TN: MATA Identifies Favorite to Become Next Transit President

July 14--The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) board has identified a top candidate to succeed William Hudson as president/general manager and wants to negotiate a contract with him.

The board will meet Tuesday to vote on a resolution authorizing chairman Sean Healy to negotiate a contract with Ron Garrison.

The resolution, posted on the MATA website Monday afternoon, does not further identify Garrison. Healy was unavailable for comment earlier Monday.

But a veteran public transit manager and consultant named Ron Garrison also was on a short list, as recently as late last month, of five candidates to become the next CEO of the Nashville Metro Transit Authority, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

The board is to meet at 5:30 p.m. at Central Station to consider the resolution. The board would still have to vote later on Garrison's appointment.

KL Executive Search LLC has conducted a national search for a successor to Hudson, who retired in December.

The Ron Garrison considered for the Nashville position most recently has been an independent consultant and head of customer service for Proterra, a Greenville, South Carolina-based company that manufactures electric transit buses.

He joined Proterra in January 2013 after leading Tallahassee, Florida's StarMetro transit system.

Garrison in 2011 managed the overhaul of Tallahassee's bus routes, changing them from a centralized system that sent all buses downtown, to a grid-like decentralized network with more transfer points.

Under Garrison, StarMetro also started buying all-electric, zero-emission buses from Proterra.

StarMetro received four awards from the Florida Public Transportation System, including the 2010 Most Outstanding Florida Transit System, according to a 2011 Busline Magazine story.

Tom Fox, who was MATA's deputy general manager, has served as interim president and general manager since January.

The MATA board also is to vote on a resolution recognizing Fox for his service in the interim.

The board "believes Tom Fox has been and will continue to be an integral part of the Memphis Area Transit Authority," the resolution states.

Copyright 2014 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.