DENVER — The Regional Transportation District’s new interim CEO and general manager has arrived in Denver.
With more than four and a half decades in leadership with transit systems in Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, Paul Ballard’s work as the boss starts with riding the rails and buses he is hoping to improve.
“That will be a hallmark,” Ballard said, adding “I’ll be out and about, getting a lay of the land, see and be seen, talk to employees and customers.”
Tuesday marked day two on the job for Ballard. He started early in the day, meeting with media members and answering their questions.
It is no secret that customers are dealing with a number of challenges, including unexpected cancellations and, more recently, cuts in service. FOX31 asked Ballard how he plans to tackle that.
“First of all, if that was me, I’d be pretty mad because I need to get to work,” Ballard said, adding, “The only way is to get the public’s confidence back is to do what we say we are going to do.”
RTD’s ridership statistics show a steady annual decrease from 2014-2018, despite significant population growth in the Denver metro area. The latest reports show a .4% increase in overall ridership from 2018-2019.
In January, FOX31 Problem Solvers reported RTD was short 68 operators to run full schedule.
“There is no silver bullet to solve this overnight but I do know in talking to the HR department we are stepping up the number of operators we are putting into the training program,” Ballard said, adding, “We are feeling good about the quality of the folks we continue to get — that has not suffered at all — we just need to work on the retention.”
Ballard is contracted to work with RTD for anywhere from four to 14 months. He has no plans to stay permanently.
FOX31 asked the new interim CEO if he feels this is enough time to make some major changes.
“I think so, I do, and it will be measured by our employee retention rate,” he said.
RTD said Ballard’s annual salary is $350,000.