Plans focus on new service models and efficiency
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – After almost four decades of managing Pace’s operations, Melinda J. Metzger assumed the role of Pace’s Interim Executive Director on January 1, 2022. Through her long career at Pace, Metzger has always made safety her top priority—a fact that was recognized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) when Pace received the Bus Safety Gold Award, and by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when Pace received the Gold Standard Award for achieving the highest standard of excellence in security. Named the Woman of the Year by WTS International, Metzger is honored to be the first female head of the agency and plans to lead its diverse workforce with a focus on exploring new service models and efficiency.
Metzger began her career as an intern at NORTRAN, now Pace’s Northwest Division, before leaving to head operations planning for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Metzger then went to Pace, where she has been since its inception in 1984. Melinda Metzger took the lead on establishing the system’s operating divisions at a time when the facilities and equipment used to provide suburban service were in dire need of replacement.
Metzger’s new role builds on the successes she and her team experienced during her last three years as General Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Pace. “The challenges we’ve faced over the last two years were unprecedented, but thanks to our dedicated staff we continued to safely provide essential transportation to those who count on Pace while working to modernize our service to ensure we meet our passengers’ needs today and in the coming years,” said Metzger. “In 2022, we will think outside of the bus and explore alternative services where traditional bus service may not be the best solution. We will continue to integrate new technology to improve our passenger experience, especially for our riders with disabilities. We will begin acting on our new strategic vision plan, Driving Innovation. In everything we do, we will prioritize safety and service.”
During her first week in the role, Metzger shared her goals for 2022, including the development of plans to electrify Pace’s North Division fleet by 2026, convert Pace’s entire fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2040, and the installation of charging infrastructure at Pace Passenger Facilities and Operating Divisions. Metzger also plans to implement new service, new technology applications, and innovative service pilots using shared vehicles and partnerships with transportation network companies.
Thanks to the solid foundation and historic capital funding investments from the state and federal governments, Metzger also shared a lengthy list of exciting projects Pace will launch over the next year, including ADA Paratransit transfer facilities in Calumet City and Schaumburg, stations for the new Pulse Dempster Line, a new multimodal facility in Harvey (in partnership with the City of Harvey and Metra), the start of construction for a new CNG facility in Wheeling, and a new South Campus that will house an Acceptance Facility, Customer Relations department, and CDL training course.
Also in 2022, Metzger will lead the transfer of bus on shoulder service operations from Pace’s current Heritage Division to a newly constructed facility in Plainfield and explore new projects made possible by the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. A final priority for 2022 will be recruitment. Metzger will create a hiring plan for bus operators and maintenance employees, which will include working with Community Colleges and advertising on social media, on job boards, and in bus stop shelters throughout the service area to encourage applicants.
“Melinda has been with Pace since the beginning and is deeply committed to public service,” said Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski. “She brings years of experience and a profound understanding of Pace operations to the Executive Director’s Office. I’m confident that she is the right person for the job.”