MI: Regional Transit Authority Offers Contract to New CEO

Aug. 21--Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority head Michael Ford has reached an agreement with the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan to become its new chief executive, RTA officials said Wednesday.

Ford's contract is for three years at $200,000 annually, said Paul Hillegonds, RTA's board chairman.

The RTA board voted to hire Ford in May, with Hillegonds charged with negotiating terms of employment and salary. Ford, 52, will remain with the AAATA for 60 days, the agency said in a news release. The board is expected to discuss the start of a search committee for a new chief executive at its meeting Thursday.

Ford has served as CEO since 2009.

"This agreement reflects Michael's talent and experience and the leadership he'll bring the RTA," Hillegonds said Wednesday. "It reflects the challenges we face in the next three years as we undertake planning and coordination (of regionalization work) and a millage campaign we hope to undertake for the 2016 general election."

During Ford's tenure, transit ridership increased to more than 6.5 million annual riders in 2013, which included the expansion of the system to include Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, and construction was completed on a new transit center, the release from the AAATA said.

The RTA was created in 2012 by the Legislature to create efficiency and cooperation between the city and suburban bus systems.

Contact Marlon A. Walker: 313-223-4531 or mwalker@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @marlonawalker.

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