Head of MTA resigns post

Dickerson says it was her choice to leave

February 10, 2007|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN REPORTER

The head of the Maryland Transit Administration yesterday became the second high-ranking transportation agency administrator to step down since the O'Malley administration took office.

Lisa L. Dickerson, who was appointed to head the MTA in 2004, will serve as administrator until her replacement is chosen, said acting Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari.

Both Dickerson and Porcari said the decision to leave was her idea.

Dickerson's departure follows the announcement last month that Trent Kittleman had resigned as executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority, the agency that runs Maryland's toll facilities. The departure of Kittleman, a Republican Party activist and widow of a GOP state senator, was widely expected.

Porcari said he did not ask Dickerson to step down. "She offered her resignation, and I accepted," he said. He said no replacement has been chosen.

The transportation chief said he has asked Dickerson to stay with the department to finish up projects related to local bus systems and minority businesses.

Dickerson, 50, confirmed his account, saying her departure is "my own decision." She said she has made no long-term career plans.

"It was mutual and amicable," said Dickerson, a Republican.

Former Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan brought in Dickerson, then an assistant secretary in the department, as acting administrator in 2004 during a period of plunging staff morale. A former NAACP official and entrepreneur, she came to the job with less experience in transit administration than many of her predecessors.

Seven months later, Flanagan named her to the job on a permanent basis, but for most of her tenure he acted as the chief spokesman for the agency while Dickerson remained in the background.

During Dickerson's tenure, the MTA went through a series of major changes, including a huge restructuring of the Baltimore area's bus routes - an initiative that led to significant service problems after it was implemented in October 2005.

Dickerson said she is particularly proud of the MTA's completion of the $216 million double-tracking of the light rail system and the agency's widely recognized improvements in the Mobility taxi and van service for the disabled.

"We were arguably one of the worst in the nation, and now we're being cited nationwide as one of the best," she said.

The MTA, with more than 3,000 employees, is one of the six major agencies that make up the state Transportation Department. The positions are usually not filled by political figures, but they generally serve at the pleasure of the governor.

Porcari indicated that he will not leave the position open long. "It's a great opportunity for a strong transportation professional," he said.


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