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Carolyn Flowers named CATS boss
Executive directs Los Angeles County bus operations
Published Monday, November 16, 2009 12:50 pm
by Herbert L. White

Carolyn Flowers has been named executive director and CEO of the Charlotte Area Transit System.

Charlotte Area Transit System CEO-designate Carolyn Flowers oversees Los Angeles County's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Flowers, who will start in January, is chief operations officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she oversees Metro Bus operations, Freeway Service Patrol and SAFE call box programs. MTA has a ridership of 380 million on buses and 7.5 million on its 73 miles of rail service. Its annual operating budget is $900 million and employs 9,000.

Seventy candidates applied for the CATS job and seven finalists were interviewed. Flowers will report to Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton and her salary is $197,500.

“Carolyn demonstrated a number of skills for us we think are critical going forward, first understanding the importance of CATS growing beyond Mecklenburg County and into our region, the importance of all transit modes – commuter rails, light rails, street car, bus and rapid bus transit – that there’s a role for each of them to play in an integrated system,” Walton said Monday at Flowers' introductory press conference.

CATS, which has been led by interim director James Muth since Keith Parker left in May for a similar position in San Antonio, Texas, faces growing economic challenges spurred by the recession. Revenue through rider fares has flattened over the past year while the authority is scrambling to locate federal and state funding for new light rail lines. Charlotte City Council is also looking at the possibility of adding a streetcar linking neighborhoods in the east and west.

“I will continue the momentum this region has established to get our share of funding,” Flowers said. “In addition, with my budget background, I will also ensure that we manage our resources at CATS. It’s important to sustain the rail and bus system and keep it in a state of good repair.”

Walton says Flowers’ experience and leadership roles in the Los Angeles area made an impression on the selection committee made up of Davidson Mayor John Woods, Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett, and Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones.

“Her reputation for proactive education programs, innovative customer relations programs and building positive working relationships with employees and her board will continue to build our national and international reputation in the transit industry,” Walton said.

Flowers’ career at MTA, which started in 1992 and includes a break from 1997-99 as budget manager for the city of Beverly Hills, includes stints as executive officer of administration and deputy executive officer for finance. She has also worked as a financial manager at Wang Laboratories, and financial analyst and budget officer at Rockwell International Automotive Operations.

Flowers earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s in business administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. She is vice-chair of the American Public Transportation Association Diversity Committee and a member of the American Public Transportation’s Passenger Transport publication advisory committee.


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