Un­der 5-year con­tract, Randy Clarke can re­ceive yearly raises, bonuses.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Wear bwear@states­

The next pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Cap­i­tal Metro will be paid a salary of $285,000 a year, the tran­sit board de­cided Mon­day.

Un­der the five-year con­tract, Randy Clarke also will be paid de­ferred com­pen­sa­tion of $25,000 a year and will be el­i­gi­ble each year, sub­ject to the board’s eval­u­a­tion of his per­for­mance, for a raise in his base pay and a bonus of up to 10 per­cent.

He will get a tem­po­rary hous­ing al­lowance of $3,500 a month for up to six months, plus five weeks of va­ca­tion. Clarke, who has been a reg­u­lar tran­sit user for 15 years and plans to con­tinue that prac­tice here, will not get any sort of car al­lowance un­der the con­tract.

He and his wife, Kim­ber­ley Sweeney, who plan to live in down­town Austin ini­tially, are ex­pected to move here in a few weeks with Ched­dar, their golden re­triever. Clarke is cur­rently a vice pres­i­dent with the Amer­i­can Public Trans­porta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

Clarke’s first day at Cap­i­tal Metro will be in early March. But he met Mon­day with Cap­i­tal Metro em­ploy­ees shortly af­ter the agency board ap­proved his con­tract.

“What re­ally in­trigues me about this po­si­tion is Austin it­self, the amaz­ing spirit of in­no­va­tion,” Clarke said in a brief news con­fer­ence. “But also a deep sense of com­mu­nity, of know­ing and look­ing out for each other.”

Clarke will im­me­di­ately face the

agency’s chal­lenge with rid­er­ship, which was flat in 2017 af­ter fall­ing for sev­eral years in a row. The per­cent­age of Aus­tinites us­ing tran­sit, in a rapidly grow­ing re­gion, has fallen even faster than the raw num­bers of board­ings.

“Rid­er­ship is one met­ric, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only met­ric,” Clarke said. “Con­nect­ing some­one to health care, or education or a job, to me, is much more valu­able. That’s some­thing the whole in­dus­try is strug­gling with: How do we bet­ter define our busi­ness model, and the value of com­mu­nity ver­sus rid­er­ship?”

The eight-mem­ber board, which on Jan. 12 chose Clarke from among four fi­nal­ists, voted unan­i­mously Mon­day to ap­prove the 13-page em­ploy­ment agree­ment.

Clarke, 40, joined the Wash­ing­ton tran­sit trade group in 2016 and be­fore that served as deputy chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager for the Mas­sachusetts Bay Trans­porta­tion Author­ity in Bos­ton.

That agency has a large rail sys­tem. Austin, mean­while, has twice re­jected light rail plans in elec­tions, and Cap­i­tal Metro op­er­ates only a sin­gle com­muter rail line be­tween down­town and Le­an­der. Clarke was asked what his plans are in that arena.

“It’s not the CEO that’s de­cid­ing to ex­pand rail or build­ing rail. It’s the com­mu­nity,” he said. “Rail cer­tainly could be a pos­si­bil­ity in the fu­ture. To me, it’s not how do we ex­pand rail? It’s how we pro­vide the best mo­bil­ity ser­vice for ev­ery­one. And not ev­ery­one needs the same tech­nol­ogy or the same so­lu­tion.”

Clarke will suc­ceed Linda Wat­son, who had been Cap­i­tal Metro’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer since 2010. Wat­son re­tired at the end of the year. Her deputy, Elaine Timbes, has been in­terim pres­i­dent and CEO since then.

Wat­son’s fi­nal salary was $305,533. With de­ferred com­pen­sa­tion and a bonus the board awarded her in De­cem­ber, Wat­son made a to­tal of $363,900 in her last year lead­ing the agency.

Clarke will take over an agency with 350 em­ploy­ees and hun­dreds more driv­ers and me­chan­ics work­ing for out­side con­trac­tors, 80 or so bus routes, a com­muter rail line and door-to-door ser­vices for peo­ple with qual­i­fy­ing dis­abil­i­ties. Cap­i­tal Metro’s av­er­age daily rid­er­ship last year was about 83,000, and it has a com­bined op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­get of $413.9 mil­lion for the fis­cal year end­ing in Septem­ber.

Clarke said Mon­day that now that his con­tract is nailed down — and, by day’s end, he hoped to fi­nal­ize an apart­ment lease — he plans to be­gin talk­ing to as many elected of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity lead­ers as pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing in­com­ing Austin City Man­ager Spencer Cronk from Min­neapo­lis. Cronk’s move to Austin has been de­layed by the Super Bowl tak­ing place in the Twin Cities this week­end.

“He’s some­one that I cer­tainly have a sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in meet­ing, spend­ing some time with,” Clarke said. “He’s com­ing from out of town just like I am. We’re a very sim­i­lar age. But he’s a lit­tle busy with the Super Bowl right now.”


Randy Clarke (right) shares a laugh with Wade Cooper, chair­man of the Cap­i­tal Metro board, af­ter Clarke was voted in as pres­i­dent and CEO and his salary and ben­e­fits were ap­proved Mon­day.


Randy Clarke (cen­ter) waits for the Cap­i­tal Metro Board of Di­rec­tors to ap­prove his po­si­tion as pres­i­dent and CEO Mon­day af­ter­noon. He is com­ing from a trans­porta­tion trade or­ga­ni­za­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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