Former OCTA CEO reflecting and moving forward

Posted on March 5, 2013 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.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (1 Comment)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

November 7, 2017

‘Precarious’ Transit Workforce Needs Data, Research to Help Fill the Void

As experienced workers retire, the pool of people to hire away has dried up. In recent years, it has become clear that talent needs to be developed rather than poached.

October 31, 2017

Autonomous shuttles could end commuting woes

Public transit options haven't provided commuters with enough first-mile/last-mile solutions, but a driverless shuttle could be what wins drivers over.

October 31, 2017

7 Tips for Making, Saving Money for Your Transit Agency

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in thirty years about getting increased funding from your board, it’s that winners get investment. People want to invest in winners because they have already shown a propensity to get results with what they have.  

October 25, 2017

Practice is Key for Incident Response on Rail Systems

Working in subway tunnels is difficult under any circumstances and when you have to maneuver around an electrified third rail in an environment with less lighting, the task is even more daunting. Now imagine what it is like during an emergency...

September 20, 2017

The Transit Industry's Workforce Challenge is Still Real

Where are we today with the great anticipated retirement wave? It looks like it may finally be starting, if not fully underway. It seems at least a couple times each month we here of a transit CEO who is retiring, technical staff who are leaving, and the difficulty in filling maintenance and operations positions with skilled workers for those who have retired.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (1)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close