Getting to know the Next Director of JTA

October 9, 2012 121 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

With three finalist in position to replace Michael Blaylock as the executive director of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Metro Jacksonville looks into the transportation background of Steve Bland, Nathaniel P. Ford, and Frank T. Martin.

Steve Bland

Steve Bland is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County. From 1985 to 1986, Bland was employed by the Dallas Transit System as a Vehicle Maintenance Systems Coordinator.  Between 1986 and 1987, he was the General Manager of the Cape Ann Transportation Authority in Gloucester, MA. In 1987, he left Gloucester to become the manager of Program Development and Operations Planning for Syracuse, NY's Central New York RTA. After four years in Syracuse, Bland accepted a General Manager position at rabbittransit in York, PA in 1991.  In 1994, Bland became the Executive Director of rabbittransit. There, he oversaw a 67 vehicle transit system with an annual budget of $8 million and 150 employees.

In 2002, Bland departed rabbittransit to become the Executive Director of Albany, NY's Capital District Transportation Authority, where he remained for four years.  There, he led a 290 vehicle transit system with an annual operating budget of $60 million with 675 employees. While in Albany, Bland oversaw the development plan of a bus rapid transit project on a corridor connecting downtown Albany and downtown Schenectady that handled 20% of CDTA's ridership.  Promoted as an alternative to light rail, the BRT project mixed branded buses with existing traffic and included queue jumps and signal priority for buses at major intersections.  During his time in Albany, a $7 million intermodal terminal was also completed. The project, now known as BusPlus, become operational in 2011, five years after the departure of Bland.

In 2006, he accepted his current position as the Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, PA. Also known as the Port Authority or PAT, it is the second-largest public transit agency in Pennsylvania and the 11th largest in the country.  Although the Port Authority operates a 26-mile light rail called "The T", the authority is well known for its dedicated busway lines.  The most recent BRT project was completed three years before Bland's arrival.

The same year Bland arrived in town, the Port Authority broke ground on one of the nation's most controversial transit projects, the North Shore Connector.  Less than two miles in length, originally budgeted at $435 million and approved in 2004, the underground light rail line was completed in March 2012 at the cost of $523.4 million.  Despite the new light rail line now dealing with congestion and overcrowding from increased ridership, the Port Authority's next project involves more bus rapid transit. According to a recent Pittsburgh interview, Bland views BRT as “trying to make bus technology look, feel and work as much like light rail as you possibly can. It’s simplifying the route structure so that if you look at that system, it really looks like a rail line. It’s just the vehicle that’s not the same.”

Steve Bland was also a finalist for the new CEO opening with Atlanta's MARTA, along with Keith Parker, the chief of San Antonio's transit system.  However, last week, Parker was unanimously selected over Bland for the Atlanta job.  Before San Antonio, Parker had also served as CEO of the Charlotte Area Transit System from 2004 to 2007.

Bland is currently the CEO of Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Sources: Stephen report.pdf

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