Sound Transit announces shift in Sounder commuter rail management

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Sound Transit Executive Director Joni Earl today announced that Marty Minkoff will join the agency as the new Director of the Sounder commuter rail department. Current Sounder Director Lee Bullock publicly announced his resignation today.

Minkoff, currently Executive Director of the North San Diego County Transit Development Board (NCTD), has an extensive background in construction and capital project development as well as commuter rail operations, areas that are vital as Sounder increases its service level and extends service south to Lakewood and north to Everett. His experience includes serving as General Manager of the Whatcom Transportation Authority in Bellingham from 1990 to 1997.

"Marty's capital planning and management skills, his knowledge of our region, and his extensive experience with commuter rail and other transit modes are big assets for the agency," Earl said. "I look forward to his addition to our management team."

Sounder, which has averaged more than 11,600 weekly riders this year, currently operates two roundtrips every weekday between Tacoma and Seattle, with a total of seven stations along the route. Sound Transit Board Chair Ron Sims has set goals of bringing up a third roundtrip between Seattle and Tacoma and securing an agreement in principle with the BNSF Railroad for service to Everett by the end of the year.

"Marty is planning a 90-day assessment of all the projects and activities underway in the Sounder department. I fully support this approach, which will allow him to align his department's structure with the agency's goal of effectively delivering commuter rail services between Everett and Lakewood," Earl said.

Bullock's resignation was also announced today. In a letter to Earl, Bullock outlined his reasons for leaving, writing that "I did not fully appreciate the extent to which the portfolio reaches beyond just operations. As someone whose background is principally in rail operations, I simply did not anticipate that the construction management portion of the job would be as significant as it is." He continued, "I remain excited about the projects underway at Sound Transit and specifically at Sounder Commuter Rail…it is clear to me that completion of the Sound Transit projects in Light Rail, Express Bus Service and Commuter Rail will bring sorely needed benefits to the Region."

"While I'm disappointed in Lee's decision to leave the agency, he's doing it for all the right reasons. Lee has done an excellent job moving the project forward during his time here and I applaud his service and his commitment to stay until Marty is on board," Earl said. Minkoff will begin work at Sound Transit no later than Sept. 3.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.