The Chicago Pace Suburban Bus board appointed Melinda J. Metzger as the agency’s new executive director. Metzger, who has led the agency in an interim capacity since December, previously served in top roles as the agency’s head of operations. Her appointment follows a trailblazing career in transit that spans four decades.
“Melinda has been a leader at Pace since the beginning,” said Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski. “I am confident she will continue to serve the agency and its riders well during this time of change and opportunity.”
Metzger began her career as an intern at NORTRAN, now Pace’s Northwest Division, before leaving to manage operations planning for the Regional Transportation Authority. Metzger then went to Pace, where she has been since its inception in 1984. She previously served as the agency’s GM/COO. Metzger, a WTS International Woman of the Year award recipient, is the first female head of the agency.
“Being named Pace’s first female executive director during Women’s History Month makes it even sweeter,” Metzger said. “Throughout my career, I have followed in the footsteps of many trailblazing women who paved the way for those of us working in public transportation today. It has been an honor to serve the people of Northeastern Illinois and I will continue my commitment to support the essential service Pace provides and to push our system forward with innovation and service at the forefront.”
Priorities for Metzger include focusing on the environment, equity, and efficiency. To that end, business at March’s board meeting included the approval of the agency’s first order of battery-electric buses — 20 vehicles and accompanying charging infrastructure — as well as Pace’s participation in the transit industry’s national racial equity program.
As part of Pace’s priority initiative to transition to a zero-emission fleet by 2040, Pace will purchase off the State of Georgia’s existing contract with Proterra Inc. for the purchase of 20 electric buses and the necessary charging infrastructure. Pace’s ability to tag onto the State of Georgia’s contract and purchase from Proterra will allow Pace to expedite the procurement of electric vehicles. Pace expects to have the first vehicles in operation by 2023.