TriMet’s Board of Directors names single finalist in General Manager search


Hiring process continues with finalist appearing at Board meeting, taking public questions

TriMet’s Board of Directors has named current TriMet Chief Operating Officer (COO) Doug Kelsey as a single finalist in the search for a new General Manager. This comes after an international search, including interviews that narrowed the candidates down to Kelsey. Kelsey will take questions from the public at the Board’s next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. The Board will also consider the public’s comments as well as input from various stakeholders. It will then convene a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. At that time, the Directors will either authorize the Board Chair to negotiate a contract with Kelsey or choose to continue the General Manager search.

TriMet Board of Directors’ Meeting

  • 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018
  • World Trade Center 2, Plaza Conference Room, 121 S.W. Salmon, Building 2, Portland, OR 97204


Current General Manager Neil McFarlane brought Kelsey to TriMet in late 2015 where he has quickly improved the overall on-time performance of the transit system, putting the agency on a strategic path for long-term success.

Under Kelsey’s direction, TriMet implemented its first comprehensive strategic business plan. The rolling five-year plan lays the framework for TriMet to achieve overall strategic goals and objectives in response to projected regional population and employment growth while pursuing continuous improvement. Through this new approach, divisions across the agency have aligned priorities to better track progress, plan for future needs, match growth with performance and prioritize all efforts to meet customers’ needs.

With the additional funding provided by House Bill 2017 and the agency’s ability to expand service, Kelsey will take on a renewed role for the agency in shaping and managing the TriMet’s urban planning strategies in support of the region’s transportation and land-use policies.

Kelsey has spearheaded a focus on key performance indicators, integrating efforts across the agency to improve operations, emphasize accountability, and focus on the customer experience. He led the charge to improve MAX Light Rail on-time performance from 75 percent in November 2015 to more than 88 percent by November 2017. Much of the on-time performance improvement has come from tracking daily departures from rail yards to assure trains are starting service on time, providing added training for operators, putting Portable Data Devices in the train cabs so operators can track their time points, and coordinating with police, first responders and staff to speed up efforts to get and keep the tracks clear.

Kelsey has directed improvement in bus on-time performance as well, from 81 percent to 86 percent in one year’s time. He also launched a rail safety review that has led to a more than 200 percent reduction in rail rule violations in just a year.

Kelsey has placed an increased focus on enhancing diversity within TriMet Operations during his tenure. Within Operations, Kelsey increased utilization in 2017 for both women and minorities to 22.4 percent and 25.1 percent, respectively. This is generally representative of the community, where the workforce availability for women and minorities for Operations positions is 23.2 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively. Kelsey’s progress in building diversity in TriMet’s operating departments is noteworthy given most positions there are filled solely by union seniority and given the historical challenge of building gender diversity within maintenance ranks.

Kelsey’s efforts as COO have not just benefited TriMet, but the transit industry as well. He has actively participated in a benchmarking group for transit agencies. Peer agencies share system data to compare maintenance, overall operations and safety measurements. The agencies are then able to develop key performance indicators for continuous improvement.

Prior to his position at TriMet, Kelsey worked at TransLink, the regional transportation authority in the Vancouver, B.C. metro area, where he served in many capacities including Chief Operating Officer. He also led subsidiary British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. as President and General Manager, was President of subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus Company and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of subsidiary West Coast Express. Prior to TransLink, Kelsey worked in executive, managerial and technical roles within the transportation, multi-unit retail, waste management, and oil industries.

Kelsey earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Principia College and completed the CEO Development Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Kelsey and his wife have three grown children and enjoy spending time with their three grandkids whenever they get the chance. Kelsey is an avid basketball and football fan, enjoys cycling, taking his motorcycle out on weekend trips, and hiking. Kelsey is a passionate believer in public transit and takes the Line 35-Macadam/Greeley or 36-South Shore for his daily commute.