NJ TRANSIT announced the passing of Louis J. Gambaccini, the agency’s founding Chairman of the Board of Directors, who died at his home in Skillman, N.J. He was 87 years old.

Gambaccini helped shape transportation policy and initiated innovative solutions for transit issues during a career that lasted more than five decades. His long and distinguished career in transportation included tenure in senior management positions in transportation management at several key area agencies.

In 1978, he was selected to serve as the Commissioner of Transportation and through his leadership, NJ TRANSIT was created on July 17, 1979. He served as Commissioner from 1978 to 1981 and was the Board Chairman of NJ TRANSIT from 1979 to 1981.

“It is truly sad to hear of the passing of Lou Gambaccini,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Lou was a strong advocate for an improved public transportation system and his 50-plus years in the industry serve as an inspiration for all of us to elevate the standards of public service. There will never be another person like Lou Gambaccini.’’

Gambaccini’s expertise in transportation extends to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia, where he spent more than eight years as GM. Prior to SEPTA, he served 32 years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with 20 years as VP and GM and other senior positions overseeing the Port Authority Trans Hudson Corp.

In 1997, he was recruited by Rutgers University to administer the federally funded National Transit Institute and established the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, including the founding of a new research institute — the Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute.

He chaired a number of professional organizations, including The Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee, American Public Transportation Association, and the former Tri-State Regional Planning Committee. In 1983, he founded and served as first chairman of the Council for Excellence in Government, a national advocacy organization committed to continuing the pursuit of excellence in government.

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