We’re reprinting the standard OCTA Press Release below that announces Darrell Johnson as Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority. It’s nothing that wasn’t already reported here, but good news in that his predecessor, the feckless Will Kempton, is finally gone. The Orange County ruling class (that’s likely never ridden a bus), led by the self-anointed OC Business Council, hosted a roast honoring his departure Thursday last.
So congratulations, Darrell — you’ve paid your dues and ascended to a well paying public sector job that’s going to be tough to lose.
Here’s a few items we’d love for CEO Johnson to consider.
- Please don’t forget your FIRST RESPONSIBILITY IS PAVEMENT, NOT transit. We need as much of it as you can build. The OC has more auto commuters than you’ve got on buses and trains — a lot more. And lay off the carpool lanes — they’ve never made any sense, aren’t justifiable and create opportunities to waste a LOT of money like the $600 million to connect them all together at the 405/22/605 junction. Act like a public utility and do good for ALL without prejudice or bowing to the left. Serving daily commuters and reducing congestion should be your highest priorities.
- Get real about some of your projects — as we’ve repeatedly posted, the streetcar systems proposed in Anaheim and Santa Ana are far too expensive, wasteful and redundant. They can’t possibly be cost-justified or compete with existing bus systems which they would poach riders from. It’s time to stop kissing Disney’s ass — they’re success isn’t your job. Especially, these terribly designed wastes of time drain Measure M, one of your most important resources that won’t be renewed if your organization continues with programs like Go Local. OCTA needs to stop kowtowing to its large cities and their powerful City Councils (and automatically positioning their Mayors on your Board) for their goofy expensive projects. Read this: The Great Streetcar Conspiracy.
- It’s time to dump Greg Winterbottom. He’s hogged one of the Board’s two Public Member slots for decades. Start twisting some arms, make this position fairly selected and open to any qualified citizen/tax payer.
- FIRE your team that came up with the insanely stupid idea to run toll lanes on the 405. This may have or should have cost your predecessor his job. Never again consider taxing something that’s already been paid for. OCTA is not about social engineering — just keep the buses and trains on time.
- Audit your Procurement group again — they’re less than competent and beholden to too many of the same vendors. Do NOT use the OCBC as happened last time — we’re still laughing about the obvious conflicts of interest these lobbyists represented.
- Do you really need all that expensive staff?
- Consider how you might support our recommendation that your Board should be elected, and not selected from the political elite who are there to burnish their resumes — it’s time to Elect the OCTA Board. Your success, and your Agency’s, should be supported by folks who want to only serve on this Board to share their engineering or finance backgrounds. You need no more Cathy Greens or strident environmentalists.
- Come clean about what it really costs to run your three major transit systems — the Metrolink, the buses and the Access paratransit service. Publicize their audited costs per ride, and illuminate the REAL expense of running the underused and dangerous Metrolink. Get the Register involved with this so the public can decide how valuable these systems really are. Note that the Register reported today that Metrolink carries 44k riders daily — that’s about 15% of what the Long Island Railroad does so let’s be honest about how valuable this system really is relative to its significant cost, risk and benefit.
- Do something sensible with the Pacific Electric Right-of-Way — it’s a perfect corridor for an elevated transit system into LA County. Your two predecessors barely acknowledged this strip of land is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the County, even though they studied it to death. But — keep SCAG away from it — in fact, keep SCAG away from Orange County PERIOD. They’re a non-OC based body of bureaucrats that needs out of our local and government business.
- OCTA has a conflict of interest with its memberships in the Association of California Cities – Orange County and the Orange County Business Council — you need a lot more distance from the vendors in their memberships. OCTA’s direction needs to come from its Board and its citizen users, not unions and pseudo governments like these unelected lobbyists. Dump these two associations.
- Question and stop those local projects that dilute or copy your services like Irvine’s ridiculous iShuttle — another waste of Measure M funding. Where local needs are articulated and justified, you have or can more easily acquire the transit assets to serve them — if not, bid them out. There’s no need in the cities to duplicate the bus services for which you’ve already won awards.
- Consider more privatization and don’t fight competitive services from the private sector like jitneys.
- Finally, do something soon to really impress us. Put aside your years in the two mega-bureaucracies you’ve worked in — Amtrak and OCTA — and think outside the box. If public transportation is so desirable and important to our local economy (and environment, some say), why isn’t it more heavily used by the non-transit dependent? Do something BOLD — perhaps recommending the Orange County bus system be FREE. That’s right — take out the fare boxes and see what kind of impact such a daring move might have on reducing congestion, and on commuting to the schools, local employers and the thousands of businesses along your routes. Put some of your excess people to work on how to pay for such an idea since the State will unfairly question the notion and cut your funding (remember that no good deed goes unpunished among the liberals in Sacramento).
FOR MORE INFORMATION: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Joel Zlotnik (714) 560-5713 March 4, 2013
Laura Scheper (714) 560-5697
Darrell Johnson Begins Post as OCTA Chief Executive
Johnson replaces long-time transportation veteran Will Kempton who retired Feb. 28
ORANGE – Darrell Johnson began his new post today as the chief executive officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
OCTA is the countywide transportation agency with 1,500 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion. Under the direction of a 17-voting member board of directors, Johnson is responsible for planning, financing and coordinating Orange County’s freeway, street and rail development, as well as managing bus services, commuter-rail services and paratransit service for people with disabilities.
“Darrell is well-respected among his peers at OCTA and throughout the transportation industry,” said OCTA Chairman Greg Winterbottom. “His institutional knowledge and leadership skills are a valuable asset to the agency and we are excited he is stepping into this new role.”
Johnson, a 20 year veteran of the transportation industry, joined OCTA in 2003 and has served as the deputy CEO since 2010. As deputy CEO, he helped lead OCTA on local, state and national issues related to transportation programs and policies, and assisted the CEO in coordinating all business, operations and management activities among the agency’s seven divisions.
Prior to joining OCTA, Johnson worked at Amtrak for 12 years where he held positions in operations, planning and finance, and contributed to the development of passenger rail services in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Johnson was selected by the board of directors to succeed Will Kempton, who retired on Feb. 28 to become the executive director of Transportation California.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to build upon OCTA’s legacy of delivering transportation improvements that make this county such a great place to live, work and visit,” Johnson said. “I want to thank Will Kempton for successfully steering this agency through one of its most challenging times to become a more efficient organization and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Johnson was recently elected to serve on the board of directors for the American Public Transportation Association and in July participated in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with his wife and two daughters.
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Media Relations Officer
Orange County Transportation Authority
Office: (714) 560-5713
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