I am proud to say there is change happening at Capital Metro. It is indeed a new day for us. Just this morning, Capital Metro was approved to begin MetroRail operations on March 22, 2010– a development that has been some time in the making, but a great transformative step for our transit agency. I can assure you this is the first step in a series of changes for our organization, and without a doubt, there is more to come.
Central Texas’ transit agency is at a critical turning point, and we know it will not happen without good leadership, good service, good employees and community support, all of which exist and is growing stronger each and every day. The final approval of our MetroRail operations is testament to that.
The new board at Capital Metro has hit the ground running, and we are committed to working tirelessly on behalf of our communities to realize the mission of our organization. Our mission statement drives us to “provide high-quality, customer focused, effective and efficient transportation services and systems for our communities.”
To get our agency to the place we all want it to be, we must also gain the necessary community confidence that has not always proven to be there for us. If we strive to fulfill our mission statement exactly as it is stated, I believe that community confidence will follow.
We are all very aware our transit agency has a history with particular issues, and they tend to be the mainstays of people’s perception that linger over our heads — a lot of which is not good. We cannot and will not shy away from our past. We must accept and embrace who and where we are today, learn from our past struggles, challenges and success, and move forward in our desire to make Capital Metro the premier transit agency in the country.
Beyond rail, we have already begun making decisions to improve in strategic areas by creating a more active, involved board with new sub-committees to ensure a more direct interaction by board members on an ongoing basis and to create a more transparent decision-making process. We have created a rail operations subcommittee to ensure MetroRail’s success, a labor relations subcommittee to help relieve the strain from past negotiations, and an executive search subcommittee to spearhead the nationwide search for our next General Manager. We have also maintained the two existing board subcommittees– audit and finance, as well as operations and planning.
In keeping with this new culture of change, I am thrilled to announce the agency brought on two individuals with extensive and impressive financial experience to ensure our financial stability over the short and long term. I am honored and pleased to have former Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley and former deputy comptroller for the state of Texas, Billy Hamilton joining the CapMetro team. Betty and Billy will serve in a consulting capacity for the agency as we face, and work through, one of the most difficult economic downturns the country has ever seen.
Without a doubt, our community demands and deserves a transit agency that is reflective of a world class city. I believe MetroRail will help us achieve that vision for our transit agency. Rest assured, there is no one on this board, nor within the agency, that believes otherwise. As we move forward, we will work on both short and long terms goals simultaneously, as one should not forsake the other. We no longer have the option of pitting one issue against another at CapMetro. It serves no purpose and does nothing to move this agency forward. I am confident with a new, engaged board and new executive leadership, CapMetro is on the road to success so that we can become an agency that not only earns the public trust, but also commands national respect.
As our rail gets up and running, I encourage each and every one of you to come out and see what MetroRail has to offer as part of our next steps to success. And when you do, tell us what you think, how we can be better, and where we have risen to your expectations. It is only through community partnership and conversation that we will stay on the road to better times at CapMetro. I hope you will all join me in the endeavor.