Des Moines Area Transportation Authority

Chief Operating Officer

To Apply

Des Moines Area Transportation Authority has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search.  Inquiries and/or resume and salary requirements may be directed in confidence to:

Christopher Boylan, Director, Transportation & Infrastructure Practice
Harris Rand Lusk Executive Search
122 East 42 Street, Suite 3605
New York, NY 10168


The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), the largest transit system in Iowa, serves nearly 600,000 residents.  Greater Des Moines is a hub of commercial, cultural and political activity, home to two major colleges, and is widely considered one of the top three “insurance capitals” in the world.  In 2016, Business Insider ranked Des Moines the #1 “Best City for the Middle Class”, U.S. News & World Report ranked Des Moines as the #2 Best Affordable Place to Live in the U.S. and Fortune ranked Des Moines as the #5 “Best Place Where Millennials are Buying Houses”.

With an annual budget of $30+ million, DART’s 114 local/express buses, 37 paratransit and on-call vehicles, and 112 rideshare vans, provided nearly 4.8 million rides in FY2016.

Position Summary:
Under the leadership of the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer is responsible for providing safe and efficient regional transportation services.  The COO provides direction, effective communication and support to all fixed-route transit, paratransit, fleet and facilities maintenance, and safety operational functions to ensure attainment of DART’s goals and objectives within established policies and parameters in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. This position is responsible for the implementation of the safety management system and related initiatives.


  • Responsible for DART’s day to day operations of the delivery of transit services, including the general supervision and project management for 1) the successful performance of the delivery of safe, reliable and customer focused transit services 2) promoting improved communications and efficient flow of information, 3) oversight of the Operations Dept. initiatives and projects.
  • Monitor service performance and enforces standards for schedule adherence, safety, customer service and other requirements; identifies opportunities for improvements/efficiencies; develops and implements change initiatives.
  • Supervises DART departments as assigned by the CEO, including recruitment and hiring of employees; terminating employees; evaluating employee performance; problem-solving; training, coaching, counseling, and development of employees; special recognition and awards and, succession planning.
  • Ensures that all organization / agency activities and operations are implemented in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and laws governing business operations. Directs the activities of DART services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, providing accommodation to qualified individuals.   Maintain awareness of potential, pending and current legislation regulations that impact DART and document those impacts for the CEO.
  • Establishes co-operative relationship with DART’s labor unions. Administer DART’s collective bargaining agreements including participating in contract negotiations, conducting grievance hearings and facilitating labor-management and other employee work-group meetings.
  • Directs studies, investigations, and analyses at the direction of the CEO, presenting verbal and written reports of findings and recommendations.
  • Implements business plan elements related to the delivery of transportation in cooperation and coordination with all DART departments. Maintains a timely and accurate reporting system designed to keep the CEO and Executive Team informed of progress and trends.
  • On-call 24/7, being available for the Operations Team and when needed being on-site to assist with major accidents and incidents involving DART Customers and Operations employees and major weather events; notifies and keeps the CEO updated on the status of these incidents and events; and prepares communications regarding these incidents on behalf of the CEO. Serves as a hands-on “working” Manager during incidents, major weather and disaster related events.
  • Responsible for the development, communication and implementation of safety rules, policies, and procedures in support of the agency’s safety management system (SMS); maintains accountability for the safety performance of all employees. Accountable for disaster preparedness program, planning and implementation for DART.
  • Investigate, analyze and prepare responses on behalf of the CEO to operational issues with Commission members, staff, elected and public officials, riders, the general public and special interest communities.
  • Works collaboratively with DART departments to negotiate and follow the terms of applicable collective bargaining agreement(s).
  • Represents the Agency at various meetings; and communicates with government officials and personnel from other transit agencies.
  • Works with the External Affairs Department to develop and respond to media requests. May be required to serve DART spokesperson on media related requests involving operations.
  • Assists to formulate policy recommendations for Board of Commissioners, attend Commission meetings and committee meetings as needed, and prepares and presents recommendations to the Commission assists with preparation of monthly Commission Meeting agenda packets.
  • Works collaboratively with DART Executive Team and other Departments Managers. Interacts with various departments and outside agencies to coordinate schedule, detours, bus stop changes, and special event services from park and ride locations. Responsible for the management, coordination and delivery of the Iowa State Fair service.
  • Participates in the preparation and administration of the operating and capital budgets for Operations, Maintenance and Safety. Assists in developing specifications for the purchase of new equipment. Oversees a state of good repair for all of DART’s rolling stock and facilities.


  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university in Planning, Public Administration, Transportation, Engineering, Business Administration, or a related field. A Master’s Degree in a related field preferred.
  • A minimum of ten (10) years of progressively responsible management experience, preferably in public transportation planning and/or a bus maintenance environment, with, with a minimum of (5) years’ supervisory experience
  • Labor relations experience preferred.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Competencies:

  • Knowledge of overall transit operations; and applicable Federal, State and local laws, rules and regulations regarding public transit management and administration
  • Knowledge of operating budget administration and capital planning for fleet and facility management  Knowledge of collective bargaining agreements and labor negotiating practices to include grievance proceedings and progressive discipline
  • Knowledge of policies, regulations, and guidelines governing public agency procurement  Knowledge of the principles and practices of administration and organizational management, supervision, budget development and monitoring
  • Knowledge of transit vehicle technical specifications and standards
  • Knowledge of personal computers and current software programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and databases at the advanced level of proficiency; as well as general knowledge of specialized software related to functional area; knowledge of Trapeze OPS, Trapeze PASS, TransitMaster and Trapeze EAM preferred.

Skill, Ability or Competency to:

  • Provide leadership to establish and maintain effective, cooperative working relationships while communicating effectively internally to promote an open-door atmosphere, team build, problem solve, and build rapport to positively influence the actions and responsibilities of subordinates; and externally to respond to various governmental officials, consultants or the general public regarding community and organizational issues as it relates to public transit
  • Analyze, interpret and manage complex data or organizational issues, use good judgment and common sense to make logical, cost effective and critical decisions to support innovative, high-performance operations  Establish project goals, lead collaborative project planning efforts and successfully transition completed activities to operating personnel
  • Communicate complex concepts in a clear and concise manner both orally and in writing to a wide array of audiences. These concepts include, but are not limited to making recommendations regarding public transit measures affecting land use, community facilities, housing and transportation to control and guide community development and renewal.
  • Work in an environment requiring strong discipline and attention to detail  Review and evaluate environmental impact reports applying to specified private and public planning projects and programs as they relate to public transportation projects.
  • Manage, motivate, develop and evaluate staff in tasks involving analyzing, authorizing, contracting, coordinating, formulating, hiring, negotiating, planning and scheduling skills
  • Manage operations, maintenance and safety staff.


122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605, New York, NY 10168