Hogan Administration Official Paul Comfort Wins Prestigious National Transportation Award

Nov. 28, 2016
At its annual meeting in Boston, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) presented its prestigious President’s Award for Public Transportation to Paul Comfort

At its annual meeting in Boston, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) presented its prestigious President’s Award for Public Transportation to Paul Comfort, administrator and CEO for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). AASHTO, which represents all 50 state departments of transportation, give this award to nominees who have “performed exemplary service during the year furthering transportation activities…which have or potentially could have a salutary impact on transportation nationwide or on a regional basis.”

“I join AASHTO in saluting Paul Comfort for the progress MTA continues to make in bringing a world-class customer attitude to all levels of the organization,” said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

Mr. Comfort began his tenure as MTA Administrator in May 2015 by focusing the entire MTA organization on delivering safe, efficient, reliable transit across Maryland with world-class customer service. His overall goal has not wavered to significantly improve the connectivity and frequency of the MTA system, to connect people to jobs and to support economic development in the Baltimore region.

Since that time, on-time performance has improved dramatically across all modes. Local Bus service rose from 73 percent to more than 80 percent one year later. MTA’s rail modes, including Light Rail, Metro Subway and MARC Commuter Train regularly exceed 95 percent on-time performance. MTA Mobility paratransit service on-time performance rose from 87 percent in April 2015 to more than 92 percent one year later, all while breaking records for the volume of Mobility ridership across the region.

“Since arriving at the MTA last year, Mr. Comfort has brought a fervent energy to fixing Baltimore’s broken transit system,” said Baltimore City Council President Jack Young. “His team quickly developed a plan to improve the frequency and reliability of bus service and connect it to the city’s Light Rail and Metro Subway system.  In a short period of time, we have already begun to see promising results and look forward to the full implementation of Governor Hogan’s Baltimore Link plan.  Congratulations to Paul Comfort for this extraordinary recognition as America’s top transportation official.”

While improving on-time performance has been a focus of his leadership team at the MTA, Comfort has led the top-to-bottom overhaul and redesign of MTA’s transit service through Governor Larry Hogan’s BaltimoreLink plan.

BaltimoreLink is the multi-phase plan to create an interconnected transit system by redesigning the entire local and express bus systems throughout Baltimore and adding 12 new high-frequency, color-coded bus routes that improve connections to jobs and to MARC Train, Metro Subway and Light Rail. BaltimoreLink transforms Baltimore’s half-a-century-old and outdated transit network with implementation of bus-only dedicated lanes, installation of transit signal priority, construction of a transfer hub network, rebranding and replacement of more than 6,000 transit signs, expanded commuter bus service, new shared bicycle availability, access to car-sharing options and more. New Express BusLink launched its suburb-to-suburb service in June 2016. As promised, expanded and new Commuter Bus service has seen launches in the summer and fall of 2016 with more coming this spring. High-frequency CityLink routes launch in the summer of 2017.

Comfort also helped to make history for the transit industry and for Baltimore in March 2016 when the MTA launched WTTZ-FM 93.5, “The Maryland Transportation Channel.” With a light jazz format that includes rush-hour reports transit reports and commuter updates from all business units of the Maryland Department of Transportation. 

“We are pleased but not surprised that Paul Comfort has received this recognition from his peers in transportation agencies across the nation,” said Executive Director of The BWI Business Partnership Greg Pecoraro.  “Bringing a rare level of passion and dedication to his work, Paul’s leadership in customer service and his drive to reinvent the metropolitan area’s bus services are creating exciting new opportunities for transit users to connect with jobs and services across the region.”