Management & Operations

Q&A: Fort Worth Transportation Authority's (The T) Paul Ballard

Posted on May 5, 2015

What is your greatest challenge on a day-to-day basis? There are many opportunities to improve our transportation services through programs, grants and partnerships. Recognizing the good opportunities as they appear, along with dealing with all the other business we do on a day-to-day basis, is a key challenge. However, taking time to recognize these opportunities as they arise can bring new and improved programs to our customers.

Growing up, what career path did you see yourself following? I’ve always set my sights on being a transit CEO. As a child, my six brothers and sisters were coerced into being my passengers on an imaginary bus set up in our home’s basement. My very early jobs in transportation included bus driver and passenger trainman in commuter rail service.

What pivotal moments in your life got you where you are? The Indiana University School of Business and its transit management program. I read about it in TRAINS Magazine and recognized the opportunity to achieve my goal of a transit management career. I applied, was accepted, and learned the lessons and met the people who would guide the rest of my career.

What smartphone apps have you found to be helpful for your work? Google Maps transit information. GoPass fare payment. NextBus. Airline sites to plan APTA meetings travel.

Who in the transit industry inspires you? Dr. George Smerk, professor, transportation at Indiana University (IU). Ed Colby, IU campus bus system manager. American Transit Corp. and its founders, Nick and Pete Giacoma and Henry DeTournay. APTA and its leaders including Bill Stokes, Jack Gilstrap, Bill Millar and Michael Melaniphy. All of these individuals and many more guided and inspired me over the years to manage safe and customer-oriented passenger transportation systems.

Best piece of advice you ever received? Listen. Don’t be formulating your response in your mind before your conversation partner is finished speaking. Take a breath before you respond.

If you weren’t in transit...Law enforcement. At the age of 17, I was a full time employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I liked it. I was able to continue this interest over the years — I was employed in transit by also serving from time to time as a reserve police officer, railroad police officer and private investigator.

What do you like to do for fun outside of work? Spend time with family. Our first grandchild is due in August. Travel and transportation history. Sports and band events.

Favorite book or movie? Vintage baseball movies and documentaries, especially the early players like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Anything Red Sox.

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