-protected bike lanes on 9th Avenue.

Aside from her work at the NYC DOT, Sadik-Khan previously worked at the New York Mayor’s office for transportation under David Dinkins, the FTA and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

 

Paul Weyrich
Paul Weyrich
Paul Weyrich
Free Congress Foundation
Contrasting with many of the conservatives he helped rally on other issues, the man who coined the term “moral majority,” had a long history of ardent support for passenger rail transportation.

In 1988, he co-founded The New Electric Railway Journal, a magazine dedicated to urban rail transit. In 1996, he discontinued his affiliation with the Journal, however, the magazine continued being produced until 1998.

In 2000, Weyrich and William S. Lind, who served as associate publisher until 1996, launched a website, “The New New Electric Railway Journal,” where they continued to tout passenger rail transit systems.

In addition to being in support of bringing back streetcars to U.S. cities, Weyrich also served on the national board of Amtrak from 1987 to 1993 and Amtrak Reform Council, as well as on local and regional rail transit advocacy organizations.

Weyrich passed away in 2008.

Joseph Calabrese
Joseph Calabrese
Joseph A. Calabrese
CEO/GM
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
A seasoned public transportation veteran, Calabrese has been with the Cleveland RTA since 2000, making him the longest-serving GM in the agency’s history.

Since his arrival in Cleveland, Calabrese has led RTA on an aggressive infrastructure upgrade program, while placing an increased emphasis on image, financial management, customer service and safety.

Calabrese launched the “Ride Happy or Ride Free” customer service pledge and guarantee program and established a downtown trolley network to transport workers, visitors and residents between all major downtown venues with a subsidized fare that is “Free with a Smile.”

He also oversaw the funding, construction and operation of the HealthLine BRT system, which was recognized as the best BRT system in North America by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.

The 9.2-mile BRT system offers frequent and convenient travel between downtown, University Circle and East Cleveland, with 40 stops along the way onboard stylized 63-foot hybrid-electric vehicles with five sets of doors, located on both sides of coach. Since its launch, HealthLine increased ridership by 60% and made an economic development return of more than $5 billion.

Most recently, the RTA celebrated the opening of its Cedar-University Rapid Station, which replaces an aging rail station and terminal built in 1956, with a modern facility that significantly improves access for pedestrians and people with disabilities.

While at RTA, Calabrese has won several awards, including APTA’s 2008 Outstanding Public Transit Manager award, with the agency being named the Best Large Public Transit System in North America by APTA in 2007.   

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