After a 15-month and extensive nationwide search, the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) Board of Directors announced it selected Scot Vanderpool as the agency's GM, effective Fri. Aug. 11.
Vanderpool, who was hired in January as the Ithaca, N.Y.-based transit agency's operations manager, came to TCAT with 34 years of transportation experience at both the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (CENTRO) in Syracuse and Syracuse University. In his new position, Vanderpool replaces the late Joe Turcotte, who served as TCAT’s GM since 2005. Turcotte passed away in May of 2016 after a long and brave battle with cancer. “I’ve heard so many great things about Joe Turcotte; I’m honored, I know Joe will be a tough act to follow,” Vanderpool said.
TCAT Board Chairman David Howe, said Vanderpool’s years of transportation experience in Syracuse as well as a proven track record as TCAT’s operations manager, gives the board every confidence he will be able to shepherd TCAT to successfully meet the many demands inherent to mass transit.
“Transit agencies all across the country constantly have to grapple with a number of issues, including obtaining adequate, predictable funding, hiring employees in a tight labor market, and providing the level of service that riders want and need,” Howe said. “We believe Scot is up to the challenge. He has demonstrated a real passion for improving customer service and collaboration with the Tompkins County community, as well as building solid relationships with the United Auto Workers Local Union 2300, which represents our bus operators and maintenance crew.”
TCAT Board Member Frank Proto, chairman of the GM search committee, noted that Vanderpool was interviewed separately by three teams each made up of board members, TCAT employees and community members, all of which gave him a positive endorsement. “A stand-out moment for Scot was his handling of our operations during the crippling Winter Storm Stella in March when he brought his sleeping bag and slept in his office for three nights to coordinate operations and make the tough decisions to make sure employees and riders got home safe and sound,” Proto said.
Alice Eccleston, who served as TCAT’s assistant GM and human resource manager, took over the helm as acting general manager in 2015. “We are truly grateful to Alice for her staunch leadership during Joe’s illness and after his tragic death,” Proto said. “Alice capably stepped up to the plate to manage all aspects of TCAT during a very challenging and sad time in TCAT’s history.”
Vanderpool became interested in public transit in 1983 when he started working as a part-time bus operator for CENTRO.
He moved through the ranks to become its manager of operations and planning. He joined Syracuse University in 2003, where he served as the university’s manager of parking and transit services and where he introduced bike share, ride share and car share to the university’s community. “It’s exciting to see that the Tompkins County community is fully supportive in finding sustainable ways to improve our transportation system,” Vanderpool said. “I view TCAT’s transit system as a foundation for connecting with other modes of transportation, including bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Our community has some tremendous opportunities for connectivity.”
“Throughout my career, I’ve always been customer focused,” Vanderpool said. “Our mission, vision should always be centered on improving customer service and listening closely to our community members.”
Vanderpool said he is particularly enthusiastic about TCAT’s intelligent transportation system project that will roll out in late August that will enable passengers to access real-time information at their fingertips via mobile apps, desktops and laptops. “We’ve never had the capability to immediately communicate information to our customers; this is an exciting chapter in TCAT’s history,” Vanderpool said.