The Metro Transit Authority Board of Directors today approved the hiring of public transit industry veteran Stephen G. Bland to serve as CEO, effective Aug. 25.
Bland replaces Paul J. Ballard, who is now with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority as president and CEO.
Bland is the former director and CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. He served from June 2006 until his employment was terminated without cause by a 5-3 vote of the Port Authority Board in February 2013.
Though he was supported by many in the Pittsburgh business community and earned much praise for his initiatives — particularly those involving multi-modal travel and integrating bicycling into Pittsburgh’s transit system — media reports show Bland was partly blamed for the authority’s struggles to achieve fiscal health (read more here).
Currently employed at Michael Baker International, Bland is serving as the program director of CTfastrak, a 9.5-mile advanced bus rapid transit system running between Connecticut cities New Britain and Hartford. He was a principal at Pittsburgh-based TransforMotion prior to that and once served as the assistant director/general superintendent of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s PATH Rail System.
“He is the CEO we need for Nashville and the region,” MTA Board Chair Jeff Yarbro said in a release. “He thoroughly understands mass transit and also understands the importance of working with partners, building community consensus, and developing a vision for transit based on a genuine understanding of the community. He can help us move to the next level, which is to increase ridership, provide more and better transit options for citizens and visitors, and implement new technologies that will enhance our customers’ transit experience.”
Former MTA CFO Ed Oliphant is serving as the interim CEO of the Nashville MTA and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee. Bland will serve as CEO of both organizations as well.
Bland has a master’s degree in public finance and a Bachelor of Science degree in public affairs from Indiana University.
"I appreciate the board’s confidence in me and am looking forward to working with each member, Mayor Karl Dean, the Metro Council, transit riders, other community stakeholders, and the transit employees,” Bland said in the release. “Together, we will make Nashville’s transit system an even greater one as we continue building upon the significant accomplishments that have been made over the past 12 years. My family and I are truly looking forward to living and working in Music City.”