Honkin' Mad

Fort Worth’s transit agency promotes its CEO from within, for the 1st time in decades

gdickson@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth’s transit agency wasted little time in filling its position of chief executive officer, which will become vacant in April with the retirement of Paul Ballard.

The Trinity Metro board on Monday night named Bob Baulsir, Ballard’s right-hand man, to take over the position of president and CEO effective April 15. Ballard announced his retirement in late November, effective April 14.

Baulsir arrived in Fort Worth shortly after Ballard was hired in 2014 to turn around the agency, which at the time had been widely criticized by city, county and regional leaders for taking too long to get the TEXRail commuter line up and running.

Baulsir has served as senior vice president, and has played a pivotal role in the day-to-day effort to get TEXRail moving. TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter train line from downtown Fort Worth to North Richland Hills, Grapevine and DFW Airport is scheduled to open to the public Jan. 5.

“No one is more suited to step in and lead Trinity Metro into the future. We have the rare opportunity to promote from within and to benefit from Bob’s vast experience and expertise,” board chairman Scott Mahaffey said in an email.

“The board feels that Bob Baulsir has been preparing for this role in the four years that he and Paul Ballard worked together at Trinity Metro. Their focus and planning has been in sync, and we know Bob can carry that vision forward to benefit our region.”

Baulsir’s hiring is the first promotion from within for Trinity Metro’s top job in decades.

The agency formerly known as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (and known informally as the T) was created in 1983 after voters agreed to begin paying a sales tax for transit.

The first president was John Bartosiewicz, who came from North Carolina, although he had already been in Fort Worth since 1977 working for the private sector bus company McDonald Transit Associates. McDonald would go on to operate much of the T’s day-to-day operations and management through the early 2000s, according to his online resume.

In 2003, Bartosiewicz was replaced by Dick Ruddell, who had run transit agencies in Toledo, Ohio and Topeka and Wichita, Kansas.

Ruddell retired in 2013, after Fort Worth city and county leaders replaced the entire transit board, citing dissatisfaction with TEXRail progress.

Ballard, who had started a new commuter rail line in Nashville, was brought in in April 2014 mainly to finish the TEXRail job. Ballard hired Baulsir, who also had vast experience in Nashville, shortly after his arrival in Fort Worth.

The TEXRail, a commuter rail service operating from Fort Worth to Grapevine, begins service on Jan. 5, 2018.

Baulsir’s time at Trinity Metro has included overseeing procurement, facilities management and information technology for TEXRail.

“Bob is an integral part of our leadership team, and I can’t imagine anyone more suited to move into this role,” Ballard said in an email. “Shortly after I moved to Fort Worth, I recruited Bob to serve as vice president and project director of TEXRail. I knew he was the right person for the job then, and I feel the same way now.”

Prior to working with Ballard in overseeing Nashville’s commuter rail projects, Baulsir worked in public agencies in New York and Ohio. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

In all, he has 30 years of transit experience.

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Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.

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