Denver's RTD Test Train. G-line train parked at Union Station.

Metro Denver's Regional Transportation District test train at Union Station.

The Regional Transportation District’s board of directors is nearing a decision to select a new leader to temporarily fill the seat of outgoing general manager and CEO Dave Genova, who retires Jan. 20.

After a finalist is chosen, the board will pursue a nationwide recruitment for a permanent leader.

Handpicked from a pool of more than 40 applicants, the five finalists include two internal and three external candidates, all of whom were interviewed on Thursday during a special board meeting.

The board will allow two weeks for community input on the top candidates. The public can submit comments by contacting their RTD board member or the RTD board office.

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Two finalists up for consideration from within the agency are Michael Ford, RTD chief operations officer, and Mike Meader, chief safety and security officer.

Ford joined the agency two years ago as COO, a new position at the time created to oversee all of the agency’s bus and rail operations while “meeting the needs of the growing metro region,” according to a 2018 RTD press release. He most recently led the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan in Detroit, but was let go after facing scrutiny over extravagant travel expenses, according to The Detroit News.

Meader stepped aboard RTD in August 2016 to oversee rail and bus technical system safety concerns. He brings 30 years of management experience, including as the transportation solutions director for Qognify, a technology solution provider for physical security. According to the transit agency’s succession plan, he would be first in line to run RTD after Genova.

Three finalists hail from outside of the agency. They include:

  • Amy Ford, the former chief of advanced mobility for the Colorado Department of Transportation and current director of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Mobility on Demand Alliance.

  • Paul Ballard, the former head of Trinity Metro, which serves Fort Worth, Texas, who carries more than four decades of experience managing public- and private-sector transit systems.

  • And Jackie Millet, the mayor of city of Lone Tree who has championed RTD’s light rail expansions to the city as a major driving force for its development.

Once RTD’s board makes its selection, the chosen leader could fill the top spot from four to 14 months, inheriting a breadbasket of problems, from staff shortages and temporary service cuts to low ridership and budget slashes.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede, who was elected on Tuesday to chair the transit agency’s 15-member board of directors, acknowledges the challenges facing RTD but isn’t deterred by them.

“What excites me the most is the opportunity to make a positive impact of change that needs to happen for this agency,” she told Colorado Politics earlier this week.

“We’re here to work together. We’re going to roll up our sleeves,” she said. “But it’s going to take all of us to pull this together, because transportation is one of the key issues that builds a society into a successful model.”

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