Transit Dispatches

Contributing bloggers discuss a variety of topics geared toward the transit and motorcoach sectors.

Back to the list

March 5, 2013

Former OCTA CEO reflecting and moving forward

by Will Kempton

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” - Theodore Roosevelt.

As I begin a new chapter in my career, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my time as CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). Last week, I retired from public service and this month will assume the role of executive director of Transportation California, a statewide nonprofit association dedicated to transportation advocacy and education.  

With my time at OCTA having come to a close, the questions I am asking myself are, ‘Did I make a positive contribution to the organization?’ and ‘Have I left it in better shape than when I arrived?’

To say it was a somber environment when I began my tenure at OCTA is an understatement. When I joined the agency in August 2009, sales tax was plummeting, forcing us to reduce bus service, lay off employees and re-evaluate our Measure M2 program, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

But what began as one of my biggest challenges as CEO turned into some of our agency’s greatest accomplishments. We successfully managed through one of the most difficult economic downturns in our nation’s history and in the end came out a stronger agency. Today, OCTA is fiscally sound, beginning to restore some service and the agency is operating more efficiently.

As we dealt with the difficulties of the economy, we also had to remain focused on delivering what we promised to the voters under Measure M2. The program is now anticipated to provide $14.5 billion for transportation improvements — some $10 billion less than originally expected.

Since 2009, OCTA has delivered, brought to construction or initiated approximately $2 billion worth of construction projects in the county. In addition, we have had to ensure we could complete all the Measure M2 projects, despite the decline in sales tax revenues. That was accomplished through the M2020 plan, which will carry OCTA from today through the next decade by bonding and sequencing projects to manage the cash flow. Two-thirds of OCTA’s freeway projects will be under construction by 2020 with the remaining projects environmentally cleared.

The core element to being able to tackle the recession and prepare for delivery of the Measure M2 program was unifying OCTA’s workforce. During my tenure, we developed OCTA’s first five-year strategic plan and implemented a performance-based management structure as well as encouraged unity among the agency’s staff. Two-thirds of our employees operate within the transit division, but OCTA also has contracted and administrative staff and bringing these groups together has played an essential role in maintaining and enhancing employee morale.

It is with mixed emotions that I leave behind an agency comprised of truly remarkable individuals. I have continually been impressed, encouraged and motivated by our dedicated team.

With my days at OCTA at an end, I am confident that the agency is a stronger, more efficient organization and is well prepared to continue delivering services, projects and programs that impact millions of people each year.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Sustainability programs: A triple (bottom line) threat'" here.


Write a letter to the editor
deli.cio.us digg it stumble upon newsvine


  • Omar Chatty[ March 8th, 2013 @ 3:16pm ]

    Will Kempton has left a fantastic legacy of transportation integrity that I hope others will study and use as a model of the highest level of public service. He is truly one-of-a-kind. I first ran into Will when he was an able aide to the Jerry Brown1/Adrian Gianturco anti-road administration, then again to execute (and make hard decisions) in implementing Santa Clara County and the state's first self-help all-highway 1984 Measure A, then again briefly in Folsom (where the Sacto region missed the opportunity to build a beltway (SR104,SR48, SR65 South for through motorists (and coaches!) around the burgeoning area growth), then Caltrans and finally OCTA. I look forward to watching him in his new role in TC -- and his incredible adaptability and integrity that serves as a model for all.

E-NEWSLETTER

Receive the latest Metro E-Newsletters in your inbox!

Join the Metro E-Newsletters and receive the latest news in your e-mail inbox once a week. SIGN UP NOW!

View the latest eNews
Express Tuesday | Express Thursday | University Transit

Author Bio

Heather Redfern

Public Information Manager, SEPTA


Marcia Ferranto

President/CEO, WTS International

Marcia Ferranto is President/CEO of WTS International.


Scott Belcher

President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)


Joe Zavisca

Joe Zavisca is an independent consultant specializing in paratransit service.


Paul Mackie

Communications Director, Mobility Lab

Paul Mackie is communications director at Mobility Lab, a leading U.S. voice of “transportation demand management.”


Rob Taylo

Founder/CEO SinglePoint Communications

Rob Taylo is founder/CEO of SinglePoint Communications, an exclusive U.S. distributor of WiFi in Motion.


Joel Volinski

Director, National Center for Transit Research at CUTR/USF


Zack Shubkagel

Partner/Creative Director of Willoughby Design

Zack Shubkagel is partner and creative director for the San Francisco office of Willoughby Design, a strategic branding and design firm.


White Papers

Factors in Transit Bus Ramp Slope and Wheelchair-Seated Passenger Safety Nearly 3 million U.S. adults are wheelchair or scooter users1, and as the population ages this number is expected to rise. Many wheelchair users rely upon public transportation to access work, medical care, school and social activities.

Mass Transit Capital Planning An overview of the world-class best practices for assessing, prioritizing, and funding capital projects to optimize resources and align with the organization’s most critical immediate and long-term goals.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Service in ADA Complementary Paratransit Many U.S. transit agencies continue to struggle with the quality of ADA service, the costs, and the difficulties encountered in contracting the service, which is the method of choice for a significant majority of agencies. One of the most basic policy decisions an agency must make involves whether to provide door-to-door, or only curb-to-curb service.

More white papers


 
DIGITAL EDITION

The full contents of Metro Magazine on your computer! The digital edition is an exact replica of the print magazine with enhanced search, multimedia and hyperlink features. View the current issue