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Capital Metro to lose its head

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Linda Watson, the president and chief executive officer of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, will step down at the end of 2017.

The agency made the announcement through a press release sent out just before 5 p.m. on Monday, just hours after the board of directors wrapped up its monthly meeting by awarding Watson with a retroactive raise and bonus.

The former head of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority joined Capital Metro in 2010 just in time to steer the agency through the aftermath of the Great Recession as well as a tough audit handed down by the Texas Sunset Commission. She also arrived just months after the opening of the MetroRail Red Line.

During her tenure, Watson has presided over the restructuring of the agency’s labor force as recommended by the sunset review, the launch of MetroRapid, the first iteration of Project Connect, the subsequent failed urban rail election, the bus network revision known as Connections 2025 and the successful climax of the drawn-out effort to redevelop the agency’s Plaza Saltillo tract.

Her departure will come in the middle of the rebooted Project Connect effort.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team and what we have accomplished together, and am confident that this organization and its employees are well-positioned to tackle the challenging transportation issues facing Central Texas,” Watson said.

Capital Metro Chair Wade Cooper extended high praise for the outgoing president.

“Under Ms. Watson’s leadership, every aspect of Capital Metro has dramatically improved. She has been very successful in putting together a great team dedicated to quality service, and she has been a good steward of public resources. She’s also effectively positioned the agency through solid partnerships to help resolve the increasing complex mobility issues affecting the region,” said Cooper.

Earlier on Monday, Cooper had joined with his fellow board members to approve a 3.5 percent increase in her base salary of $285,218 as well as an 8 percent performance bonus. Both of those apply retroactively to July 26, 2016.

Watson’s departure will be effective on Dec. 31. According to Cooper, the board will conduct a national search to find her replacement. If no candidate is selected by the end of the year, an interim CEO will be appointed.

Photo courtesy of Capital Metro.

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