FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez to retire Feb. 24

Feb. 8, 2024
During her three-year tenure at the helm of FTA, Fernandez has led the agency in making transformative investments and created policies that made public transportation stronger and safer nationwide.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Nuria Fernandez will be retiring from the FTA on Feb. 24. Upon Fernandez’ departure, FTA Deputy Administrator Veronica Vanterpool will serve as acting administrator. 

Fernandez previously served as acting administrator of FTA under President Bill Clinton. Under the Biden Administration, she was named deputy administrator on Jan. 20, 2021, upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden and was later nominated to be administrator. On June 10, 2021, Fernandez was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 15th administrator of the FTA, becoming the first woman of color to be confirmed to the position. FTA explains she led the agency in making transformative investments and created policies that made public transportation stronger and safer nationwide. 

Fernandez helped with the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), During her tenure, more than $4.8 billion was invested in American-made, zero-emission transit buses to support a more environmentally sustainable transportation system. She also established the Transit Workforce Center to provide America’s frontline transit workers with resources to increase safety in their operations while growing their skills to be ready to operate and maintain the transit of the future. Fernandez instituted FTA's wide-ranging and productive measures to improve safety in public transit, particularly focusing on both short- and long-term policies to protect America’s transit workers from assault on buses and trains and improve passenger and worker safety on transit rail systems. 

Since 2021, Fernandez signed 11 Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program Small Starts agreements, for projects under $400 million in: 

  • Vancouver, Wash 
  • San Bernardino, Calif 
  • Pittsburgh, Pa 
  • Austin, Texas 
  • Indianapolis, Ind 
  • Albany, N.Y. 
  • Raleigh, N.C. 
  • Portland, Ore. 
  • Three projects in the Seattle, Wash., Metro area 

Additionally, she advanced funding for four multi-year grant agreements in the New Starts program, including projects in Phoenix, Ariz., Minneapolis, Minn., Madison, Wis., and the largest CIG grant ever signed for the Second Avenue Subway Phase II project in New York City.  

Shortly after rejoining FTA in 2021, Fernandez took over leadership of the federal transit response to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency on transit, which included a focus on maintaining safe travel for the transit workforce that moved frontline workers to and from their jobs, implementing transit practices that reduced COVID-19-related illness and fatalities and coordinating the award of more than $70 billion in federal COVID emergency recovery funds. 

Fernandez was also responsible for overseeing the strengthening of the FTA workforce, leading the growth and reorganization on the agency through resources in the IIJA that helped FTA deliver on its mission of improving America's communities through public transportation, including investments in safety, research, oversight and technical assistance. Fernandez’ inclusive and results-based approach won praise from FTA stakeholders and the agency's workforce. 

"As a young immigrant to this great nation and a student at Bradley University, I could never have imagined serving millions of transit riders across that nation who take billions of trips every year, doing so under two presidents, in the service of the American people," Fernandez said. "Public service is an honor and a privilege and I am eternally grateful to President Biden and Secretary [Pete] Buttigieg for granting me the opportunity to guide the dedicated and professional public servants at FTA. Public transportation has been a significant part of my professional life for more than three decades. I have had the distinction to have built a career serving in various roles in this industry and across this country but, as I often say, our jobs are what we do, not who we are. As I leave what I do, I look forward to spending more time with my family and friends, who have truly created so much of who I am." 

As administrator, Fernandez travelled to dozens of rural, tribal, suburban and urban communities to personally engage with grant recipients, provide technical assistance and resource in support of American public transportation. She led pioneering event, including hosting the first FTA Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander transit listening sessions. She also led the first FTA event specifically for Alaska Natives in Anchorage, Ark., to help FTA better understand the challenges facing transit in Alaskan communities. 

In response to news that Administrator Fernandez was retiring, American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas issued a statement calling her a "fierce advocate for public transportation" and recognized her leadership during a critical time of development for the transit industry. 

“Her unwavering dedication to the industry, her vision and her exemplary leadership at FTA over the past three years proved to be monumental for our industry during a pivotal time of recovery and rebuilding for U.S. transit agencies of all sizes. Under Nuria’s watch, our industry has benefitted from historic investments and forward-looking policies that are strengthening public transportation and the communities it serves," said Skoutelas. "Nuria embodies excellence, and APTA, our members and the industry at large would not be where they are today without her stalworth dedication and leadership. We truly appreciate all she has done to grow and strengthen America’s public transportation over the years.”


This story was updated Feb. 9 at 10:00 am to incorporate APTA's statement