Amidst the city's push for a major, and somewhat controversial, investment in public transportation, Metro Transit Authority CEO Paul Ballard is leaving his post next month to take a similar job at the Fort Worth Transportation Authority in Texas.
The MTA confirmed the news, which was first reported Thursday morning by The Tennesseean, with a release hailing Ballard's 12 years at the agency as a period that saw increased bus ridership and upgrades to public transit, and the introduction of two BRT Lite lines. Ballard said he didn't see the new opportunity coming, but couldn't pass it up.
“My recruitment by Fort Worth was an unexpected career opportunity with the challenge of starting a new commuter rail line while growing ridership on an already thriving transit system with dedicated funding,” Ballard said. “The Dallas/ Fort Worth area is one of the largest urbanized areas in the U.S. and they are initiating some significant changes in which I will enjoy participating.”
Ballard has also spent five years as CEO of the Regional Transit Authority, which runs the Music City Star commuter rail line. His departure comes as Mayor Karl Dean is looking to secure local, state, and federal funds for his proposed $175 million bus rapid transit project, The Amp.
Ballard will leave MTA at the end of March and take over in Fort Worth starting April 14. Among his new responsibilities will be leading Fort Worth's TEX Rail project, a 27 mile commuter rail line.