The SEPTA Board voted on November 21 unanimously to appoint PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards as the Authority’s new General Manager. Ms. Richards will join SEPTA in January following the retirement of General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel.
Ms. Richards, a Montgomery County resident who previously served on the SEPTA Board, will oversee SEPTA’s 9,500 employees and all aspects of the Authority’s operations. SEPTA is the sixth largest public transportation agency in the U.S., serving approximately one million riders each weekday.
“We are thrilled to welcome Leslie back to SEPTA as the next General Manager,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr in making the announcement. “She has a proven track record of success as transportation executive, and brings a vision for the future that will help us build on our successes and prepare for the challenges ahead.”
Ms. Richards has extensive leadership experience in the strategic planning and management of transportation projects both in her private-sector work in the planning and engineering fields over the past two decades, as well as in her work in state and local government. Her private- and public-sector backgrounds give her a unique perspective on understanding stakeholder issues. She is known for her ability to build consensus to find solutions to problems,
“SEPTA is critical to the vitality of the Philadelphia region, and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole,” Richards said. “I am honored to be selected as the next General Manager, and look forward to working with SEPTA employees, riders, residents and other stakeholders to ensure we meet the region’s transportation needs now and for years to come.”
As PennDOT Secretary, Ms. Richards instituted new policies based on sustainable infrastructure investments and innovation. She launched the Transportation Investment Plan, a metric-driven strategic investment approach for the 12-Year Capital Program. She also started a new initiative called PennDOT Connects for the planning and delivery of capital and maintenance projects. This new policy enhances PennDOT’s collaboration with local governments, and ensures the department’s investments consider the mobility needs of communities in project design.
“I am thrilled to know that SEPTA will be in the very capable hands of Leslie Richards,” said TMA Bucks executive director Steve Noll. “Her leadership and fresh thinking have been an invaluable asset for PennDOT, and I have no doubt the same will apply in her new role. We at TMA Bucks look forward to continuing an excellent relationship.”
Ms. Richards is a graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in economics and urban studies. She received a master’s of regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania.