TCAT GM Joe Turcotte in December, 2013, after testifying in Albany before state lawmakers asking for better funding models for public transit. Photo: TCAT

TCAT GM Joe Turcotte in December, 2013, after testifying in Albany before state lawmakers asking for better funding models for public transit. Photo: TCAT

N.Y.-based Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Inc. (TCAT) GM Joseph J. Turcotte died Mon., May 2, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 51.

“Throughout his struggle, Joe always thought about TCAT and was concerned for the well-being of all employees and the community TCAT serves,” said TCAT Acting GM Alice Eccleston. “He was a caring, gentle man who demonstrated a passion for transit every day since joining TCAT as its leader on March 1, 2005.”

Under his leadership, TCAT’s ridership grew from more than 3 million to more than 4 million annual trips, a stunning accomplishment for a service area of TCAT’s size. Under Turcotte’s watch, TCAT in 2011 was named the best transit agency of its size in North America by the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association.

“Joe’s understanding of transit services will be hard to replace,” said long-time TCAT Board Member Frank Proto, who is the board’s Immediate Past Chairperson. “He always put the needs of the passengers and his entire staff first when entering any tough negotiation regarding TCAT. I will miss him as an associate and good friend.”

Not only was he dedicated in his work, but a joy to work with in the fast-paced environment of public transit, Eccleston said: “Joe’s fun-loving spirit and his dry sense of humor lightened our hearts during challenging times.”

She added he was a devoted family man who deeply treasured his loved ones. “Our hearts and deepest sympathy go out to Joe’s family and may they take comfort in their memories of him during this difficult time,” said Eccleston, who worked with Turcotte for a decade in her capacity as Assistant General Manager and Human Resources Manager.

Kristen Wells, Executive Director of Gadabout Transportation Services, with whom TCAT contracts for its paratransit services, also expressed her deepest sympathy and noted that Turcotte was a staunch supporter of her organization.

“Gadabout sends its deepest condolences to the TCAT group,” Wells said. “Joe was a wonderful person to work with and a huge advocate for the Gadabout service. His transportation background and knowledge proved to be an asset not only to TCAT, but Gadabout as well. He was one of a kind and will be truly missed.”

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