Darren Kettle named Metrolink chief executive officer

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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Metrolink is the newest member of the Commuter Rail Coalition.

[Friday, July 23], the Board of Directors of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority named Darren Kettle chief executive officer (CEO) of Metrolink. Kettle is currently the executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC), one of the five regional transportation agencies that comprise the joint powers authority that governs Metrolink.

Darren Kettle new Metrolink CEO (Metrolink)

“I am pleased to announce that today we have selected Darren Kettle to serve as our next CEO,” said Metrolink Board Chair and Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian. “Darren’s breadth of leadership experience includes executive roles in three of our five member counties. From the inland areas to the coastal communities of Ventura County, Darren’s transformative vision and passion for public transportation will well serve Metrolink as the agency continues to meet the needs of and provide more opportunities to Southern Californians.”

 At VCTC, Kettle was responsible for working with cities within Ventura County and the county government to plan, fund and manage a wide array of activities designed to give residents access to jobs, schools, shopping centers and essential services. Kettle has been the executive director of VCTC since 2007.

 “I am excited to join Metrolink as the new CEO and want to thank the Board for their vote of confidence and partnership,” said Kettle. “Over the years I’ve had the chance to work with Metrolink as a regional partner. Now, I look forward to leading the executive team and the entire staff to continue its customer-first approach and rebuild ridership lost during the pandemic. We will showcase the agency’s value and essential role in connecting people seven days a week to their places of work and recreation. Metrolink is an integral part to the lives of Southern Californians. I am also enthusiastic to be part of Metrolink as we prepare to welcome local and global fans to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2028.”

Metrolink has embarked on the Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) Program, a $10 billion capital campaign to improve rail safety and service prior to the 2028 games. The agency has received $2.8 billion in SCORE funding to date.

At Metrolink, Kettle will lead a 283 employee-strong regional passenger railroad that services 62 stations in six southern California counties across a 538-mile network. Kettle’s expected start date is Sept. 7.

Prior to joining VCTC, Kettle was employed by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG – now known as the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority) beginning November 2000 and served as the director of freeway construction from July 2003 through October 2007.

Before becoming the director of freeway construction, Kettle was the director of intergovernmental and legislative affairs for both SANBAG and the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) where he managed a collaborative government affairs program for the two counties.

His professional career spans 32 years working for local and regional government agencies including the City of Rialto, the County of San Bernardino, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), his positions with the transportation agencies of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and his position with VCTC. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University, San Bernardino.

Kettle replaces Stephanie Wiggins, who became CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in May. Arnold Hackett has recently served as Metrolink’s interim CEO.

“I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Arnold Hackett, who stepped in as interim CEO in May,” Najarian said. “Arnold has served Metrolink with enthusiasm and dedication, first as a consultant helping identify ways to improve our business practices, then as the interim chief financial officer where he tackled the fiscal realities of revenue losses due to pandemic-related ridership declines all while keeping the Board and our member agencies informed. His transparency and candor allowed us to make the decisions needed to get through an unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

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