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Photo by ATXN. Cap Metro CEO/ATP Executive Director Randy Clarke

Austin Transit Partnership to seek new executive director

Friday, April 15, 2022 by Jo Clifton

The board of directors of the Austin Transit Partnership, the entity formed by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city to design and build the Project Connect transit system, will consider a resolution next week to launch the process of finding a new executive director for ATP. Randy Clarke, who is the president and CEO of Capital Metro, has also been serving as ATP executive director.

The resolution indicates that the board will appoint someone to serve as interim executive director, but there’s a blank where the name should be. It seems likely that the interim chief will come from within the ranks of ATP because the agency needs someone familiar with Project Connect’s plans.

While there has been some concern in the community and among ATP’s community advisers about one executive doing both jobs, ATP officially decided to change the status quo just this week, after receiving a report from the transportation consulting firm Eno.

“Our analysis found that the current governance of Project Connect is unsustainable as it is currently structured,” the report said. At the same time, the consultant said that “having unified direction was important to the speedy setup of ATP and the meaningful progress made on the planning, design and federal permits required to launch construction.” While asserting that maintaining the executive director situation would require considerable work, the report concluded, “Given the current stage of the program, final decisions on the governance and leadership structure should not wait.”

Clarke is expected to join the board of ATP as an ex officio member after stepping down from the executive director position. He will continue to serve as Capital Metro’s CEO. Both the Capital Metro board and Austin City Council must approve adding Clarke to ATP’s board.

Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, who chairs the Capital Metro board, praised Clarke for his work at Capital Metro and ATP.

In a written statement, Travillion said: “CapMetro’s board brought Randy Clarke to Austin to transform and expand our transit system. During a global pandemic, he rallied the staff, stakeholders and the community behind the importance of transit and investing in our city. After a successful ballot initiative in November 2020, we then charged him with leading ATP’s startup, including staffing the new agency and on-boarding the ATP Board of Directors, all while still serving as CapMetro president and CEO. He rose to the challenge again. And now we are asking him to serve another role. At the April 25 board meeting, we will take action to transition the CapMetro president and CEO’s role, providing expertise on federal funding and operational readiness, while still delivering CapMetro’s daily service to our community.”

Mayor Steve Adler said in a press release, “Project Connect will transform our city and provide residents with greatly expanded mobility options, thanks in significant part to the leadership and vision of Randy Clarke. Over the last year and a half, we asked him to serve in two separate executive positions, and now he can transition back to his primary job of leading CapMetro. ATP has successfully launched and with a new interim director will continue to evolve into its intended independent entity. I am committed to fulfilling our promise to voters and I count on Randy’s continued leadership as an ex-officio member of the ATP board to help us get the job done.”

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