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RTS CEO Bill Carpenter announces retirement plans

 Bill Carpenter, CEO of the Regional Transit Service who will retire by the end of June 2023
Regional Transit Service
Bill Carpenter, CEO of the Regional Transit Service who will retire by the end of June 2023

Bill Carpenter, the longtime CEO of the Regional Transit Service bus system has announced his retirement.

Carpenter, 66, who has been with RTS for 12 years, including 11 as CEO, will retire by the end of June 2023.

As Carpenter looks back on major changes that happened during his tenure, he is pleased with the move to standardize route times and bus stops under the Reimagine RTS program.

“People who use that regularly, they understand it,” said Carpenter. “We don’t have customers calling and saying, 'now, this time of day, what does the bus do and that time of day, what does it do and how come I can get to this place during the week, but I can’t get there during the weekend?'”

Ridership on RTS is currently about 65% of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Carpenter said that’s not a big surprise, especially because remote working has become much more common.

“I think we’re doing a great job serving the essential employees as well as the office workers who may only be going to work, one, two, three days a week. And I think that’s why we see lower ridership than before,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter is bullish about the future of the bus system in the Rochester area. “We need to offer people more mobility options. I think the future of public transit is very bright, and it solves a lot of the issues our community Is facing, people who can’t get to jobs, they need better public transit and I think RTS has a very bright future.”

Carpenter said that RTS is working to eventually transition to a zero emission fleet, but that will take a significant investment. So far, he’s been pleased with funding that has been made available at the state and federal levels.

He said that RTS currently has 11 electric buses, and they expect to take delivery of another 9 electric buses early next year.

The Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) oversees RTS, and the Chairman of the RGRTA Board of Commissioners, Don Jeffries, said that Carpenter led RTS “with a steady hand through periods of achievement, challenge and change,” and always with an eye doing what was best for customers and employees.

Jeffries said the RGRTA board will immediately begin the search for Carpenter’s successor. He said they will prioritize an internal search, and at the end of that process they will either appoint a new candidate as CEO or expand the search to include external candidates.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.