SouthWest Transit CEO Len Simich to retire in 2022

Dec. 1, 2021
Simich’s accomplishments include a significant ridership increase, new facilities, as well as innovations including the region’s first TOD and one of the first microtransit systems.

The SouthWest Transit Commission recently announced long time CEO Len Simich will be retiring by the end of the first quarter 2022. Simich had informed the Commission of his retirement plans last spring, and this October the Commission contracted with the national placement firm KL2 Connects to begin the search for Simich’s replacement.

Simich has been at the helm of SouthWest Transit since 1997. During his tenure he helped grow the agency’s ridership by more than 400 percent, constructed four structured transit stations, as well as SouthWest Transit’s administrative and maintenance facility, instituted the region’s first transit-oriented development (SouthWest Station) in Eden Prairie, Minn., and helped establish one of the nation’s first and most successful microtransit systems - SouthWest Prime.

Under his guidance, SouthWest Transit has been honored as the National Transit System of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association; a two-time honoree as the Minnesota Transit System of the Year by the Minnesota Public Transit Association; the first Minnesota transit agency ever honored as the recipient of the National Environmental Excellence Award given out by the Federal Highway Administration; a three-time recipient of the Minnesota Management Innovation Award; a seven-time national award winner as the nation’s top transit agency for safety and security; and was the first Minnesota transit agency to receive the Excellence in Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Award from the federal Transportation Security Administration.

Current SouthWest Transit Chair and Chaska City Council member Mike Huang described Simich as “a champion of innovation, and as someone who always placed the needs of our communities and customers first.”

Former SouthWest Transit Chair and Metropolitan Council member Craig Peterson called Simich “the best leader he has ever worked with. I’ve watched him pull so many rabbits out of hats that I just came to accept the fact if something could get done, Len was the leader to do it.”

Current Eden Prairie Mayor and former SouthWest Commission member Ron Case summed things up by saying, “Simich has been the face and voice of the agency from almost the beginning. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him for making SouthWest Transit one of the most stellar public transportation systems in the nation.”