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MTA board set to choose next chief poobah

It appears we're getting closer to seeing that magical puff of smoke from the grandiose headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: The agency's board has scheduled a special meeting on Thursday to select its next chief executive officer to replace the retiring Roger Snoble.

According to the published agenda, the 13-member board will be meeting in closed session. The board interviewed candidates at the Biltmore behind closed doors last week and, as we reported, appears to have settled on Art Leahy, the chief executive officer of Orange County Transportation Authority, as the leading candidate.

Snoble has been negotiating the contract with his replacement. For Leahy to get the job, the majority of the 13-member board -- which includes Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the five county supervisors -- will have to approve the deal. Then details of the contract will be made public.

The MTA is the third-largest transit agency in terms of boardings each year, according to industry statistics. The next chief gets to figure out how to build all the many projects promised as part of the Measure R sales tax increase approved by voters last year while trying to replace $400 million in state funding over the next four years the Legislature took away as part of its recent budget deal. Fun stuff, eh?

--Steve Hymon

Comments () | Archives (14)

First off, congrats on the scoop. I was working on getting this one, but I bow to the master...

...but on the headline and first paragraph...are you getting enough sleep?

Maybe the new guy can figure out a way to stop running Metrolink trains backwards. Also better radios, GPS, etc. We can't afford another train wreck.

from the desk of rick j. pineda
service performane anaylist
my plan for the l.a. county, would be to implement a county vistor fee 0f 30.00 dollars{ 25,000,000 tourist visitors},this will generate approximately 750,000,000 transportation dollars,by having the federal goverment match these funds to the amount of 1.500,000,000 billion transpotation dollars.

the next step in my plan would be to set up toll booths along the out skirts of the l.a. county line and implement a vistor toll fee for those who are traversing the l.a. county, during our rush hour commutes between the hours of 0600-0900/ 1500-1800 ,regular commuters would be exempt.

Leahy will be the first head of metro who got his start as a bus driver. He knows the landscape and how to get big projects done. This is a smart choice, and we are lucky to snag him.

Of course! When looking to usher in a new wave of smart growth, mass transit expansion and competing with other metro areas for scarce federal and state funding, why shouldn't the second largest city and 2nd largest transit system in the nation look to Orange County for direction?

I believe the appropriate analogy is, "Shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic."

When will this agency get serious about mass transit?

Art Leahy definitely understands and has enthusiasm for rail transit and smart growth, from his past life at MTA, as head of the agency that built Minneapolis' Hiawatha light rail line, and attempting to complete OCTA's CenterLine light rail (which unfortuately was ahead of its time).

He's been good at developing relationships with local elected officials in Orange County, which should serve him well dealing with the fragmented Metro board.

And he encouraged productive input from transit advocates to OCTA. He should be a good choice for Metro.

I think Leahy is a perfect choice to run MTA. OCTA is a wonderful service. I rode on their bus several times. Plus Leahy was there to take charge of Orange County Measure M, he can do the same with LA County Measure R.

Art Leahy is not a bad choice. His most significant issue will be how to foster better working relationships among his Board members, and to re-empower the MTA staff so they can act more effectively. Too many little fiefdoms internal in the agency and external on the Board, too little trust, too little ability to find and make effective compromises for the common good of those served by MTA. It won't be an easy job. I wish Art all the best.

with the tourist fees, and toll fees collected,and reduction of freeway traffic l.a.c.m.t.a. can implement a plan to tri-angulate three major transportation freeway corridors,405 fry.,605 frwy.,210-134frwy. to construct a busway along these three major transportation corridors.

these steps may be implemented in other u.s. cities,and around the world to help reduce global warming effects on our planet.and those cities short on transportation dollars,and are facing inreasing traffic gridlock,and at the same time trying to deal with state funding cutbacks of tranportation money.this will not only help raise money on a permanent long term basis, but will help contribute the needed resources to create a state of the art transportation system.
please forward to our l.c.m.t.a. board.city council,l.a.county board of supervisors.
thank you,

in the final phase ,with the reduction in traffic l.a.m.c.t.a. can begin to implement a plan to tri-angulate three major freeways 405 frwy, 605frwy.,210-134frwy. into a transportation busway corridor,thus intersecting practically evry line in the l.a.county area,this will help create more tranpotation options to the public,and provide new employment in the l.a. county area by building and implementing the new tranportation corridors along these three freeways.
thank you ,and please forward to our elected leaders.

Art Leahy is an excellent choice, despite naysayers like Damien Goodmon (who never has anything good to say about Metro anyway).

Art, as Dana observed, started as a bus operator in 1971 with Metro's predecessor agency, RTD. He worked his way up to Executive Officer of Operations before leaving the agency in 1996 and joining Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St.Paul. There, he oversaw the construction of their light rail line, which is experience that will prove valuable as the Measure R project list moves from paper to actuality.

He's been back in Southern California (at OCTA) since 2001, which has given him plenty of time to see what has changed at Metro since he left.

We're getting a CEO who has experience in bus operations, including knowledge of what it's like out on the street; a CEO who has experience in building rail projects; and a CEO who already knows Metro well, without being influenced by the agency's politics of the past ten years.

This is as close to perfect as it's going to get, kids.

"When looking to usher in a new wave of smart growth, mass transit expansion and competing with other metro areas for scarce federal and state funding, why shouldn't the second largest city and 2nd largest transit system in the nation look to Orange County for direction?"

The OCTA tried to get light rail up and running in Orange County. The region didn't want it and voted against it. How is that Leahy's fault?

I can't think of a successful successor to Snoble as Art Leahy can be. Leahy can hit the ground running and make sure that reforms and proper planning is done sooner, and not later.


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