There’s a change at the top of The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) today. Michael Ford is out as head as CEO of the organization, with the board voting to terminate his $200,000 per year contract.
The Board of Directors, according to a news release, appointed Tiffany J. Gunter Interim CEO upon the departure of Michael Ford. Mrs. Gunter will serve in this role until a permanent replacement has been hired.
“Michael came to the RTA and served as our first CEO. He was instrumental in the completion of the Master Plan, creation of the Reflex Service and building an awareness of the need for a regional transit system in southeast Michigan. However, the board felt it was time to move in a new direction,” said Paul Hillegonds, RTA Board Chairman.
Ford has been the center of some controversy as of late. He cut a check this month repaying the RTA for $18,813 in expenses, including hotel rooms at $560 a night, according to a Detroit News report, whose reporting first shone a light on the costs.
His term has been marked by some successes such as the new Reflex service, but most notably a multi-county millage failed to pass, leaving the RTA without a significant source of local funding and putting the future of coordinated mass transit in the Detroit region in doubt.
As he was fired “without cause,” Ford will be paid the rest of his $161,000 contract for this year, says additional reporting by the Detroit News.
According to the RTA, Tiffany Gunter has served as Deputy CEO and COO since 2014 and she “led the charge to secure contracts for and manage all major planning projects for the organization, developed a balanced budget with modest and limited funding, assists in the creation of policies for the board to review and consider, hiring and managing our team, works honestly and closely with the transit providers and senior political leadership in the region.”
Prior to joining RTA, Mrs. Gunter worked in Higher Education as a Dean of Educational Affairs at Wayne County Community College, Transportation Deputy Project Manager at SEMCOG, Material Cost Manager for the MOPAR Division at Daimler Chrysler, and Inventory Manager for Kmart Corporation.