Scanlon retiring as head of San Mateo County Transit District

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

Michael J. Scanlon, who has led the San Mateo County Transit District for the past 15 years, is retiring. The Transit District is an administrative body that holds jurisdiction over SamTrans bus service, Caltrain commuter rail and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.


“SamTrans and its sister agencies still have many important and exciting challenges in front of them. We had urged Mike to stay on as we navigate these next few years of continued growth and change,” said SamTrans Board Chair Jeff Gee. “We are sad to see him go. But after 47 years in the industry and a workload second to none, our sorrow at losing his talent, expertise and leadership is tempered by our appreciation at all he has done and the fact that his retirement is well and entirely earned.”

During his tenure, the Transit District said Scanlon transformed the agency into a modern mobility manager citing the growth of Caltrain into a regional and record-setting rail system, the successful reauthorization of the Transportation Authority sales tax by 75 percent of the voters and undertaking the Caltrain Modernization (CalMod) program to electrify and modernize Caltrain.

CalMod includes the introduction of new electric trains that will be quieter, cleaner and will allow for more frequent train service to help meet growing ridership demand, reduce regional traffic congestion and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by the rail system’s current diesel equipment. According to the Transit District, the program also helps reduce the taxpayer subsidy required to operate the system and creates more than $2 billion in economic value.

“Caltrain is a public transit success story. It’s more than doubled its ridership in the 10 years since the Baby Bullet service was first introduced,” said Caltrain Board Chair Tom Nolan, one of the key figures who helped to save Caltrain and turn it over to a local partnership to own and operate. “Mike understood the intrinsic possibilities of this 150 year-old rail corridor and he has led the effort to secure funding for its reinvention and long term future. With planning for Caltrain Modernization underway, electric vehicles will be providing more service to more riders at more stations in 2019.”

“Mike has not only helped modernize transit in the Bay Area with his innovative approaches at Caltrain and SamTrans, but he’s also been an outspoken advocate for public this country’s transportation programs,” said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. “As the former chair of APTA’s executive committee and past member of numerous other boards, Mike has demonstrated a passionate commitment to the future of public transit by helping to shape policies that have driven growth in public transportation usage nationwide. His big smile and treasured sense of humor will be missed dearly at APTA.”

Categories: C&S, OFF Track Maintenance, Rapid Transit/Light Rail