Atlanta

MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker dies by suicide late Friday night

ATLANTA — MARTA Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Parker died late Friday, according to officials with the transit agency.

Parker, a veteran of the transportation business, had led MARTA since 2018. Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston was able to confirm the report early Saturday morning.

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MARTA released a brief statement about Mr. Parker’s death to Channel 2 Action News Saturday morning:

“With very heavy hearts, we share the official news of GM/CEO Jeffrey Parker’s tragic passing on Friday evening, January 14, 2022. Please keep his family in your prayers and meditations.

In the coming days, we will share more information on the transition plan, including grief counseling for employees as we process this devastating news.

Jeff cared deeply about MARTA and his leadership gave us a strong foundation from which to carry forward.”

MARTA’s Board of Directors Chairwoman Rita Scott later confirmed that Parker’s death was a suicide.

“:As we struggle to understand the complexity of this tragedy, we grieve with and for his wife Erin, his daughters and all of Jeff’s family and friends as well as his MARTA family,” Scott wrote. “As we continue to grieve, we want you to know that suicide is preventable and help is available to you. For access to services and immediate crisis help, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225, available 24/7.”

In a unanimous vote at an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon, the MARTA Board of Directors named Collie Greenwood as interim General Manager and CEO of MARTA.

New Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens released a statement about Parker, a man he called a close colleague and friend.

“I am shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic death of my colleague and friend Jeff Parker,” Dickens said. “As MARTA’S General Manager and CEO, Jeff and I worked closely together when I chaired the Transportation Committee on City Council. Jeff understood that MARTA is more than just a transportation system—it represents connectivity for residents and visitors of our great city and region. My thoughts and prayers are with Jeff’s family and friends, and with the staff and board at MARTA, during this very difficult time.”

Georgia’s Speaker of the House, David Ralston lauded Parker’s vision for MARTA.

“Jeff Parker was a visionary leader — one who saw the awesome potential of transit and what it means for our communities,” Ralston said. “He understood the power of collaboration and was an invaluable partner in moving our state forward. On behalf of our entire House of Representatives, I offer my condolences for his family and friends as well as his colleagues at MARTA.”

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Under Parker’s leadership, MARTA has been in the process of modernizing its aging fleet of trains and buses.

On Wednesday, the agency released designs for 254 new rail cars at its “State of MARTA” event. They said the new cars are scheduled to arrive in metro Atlanta beginning in 2023.

Parker was at the event on Wednesday and had this to say about the new improvements:

“I see transit as a combination of lines and dots, with the lines being our buses and trains and the dots being the communities we connect and serve,” Parker said. “This next year will be one of enhancing the dots and expanding the lines, reimagining what transit can and should be for the metro Atlanta region as it continues to grow.”

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