MARTA takes first steps to replace departing CEO Parker


MARTA took its first tentative steps toward a future without Keith Parker Thursday, appointing a 22-year agency veteran to serve as his temporary replacement.

The MARTA Board of Directors named Chief Legal Counsel Elizabeth O’Neill to be interim general manager and CEO. She’ll oversee the day-to-day operations of the transit agency, working with departing G.M. and CEO Parker until he leaves in mid-October.

The MARTA board also agreed to seek an executive search firm to find Parker’s permanent replacement. They expect to pick a firm in October.

MARTA plans to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement. Chairman Robbie Ashe said the board will follow the same process that brought Parker to Atlanta five years ago “so we can find MARTA’s next great general manager.”

Parker announced this week he’s leaving MARTA to become president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia. He’ll replace Raymond Bishop, who is retiring after 27 years.

Parker is widely credited with reviving MARTA, which was bleeding red ink when he arrived in 2012. He shored up its finances, cracked down on boorish passengers and launched a slew of initiatives – like wi-fi and fresh-food markets – to make riding MARTA more pleasant.

He won praise from business and political leaders and – admirers say – helped revive the prospects for mass transit in metro Atlanta. During his tenure, Clayton County voters agreed to join MARTA, and Atlanta voters last year approved a $2.5 billion expansion. Fulton and DeKalb counties also are considering expansions.

On Thursday Parker assured board members MARTA will be fine without him.

“The trains will run on time and the buses will be there,” he told them.

Ashe agreed. He said Parker has put in place a team that will ensure the agency keeps moving in the right direction.

The latest team member, Deputy General Manager Arthur “Rob” Troupe, will start Sept. 18. Troupe is a former executive with the infrastructure and design firm HNTB and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority executive.

Ashe said O’Neill’s lengthy tenure at MARTA made the board confident she’s the right person to run the agency on a temporary basis.

O’Neill started her MARTA career as senior associate counsel in 1995 and was promoted to chief of litigation in 1999. She later served as chief counsel and assistant general manager before a promotion to chief legal counsel in 2013.

In a statement, O’Neill said she is humbled by the latest appointment.

“These are truly exciting times for MARTA as we continue to deliver the highest level of service while building upon our standard of excellence, enhancing our system through technology and expanding our service footprint,” she said.

Ashe said O’Neill is not interested in assuming the general manager’s job on a permanent basis. The search for a permanent CEO could take six to nine months.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

The AJC's David Wickert keeps you updated on the latest in what’s happening with transportation in metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta transportation news. Subscribe to myAJC.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

‘Super-potent’ hash, marijuana seized in North Georgia bust
‘Super-potent’ hash, marijuana seized in North Georgia bust

A 35-year-old Jackson County man was arrested after authorities discovered a cache of drugs Monday. Nikki Nelson Allen of Commerce faces drug distribution charges in connection with about 5.5 pounds of marijuana, a large quantity of butane honey oil and $7,462 in cash, Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office spokesman Mitchell Posey...
3 arrested after children found with flea bites in Clayton County home
3 arrested after children found with flea bites in Clayton County home

Three people, who were initially wanted on outstanding warrants, were arrested on child cruelty charges after four children were found with flea bites, Clayton County authorities said.  Nicole Tarney Hunter, 26, Chantrell Marlon Mitchell, 33, and Michael Gamal Mitchell, 58, remained in the Clayton County jail Tuesday night, according to records...
Cops: Man threatened to kill woman who accused him of touching her son
Cops: Man threatened to kill woman who accused him of touching her son

A Roswell man remains in the Fulton County jail weeks after police say he threatened a woman with her son at a gas station.  Allen Drew Robinson, 28, faces a misdemeanor terroristic threat charge after allegedly threatening to kill the woman, who accused him of touching her child, according to a Roswell police report.  The 7-year-old boy...
Cobb cops: Child psychologist molested pre-teen girl, posted it online
Cobb cops: Child psychologist molested pre-teen girl, posted it online

An adolescent psychologist who was the head of a mental health and therapy firm in downtown Atlanta allegedly molested at least one girl and posted recordings of it online. Jonathan Gersh, 37, has been in Cobb County jail since Valentine’s Day without bond on several felony charges of child molestation and child pornography, jail records showed...
6-year-old boy suffers 2 broken legs; Cobb police seek hit-and-run driver
6-year-old boy suffers 2 broken legs; Cobb police seek hit-and-run driver

Authorities are seeking a hit-and-run driver whose car hit a 6-year-old boy in a crosswalk near Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, leaving the child with two broken legs. The boy, identified as Jack Ford by Channel 2 Action News, was crossing Burnt Hickory Road at Old Mountain Road near Marietta with family when the incident happened Sunday...
More Stories