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New MARTA deputy general manager leaves in surprise move

MARTA Deputy General Manager Josh Rowan at an Aug. 23 celebration at the Edgewood/Candler Park Station about the transit agency receiving a federal grant for all-electric buses. (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

By John Ruch

MARTA Deputy General Manager Josh Rowan has abruptly left the transit agency without explanation only five months after his high-profile hiring.

Rowan, the former commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Transportation, was tasked by MARTA with speeding the delivery of major projects and engaging with communities to determine whether some of those lines should be served by rail or bus. His departure only deepens confusion about MARTA’s schedule and direction amid intense controversies like Atlanta BeltLine transit and Campbellton Road bus rapid transit (BRT).

Rowan’s departure was revealed in a Jan. 5 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story based on internal MARTA emails. Rowan declined to comment to SaportaReport. He reposted the AJC story on his LinkedIn page, which does not list any new job.

MARTA also did not explain the move, saying only in a written statement, “After careful consideration, MARTA has decided to part ways with Josh Rowan.”

Rowan has been temporarily replaced by Carrie Rocha under the lesser title of interim chief capital officer. Rocha has been working at MARTA since September 2021 as assistant general manager of the Central Program Management Office, which coordinates all of the agency’s programs. She previously worked for more than 20 years at HTNB, a transportation consulting firm.

Matthew Rao, chair of the advocacy group BeltLine Rail Now, was among those surprised by the move. He said his group was scheduled to meet with Rowan next week and now is seeking a meeting with Rocha instead. He noted that MARTA has had frequent turnover in capital planning leadership, with two other executives in the role since 2019.

“We had been looking forward to stability and forward movement on capital projects – namely, the rail and BRT projects in [the transit-funding sales tax program] More MARTA – and wonder what the constant change of personnel in these roles at MARTA means for that,” said Rao. “Time will tell, but the continued departures in capital projects management are slowing the progress and costing MARTA and the City of Atlanta time and money.”

MARTA recently had other big changes. In December, it abruptly halted service on its Downtown Streetcar, citing safety issues with its wheels. That same month saw a MARTA Board of Directors shakeup, with the unusual resignation of two members representing the City of Atlanta, who were replaced by appointees of Mayor Andre Dickens – who has publicly voiced support for BeltLine rail.

Rowan’s departure from the Atlanta DOT job was also abrupt and unexplained at the time. He later told SaportaReport that the move was based on feeling the main part of the job was done and the factor of stress from running the new department amid the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly named Rao’s position at BeltLine Rail Now.


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1 Comment

  1. Dana Blankenhorn January 7, 2023 10:27 am

    There are models for proper integration of demand-oriented public transit and for road diets.

    Houston is a great example of the former.https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/Metro-s-next-step-to-a-bigger-transit-system-is-17323310.php

    Jersey City is a great example of the latter. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-12-28/it-s-been-a-deadly-year-on-us-roads-except-in-this-city

    Maybe it’s time to bring in folks who know what they’re doingReport


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