Former embattled RTA CEO lands job as COO in Denver

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Michael Ford, the former embattled CEO of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeastern Michigan, has been appointed as the COO of the Regional Transportation District in Denver.

It’s a new position created last year to oversee all of the agency’s rail and bus operations in the metropolitan region. As COO, he will oversee the assistant general managers of rail and bus operations, working with train and bus operators, mechanics and support staff. He will make $230,000 a year.

“I am pleased that Michael is joining our team in this important role,” RTD general manager and CEO Dave Genova said in a statement. “The insights and experience he has gained at agencies across the country make him uniquely suited to serve our customers.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Ford was most recently the principal consultant for MG Ford Consulting for the past year.

From October 2014 to March, he served as CEO of the RTA. But his contract was terminated following questions over job expenses as well as a regional millage that failed in November 2016. At a meeting in March, the RTA’s board announced an unanimous decision to end Ford’s $200,000 annual contract.

His future with the RTA was questioned after The Detroit News reported his travel expenses were under scrutiny. He charged the authority about $37,000 for airfare, hotels, out of town meals, parking and mileage over 2½ years, according to expense reports obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Ford eventually repaid $18,813 for mileage, cellphone, health care and insurance payments he received since being hired in late 2014.

The RTD said Tuesday that it was aware of the allegations made against Ford “and we did fully perform our due diligence in advance of his hiring.”

“He has literally spent 30 years in the transit industry and brings a creative, learned perspective that will serve RTD well as we provide more comprehensive guidance and oversight to our rail and bus operations departments,” said Scott Reed, an assistant general manager for the RTD.

Ford did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

RTA spokesman Mario Morrow said in a phone interview that “we’re happy for Mr. Ford and wish him much success.”

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