Over the quarter decade plus of serving Arizona, the Association Transit Association Board has identified members who have provided exemplary leadership beyond the regular scope of Board of Director service to Arizona’s public transportation programs. By nomination and a vote of the Board of Directors, these persons have been inducted as lifetime honorary members of the Board of Directors (non-voting) and installed during ceremonies at special events of the Association.
Each is highlighted below for their contribution to the Association. Congratulations!
Over the quarter decade plus of serving Arizona, the Association Transit Association Board has identiﬁed members who have provided exemplary leadership beyond the regular scope of Board of Director service to Arizona’s public transportation programs. By nomination and a vote of the Board of Directors, these persons have been inducted as lifetime honorary members of the Board of Directors (non-voting) and installed during ceremonies at special events of the Association. Each is highlighted below for their contribution to the Association. Congratulations!John served on the AzTA Board from 1990 to 2002 in officer positions of Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President and President, and as AzTA’s Executive Director from 2002-2010. New to transit, he became responsible for Transit operations and planning from 1990 to 1999 for the City of Chandler and served on the Valley Metro Management team representing the City of Chandler during that same period. John’s major accomplishments during tenure as AzTA’s Executive Director were overseeing quadrupling of growth to nearly 400 member organizations, tripling of the operating budget, and growing Association reserves from $10,000 to $125,000. Prior to joining the city of Chandler, John held various management positions in the Health Care industry and the United States Military, retiring from the USAF in 1978 as a Major. John passed away on September 26, 2016.
William G. Budlong
Bill’s Transit career began in 1978 in Detroit at the regional transit authority known as SEMTA, serving as the Asst Area Mgr for Small Bus Operations. Over the next 33 years, he served as: • Transportation Manager for a nonprofit agency in St. Petersburg, Florida • Transportation Director, City of Glendale, for transit and the Glendale Airport • Executive Director, Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in California • General Manager, Van Tran in Tucson • General Manager, Valu-Trans in Phoenix • General Manager, Sun City Transit • Partner in forming a new transit contracting company called Banner7 LLC At AVTA, Bill introduced double-deck buses for Commuter Services resulting in 80% to 100% fare box recovery, and built a 200 bus, $25 million transit facility which opened debt free. In three different years, AzTA gave the Outstanding Transit System Award to systems he managed, twice for Glendale Transit and once for Van Tran in Tucson. In the mid-80’s several cities met to form AzTA of which Bill was one of the founders and served as its President for the initial two years.
Ken Driggs has served in a variety of positions in public service in Arizona and California. Ken earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University. Ken served as Executive Director of the Regional Public Transportation Authority/Valley Metro from 1989-2005, and as its Chief Financial Officer/Deputy Executive Director, RPTA from 1986-1989. Prior to that, he held positions as the Assistant to the Director/Assistant Director, League of Arizona Cities and Towns, assigned to work as the MAG Staff Coordinator from 1968-86 and concurrently as the Executive Director of the Central Arizona Health Systems Agency, Phoenix, Arizona from 1981-1985. Since his retirement from Valley Metro, he has developed a pilot online learning program for Brigham Young University-Idaho for the Mesa, Arizona area, served as the full-time church mission assignment with his wife Kerry in the Internship Office at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, and as a Senior Transportation Planner, TranSystems Corporation, Phoenix, Arizona.
