There has been a surprised reaction to a move taken by the Metropolitan Council to not re-appoint Metro Transit general manager Brian Lamb.
The council announced an executive shake-up earlier this week that will see Lamb leave the position he has held since 2004 by the end of January.
Lamb's tenure included the opening of both the blue and green light rail lines, the Northstar rail corridor, and the A-Line rapid bus service. Under his leadership Metro Transit was named System of the Year by the American Public Transportation in 2016.
The sudden decision therefore by new Met Council chair Nora Slawik to replace him was met with surprise, with Met Council regional administrator Wes Kooistra named as Lamb's replacement.
Speaking to the Star Tribune, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 president Ryan Timlin said he was in "complete shock," noting that he "always ... made things acceptable for both sides" despite the odd disagreement between Metro Transit and the union.
More critical of the Metro Council's decision was Aaron Isaacs, who for 33 years worked as a planner and manager for Metro Transit before retiring in 2006.
Writing for urban planning and transportation website Streets.MN, Isaacs described the ousting of Lamb as "incredibly stupid."
"I know how important a good general manager is to this transit system because I served under all of them," Isaacs writes. "At least three of them were disasters. Others were adequate, but except for Mike Christensen, none came anywhere near the excellence that was Brian Lamb’s administration.
"Because of the positive culture he worked hard to create, Metro Transit is one of the most financially efficient, innovative, well-run transit systems anywhere," he added. You can read his full piece, entitled "Brian Lamb and Metro Transit deserved better," here.
In the Met Council statement, Slawik thanked Lamb for his "years of service and work to build a talented and dedicated staff," saying the metro area "will benefit from his leadership for decades to come."
Of Kooistra, she said: "I’m confident he can lead Metro Transit into the future, as we look to bring financial stability to the bus system and embrace sustainable options for our future operations."
She then added: "He understands the importance of collaboration, listening, and relationship-building – especially with employees and communities – and I know he’ll prioritize the work of One Minnesota to bring more people to the table and ensure everyone has a voice."
She provided more context to the Strib, saying the decision was about "looking at the future."
Lamb, a 62-year-old Minneapolis native, sent an email to employees revealing his imminent departure, with KSTP obtaining a copy.
He thanked his colleagues, before adding: "Regardless of my next professional step, I will continue to use the outstanding service you provide on a regular basis. See you on the buses and trains."