Rob Gannon will be named head of King County Metro Transit on Tuesday. In an interview, he said he’ll focus hard on listening to employees, too.
Rob Gannon says he’ll be focused on safety and listening to employees as the new general manager of King County Metro Transit, effective Tuesday.
He’s been interim general manager since March, when Kevin Desmond left to run Vancouver, B.C., TransLink.
Previously, the 47-year-old Gannon was deputy Metro manager and a human-resources manager, for a total of six years’ county experience. His new salary will be $193,634, to lead 4,700 employees.
Metro is the nation’s sixth-busiest public-bus agency, serving 420,000 passengers a day, while also operating Sound Transit trains, Seattle streetcars and many Sound Transit bus lines.
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The county is working on a long-term growth plan called Metro Connects to increase bus routes and lanes, at a potential cost of $11 billion through 2040.
Following a spike in assaults on transit operators, Gannon said Metro held three “operator security summits” this year with Kenny McCormick, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587, and other union and county officials.
“I’m not a crusader,” Gannon said, but he described several safety changes under way:
• Seven deputies, a detective, and a community-resource officer would be added to the 64 uniformed transit police in next year’s budget.
• Added security cameras so that all buses have them.
• Longer layovers between trips, so that operators have time to use the restroom, a serious health matter for which Metro has paid state fines.
• Instructing operators to report all incidents to dispatch, allowing cellphones to be used in emergencies.
• A possible experiment with in-bus shields, at a driver’s discretion. “Many of our operators spend all day in the seat and have very positive interactions with our customers,” Gannon said. “Some of them are less secure, they run on troubled routes, they would like the option to deploy shields at the start of their shift.”
• Training and adjustments to reduce blind-spot threats at the A pillars, where windshield frames can hide people on foot from a turning bus driver. Gannon said Metro keeps an open-door policy with Brian Sherlock, national safety specialist for ATU.
“Fundamentally, we want our operators driving safely, so the more we can eliminate those safety and security issues, the better it serves our entire system,” Gannon said.