Jared Varner is moving up in the transit world.
Varner is leaving the Denton County Transportation Authority and his role as vice president of transit operations to become the new executive director of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority.
“I wasn’t seeking other opportunities. A search firm was the one who did the placement, and I was contacted by them,” Varner said. “In our line of work, opportunities like this don’t come up very often.”
Varner said the transit agency is in the Little Rock area, runs a number of bus routes and a downtown street car system and has an annual budget similar in size to DCTA.
“I will be the CEO of that agency, report directly to the board of directors,” he said. “My responsibility will be to oversee the existing operations and work with the board to implement their vision for transit in central Arkansas.”
Varner said that while exploring the job opportunity, he became interested in seeing what the Arkansas agency has implemented so far.
“They have a great base to build on, similar to what we have done in DCTA,” he said.
Varner has been with DCTA for nearly nine years. His positions have included intern, management analyst, transportation manager, manager of bus operations, vice president of bus operations and finally vice president of transit operations.
He said DCTA is one of a kind for what it has accomplished in a short time. He said he has learned firsthand about transit operations, funding and development.
DCTA board chairman Charles Emery has been with the agency as long as Varner and noted the growth he has seen in him.
“He’s a smart young man who has learned a lot and has come through a fairly steep learning curve,” Emery said.
Emery said that in his years in the private sector and now with DCTA, he’s seen that successful agencies draw the attention of alert organizations looking to poach new leadership.
“We’re all saddened by his loss but can only be happy for him and his new opportunities,” he said.
Emery said DCTA president Jim Cline will take the lead in replacing Varner but there has not been time to figure out exactly how that will go.
Varner vowed to keep in touch with DCTA staff and do what he can to help as he transitions out and said he is grateful for his time there.
“The board is visionary, has lofty goals and works very well with staff to accomplish goals, and [members] are great about allocating resources to make the agency successful,” he said. “They are the reason I have the opportunity I do to try to go out and replicate the huge success DCTA has had.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.