Puget Sound’s Regional Transportation Authority, better known as Sound Transit, will be getting a new chief executive officer next year, the agency has announced.
In an early evening press release, Board Chair Kent Keel said that Rogoff will remain as CEO until mid-2022 and then hand over duties to a yet-to-be-announced successor that the board hopes to find through a national search.
The announcement followed a multi-hour, closed-door executive session in which the agency’s board of directors discussed Rogoff’s tenure and a potential contract extension. Rogoff’s tenure has not been without friction and controversy, as previously reported by The Seattle Times and Publicola’s Erica C. Barnett.
However, the agency is making excellent progress towards completing its ST2 projects (which were begun under Rogoff’s predecessor, the legendary Joni Earl, one of two inaugural recipients of NPI’s Lynn Allen Award) and has had great success in securing federal funds for its needs under Rogoff’s leadership.
Boardmembers ultimately decided that they wanted new leadership, and voted not to keep Rogoff on. (He is getting a short term extension, however, to ensure the agency is not suddenly without a CEO right before Northgate Link opens.)
Formerly the Federal Transit Administrator during the Obama years, Rogoff came to Seattle to join Sound Transit nearly six years ago during the board chairmanship of Executive Dow Constantine. He assumed his duties prior to the opening of the University of Washington, Capitol Hill, and Angle Lake Stations.
Current Board Chair Kent Keel, a University Place city councilmember, issued the following statement concerning Rogoff’s departure from the agency.
After more than six years serving Sound Transit and our region, CEO Peter Rogoff recently informed the Board and me that he did not foresee remaining in his role beyond the end of 2022.
Given the volume and intensity of current and upcoming work and the agency’s needs and interests, the Sound Transit Board has exercised its discretion to proceed immediately to initiating a national search to select the agency’s next successful leader.
Now is a strategic time to identify our next CEO ahead of work to open light rail to the Eastside in 2023 and to Lynnwood, Federal Way and Downtown Redmond in 2024.
Peter has agreed to remain in his position until the second quarter of 2022 to assist in an orderly transition.
The Sound Transit Board is grateful to Peter for all his contributions supporting the realization of the largest transit system expansion in the nation. Upon his arrival in early 2016 he worked with the Board and communities across the region to help shape and earn voter approval for the Sound Transit 3 Plan while simultaneously leading efforts to advance major light rail expansions to the east, north and south. At present, all but one of Sound Transit’s seven major construction projects are on time and performing on or below budget, putting the agency on a very solid path to nearly tripling the size of its light rail network over just the next three years while it continues to advance further expansions.
Peter not only helped design the largest transit expansion program in America but convert the agency to one that can deliver on its very ambitious plans. At the same time he sharpened the agency’s focus on sustainability and improving riders’ daily experiences while advancing equitable access to transit and affordable housing.
Peter’s legacy at Sound Transit includes applying his deep federal experience to help secure critical funding for our region.
He has worked closely with our congressional delegation as well as the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations to obtain unprecedented levels of federal grant and loan support.
He has also ushered in reforms to bring about a more collaborative, disciplined and informed annual budget process, all to the great benefit of Puget Sound taxpayers.
The Board sincerely thanks Peter for his accomplishments leading Sound Transit’s dedicated and talented staff, and for his continuing contributions over the next six to nine months. The Sound Transit Board will soon proceed to forming a search committee and launch our recruitment to identify Peter’s successor.
The position of Sound Transit CEO is one of the most important public leadership jobs in our region. It’s a high visibility, high stakes position.
In its first half decade, Sound Transit did not have high caliber leadership at the top, which led to a tough stretch known as the dark years when the agency struggled to find its footing and get construction going on Link light rail.
The agency was saved from a disastrous fate by Joni Earl, who stepped into the void and turned the ship around. Under her leadership, frozen Sound Move projects got unstuck, and the agency embarked on a successful Phase II expansion campaign to ensure that Link light rail would remain under continuous construction even after the starter line open to the public.
Sound Transit is now on the verge of delivering most of those ST2 projects, with a huge number of new stations due to open in 2023 and 2024.
But the ST3 projects approved in 2016 are stuck in something of a development morass, with costs going up and planning dragging on, at a time when the region is grappling with the ramifications of the climate crisis and a pandemic.
That will take wise leadership in addition to more resources.
We hope the Board finds the right person for the job and we join Chair Keel and the boardmembers in expressing our appreciation to Peter Rogoff for his many years of service to the people of the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett metropolitan area.