Executive Director Michael Tree has announced his departure from the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority effective April 22 to become CEO and general manager of the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District at the end of the month.
Tree joined LAVTA in November 2014 when the local agency that operates the Tri-Valley's Wheels bus system was at a lull, having suffered five consecutive years of decline in ridership. Under his leadership, Tree introduced sweeping changes and transformed LAVTA and steered it toward success, including being named as North America's Transit Agency of the Year in 2020, agency officials said.
"He came to a transit system that was in a state of decline and in just a few short years, he was able to reverse that trend and implement innovative programs that resulted in LAVTA being recognized as one of the premier transit agencies not just in California, but in all of North America," Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown, chair of LAVTA's Board of Directors, said in a recent statement.
"On behalf of the LAVTA board, I would like to thank Michael for having a vision that improved mobility options for the residents of the Tri-Valley," Brown said, thanking Tree for exemplary work.
Foreseeing a bright future for LAVTA, Tree reminisced about the past seven years and expressed gratitude for the wonderful experience of working with the board, employees including operators and support staff.
"The agency has worked diligently to improve connectivity within the Tri-Valley, especially mobility for seniors and disabled passengers," Tree said. "The talented team at LAVTA has also worked to improve innovation in public transit with our Uber and Lyft partnerships and the agency's shared autonomous vehicle project."
LAVTA officials listed other accomplishments for Tree and the agency during his tenure such as:
* His service restructuring in 2016 including a new high frequency Rapid bus route and access to BART and ACE rail stations, Las Positas College and other key destinations in the Tri-Valley, which led to over 8% increase in ridership in two years.
* Tree introduced the shared autonomous vehicle technology to the Tri-Valley, becoming the first agency in California with such an operation on public roads.
* He also served as the first executive director of the Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority (Valley Link) for four years beginning in 2018 while working as LAVTA executive director at the same time. He oversaw the completion of the ValleyLink project feasibility report, environmental work and preliminary design, which identified alignment, stations and the system's operating characteristics.