METRO Chief Executive Officer Charles D. Frazier announced his pending departure from METRO today. Frazier’s last day will be Dec. 10, more than three years after accepting the role. He is stepping down to take a to-be-announced executive leadership position with a leading innovative transportation authority.
“This is really bittersweet for me,” said Little Rock City Manager and METRO Board Member Bruce Moore. “While I am very happy for Charles as he starts the next chapter of his life, his departure is a huge loss for public transportation in our region. I have enjoyed working with Charles and am very thankful for his adept stewardship of our capital city metro public transit system. Through his leadership, METRO has been able to offer new and different affordable transportation to more Arkansans and guests, while providing development opportunities to our essential public workers.”
“I am so thankful to the METRO Board of Directors and our funding partners for providing me the opportunity to lead the Rock Region METRO team, and I would be remiss if I did not thank the central Arkansas community for making me so welcome during my time here. My family and I love Arkansas – the friendliness of the people and its natural outdoors beauty simply cannot be beat. It has been an honor working with such an excellent leadership team and hard-working staff, and I’m proud of what we have achieved together,” said Frazier.
During Frazier’s tenure METRO increased system ridership by 8 percent, pre-pandemic; implemented two new services – the METRO Pool jobs-access vanpool program and the METRO Connect on-demand microtransit service; successfully transitioned to a fare-free streetcar service; developed the agency’s first Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan; established innovative community partnerships, such as the Transportation Alliance Project program in partnership with the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, the Central Arkansas Library System Rides to Reads program and the fare-free Be Mighty Little Rock summer meal access program for youths; implemented the agency’s first mobile fare payment app; completed the first phase of the downtown Little Rock transit station’s transit-oriented development project; established the agency’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and New Ambassadors employee recognition program; and successfully negotiated the 2018 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between METRO and its operator and maintenance union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 704, and has had continued progress on the 2021 CBA negotiation.
Other recent achievements under Frazier’s leadership have included securing two Federal Transit Administration competitive grant awards, including the largest FTA competitive grant in METRO’s history, a $4.9 million low/no emissions grant to fund up to five battery electric buses and charging infrastructure, and a COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant to test portable ultraviolet-C light disinfectant systems, as well as establishing a partnership to implement three major COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the downtown Little Rock transit station.
Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of Frazier’s administration is the completion of the first phase of the agency’s R.I.D.E. – Route Innovation, Development and Evaluation – 2020 comprehensive operational analysis. The R.I.D.E. 2020 plan made possible a change to the agency’s original funding formula that has allowed it to expand transit service as METRO emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. The plan allows METRO to expand its transit service footprint beyond Pulaski County for the first time in the agency’s history with the pending METRO Connect Conway on-demand microtransit service and expands the agency’s fixed route, on-demand and paratransit service within Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Frazier, a 2018 graduate of the prestigious American Public Transportation Association Leadership APTA program, serves on the board of directors for the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership and Metroplan and was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force to make recommendations for the state’s recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
“It’s been such a pleasure getting to know Charles and working with him to advance public transit in our community. I’ve enjoyed learning what is needed to serve our residents with good quality access to jobs, education, health care and all of the other needs that make central Arkansas a thriving place to call home, and I’m excited to continue working with the team he has put in place to carry the agency to continued success. We wish him well and are so grateful for his service to our community,” said METRO Board of Directors Vice Chairman Nicole Hart.
“Charles’ leadership at METRO and embrace of innovation and continuous improvement has well-positioned the agency to meet central Arkansas’ future transit needs. We’re deeply appreciative of his work and passion for public service and for his friendship,” said Art Kinnaman, METRO Board of Directors chairman. “He will be missed.”
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