Jeffrey Parker, who led the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority during a period of expansion and then during the pandemic when public transportation ridership plummeted, has died, the agency said.
An agency spokesperson, Stephany Fisher, said Parker took his own life when he was hit by a train at East Lake Station in DeKalb County around 10:30 p.m. Friday.
“He was an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken,” MARTA President Rita Scott said in a statement posted on the agency’s website. “We are devastated by this loss as we appreciate Jeff’s leadership and look forward to seeing him deliver on his vision for public transit. The entire metro Atlanta area owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformational efforts and we n ‘will not stop working to build on the foundation he created.”
Others expressed their condolences, including Governor Brian Kemp, who tweeted that Parker “has an incredible spirit for transportation and logistics and a heart for people.”
Parker was a nationally recognized transportation leader. On its website, MARTA said Parker had more than 35 years of experience in the transportation industry. During his career, he served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation and held leadership positions during his 20 years with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Parker has consistently been recognized as one of Atlanta’s most influential leaders, recently named one of Atlanta Magazine’s Most Powerful People of 2020 and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100: Most Powerful Atlantans, according to the website. influencers in 2020. Parker was also recognized in 2019 by the Atlanta Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar as “Man of the Year” for his strong record of hiring and promoting women in the transportation industry. transport.
During his nearly four years at the helm of MARTA, Parker, 55, oversaw expansion plans in Atlanta and Clayton County, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The newspaper also highlighted his “strong performance” during the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta, when hundreds of thousands of people rode trains to and from the game and other Super Bowl-related events.
While he helped negotiate a new labor agreement that resulted in 3% annual increases for workers, he also helped guide MARTA during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most difficult times for MARTA and transportation agencies across the country as ridership plummeted and illnesses among the workforce increased.
On Saturday, MARTA’s board voted unanimously to appoint Collie Greenwood as the agency’s interim chief executive and CEO. Greenwood joined MARTA in 2019 as head of bus operations and was promoted to deputy general manager of operations in January last year, according to a press release from the agency.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text a crisis counselor at 741741, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.