Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by doepack
Chicago Tribune news: Metra chairman stepping down

Metra chairman stepping down
By Virginia Groark
Tribune staff reporter

June 9, 2006, 6:25 PM CDT

Faced with an uphill battle to keep his leadership post, Metra Chairman
Jeffrey Ladd said Friday that he was stepping down rather than seeking
reappointment to the board he has led since the agency's inception 22 years

Ladd, 65, denied that the coming election for chairman played a role in his
decision. Instead, the lawyer, known for his confrontational style, said it
was the perfect time to leave because the agency recently finished a number
of federal projects and is just beginning to seek funding for several more,
including the suburb-to-suburb STAR Line.

"It's time," Ladd said in a telephone interview Friday. "This is the perfect
time to get a new leader."

Ladd, who makes $25,000 as chairman, said he will continue to serve until a
replacement is named.

His decision ends months of speculation about his future with Metra. For
more than a year, suburban Cook County commissioners have sought a way to
remove him as chairman, a move that became more likely when Ladd's longtime
ally on the board, Warren Nugent, died in August.

Nugent and New Lenox Mayor Michael Smith were perceived to be the votes Ladd
needed to retain his leadership post. To be elected, a board member must
receive five votes from the seven-member board.

Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder replaced Nugent last fall, and the
board last month approved bylaws that call for an election of officers
within 90 days but no sooner than July 1.

Asked if he thought he had the votes to retain his chairmanship, Ladd said,
"I don't think there are five votes there to elect a different chairman."

It's unclear who Ladd's successor will be. Board members Carole Doris,
appointed by DuPage County Chairman Robert Schillerstrom, and James Dodge, a
Cook County appointee, are frequently mentioned as possible candidates.

Ladd's decision ends an era in which Metra was transformed from a
dilapidated commuter railroad to one of the best in the country, according
to Regional Transportation Authority Chairman James Reilly.

But Ladd's off-the-cuff remarks were prone to spark controversy. South
suburbanites also complained that they didn't receive the same service and
amenities as the western and northern suburbs.


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

  by metraRI
I wonder how much of a change a new chairman to Metra will make. The last paragraph about the south suburbs could be one thing for a new chairman to focus on, especially working on RI's alomst 10 year old schedule.

  by doepack
I also thought he didn't always do enough to appease riders on Metra Electric and RI during his tenure, particularly as other areas of the system were being upgraded, which understandably led to much resentment by south suburban commuters along those routes, and only within the last few years has this finally begun to change. For better or worse, that will probably be his enduring legacy, but one thing's for sure: Ladd's successor will be inheriting a railroad that is in much better overall shape than the one he took over in 1984...

  by byte
Hopefully his successor will also be willing to work more with Pace and the CTA as well. Metra is a first rate system, but is years behind other systems in the same league because it competes with other agencies (mainly the CTA) rather than attempting to work with them, hence the lack of any kind of discounted transfer option for anyone going from Pace/CTA to Metra.

  by doepack
In fairness though, Ladd shouldn't be entirely blamed for that. The adversarial relationship (at times) between Metra, Pace and CTA can be directly traced to the current political and administrative climate of the RTA, which does little to promote consistent cooperation among the area's three transit agencies. As long as that continues to be the case, the new Metra chairman (or chairperson) may find themselves in many of the same binds that Ladd dealt with, but with a new person in charge, a different perspective could yield positive results in the long run...