Why Rob Gannon is the right leader now for Metro Transit

by Harold S. Taniguchi
Director, King County Dept. of Transportation

Working with Rob Gannon over the years, I’ve seen his passion and judgment. He is the right person to lead Metro as it rolls out new service and continues to innovate, and his selection today by Executive Constantine as Metro General Manager will help chart the course of the region’s mobility for decades to come.

As he told The Seattle Times and Seattle Transit Blog, Rob will focus on three primary areas:

  • Assuring that Metro is a safe and reliable for customers and operators, and gets people where they need to be,
  • Meeting today’s demands while building capacity for METRO CONNECTS, getting our system to perform optimally today so we’re building on the best possible foundation, and
  • Strengthening Metro as a great place to work. The best way to give outstanding service to customers and be innovative and leading transit agency nationally.

Rob is an inspirational leader who truly cares about the entire Metro team. In our department, we’re focused on keeping customers and goods moving throughout our region, whether it’s people who ride Metro buses, vanpools and our water taxis, or those who drive our roads or use our airport. To accomplish this we must always be providing excellent customer service – building bridges to our customers – to give people what they need to get where they are going.

Rob also is a bridge builder. Ever since he joined the department five years ago, we’ve seen him in action – building connections with drivers, staff and unions to make sure equity is not just a core value at Metro – but also a reality. Our nationally recognized PACE initiative (Partnership to Achieve Comprehensive Equity) is bold and it’s necessary. It is only through building a diverse, respectful and fair workplace community that we can provide the best possible service to our diverse communities.

Rob helped bring together law enforcement, youth advocates and judicial leaders to address youth fare evasion. The result is more fairness and due process for Metro Transit riders involved in transit related violations – including decriminalizing juvenile fare evasion, appeals of citations, and specialized training to help transit professionals improve working with youth .

He engaged managers, drivers and labor representatives after assaults on operators spiked in January. A series of Safety Summits led to action, including revising policies to allow operators to have a personal cell phone as an emergency backup. He is leading the response to the County Executive’s call to install a comprehensive camera system and hire more deputies.

Rob is mindful of crucial community connections. He and I recently met with the Rainier Beach community about bus shelters and safety concerns they have. These connections are how we learn what our customers need, so that we can work together and get things done.

Our period of recent rapid growth has occurred with help from Rob, as we added 270,000 hours of service under contract with the city of Seattle and more, growing by nearly 11 percent, and improving bus service as Link light rail expands. We’re now moving ahead aggressively for the future, as we look to add another 300,000 hours of service in the coming years, another 7 percent in additional service.

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As a result of all these actions, Rob Gannon has my trust and confidence moving this region forward. We have a lot of work ahead of us. My congratulations to Rob.

UPDATE: Here is the video of Executive Constantine’s announcement of Rob’s appointment.