Steve Spade, the transit director for Chapel Hill (N.C.), has been hired to lead Wichita Transit, City Manager Robert Layton announced on Wednesday.
Spade, who will begin his work in Wichita on Oct. 30, has served as Chapel Hill Transit director since 2006. The Chapel Hill system provides public transit service to the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill Transit is the second-largest public transit system in North Carolina, with an $18 million annual budget, 200 employees and annual ridership exceeding 7 million. North Carolina officials have praised Spade for his leadership, the quality of the transit system and improved relationships with employees as well as local, state and federal stakeholders.
“Steve Spade’s experience and professional expertise have made him a national leader in public transit, and we're fortunate to have him join us in Wichita,” Layton said. “His background in regional transit, both in Des Moines and Chapel Hill, provides him with unique qualifications that will allow him to facilitate the discussion of Wichita’s transit future. His advanced knowledge of transit operations should result in significant improvements to Wichita’s transit system.”
Before arriving at Chapel Hill, Spade was general manager of the Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority from 1984 to 2006. He said he is looking forward to returning to the Midwest.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the Wichita community and advance public transit,” Spade said. “I look forward to working with staff, the public, elected officials and other stakeholders."
As head of Wichita Transit, Spade will oversee 135 employees, a $15 million annual budget and the largest transit system in the state of Kansas. Serving two million passengers in 2011, Wichita Transit operates 48 buses and 24 vans. Currently, 17 fixed bus routes operate six days a week, from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. Para-transit service is also provided in coordination with a variety of non-profit groups and other community partners. The Transit Department operates modern facilities, including a Transit Operations Center which opened in downtown Wichita in 1999, a new 2011 van maintenance facility, and a centrally located downtown Transit Center.