Jean Ann Fisher
Jean Ann’s first 20 years of working experience started in Kansas where she was in the business and retail field, and then worked for a large manufacturing company as secretary for the Engineering department. Originally from Tucson, Jean Ann returned in the mid 1980’s and started her career in transit, as the first employee of Van Tran. It was an exciting and challenging time as she was instrumental in the establishment of paratransit service for the city of Tucson from the bottom up. This great learning experience gave her a crash-course to the many complex facets of transit. Jean Ann worked in paratransit until she became the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Compliance Coordinator for the City of Tucson. Over her 45 – year career Jean Ann had many varied accomplishments. • Hosted a cable television show in Hutchinson, Kansas that covered events in the community. • Served as first President of the Park Wise Board for the City of Tucson’s parking program. • Served as President of Tucson’s Women’s Transportation Seminar. • Served on Pima Association of Governments Board, which has the responsibility of selecting transit projects in Arizona. • Transit Services Coordinator for the City of Tucson. Advanced transportation projects in Tucson through the securing of federal funding for vehicles and progressive transit projects. • Communications representative for the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board. Served the board as advisor concerning transit issues that affected Tucson. • Board member for Arizona Easter Seals • Co-Host for the Chamber of Commerce’s Good Morning Tucson. This live show is held monthly and covers issues the affect Tucson, which often include transit issues. This large gathering brings the people of Tucson together with state leaders such as the State Senators, Governor’s, State Representatives the Mayor of Tucson, as well as those from surrounding cities. • Served on the AzTA Board as the representative for the City of Tucson. She had the honor to serve as President.
Bryan is a two-time past President of AzTA (1994 and 2010) and retired after a 26 year career (1987-2013) working for Valley Metro/RPTA in numerous capacities. He was Valley Metro’s designated public lobbyist for state and federal legislative issues for 15 years and most notably served as its Chief of Staff and Acting Executive Director. He began his transit career working for VPSI (now V-Ride) in Detroit and Memphis, and started the Valley’s regional vanpool program. From there he held Valley Metro leadership positions in operations, marketing, finance and administration, planning, and government relations. Bryan is now employed at the Virginia Railway Express as its Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Michigan State University, and has completed graduate studies in Business Administration at the University of Memphis and is a Certified Public Manager from Arizona State University’s Advanced Public Executive Program.
Larry Miller has more than 36 years of senior management experience in both the public and private sectors. In 2013 Larry retired after 23 years in the private sector where he worked on transit projects around the world including serving as Interim CEO for the LA-Pasadena Blue Line Construction Authority. He was the first Executive Director/CEO of the Regional Public Transportation Authority (RPTA) in Phoenix from 1986 - 1989. From 1979 - 1985 he was Chief Executive Officer of BC Transit in Vancouver, BC. Larry has a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in Urban Geography and Political Science from Brock University and a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Queens University in Canada.
Roger has degrees in construction technology, business management and masters of business administration. He worked for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) for twenty-eight years in a variety of positions in the engineering, transportation, planning and development departments. Ultimately he became the chief engineer-capital program, responsible to start the capital programs department and plan, design and construct a 1.2B (1980 dollars) program to modernize the railroads facilities. In 1987 he retired from the LIRR, moved to Arizona and joined Gannett Fleming. During his twenty-two plus years at Gannett Fleming, he participated in the Valtrans rail project as well as most other Arizona rail technical studies. Additionally he was project manager for the Federal Transit Administration Project management oversight consultant program. Roger was the deputy project manager for the Arizona Metro light rail system, responsible for facilities. He served on the boards of directors for the Friends of Transit, Arizona Transit Association, Southwest Rail Corridor Coalition and Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) and became the 1998 chapter president. Roger retired from Gannett Fleming in 2008, but continues to work on a part-time basis.
Richard J. Simonetta
Richard Simonetta is the Rail & Transit Business Development Lead for the Burns Group. Mr. Simonetta is a transit industry veteran with 43 years of experience, 28 as the CEO of five transit systems, including MARTA in Atlanta, the seventh largest transit system in the U.S. While at MARTA he successfully led the organization in the planning and execution of transit services for the 1996 Summer Olympics, when MARTA transported 25 million passengers in 17 days. Prior to joining The Burns Group, he was the Vice President and National Director, High Speed Rail & Special Projects for the URS Corporation. Prior to joining URS, Mr. Simonetta was the CEO of Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix where he lead the effort to complete a 20-mile, $1.4B light rail line on-time and under budget. He is a former Chairman of the American Public Transportation Association, and President of State Transit Associations in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Arizona. He is the recipient of several prestigious APTA awards, including Transit Manager of the Year in 1997, Best Overall Transit System, and two-time winner of the Best Hiring and Promotion of Minorities and Women. In 2013, Rick was inducted into the prestigious APTA Hall of Fame. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Regional Planning from Penn State University.