A note from Capital Metro President and CEO Linda S. Watson:
I am very excited to be back in Texas, especially in Austin, the greatest city in the state! In the first few weeks on the job as Capital Metro’s president and chief executive officer, I have already learned a great deal about the transit authority. I understand Capital Metro has been through a lot in the past years but I’m ready to push the bar higher, so the agency can achieve great things for our community.
I’ve developed seven key objectives for Capital Metro. They’re not secrets—they’re the same major goals the agency has been working on for months.
1) Work in partnership with the Board of Directors – When I was at LYNX in Orlando, I worked hard to rebuild trust in the community and stability within the organization. I am happy to say that we had great success and made good, constructive changes but it would have not been possible without the support and partnership I developed with the board. I will do the same here; we have a great group of board members who are respected leaders in our community and care about transit.
2) Implement Sunset Review Recommendations – As Chairman and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez has stated, these report recommendations are our marching orders for improving our agency. They address many of the issues that I will be focused on: increasing transparency and improving financial sustainability and labor relations.
Staff has already done a great job of implementing many of these recommendations and I look forward to sharing our progress with the community later this month. Also this month, many of the finance recommendations will be addressed with the adoption of the budget.
3) Increase Transparency – In order to rebuild trust in our community, we must be open in how we conduct our business and use taxpayer dollars. I am committed to transparency and accountability in the way we operate day to day. I will focus on building an organizational culture that builds on teamwork and openness.
4) Improve Financial Sustainability – We all must look for opportunities to reduce costs and increase revenues. The FY 2011 budget to be adopted next month will include new procedures for managing our finances more efficiently. The proposed budget includes a five year Capital Improvement Plan that prioritizes projects and shows the sources of funding and a reserve policy to govern the collection, maintenance and use of our accumulated reserves. In the future we’ll also have a clear fares policy as well.
5) Improve Labor Relations – Our labor structure was a main topic in the Sunset Review. The Capital Metro Board Labor Committee will be considering and evaluating all options to make sure we are making the best decisions for providing quality transit services. There are significant legal and financial matters that must be fully evaluated in order to ensure we take the most appropriate approach. This will be one of the main issues that we’ll be working on over the next year.
6) Build MetroRail Ridership – Now that MetroRail is in full operation, we need to work on building ridership to maximize this initial rail investment.
We are developing a comprehensive MetroRail ridership enhancement plan that includes: service schedule modifications, an awareness and educational campaign about connecting and riding the system; and a grassroots business community outreach plan.
7) Continue providing great service – It is encouraging to see in the first few weeks that this organization has many talented employees dedicated to providing the best service to our community. I’ve already had the pleasure of riding the bus and experiencing first hand the quality of service that our customers enjoy everyday. And, we will continue to raise the bar to exceed their expectations.
My philosophy is to build a constructive network of relationships with two-way communication to exchange feedback, advice and support. I want to be in touch with community members and our customers in order to understand how Capital Metro fits within the social values of this community (and how we can match those values better).
In the coming weeks, I will be out in the community asking for input and ideas from customers, stakeholders and local leaders. I invite you to meet me and share your thoughts at a community event on Monday, September 20 hosted by several civic organizations at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Thanks for riding Capital Metro!
Linda S. Watson