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August 29, 2012

Wichita hires transit director from North Carolina

Steve Spade, the transit director in Chapel Hill, N.C., has been named to head the Wichita transit system.

Steve Spade, the transit director in Chapel Hill, N.C., has been named to head the Wichita transit system.

Spade, who will start on Oct. 30, has been the Chapel Hill transit director since 2006. Prior to that, he was the general manager of the Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority from 1984 to 2006, during the time Wichita City Manager Robert Layton served as the city manager of Urbandale, Iowa, located near Des Moines.

“Steve Spade’s experience and professional expertise have made him a national leader in public transit, and we’re fortunate to have him join us in Wichita,” Layton said in a news release.

“His background in regional transit, both in Des Moines and Chapel Hill, provides him with unique qualifications that will allow him to facilitate the discussion of Wichita’s transit future.”

Spade inherits a Wichita system whose future is up in the air. City council members committed contingency funds to the system in the 2013 budget to keep it afloat for two years, while a community discussion about its future begins. City officials want to retool and enhance routes around the city and region, but will have to piece together grant funding to make any improvements.

The Wichita system has 135 employees and a $15 million annual budget to operate 48 buses and 24 vans along 17 fixed bus routes.

The Chapel Hill system provides bus service to the cities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as the University of North Carolina. It’s the second-largest public transit system in North Carolina, with an $18 million annual budget, 200 employees and about 7 million annual riders.

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