Keith T. Parker, GM/CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), is being honored with APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award.
Parker is credited with launching a top-to-bottom transformation of MARTA, the nation’s ninth largest transit agency, at a time when it was still reeling from staggering budget deficits, declining ridership and a poor public image.
Since Parker’s arrival in December 2012, after heading up San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit, MARTA has stabilized its finances, increased financial reserves and improved its credit rating. Ridership is on the rise and the agency’s relationship with the business community, state and local elected officials and its customers, continues to grow stronger.
What were your early career aspirations? From the time I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to be a CEO, whether in the public or private sector. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of leading and managing.
How did you first become involved in the transportation industry? My first job in transit was as a $4.90-per-hour intern with Greater Richmond Transit Co.
What does your present position entail? As GM/CEO, I’m responsible for all elements of the agency, including fiscal management; operations; and compliance to federal, state and local laws.
What accomplishments at MARTA and VIA are you’re most proud of?
Increasing ridership while keeping costs low. Improving the image of the agency. Balancing the budget.
What’s most challenging about your job? Balancing the needs of our customers and our employees with the limitations of our resources.
What do you find rewarding about your job? Knowing that our team provides the method to bring families together, to spur economic growth and to help the environment.
What skills have helped you get where you are today/to do your job? Being an avid listener. Also, I believe that one should have the confidence to try, but always have the humility to properly prepare.
Who inspires you? My parents are my greatest inspiration. They expected great things from me and I’m still trying to meet their expectations.
Favorite pastimes? Playing with my kids, reading, fitness activities and following politics.