Jim Hartnett announced he will leave his position as CEO/GM of the San Mateo County Transit District in April 2021. At that time, Deputy CEO/GM Carter Mau will become Acting CEO/GM and Caltrain’s Chief Officer of Rail Michelle Bouchard will serve as Acting Caltrain Executive Director.
Hartnett joined the District six years ago. Though his initial commitment was for only five years, the District is fortunate that he stayed on to help guide it through the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Hartnett was hired in 2015, he said his top two goals were to obtain a dedicated source of funds for Caltrain and to solve the SamTrans structural deficit. These lofty goals have challenged the District for decades, but Hartnett was finally able to reach them.
Prior to the pandemic, SamTrans was steadily increasing its bus ridership, bucking a national trend of declining ridership at other agencies. Caltrain, despite being the only system in the region without dedicated funding, became the seventh largest commuter rail service in the U.S., and the most efficiently run. And when the future of Caltrain was on the line, Hartnett led a national advocacy effort that saved the Caltrain Electrification Project’s $647 million Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement at the 11th hour, after many assumed the funding would be eliminated.
Though not a move that garnered much attention or headlines, Hartnett’s reorganization of the executive functions of the organization and building of an outstanding executive team were incredibly important to the organization. He also led efforts to refresh the culture of the organization and presided over the development of plans and programs that will continue to make our transportation systems more effective, more reliable, cleaner, faster, and, very importantly, more equitable.
Regionally, Jim has been instrumental in fostering critical cooperation and coordination among Bay Area transit agencies both during and before the pandemic. He is a member of the Blue Ribbon Recovery Task Force established by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Chair of the region’s Fare Integration and Coordination Task Force, and a member of the Executive Committee of the California Transit Association.