Metzger becomes first female executive director of Pace

March 17, 2022
Metzger, who has 40 years of transit experience, has filled the role in an interim capacity since December 2021.

Melinda J. Metzger has been appointed executive director of Pace Suburban Bus. She has filled the role in an interim capacity since December following the retirement of Rocky Donahue and becomes the first female head of the agency.

Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski says Metzger has been a leader at Pace since the beginning, which is a sentiment that carries many layers. The beginning of Metzger’s 40-year transit career was as an intern at NORTRAN, now Pace’s Northwest Division. She managed operations planning for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) before returning to Pace in 1984 following passage of the 1983 RTA Act, which unified several suburban Chicago bus agencies into Pace.

Metzger previously served as the agency’s general manager and chief operating officer and is also a WTS International Woman of the Year award recipient.

“I am confident she will continue to serve the agency and its riders well during this time of change and opportunity,” added Kwasneski.

“Being named Pace’s first female executive director during Women’s History Month makes it even sweeter. Throughout my career I have followed in the footsteps of many trailblazing women who paved the way for those of us working in public transportation today. It has been an honor to serve the people of Northeastern Illinois and I will continue my commitment to support the essential service Pace provides and to push our system forward with innovation and service at the forefront,” Metzger said.

Priorities for Metzger include focusing on the environment, equity and efficiency. To that end, business at March’s Board of Directors meeting included the approval of the agency’s first order of battery-electric buses, as well as Pace’s participation in the transit industry’s national racial equity program.

Pace plans to transition to a zero-emission fleet by 2040 and will purchase 20 electric buses and the necessary charging infrastructure using the state of Georgia’s existing contract with Proterra, Inc. The company explains its ability to tag onto the Georgia’s contract and purchase from Proterra, Inc. will allow Pace to expedite the procurement of electric vehicles. Pace expects to have the first vehicles in operation by 2023.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently launched a two-year Racial Equity Commitment Pilot Program which provides members with a tangible roadmap for advancing racial equity as part of a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion framework, beyond legal compliance with a focus on continuous improvement. The roadmap provides guidelines for implementing a formalized racial equity program, while offering enough flexibility to tailor the program to each member’s unique organizational and geographic characteristics.

“Through our participation in this pilot program, Pace will contribute to the body of knowledge on advancing racial equity in the transit industry, and ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility play a critical role in every decision our agency makes. We will have the opportunity to network with and learn from other APTA members and will serve as a resource for other transit agencies by sharing our agency’s progress,” said Metzger.

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