No one is more focused on making transportation run more efficiently than Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA). Ford is a nationally-recognized senior executive with a distinguished career in the transportation industry that spans three decades. He has spent 14 combined years as CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). Ford has worked in all facets of transportation starting from the ground up as a train conductor for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Ford is known throughout his industry as a visionary who embraces change and technological
advances that promote sustainability. He has built a legacy on organizational leadership, fiscal
acumen and innovation. Ford is a champion of multi-modal transportation, walkable neighborhoods, public-private partnerships and transit-oriented development.
As CEO, Ford leads the JTA, an agency of the State of Florida, with an annual budget of $230 million and 850 employees, that provides transportation planning, road and bridge construction, and transit services for the Northeast Florida region. Among his most recent accomplishments at the JTA, is the development and implementation of the Blueprint for Transportation Excellence (BTE) strategy that lays the foundation for JTA to become a regional, multi-modal transportation leader in Northeast Florida.
Under his leadership, the JTA implemented the most aggressive transformation in the Authority’s history by launching Blueprint 2020, a subset of the BTE that are ready-to-go projects within the next five years. Those initiatives include: Route Optimization (ROI), a massive overhaul that completely redesigned the JTA transit system for the first time in 30 years; First Coast Flyer, a bus rapid transit system that will improve customer service and attract new riders; Real-Time Passenger Information, a technology innovation that enables customers to access next bus arrival information; the issuance of bonds for the first time in JTA’s history after receiving an AA rating from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch; and the securing of $100 million for road and bridge projects for JTAMobiityWorks, an initiative funded by the extension of Jacksonville’s Local Option Gas Tax.
Ford is a sought after speaker and shares his expertise by mentoring up-and-coming industry executives through affiliation with the Eno Center for Transportation, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. An expert on national and global industry best practices, he gained valuable insight during international missions to Australia, China, France, New Zealand and Russia.
During his tenure at the SFMTA, he was responsible for providing multifaceted transportation services to more than 200 million customers annually including bus and light rail transit, electric trolley coaches, the San Francisco cable cars, bicycle paths and pedestrian amenities, and taxi regulatory oversight. Ford’s accomplishments in San Francisco included: the groundbreaking of the $1.6 billion Central Subway project, coordination of connectivity between the existing commuter rail and proposed high-speed rail, implementation of a new corporate vision, growth of operating revenues and grant awards, and an innovative parking management system that provided real-time information about parking availability.
Under Ford’s leadership, MARTA constructed the Lindbergh City Center, a multi-million dollar mixed use development linked to the Lindbergh Transit Station that includes office space, multi-family housing and retail tenants. The project, developed through a public-private partnership, was one of the first Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) in the country. Always one to embrace innovative measures, Ford also spearheaded MARTA’s conversion to the “BREEZE” Smartcard fare collection system.
Ford has received numerous awards for his ambitious programs and initiatives over the span of his career, with the latest being the “White House Champions of Change” from the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. He was also named “Ultimate CEO” from the Jacksonville Business Journal and received the Clanzel T. Brown Award for diversity programming. Ford’s administration has also received several noteworthy awards, to include: 2014 Big Turnaround Organization, the Florida Planning and Zoning Association for Route Optimization Initiative; and the APTA Gold Safety Award.
Ford has a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Mercer University. He is a graduate of the Executive Development Consortium Program, Goizueta School of Business at Emory University, and also has received executive leadership training from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.