Dick Ruddell, who has led the Fort Worth Transportation Authority for more than a decade, on Monday afternoon announced his retirement effective Oct. 4.
"I intend to take some time off to spend with my family, but I also intend to remain active in the transit industry in which I have been a leader for over three decades," Ruddell told T board members at the conclusion of a regular monthly meeting Monday afternoon.
Ruddell is widely credited with helping the T transform itself from a relatively small transit agency that did little more than operate a metropolitan bus system, into a regional partner in efforts to reduce North Texas' reliance on the automobile.
But last year Ruddell came under fire from Fort Worth city officials who said the T under his leadership was dragging its feet in the effort to build TEX Rail, a proposed commuter rail line to Grapevine and the DFW Airport north entrance. The rail line, which has been discussed and planned for nearly a decade, is now scheduled to open no sooner than 2017, assuming it qualifies for federal funding.
Earlier this year, Fort Worth and Tarrant County dismissed all nine T board members, and replaced them largely with members of the business community charged with accelerating the TEX Rail program. Although city and county officials at that time said Ruddell wasn't being chased away, they did say they wanted to bring in new leadership to the T - specifically with commuter rail experience.
This summer, Ruddell interviewed for a job heading Pittsburgh's transit agency. But on Monday Ruddell said to his knowledge that job hasn't been filled.
Ruddell said he had a couple of part-time job opportunities coming up, including some pro bono consulting work. But beyond that, he didn't have a permanent gig lined up.
T chairman Scott Mahaffey praised Ruddell's 10 years-plus at the end, especially the last six months educating new board members about the ins and outs of running a transit administration.
"Dick has done so many things for this community that is not known by the general public," Mahaffey said. "There couldn't have been a better teacher."
Ruddell arrived at the T from Toledo, Ohio.
He oversaw a massive reorganization of the T's administrative offices. Until his arrival, virtually the T's entire workforce was employed by a private sector contractor, Fort Worth-based McDonald Transit Associates.
The city of Fort Worth, the largest member city of the T, wanted closer oversight of the T, so through the T board they directed Ruddell to create an administrative staff from the ground up. He forged a new office for himself, a handful of assistant executives and department heads ranging from planning director to human resources.