Press Releases

APTA Names Ford 2020 "Outstanding Public Transportation Manager"

JACKSONVILLE, FL. – The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) named Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager for 2020.

The APTA Awards program recognizes excellence in the public transportation industry in North America.

“This is a tremendous honor and one I accept on behalf of the nearly 800 JTA employees who continue to keep Jacksonville moving in the face of unprecedented circumstances,” said Ford. “The support and recognition from my peers is a sign that the JTA is headed in the right direction, and motivation to continue expanding mobility for our citizens.”

APTA is a nonprofit international association comprised of more than 1,500 public and private sector member organizations. Ford, who joined the JTA in late 2012, will be honored alongside 13 individual and agency winners during APTA’s TRANScend virtual meeting October 21-22, 2020, and formally honored at a ceremony during APTA’s 2021 TRANSform Conference & EXPO in Anaheim, California, scheduled for March 14-17, 2021.

Through Ford’s vision, the JTA designed, built and opened the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla or JRTC. This multimodal hub is the first of its kind in Northeast Florida, unifying traditional and bus rapid transit routes, the Skyway, shared mobility services, paratransit services, and intercity services such as Greyhound, RedCoach and Megabus in one shared facility in the historic LaVilla neighborhood.

Under Ford’s leadership, the JTA in 2014 completed the first major overhaul to its fixed-route bus operations in nearly three decades through the Route Optimization Initiative or ROI. This accomplishment streamlined bus routes, increased frequencies and added much-needed capacity for customers.

Ford also successfully initiated the build-out of the First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit network, the largest BRT system in the Southeast United States. Since 2016, the JTA has completed three BRT routes, comprising the Blue, Green and Red lines. The fourth and final BRT route, the 13-mile Orange Line will open in 2021 and connect the JRTC to the Orange Park Mall. 

Ford’s vision to enhance mobility for all of Northeast Florida has also been priority as the JTA continues to  grow its regional portfolio of services, helping customers in Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties travel with paratransit, commuter shuttles and other on-demand transportation options.  

Ford has reinvigorated the JTA’s historic role as a road builder in Duval County through the successful JTAMobilityWorks program that began in 2016 and includes 13 major road projects and improvements to 14 mobility corridors.

Through the Ultimate Urban Circulator or U2C program, Ford is leading an initiative to refresh the Skyway APM system in Downtown Jacksonville. The U2C will convert and expand the current system into a 10-mile transportation network powered by autonomous vehicles and related technology.

Ford is also using innovation in transportation to assist with the elimination of food deserts with the Door To Store program, a partnership with the city of Jacksonville, and by maximizing the utilization of vacant land for transit-oriented development.

Moving into his eighth year as CEO in Jacksonville, Ford has made civic and community engagement a priority. Under his leadership, the JTA Cares initiative has embraced causes to support the Clara White Mission, sponsoring a cohort of formerly homeless individuals through graduation from being trained as line cooks. Through a partnership with Sulzbacher, the JTA Cares team has established Career Closets for men and women, which provides free professional clothing for those seeking new employment or job interviews. He encourages employees to give back through annual giving campaigns and community service.

In addition to this honor, Ford has received numerous awards for his transformational programs and initiatives, including the White House Champion of Change. He was named “Ultimate CEO” by the Jacksonville Business Journal, inducted into the First Coast Business Hall of Fame and was honored with the 2019 “Thought Leader” Award by The Eno Center for Transportation. Under Ford’s leadership, the JTA was recognized as the winner of the 2016 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. Ford has also been recognized for his service to the community by the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, the Jacksonville Urban League, and the Small Business Development Award from the University of North Florida, among others.

Before arriving in Jacksonville in 2012, Ford served as the CEO of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Prior to that, he served as CEO and General Manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). His career spans nearly four decades and includes leadership roles at the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART), and New York MTA.