MI: Regional Transit Authority Hires CEO From Ann Arbor System

May 22--The board of metro Detroit's fledgling Regional Transit Authority voted unanimously today to hire a new leader for the agency, which was formed in 2012 to coordinate the region's bus service and spearhead a four-county network of rapid-transit buses.

Michael Ford, CEO of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, won approval of all nine members of the RTA board. With that, board Chairman Paul Hillegonds will enter into negotiations with Ford over employment terms, including salary.

The RTA still awaits state funding for its operations, but it could seek a regional tax to pay for improved and expanded bus service in 2016.

Ford beat out finalist Albert Martin, a former director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, and a third candidate who withdrew after taking another job, according to Carmine Palombo, deputy executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, which provides some administrative support to the transit authority.

Ford replaces John Hertel, the agency's first CEO, who resigned in January to stay with SMART, the suburban bus system. SMART has a millage increase on the Aug. 5 primary ballot in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The system is asking voters to approve the bus levy to 1 mill, an increase of .41 mills, because declining property values have eroded $50 million in revenue that SMART needs to survive.

Contact Matt Helms: 313-222-1450 or mhelms@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @matthelms.

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