2015 Top 40 Under 40: Ryan I. Daniel, WSO-CSS

Sept. 18, 2015
Ryan I. Daniel, WSO-CSS, Executive Director, St. Cloud Metro Bus

Ryan I. Daniel, WSO-CSS

Executive Director

St. Cloud Metro Bus

  • Alma Mater: York College, City University of New York and Dowling College

A history teacher in high school suggested to Ryan Daniel that he take the test to be a bus operator in New York City. Daniel paid the filing fee, took the test, passed it and two years later, when he was starting his associates program, he got a call. He drove a bus in New York City and continued his education and got his master’s from Dowling College.

After obtaining his master’s degree in business administration, he moved from New York to Ohio, to be the training manager for Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Then he relocated to the D.C. area to be a manager of Bus Operations for Washington Area Transit Authority (Metro). Since August 2013, Daniel’s been in Minnesota, leading St. Cloud Metro Bus as its executive director.

Daniel has a broad-based knowledge of security and safety in the transit industry. He is a graduate of the National Transit Institute Transit Academy and has several certifications from the Transportation Safety Institute and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He has completed the U.S. Department of Transportation Transit Safety and Security Program, and is a certified safety specialist with the World Safety Organization.

Daniel is active in community and industry organizations at the local, state and national levels. He has his CDL, eagerly volunteers to drive the bus to and for community events. His natural enthusiasm for transit generates renewed interest and support of public transportation within the St. Cloud community. He is a frequent guest speaker for local service groups, high schools, colleges and other community organizations, to talk about leadership and careers in transportation. He is a member of the Granite City Rotary service club in St. Cloud, serves as vice chair of the city of St. Cloud’s Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Board and participates in the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

At the state level, Daniel volunteers his time with the Minnesota Public Transit Association to talk to legislators about the importance of public transportation. Nationally, he is a member of four American Public Transportation Association committees: Small Operations; Bus and Paratransit CEOs; Bus Operations; and Human Resources.

When Daniel joined Metro Bus, he had to focus his attention to complete two major construction projects that were well underway upon his arrival. He was challenged with seeing these projects through to completion and to finalize project funding without the benefit of being part of the planning process. The first project was to complete the CNG fueling station and bus procurement. Metro Bus is the first public transit system in Minnesota to operate a fleet of CNG buses and to have its own CNG fueling station. With limited availability of CNG fueling stations in Minnesota, Metro Bus has opened the sale of CNG to the general public.

The second project was to renovate a vacant, historic building in downtown St. Cloud. This building now functions as the state’s first mobility training center. This unique facility combines the elements of paratransit eligibility screening, ability assessments travel training and community outreach into a single customer-friendly location.  The Mobility Training Center’s secondary purpose is to serve as an organizational and regional training facility for transit systems across the state of Minnesota.

“I bring the big city experience to the small systems because we all have the same challenges; it’s just a matter of how do you solve the challenges.”

“I enjoy the small system because I wear many hats. If I want to move a bus stop in New York or WMATA, I have to go through 10 different departments. The whole process takes six months. In a small system, if I have a stop, I can move it the next day. I don’t have to go through multiple departments; we have one. A big system is so big, you have to.”

“I like to see people’s joy when they get on the bus. Trains, planes, just the fact that transportation … we’re all connected.”

“I would like to see more standardized way of doing things across the board. I’ve worked at four different systems and there are four different ways to write an accident report. Or four different definitions of on-time performance. We could have one playbook that all the systems follow, it would make life easy for everybody and for our customers.”