Top 40 Under 40 2017: Patrick Preusser, PMP

Sept. 15, 2017
Patrick Preusser, PMP, Executive Director, Transportation, TriMet
  • One word to describe yourself: Progressive
  • Alma Mater: University of Denver, currently attending University of Southern California for MPA
  • Favorite book: “Peers” by Robin Chase
  • Favorite TV show: “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”
  • Favorite movie: “Office Space”
  • Favorite hobby(ies): Travel
  • Fun fact about yourself: He’s a movie buff.
  • What is your favorite transit system (outside of the one you work for or have worked for!) and why?: Guangzhou Metro because of incredible growth, remarkable ridership, impressive headways, safe, clean, reliable, and easy to understand and use.

Shortly after high school, Patrick Preusser began his career in transportation as a conductor for Norfolk Southern Corp. in Chicago, Illinois. A hard worker, he was quickly promoted to a locomotive engineer and safely operated freight trains throughout the region.

Preusser switched to passenger rail when he joined Amtrak and became one of the youngest assistant superintendents in the organization, responsible for day-to-day operations of the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin Intercity Rail Service, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight and long-distance service and terminal operations in Oakland, California. He managed a seamless transition to a newly constructed maintenance facility with no impact to revenue service.

Preusser joined a team of professionals to start the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail service in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the transportation manager, he played a key role in the successful start-up of this new service. His responsibilities included preparing regulatory plans for approval, recruitment, training, testing and commissioning, scheduling, fare inspection and ultimately, day-to-day operations.

He built strong partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the project was a success and all regulatory requirements were satisfied and revenue service safely commenced on schedule.

Preusser transitioned from the private sector to the public sector when he joined the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in 2007. He rose through the ranks to become a specialist for the Passenger Rail Division. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing a variety of national programs, including Commuter Rail New Starts, High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail, Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness and Shared Use (49 CFR Part 659).

He is a seasoned investigator with experience collaborating with the National Transportation Safety Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He was honored by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for outstanding performance in 2012.

Preusser also served as the senior railway advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He oversaw the establishment of the Afghanistan Railway Authority and led efforts to develop the Afghanistan National Railway Plan and Afghanistan Railway Act to include associated policies, regulations, rules and standards.

He was presented with a Foreign Service Award by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in 2013. Around this time, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro) was advancing the country’s largest rail expansion project. This created an opportunity for Preusser to join Metro’s team as a deputy executive officer Executive, Rail Operations.

He was promoted to executive officer and was responsible for leading successful light-rail expansion efforts for the Gold Line Foothill 2A and Expo 2 lines, managing special projects, and overseeing day-to-day operations of the rail network. He served as the lead executive for rail in successful contract negotiations with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, who represent approximately 340 rail operators.

Preusser also led efforts to obtain a $1.7M grant for an Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Research Demonstration from the Federal Transit Administration. The platform track intrusion detection system project is focused on a strategy to improve safety at rail passenger station platforms and reduce vulnerabilities, risks and system delays.

Preusser is a graduate of the Multi-Agency Exchange Program, which supports senior leadership and development in the public transit industry. With significant railway start-up experience, he was asked to join a team of international professionals to help launch a higher-speed passenger rail service over a 1,400-kilometer route in Saudi Arabia, which links Riyadh to Qurayyat near the Jordanian border. In this role, he was responsible for planning, training, service delivery, stations, commercial and special projects.

Preusser managed the development and implementation of the Saudi Railway Company’s Integrated Passenger Delivery Plan, which included overseeing testing and commissioning activities and pre-revenue operations for passenger service. This included testing of the European Rail Traffic Management System Level 2, Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway, and CAF push-pull train sets, which can operate at speeds more than 200 km per hour.

While working fulltime in his various positions, Preusser attained an undergraduate degree in business management with honors (Summa Cum Laude) and a Master of Science Degree in Intermodal Transportation Management from the University of Denver with honors (Magna Cum Laude).

Preusser continues his educational experience and is currently completing a second Master of Science Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, which he expects to complete in summer of 2018. In addition to these degreed programs, he is a member of the Project Management Institute and is currently certified as a project management professional. He has also completed the Transportation Safety Institute’s Transit Safety and Security Program

Preusser currently serves as the executive director, Transportation for TriMet in Portland, Oregon. He manages the operational activities of the Transportation Division, which includes integrated fixed-route bus service, light rail and commuter rail service, accessible transportation programs, scheduling and service planning. This includes overseeing the Operations Control Center and field operations.

He has a proven ability to build strategic partnerships across departments, organizations and governments. He has in-depth knowledge of administration, railway regulations, safety, operating rules and procedures. This includes developing, implementing, and monitoring rail policies, regulations, and laws on a regional, national, and international level.

“Success to me is being proactive and preventing problems through analysis and process improvement.”

“The culture and people make the public transit industry a great place to work.”

“Focus on teamwork and results, remain open-minded and flexible, take time to celebrate accomplishments, and insist on success.”