Mike Scanlon retires; opportunity for next-generation Caltrain leadership

Caltrain announced before the holiday weekend that General Manager Mike Scanlon is retiring. Scanlon oversaw the creation of the baby bullet service that more than doubled ridership in the last decade, and forward motion on the long-awaited electrification project.

The needs of Caltrain for the next decade will be in some ways very different from the past.

Caltrain has long thought of itself as a “commuter rail” service – but land use and rider preferences have created a need for a more “transit-like”, BART-like, frequent service pattern.

Caltrain/SamTrans is a major landowner. Can it play a more strategic role its land and in partnership with cities, to foster development that takes advantage of transit and helps create great places not just revenue-generating building.

Caltrain has been gaining ridership at the same time that there has been huge growth in private shuttles, in part due to gaps in the public transit service. Can a leader think strategically about services to deliver mode shift on the Peninsula Corridor?

The Bay Area is notorious for having many transit agencies providing uncoordinated service. Caltrain and High Speed Rail will need to craft the terms for “blended operations” that will support the needs of long distance and local riders. Can a leader foster integration, with a vision based on best practices of integrated transit systems around the world?

Caltrain will continue to operate in an environment with many jurisdictions and agencies – a strong leader will need to continue to foster community, agency, and funding support in a complex environment.

What are your thoughts about the most important areas where Mike Scanlon’s successor will need to have vision, experience and leadership to take Caltrain into the future.