The San Mateo County Transit District (“District”) is seeking a strategic, innovative, and dynamic individual for the role of General Manager/Chief Executive Officer (“GM/CEO”), who will also serve as Executive Director of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (“TA”). Historically, the GM/CEO also has served as Executive Director of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (“JPB,” owner and operator of the Caltrain commuter rail service). Currently, however, another District employee serves the JPB as its Acting Executive Director while the JPB’s three member agencies negotiate governance and the managing agency arrangement.
ABOUT THE AGENCIES
San Mateo County Transit District
Located in San Carlos, CA, the District is a multi-agency organization that serves as the mobility manager of San Mateo County, including:
• as owner and operator of SamTrans, a traditional bus system that is swiftly evolving into a multi-modal service provider and regional facilitator, with associated paratransit services;
• as managing agency of Caltrain, a dynamic and rapidly-growing commuter rail service operating between San Francisco and Gilroy, through Silicon Valley;
• as managing agency of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, a transportation funding agency that supports transit, traffic congestion relief, and transportation projects and innovation through its own 35 year half-cent sales tax as well as 50% of a District half-cent sales tax measure; and
• as a staffing resource for certain functions of the San Mateo County Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority (“SMCEL-JPA”), which was created to construct and manage new express/toll lanes on U.S. 101 in San Mateo County.
The District is a significant property owner throughout the region, affording opportunities for transit-oriented development and leadership in planning and land-use decision-making that can meet the growing demand for a car-free, sustainable lifestyle in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Formed in 1976 following voter approval, the District is the transportation workhorse of San Mateo County, providing fixed-route SamTrans bus and on-demand microtransit services, shuttles, and complementary paratransit service throughout San Mateo County (including the Coastside Communities) and into parts of San Francisco and Palo Alto. The District has evolved into a multi-modal facilitator, with an annual operating budget of $231.9 million and capital budget of $30.0 million. It is engaged in several creative partnerships with other agencies, offering a range of programs to encourage transit ridership, including the S.F. Bay Area-wide Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force, focused on post-Covid service, as well as an award-winning Senior Mobility Program. The District is an active advocate of Transit Oriented Development and continues to play a leadership role in the Grand Boulevard Initiative, a regional effort to transform EI Camino Real into a world-class boulevard that is pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented, and that becomes a central location for residents to work, live, shop, and play. The District is supported in part by a permanent half-cent sales tax imposed in 1981 and a 30-year sales tax (“Measure W”) passed by over 2/3 of San Mateo County’s voters in 2018.
Exciting projects currently being planned by the District include:
• Electrification of the SamTrans bus fleet, along with design and construction of related infrastructure at the District’s two maintenance base facilities to enable the District to meet the State’s zero-emissions mandate by 2040;
• Construction of a new headquarters facility;
• Development of a new commuter crossing over the San Francisco Bay to serve public transit needs in the vicinity of the Dumbarton Rail Bridge (a decommissioned right of way owned by the District that runs from Redwood City on the west end to Newark on the east end);
• Multi-use development of parcels potentially including the 8.7 acre Colma park-and-ride lot (owned by the District), an underground parking facility at Sequoia Station in Redwood City and the District’s Brewster bus facility, also in Redwood City.
The Caltrain commuter rail system, serving the San Francisco Peninsula region from San Francisco through San Jose to Gilroy, is the most dynamic commuter rail system in the nation. With an annual operating budget in excess of $147.1 million, Caltrain served a peak average weekday ridership of over 60,000 in 2019. Caltrain is owned and operated by the JPB, which is an independent agency governed by a nine-member Board of Directors representing the three JPB member agencies (the District, the City & County of San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority). Caltrain secured its first dedicated source of funding with passage (at 69%) of a 30-year, three-county, 1/8 cent sales tax in 2020.
The JPB is completing the more than $3 billion Caltrain Modernization Program to modernize the 150- year-old rail system (“CalMod”). Under the CalMod Program, the JPB has implemented the federal mandate to operate using Positive Train Control and is in the process of electrifying the railway between San Francisco and San Jose. The electrified rail system, which is scheduled to be operational by 2024, will use a new fleet of electric multiple unit rail cars that are faster, quieter, and cleaner, and will facilitate more frequent service than the current diesel-powered system. Caltrain electrification also will help prepare the rail corridor to accommodate California’s statewide high-speed rail service as part of a blended system.
San Mateo County Transportation Authority
The TA was formed in 1988 with the passage of the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for countywide transportation projects and programs (“Measure A”). In 2004 over 75% of the voters of San Mateo County reauthorized Measure A through 2033 and adopted a new Transportation Expenditure Plan. Half of the District’s 2018 Measure W funds also are administered by the TA in accordance with the voter approved Congestion Relief Plan. In all, the TA administers sales tax proceeds which are projected to total $166.8 million ($108.3 million in Measure A funds and $54.1 million in Measure W funds) in 2023. The TA is an independent agency governed by a seven-member Board of Directors, but fully staffed by the District.
For more information about the TA, visit www.smcta.com.
San Mateo County Express Lanes
The TA, in partnership with the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG), created the San Mateo County Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority (SMCEL-JPA) to exercise their joint rights to, and responsibilities for, the San Mateo County Highway 101 Express Lanes Project. This project involves the construction and operation of toll/express lanes designed to reduce traffic congestion and encourage carpooling and transit use on U.S. 101 in San Mateo County. The southern segment of the new tolled express lanes on Highway 101 opened earlier this year between the Santa Clara County line and Whipple Avenue in Redwood City. Construction on the northern segment, between Whipple and Interstate 380, began in February 2020 and is scheduled to be completed later this year.
