A Fond Farewell – County Connection

A Fond Farewell

GM Blog – Dec 2021

Final Message as General Manager

As I announced earlier this year, I am leaving my post as the GM/CEO of County Connection. My last day on the job will be December 31, 2021. At the completion of that day, I will have been in the lead chair here at County Connection for 24 complete years (my first day was on January 1, 1998). Over these past 24 years, we have seen a lot of changes in public transit, especially as it relates to the use of technology and how we partner. In this message, I won’t dwell on the incredible developments in technology and transportation in the past 24 years, but suffice it to say they have been complete game-changers.

As for the many partnerships we have built, these are well documented. However, let me take this opportunity to thank organizations like the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Without these ever growing partnerships, we would not have been nearly as successful in providing the quality of service we have been able to provide over this last quarter century.

But what stands out most for me, over these past 24 years, is that I have had the great fortune to head an agency that (in non-COVID times) provides daily transportation to about 5,000 to 7,000 residents of central Contra Costa County that otherwise would not have been able to make their trip. In my professional life, nothing has given me greater satisfaction than that.

Service to those who need it most has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. In letting me serve as the GM of County Connection, I have been provided a tremendous opportunity to do just that. For this, I feel incredibly lucky. But, I certainly did not accomplish this alone!

County Connection has some of the very best bus operators in the world. Time and time again, they do the job of serving the public, often under difficult circumstances. This is best exemplified by the jobs they did during the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel so honored to be associated with such wonderful women and men. I am humbled that they let me be their “leader”.

Of course, our bus drivers cannot do their jobs without good, clean, safe, and reliable buses. So, we also have some of the best bus mechanics in the world. Our maintenance metrics have been outstanding throughout my entire time here. In particular, the work they did throughout the pandemic to keep our buses going and safe kept me in awe. I am humbled and grateful.

While government administration often gets kicked around as unnecessary, I can tell you that the administrative staff at County Connection is top notch and does all of the work necessary behind the scenes to ensure that we have the buses, the great mechanics, and the great bus operators. Without our outstanding administrators, we simply could not provide the service we do.

And finally, we have our excellent executive management team. They are a diverse group of women and men who are the real leaders of our organization. One of them will be taking the GM reigns on January 1, 2022. Bill Churchill came into County Connection in 1997 to manage service planning and begin the long process of modernizing our many technology systems. After fully computerizing us and introducing us to cell phones, etc., he moved over to our nerve center, which is our transportation department. He assumed the lead role overseeing the bus dispatch center, the road supervisors, the bus operator training functions, and our bus operators. He also became our main point of contact for the bus operator’s union. Eventually, he became my Assistant General Manager.

For the last three years, he has also been shadowing me, preparing for the role of GM. No one in my view has been more ready to take the lead at County Connection than Bill Churchill.

Bill will be leading a mature, diverse, and highly qualified team at the executive level. He and his team are well positioned to lead County Connection through what promises to be a period of great change. They are ready to lead an agency that can:

  • transition from where the fleet is diesel powered to a fleet that is emission free (i.e. battery electric and/or hydrogen fuel cell);
  • embrace and participate with partners on building a more seamless and coordinated regional transit system;
  • actively reimagine its role as a vital public service through the lens of a post pandemic world that must address issues of equity; and
  • provide a safe and challenging place to work for a diverse workforce that offers competitive compensation and the opportunity to grow.

Finally, Bill Churchill is well positioned to build the kind of public support County Connection will need to thrive into the heart of this century.

I would be remiss if I did not talk about the County Connection Board of Directors. The Board is made up of appointments made by the city councils and the county board of supervisors. During my 24-year tenure, we have had only quality representatives on our Board. To a person, they have all understood their communities, their transit needs, and have been solid advocates for their constituents. They have been extremely supportive of staff in ensuring that we have the tools to do our jobs right.

As I have been exposed to countless other transit systems over my career, I have come to really understand and appreciate the quality of our Board throughout the years and what it has meant to the success of this organization.

So, as I end my time here at County Connection, I am very confident you all will continue to thrive and provide great and important public service. And, I thank each and every one of you for your incredible work, support, and commitment to the mission. Thank you so much.

To everyone, especially to our riders, best wishes in the New Year. Here’s to a brighter 2022!