Linda Watson, who has served as the president and CEO of Capital Metro for the past seven years, announced Monday she is retiring at the end of 2017.
Watson’s retirement as chief of the city of Austin’s transit agency will be effective Dec. 31. The board of directors intends to conduct a national search to replace Watson and will appoint an interim CEO if one is not found before she departs.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve this community and Capital Metro as the president and CEO,” she said in a statement. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and what we have accomplished together and am confident that this organization and its employees are well-positioned to tackle the challenging transportation issues facing Central Texas.”
Watson began her tenure at Capital Metro with a 73-page audit from the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission tasked with reviewing state agencies for better functionality and efficiencies. Under that audit, Watson assisted the agency in better managing its finances, bringing increased transparency and communication, and overhauling its labor structure by outsourcing bus operators and maintenance staff to a third-party contractor.
Watson has almost 35 years of experience working in the transit industry and previously served as CEO of LYNX, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, and as deputy CEO at the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.
Capital Metro board chair Wade Cooper said Watson has the ability to provide strong leadership both internally and externally.
“Under Ms. Watson’s leadership, every aspect of Capital Metro has dramatically improved,” he said in a statement. “She has been very successful in putting together a great team dedicated to quality service, and she has been a good steward of public resources. She’s also effectively positioned the agency through solid partnerships to help resolve the increasing complex mobility issues affecting the region.”
Other highlights of Watson’s career at Capital Metro include implementing the two MetroRapid bus routes, breaking ground on the 10-acre Plaza Saltillo mixed-use development off the MetroRail line and implementing improvements to the MetroRail commuter line.