The SMCEL-JPA is governed by a six-member board consisting of three TA Board members and three C/CAG Board members. Staff support is provided by a mix of District and C/CAG personnel and consultants.
For more information about the Express Lanes, visit smcexpresslanes.org/about/.
The District’s GM/CEO directly supervises the executive team and is responsible for the management and performance of more than 1,500 employees, consultants, and contract workers.
The District’s executive team currently consists of the Acting GM/CEO, one Acting Deputy GM (who presently also serves as the Executive Officer, Planning, Development and the TA); an Acting Chief Financial Officer; a Chief Operating Officer, Bus; a Chief Communications Officer; an Executive Officer of People and Culture; and an Executive Officer – District Secretary. In addition, the District’s outside Legal Counsel is an integral member of the executive team. The JPB has a separate executive team with several overlapping members.
The GM/CEO is the main strategist, working in concert with the District Board, key staff and Legal Counsel, in dealing with labor relations and contracts. It is a key element of the District culture that management maintain positive working relationships with union leadership and their membership, and that contract negotiations be concluded in a timely way that recognizes the critical nature of these long-term relationships.
Working with the agencies’ boards, the GM/CEO is expected to formulate and continually update the visions for the agencies, providing forward-looking strategies in anticipation of and in reaction to the changing dynamics of the region and of the local communities and customers served by the agencies.
This high-profile position requires substantial political and public interaction, as well as local community engagement in San Mateo County. The GM/CEO is expected to maintain existing relationships, establish new partnerships and provide a vision for better mobility across the region. The uniquely complex funding and oversight of a coordinated transportation program across the region requires the GM/CEO to effectively interact with and represent the agencies in meetings and communications with local, State, and national elected officials and their staffs, as well as with the leaders of other important agencies. Partnership and coordination with the Boards and regional and local/community stakeholders, including the SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee and the Paratransit Advisory Council, is essential to ensure that the District provides high quality, reliable, safe and affordable transportation services to all members of the community. In addition, engagement with the business community, colleges and universities, public schools, the County and the 20 cities within San Mateo County, and other employers is essential to the agencies’ missions of reducing congestion and providing a robust regional transit network.
Responsibilities related to the management of the District include the following:
• Build partnerships and engage with partners throughout the region, the State and the nation to support the mission of the District and the agencies it manages or supports.
• Provide strategic vision and guidance for alternative modes of mobility that enhance the customer experience and provide a more robust transportation services to the County and region. Work collaboratively with regional partners to create a more comprehensive and coordinated transportation network.
• Encourage, empower, and challenge the agencies’ staff to think “outside the box” and offer rider-centric solutions that are innovative, effective, efficient, and properly responsive to rider needs.
• Listen, respond to and provide meaningful results-oriented solutions to all stakeholders and customers.
• Recommend policy actions regarding all aspects of the agencies’ functions, services, and operations.
• Supervise the planning, acquisition, construction, maintenance, and operation of transit facilities.
• Formulate transit-oriented and joint development policies and oversee real estate-related activities.
• Supervise and direct the preparation annual budgets and financial reports.
• Direct the preparation and administration of contracts for goods and services.
• Act as the District’s fully-authorized representative in all matters of employer-employee relations.
• Determine the compensation of employees within ranges established by the District’s Board-approved salary ordinance.
• Perform other duties as the Boards may require.
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
The District is seeking a GM/CEO who will quickly garner confidence, respect and trust with the boards, staff, local communities in San Mateo County, and all other external stakeholders. The GM/CEO must have a proven ability to build consensus with regulatory, municipal, and public constituents. The position requires extensive political and interpersonal skills, diplomacy and engagement. The successful candidate will have demonstrated leadership and organizational skills in a multi-disciplinary environment and a self-managing, self-driven leadership style. He/she should have a strong grounding in the areas of transportation funding, operating and capital program delivery, real estate development, and investment management.
Candidates considered for the GM/CEO role will possess the following characteristics and abilities:
• A strategic outlook and capability to be a visionary relative to regional multi-modal transportation issues.
• Embraces diversity, equity, equality, multi-culturalism, and inclusion.
• Listens carefully and responds appropriately and with sensitivity to all concerns and interests of a culturally, politically, and socio-economically diverse community.
• Intelligent, persuasive, creative, visionary strength to solve complex problems.
• Proven ability to leverage technology, improve customer service, increase operational efficiencies, achieve bottom-line results, and reduce waste.
• Outstanding negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving and consensus-building abilities.
• Flexibility and the ability to simultaneously maintain attention to and comprehension of a vast number of dynamic situations, problems, opportunities, and constraints.
• Understands the nuances of working and succeeding within a highly transparent, public-sector environment.
• Demonstrated ability to unify Boards, teams, communities, and people during complicated and uncertain times.
• Builds partnerships and works effectively and persuasively with local, state, and federal elected and appointed officials and agencies, the business community, organized labor, non-profit and faith-based communities, disabled community, public constituencies, education and health leaders, the media, and other stakeholders.
• Highly developed communication, interpersonal, and people skills.
• Experience in mentoring and growing staff.
• The ability to be hands-on when necessary.
• Mature judgment and thoughtful decisiveness.
• A reputation for unquestioned integrity and ethics.
• A personable nature that inspires confidence and nurtures a desire among external interests to work closely with this individual.
The ideal candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree in Public or Business Administration or related field, and ten or more years of executive-level management experience in the public or private sector for one or more organizations of similar size and complexity as the District, or an equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to successfully perform the duties of this position. A Master’s Degree in Public Administration or Business is preferred. Prior executive transit management experience in a regional transportation agency is strongly desired.
Additional Information For more information or to submit a resume and cover letter, please reach out to Gregg Moser, Principal at K&A, at email@example.com.