News

MTA-Flint re-dedicates downtown Transfer Center in honor of long-time board members

On Sept 12, 2021, MTA hosted an unveiling at 615 Harrison St for the family and friends of two former board members.  John Northrup and Richard Abrams served a combined total of 62 years on the Mass Transportation Authority Board of Directors, and they were true pioneers in supporting the development of public transportation throughout our community.  In recognition of their outstanding contributions, the MTA staff and Board of Directors enthusiastically supported naming the downtown transportation center after them.  The MTA Northrup-Abrams Transportation Center will serve to remind others of the impact citizens can have when they volunteer their time to support local organizations.“It was an honor to work closely with these fine individuals and it was such a joy to share this dedication with two great families.  We welcome everyone to come into the transfer center and see the well-deserved plaques of recognition” said MTA’s General Manager Ed Benning.

New Director Named for SMART in Southeast Michigan

Dwight Ferrell photo

SMART, the Southeast Michigan Authority for Regional Transportation, has named a new leader as CEO. He is Dwight Ferrell, who previously served as head of the Cincinnati Metro transit system. Ferrell will begin his duties in September. Robert Cramer, SMART's interim leader as SMART's deputy general manager, will continue to remain in his position. Cramer took over as Interim head of SMART after the board let former longtime head John Hertel in March 2020.      

The Rapid Board of Directors and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 Reach Agreement

Collective bargaining agreement for bus operators and maintenance employees is approved

The Rapid’s Board of Directors voted to approve a new three-year contract that will be effective from June 10, 2021, through June 9, 2024. This round of contract negotiations started in November 2020 with a tentative agreement reached on April 12 that was eventually ratified by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 (ATU) on April 18.

The previous agreement was extended for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The approved agreement includes increases for wages and retirement benefits over the next three years.

“We’re extremely pleased to have reached an agreement with the ATU that sets the agency up for success and provides stability for our workforce for the next three years,” said Steve Schipper, COO at The Rapid. “Both sides negotiated in good faith under difficult circumstances created by the pandemic, and this agreement is a great reminder that we’re all on the same team working to provide critical infrastructure and service to our community.”

Throughout the pandemic, service levels and safety regulations have been adjusted due to changing
guidance and conditions in the community, but transit service continued to operate without interruption in order to support essential services and community needs.

“I am very proud of the leadership on both sides of the negotiating table,” said Deb Prato, CEO of The Rapid. “In true transit spirit, during an incredibly difficult year, The Rapid and ATU 836 came together negotiating a contract that keeps our community on the move; efficiently, reliably and safely.”

The Rapid announces new Chief Executive Officer

First female CEO will begin her tenure on March 8

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Rapid finalized the official hiring of Deborah Prato as its new Chief Executive Officer this week. The Rapid’s Board of Directors formalized the contract with Ms. Prato on Wednesday as part of their regular January meeting.

Prato will bring over 30 years of public sector experience to the role, including 10 years of executive team experience in public transportation. Her expertise in local government and public transit in the northeast positions her to hit the ground running at The Rapid as the agency continues its work to support pandemic recovery and growth in the region.

Stephen Kepley, Mayor of Kentwood and Chair of The Rapid’s Board of Directors, expressed optimism as The Rapid completed its search and hiring process. “Deborah Prato brings the necessary leadership experience and skills to guide and implement The Rapid’s planned services for meeting the needs of West Michigan for years to come,” stated Mayor Kepley. “The ITP Board members look forward to working with Deborah and welcome her to the community.”

Prato will officially begin her role as CEO on Monday, March 8, 2021.

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed CEO of The Rapid,” said Prato. “Together and alongside all of the dedicated employees at The Rapid, we have the talent to continue to deliver exceptional service to our customers and create extraordinary value by connecting our communities.”

The Rapid started the CEO search process in July 2020, at which time Win Irwin was hired to serve as Interim CEO. Irwin will be working with The Rapid’s Board of Directors, staff, and Prato to assist with the transition.

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