New CEO for MARTA = Better Relations With Legislature? Maybe…

September 10, 2012 9:16 am

by Mike Hassinger · 17 comments

MARTA (the transit agency that really should change its name*) has been in the process of selecting a new CEO since Dr. Beverly Scott told the Board she would not be seeking a new contract. According to the AJC, 11 candidates have been whittled down to 4, which means that MARTA doesn’t have to say who they are, since state law doesn’t require releasing those names until there are only 3 candidates. But “there can be only one” and  State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who chairs the legislative committee that oversees MARTA, has made his preference pretty clear.

It’s my understanding that MARTA has a very good internal candidate,” said Jacobs, a Republican, referring to deputy general manager and chief operating officer Dwight Ferrell. “The decision the MARTA Board makes … may well determine in the very near term the direction of its relationship with the General Assembly. An internal candidate who is committed to doing the work that needs to be done to get MARTA’s fiscal ship righted could go a long way to shoring up and bolstering the relationship with the General Assembly.

“Getting that fiscal ship righted” means getting rid of this years’ projected $33 million deficit, and privatizing some of MARTA’s functions. Mr. Ferrell has a pretty impressive resume. The only other name released so far has been that of Keith Parker, the head of the bus system in San Antonio, Texas, whose bonus last year raised a few eyebrows.

Question: Does wishing someone “good luck” on becoming MARTA’s CEO mean you hope they get the job or that they don’t get the job?

*My suggestion is “Georgia Regional Infrastructure Transit System,” or GRITS. What county would try to keep GRITS out? Feel free to leave your aspirational acronyms in the comments.

View from Brookhaven September 10, 2012 at 9:39 am

No Republican legislator is going to give up the time-honored tradition of bashing MARTA at every turn.

Nick Chester September 10, 2012 at 9:43 am

How about “CRAPS” Conservative non-Regional Approach to Problem Solving.
We could even go with the slogan. “the State birthed the baby, but we ain’t going to feed em and we will complain about his upbringing”

Happy Monday!

wicker September 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

Mike, you’re better than this. Or maybe you are not. Who knows. But the 4 finalists for the MARTA job are widely known and reported. Here is proof:
http://saportareport.com/blog/2012/09/marta-is-down-to-four-finalists-in-its-search-for-a-new-general-manager/
* Dwight Ferrell, MARTA’s current deputy general manager and chief operating officer;
* Keith Parker, president and CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio;
* Paul Jablonski, CEO of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; and
* Stephen Bland, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh.

Mike Hassinger September 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

Look the Saporta Report does good work, but I didn’t see that version. Also, from the article you cite:
“The four finalists are thought to be as follows:”
And:
“The MARTA search committee, which has been assisted by the Heidrick & Struggles search firm, has come up with a list of four finalists, a list that was not confirmed by transit agency.”

“Thought to be” and “not confirmed” doesn’t equal “widely known and reported.”

wicker September 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

But it is good to see that the MARTOC chairmanship has finally gone to someone who actually supports MARTA. He is a complete 180 degree turn from Jill Chambers. But it is only a matter of time before the GOP delegation stars tagging Jacobs a RINO for not doing what good GOPers are “supposed” to do.

gcp September 10, 2012 at 10:13 am

Current chairman is Beverly Scott, not Beverly Hall.

Mike Hassinger September 10, 2012 at 10:20 am

You’re right. Funny, the AJC has the same error, and I didn’t catch it. Fixed now.

novicegirl September 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

I tried to take MARTA into the City last weekend and it was an unmitigated disaster. I thought they had planners that read the news paper about upcoming events. You can no longer buy paper tickets anymore. Used to be if you had a family of 5 people, you would go to the machine and place an order for 5 roundtrip tickets – not anymore, you have to order each pass individually. Couple that with software issues, which wouldn’t allow credit cards, and you had people putting in cash over and over and over and over again. The lines were unbelievable.

I wouldn’t trust these people to plan a lemonade stand on the corner. The first thing they would do is buy a $10 million inventory control system, only to find-out it was obsolete the day it arrived.

sunkawakan September 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Funny, I didn’t have any problem. Already had my Breeze Card, just went online and made sure I had an adequate balance.

novicegirl September 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Perhaps McDonald’s should require its customers to purchase Big Mac credits online, ahead of time, and come in with their plastic cards that contained credits for their burgers – I’m sure that would be a winning strategy in the private sector.

You probably work for MARTA. This represents the numbness to the consumer that I think is the problem. To expect an out-of-town family, coming in for a football game, Dragoncon, or whatever to get online and order MARTA breeze cards, and pay for their balances ahead of time, is MARTA bureaucrat focused and not customer focused. I ride MARTA once or twice a year. The last thing I need is another plastic card in my wallet.

I think the huge lines at the ticket machines, that I’ve never witnessed (even during the Olympics and the SEC Championship games), are a testament to poor management on MARTA’s behalf. Driving to the City, finding, and paying for, a parking space, would have been much easier and economical.

heroV September 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

You are the first person I have “met” who has been so completely and thoroughly mystified by the MARTA fare machines. I guess some people will literally complain about anything.

Harry September 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I can buy tickets onsite for the NY subway system anytime no problem, but MARTA was always a problem with me for everything. I finally gave up. I don’t know, maybe it does work for regular commuters.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

…Or, judging by the sharply declining ridership numbers, maybe it doesn’t work for regular commuters, which seems to be MARTA’s (and the State of Georgia’s) problem…A transportation system that barely, if at all, works for the people who use it.

heroV September 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

50,000 feet policy considerations aside, this is mind-boggling. There’s a button on MARTA fare machines that you just press and you can buy “1 trip, 2 trips, etc.” You just push it, and voila! I don’t understand what is so difficult about this. Oh well, whatever…

Calypso September 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

MARTS’s credit card machines were screwed up for the better part of week. I think this is what furthered the problems novicegirl was having.

Or as Mr. Taggart said, “Now somebody’s got to go back to camp and get a $hitload of dimes.”

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

New CEO for MARTA = Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The question should not be whether a new CEO of the wholly incompetent MARTA “organization” (and I use that term lightly) will have a better relationship with an even more wholly incompetent State Legislature whose brains are in permanent “Gone Fishin'” mode.

The should be whether the new CEO will be the one in charge when the Titanic that is MARTA finally hits the financial iceberg that it has been heading towards full steam ahead for a long time.

And, BTW, MARTA does not only SERIOUSLY and critically just need to change its name, but also needs a complete overhaul in the form of an Extreme Makeover and that’s just for starters.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

The third sentence should read “The QUESTION should be whether the new CEO will be the one in charge when the Titanic that is MARTA finally hits the financial iceberg that it has been heading towards full steam ahead for a long time.”

And “wholly incompetent” should read “SPECTACULARLY incompetent”.

My apologies for the typing errors.

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