Transit Management Contract Ends; City to Hire Own GM for KAT

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Transit Management Contract Ends; City to Hire Own GM for KAT

Posted: 11/22/2013
Mayor Rogero announced today that, with the expiration of the Veolia Transportation contract on November 30, the City of Knoxville no longer will contract with a professional transit management firm to provide the services of a General Manager for Knoxville Area Transit (KAT). The City will hire its own transit professional to serve as General Manager with direct responsibility to the Mayor and her designated senior leadership staff.

This is the first step in a review and potential reorganization of transit services in Knoxville to increase accountability to the Mayor, City Council and the public; streamline the management and governance structure; improve efficiencies; control rising costs; and better align transit services with the City's overall vision for service delivery.

This change in management structure was one of several recommendations of Gobis & Co. LLC, a transit management consulting firm recently hired by the City to assess the current KAT structure and review proposals for professional transit management services. Gobis subsequently provided the Mayor with a comprehensive report of its findings.

"The findings of the study highlight some areas where KAT's management structure can be streamlined for greater efficiency and accountability," said Mayor Rogero. "We must make every effort to provide the kind of transit service that Knoxville's residents desire and deserve. Public transit is a keystone of the City's long-term goal of providing viable and efficient alternatives to travel by car. This structural change will strengthen our efforts toward achieving that goal."

Gobis & Co.'s research for the study included interviews of KAT staff, City officials, and other stakeholders, and the firm conducted a peer review of transit agencies similar in size to Knoxville. The research noted that policy, governance, advisory, and management functions are shared among five separate organizations — the City of Knoxville, the Knoxville Transportation Authority, K-Trans Management, the Community Advisory Committee, and Veolia Transportation— in addition to employee representation by the Amalgamated Transit Union. The research concluded that KAT's current structure is cumbersome and often leads to confusion as to which organization is accountable for what transit responsibility.

The Mayor is studying the report's other recommendations, which include additional structural and operational changes, and will seek stakeholder input.

"I plan to convene a series of meetings with KAT staff, members of the Knoxville Transportation Authority (KTA) and Community Advisory Committee, leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union, and City Council to thoroughly review and vet the feasibility of the study's other recommendations. The current structure was put into place 20 years ago. We may find that some things should be changed to meet today's needs, but we want to make sure that any changes we make are improvements over what we currently have."

Cindy McGinnis, the General Manager provided by Veolia Transportation, will step down when the Veolia contract expires at the end of November. "I appreciate Cindy's service to KAT over the past seven years. She successfully managed KAT's move to the Knoxville Station, the City's first LEED-Silver government building; updated KAT's fleet to environmentally friendly vehicles; and led KAT through the KATamorphasis and K2 efforts that resulted in updated routes that continue to result in increased ridership," Mayor Rogero said.

The City will conduct a search for a new General Manager and expects to fill that position within a few months. In the meantime, Melissa Roberson, Chief Administrative Officer for KAT, will serve as interim General Manager.

"Melissa has 31 years of experience at KAT and has served previously as interim general manager. I am confident in her ability to keep operations running smoothly during this transition," said Mayor Rogero. "I also have confidence in KAT's employees — from bus drivers to mechanics to customer service representatives and our executive team — to continue to provide the dependable and friendly service for which KAT is recognized."