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The Rapid's CEO is moving on

April 14, 2017
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Peter Varga
Peter Varga. Courtesy The Rapid

After 20 years at The Rapid, its CEO is departing the bus agency.

Peter Varga has notified The Rapid’s board he will be leaving at the end of his contract, which runs through Sept. 30, 2018.

“This decision was made with my wife, who recently retired, and my family,” Varga said. “At this point in my life, I am looking for more flexibility in work commitments and want to explore new ways to use my skills and experience.

“This is a bittersweet time for me, as I look back with pride on my years at The Rapid and also look to new opportunities, which I hope will keep me engaged in the work of public transportation.”

Barb Holt, chair of The Rapid's board, called Varga “a driving force” in the agency's endeavors.

Transition

During the next 18 months, Varga will work with staff to finish projects that are underway or launching in the next fiscal year.

“While we will miss his leadership and his passion for public transportation, I am confident that the board and staff are focused on the long-term health and success of The Rapid,” Holt said.

“As we look to this next chapter, the board will be working on a CEO recruitment plan and transition strategy over the next several months, so that we are well-positioned for a smooth transition when Peter leaves.”

Varga’s tenure and background

During his career at The Rapid, Varga helped the agency more than triple ridership from 3.4-million annual trips to 11.9-million annual trips.

Varga oversaw the launch of the Silver Line, Michigan’s first rapid bus transit line.

He led the organization in growing revenue service hours by 157 percent and increasing routes from 17 to 23, as well as expanding coverage and improving access across the area.

Under his leadership, service frequency improved, with more than half of the routes performing at 15-minute intervals during peak service times.

The American Public Transportation Association named The Rapid an Outstanding Public Transportation System in 2004 and 2013.

Before taking the reins at The Rapid, Varga was director of operations at the Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority from 1994 to 1997.

He was the transit system manager of the Muskegon Area Transit System from 1991 to 1994.

Varga earned a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from New York University in 1970.

The Rapid

Established in 2000 under the Interurban Transit Partnership, The Rapid is a public transport system headquartered in Grand Rapids.

Bus routes run throughout multiple communities in the area: Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, Wyoming, Alpine Township, Byron Township, Gaines Township and Comstock Park.

The system also offers direct transit to Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University.

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