Gary Public Transit chief departing for Maryland job
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 February 13, 2014 11:08PM
Lampkins, Daryl 2010 Daryl Lampkins board member Gary Public Transportation Corporation. GPTC. Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune ptmet
Updated: March 15, 2014 6:28AM
GARY — The general manager of Gary Public Transit Corp. is leaving to take an executive job with the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore.
Daryl Lampkins, who’s headed the GPTC since 2005, said his last day will be March 31. The GPTC board is expected to accept his resignation at the March 6 meeting.
“I’ve enjoyed my stay. I think my staff and I have accomplished a lot. We revamped the agency from top to bottom from establishing operating standards to changing the culture,” Lampkins said Thursday.
The GPTC was in the federal doghouse when Lampkins took the reins. The Federal Transportation Administration briefly suspended the agency’s federal funding in 2007, saying the agency lacked the technical and financial capacity to manage grant money.
Lampkins said he’s restored confidence in the bus service.
“We had a long ride and we accomplished a lot of things. I think we’re in a place it can survive.” He said consistent and dependable service helped restore confidence, along with the replacement of outdated equipment.
Lampkins said he hopes the board selects his successor from within the agency. “Hopefully, it will be someone internally. We’ve built a pretty strong core.”
Lampkins said his departure won’t hinder GPTC’s strategic decision to expand into neighboring Hammond, which doesn’t have bus service. A bigger hindrance, he said, is the lack of a local funding source for bus service such as a dedicated tax.
The GPTC board is also holding a public hearing March 6 on the Hammond plan in which a feeder route would take riders to Purdue University Calumet and destinations in Munster and Highland. Half of the estimated $328,570 cost would come from federal grant money.
In 2005, Lampkins worked for Ohio-based Professional Transit Management which was hired by the GPTC board to manage the city’s bus system for a year. Lampkins oversaw the day-to-day operations of the bus system and was hired by the GPTC after it dumped PTM.
The GPTC came under federal scrutiny in 2007 when the Federal Transportation Administration demanded the GPTC pay back a $1.2 million grant because of a questionable $300,000 loan GPTC received in 2001.
“We settled our debt with the feds and turned the agency around,” Lampkins said.
Federal officials said GPTC used the $300,000 from Johnson Controls as a local funding match used to secure a $1.2 million grant from the federal government, despite being told it couldn’t do so. Funding was suspended for a brief period and in 2008, the City Council restructured the GPTC board in 2008 and the new board agreed to pay back $3.6 million in federal funds.
Teresa Torres, executive director of Everybody Counts, a disabled rights advocacy group, said Lampkins had a sincere concern for people who are dependent on public transportation. She said her agency has a strong relationship with GPTC, through his leadership.
“We hate to see him go, but are thankful for the positive impact he has had on the local community as a whole, and our constituents in particular,” she said.