North Little Rock, Ark.’s Rock Region METRO Executive Director Jarod Varner announced his pending departure from the agency. Varner’s last day will be Aug. 18, more than four years after accepting the role of executive director and assuming responsibility for successfully implementing the vision of the METRO board of directors.

He will be stepping down to take a regional leadership role within First Transit, an international transit operations, management and consulting firm.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with such a talented staff, and I am proud of what we achieved together," Varner said. “Over the past four years we have made great strides in modernizing central Arkansas’ transit system with a focus on the customer experience and bringing more visibility to the great work of the METRO board of directors and staff. I am thrilled this new professional opportunity will allow me to stay in central Arkansas, where I plan to be a resource for METRO and continue to advocate for much needed transit investment.”

During Varner’s tenure, METRO engaged in the first major strategic transit service plan in several years, leading to the adoption of a new, modern brand, and the first funding ballot initiative for the agency in more than a decade. He was instrumental in working with the board of directors and staff to begin an agency transition to a natural gas fleet, which included the construction of a CNG fueling facility made possible by a public-private partnership.

Under his leadership, METRO launched a new website and real-time arrival information system, METROtrack, as well as free Wi-Fi service on all buses and streetcars and a plan to expand and improve agency transit shelters. The agency’s achievements under his tenure include the securement of METRO’s first-ever Federal Transit Administration Bus and Bus Facilities discretionary grant award, two consecutive GFOA budget awards, and a Southwest Transit Association First Place Spotlight Award for the rrmetro.org website.

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