OPTA President Kirk Conrad (left) and Honoree Laketran GM Ray Jurkowski.

OPTA President Kirk Conrad (left) and Honoree Laketran GM Ray Jurkowski.

Ray Jurkowski, GM of Laketran since 2003, was honored with the 2017 Leonard Ronis Excellence in Transit award at Ohio Public Transit Association’s annual state conference on April 17. The award is given to a transit system or individual who goes above and beyond to provide or advocate for public transit in Ohio.

Jurkowski was honored for his dedicated 43-year career in public transportation that started in Westchester County, N.Y., leading him to work in Philadelphia and St. Louis, before serving Lake County as the GM of Laketran in 2003.

With his innovation, Laketran was one of the first transit agency’s in the state to offer coordinated transportation as a Medicaid NET provider that prevented the loss of 30,000 annual Dial-a-Ride trips and has assisted other transit systems with the certification process.

Jurkowski garnered community support to pass local sales tax levies in 2003 and in 2013 as a permanent levy providing Laketran its first dedicated source of funding. Committed to finding a dedicated source of funding at the state level, he authored the “E-commerce Sales Tax a Solution for Ohio Transit Funding” proposal and continues to advocate for the state to create a Surface Transportation Infrastructure Fund.

Laketran has been the recipient of many awards for safety and marketing from Ohio Transit Risk Pool and American Public Transportation Association, respectively; received four perfect Triennial Reviews from Federal Transportation Administration, and had 14 years of consecutive clean audits from the State with recognition from Government Finance Office Association, since Jurkowski joined the agency.

Jurkowski was acknowledged for his commitment to improve the service quality, labor relations, and financial stability for public transportation across America. His knowledge and experience has been invaluable helping the industry grow over the past 40 years always focused on the needs of our customers.

The Ohio Public Transit Association also presented State Legislator and Transit Operator of the Year awards at the annual ceremony in Columbus. 

“Ray is most deserving of this honor,” commented Brian Falkowski, board president of Laketran. “His dedication to transit has translated to a lot of opportunity in the lives our riders, as well as the industry.”

Earlier this year, Jurkowski announced his plans to retire on July 31.

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