New Leadership Already in Place as Ramacier Departs
County Connection General Manager Rick Ramacier, who announced his intent to step down in August, will end his tenure at the public transit agency on December 31. Ramacier joined County Connection in 1992 as the Accessible Services Manager and has served as General Manager since 1998, where he leads the agency of over 240 employees with an annual budget of $45.3 million dollars.
Throughout his years of service, Ramacier has led County Connection to make major improvements in the quality of its public transit services, including the conversion to a hybrid electric fleet, becoming one of the first California transit operators to introduce inductive in-route wireless charging of battery electric buses; the introduction of an innovative all electric bus service; the coordination of regional paratransit services in Contra Costa County; and playing a leadership role in developing the successful Measure J expenditure plan, approved by the voters, which increased transit services throughout Contra Costa.
“Rick has this ability to see change before others do, and to move things and people forward,” said David E. Hudson, City of San Ramon Mayor and County Connection Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. “As a result, we are in a great position to get ahead in terms of technology and the future of public transit. Rick’s real legacy is that for us, come January, it will be business as usual, because Rick has laid the foundation with a base that we can take from here and continue to build and improve County Connection services.”
In addition to the long-term safety record and financial stability of the agency, Ramacier is particularly proud of the strong, diverse, and highly respected management team he has built over the years.
“As an organization, County Connection is heading in the right direction,” said Ramacier. “If there was anything to celebrate during the COVID ordeal, it was how our professional, diverse, and inclusive culture made it possible to pivot in innovative and crucial ways during the pandemic.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency dramatically re-purposed its ADA paratransit service from one service ADA eligible passengers to ones that served multiple Contra Costa County health needs such as: Meals on Wheels meal deliveries; school lunches to low income students sheltering at home doing school online; transporting low income, senior, and homeless people infected with COVID-19; and delivering food and supplies from the Contra Costa Food Bank to needy families who could not leave their homes during the pandemic.
A prominent public transit leader for the Bay Area, the State of California and the Nation, Ramacier is also stepping down in December as Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Area Partnership Board, as Chair of the Clipper Executive Board, as Association Board Member and Chair of the State Legislative Committee of the California Transit Association, and as Chair of the State Legislative Committee of the California Association For Coordinated Transportation (CalACT). Ramacier is also Past Chair of the Accessibility Committee of the American Public Transportation Association, Past Chair of the Board of Directors of CalACT among other leadership roles.
“As a long-time member and two-term Chair of the California Transit Association’s State Legislative Committee, Rick was directly involved in the largest state policy matters impacting public transit for two decades,” said Michael Pimentel, Executive Director of the California Transit Association. “Spanning Senate Bill 1 implementation, Transportation Development Act reform, the California Air Resources Board’s Innovative Clean Transit regulation, and our industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rick’s leadership and aptitude for consensus building ensured that the Association was always prepared to represent the interests of communities across our state and to deliver results that substantially improved public transportation for all Californians.”
During the pandemic, in which public transit saw steep declines in ridership, Ramacier was a key member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force working with transit operators, labor, and elected officials, which resulted in the Task Force adopting vital rider and worker COVID safety protocols, as well as crafting a future pathway for transit recovery in the Bay Area.
“Rick is one of those silent leaders with the ability to bring very diverse interests together and build a consensus that is focused on the user of the system,” said MTC Commissioner and Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, Chair of the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force. “His leadership and ability to bring the small and large operators together to develop a seamless system that encourages the use of public transit has been a major contribution to the Bay Area Region.”
Ramacier leaves County Connection in a solid financial position with stable labor relations, and its bus and paratransit services poised to regain ridership and ready to take on the next generation of growth and mobility options. He leaves the leadership of County Connection in the capable hands of those he has mentored and guided through the years to assume management positions within the agency with current Assistant General Manager Bill Churchill taking the reins as General Manager on January 1.
“None of our successes would have been possible over the years without all the great women and men who work at County Connection, from the newest transit operator up through the current Assistant General Manager. Through these fine folks I have received the opinions and the stories necessary to make good decisions. They never failed to make me look good. I will be forever grateful for each and everyone of them.”
For more on Ramacier’s departing thoughts, see his December blog: A Fond Farewell, Final Message as General Manager. https://countyconnection.com/a-fond-farewell/