July 18--The longtime executive director of the Westmoreland CountyTransit Authority resigned on Thursday to take a job in the private sector.
Larry Morris, who has run the transit agency since 1993, will leave his post on Aug. 14 after steering the authority to record ridership numbers and a modernized maintenance system.
"I think we've been very, very fortunate to have the leadership we've had," said authority board chairman Frank Tosto.
Morris, 58, of Greensburg, earned an annual salary of $114,000 to run the authority. He said he will go to work for an unnamed private transportation company. That company has no relationship with the authority, Morris said.
Board members acted quickly to replace Morris. They unanimously voted to promote deputy director Alan Blahovec as interim director.
Blahovec, who earns $77,000 a year, is in line for a raise, Tosto said.
"We're going to see how things go. I think he's more than capable. We're confident this will work out," Tosto said.
Blahovec, who has also served as the agency's financial director, said he plans no major changes to authority operations.
"We're just going to keep moving forward. We have a lot of work to do," Blahovec said.
Blahovec will assume his new duties on Aug. 4.
The authority, under Morris, has had its ridership more than double and change its focus from a small, local transit system that catered to senior citizens to a regional commuter service that operates 23 routes, including five daily routes to Pittsburgh.
More than 563,000 passengers rode the authority's fleet of 43 buses last year.
In 2012, the authority opened a new, $8.7 million maintenance center in Hempfield that enabled it for the first time to oversee repairs and upkeep of its own vehicles.
And last year the authority took over all of the county's paratransitand shared ride services that in June provided more than 24,600 door-to-door trips to seniors, low-income and handicapped passengers.
"I'm just proud of the changes we've made at the transit authority and its growth. It was known as the senior bus system when I first got here, and now it's a real public transit agency," Morris said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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