MARTA CEO resigns after 5 years

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher confirmed Tuesday morning that MARTA CEO Keith Parker is resigning.

Belcher said Parker will become president and CEO of Goodwill Industries this fall.

Parker served for nearly five years as MARTA’s chief executive. He is widely credited with turning around the troubled agency.

When he arrived in December 2012, it was hemorrhaging millions in red ink a year and was held in such low regard by state lawmakers and others that the prospect of expanding it seemed laughable.

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Five years later, MARTA has more than $250 million in reserves. It’s already expanded into Clayton County and is preparing an Atlanta expansion after voters approved a $2.5 billion sales tax measure last November. What’s more, the General Assembly is discussing state funding of mass transit – a prospect that also seemed unlikely just a few years ago.

“We are deeply grateful for his stewardship and proud of the many strides we made as an agency during his tenure," Chairman Robbie Ashe said. “As chief executive, Parker helped to usher in a new day for MARTA’s customer service, fiscal responsibility, and service expansion. He leaves MARTA stronger and healthier than ever before.”

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Parker sat down exclusively with Channel 2's Dave Huddleston and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to talk about his decision.

"(Goodwill’s) primary mission is putting people to work and I think the single greatest challenge our country is facing today is income inequality and how we can create a great sense of opportunity,” he said.

He told Huddleston he feels he's done all he can do at MARTA, even though the agency will soon go through its biggest expansion in 40 years.

He said after 25 years in transportation and recently turning 50 years old, it was time for a change.

"I still have my health, lots of energy, (and) lots of vigor about taking on a new challenge,” Parker said.

Parker said while he’s done a lot of good for the agency, he’s also made mistakes.

“Made some bad hires, a couple of bad promotions. When Clayton County was in the mix, we could've handled that more smoothly on some occasions,” he said.

He says MARTA's next leader should be someone who listens to staff and has a world view on transportation. 

The board, led by Ashe, will approve an interim general manager in an upcoming session.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

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