Chesterton Tribune



Ex-METRA official to lead South Shore

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A former deputy executive director and general counsel of the METRA passenger service in Illinois has been named the South Shore’s new general manager.

Michael Noland, 54, currently employed at a private railroad holding company in Chicago, was hired to replace 39-year South Shore general manager Gerald Hanas, who is retiring next month but will stay on as a consultant.

Noland said his goal is to maintain safe, exceptional, on-time reliable service for the South Shore’s commuters and to assure that the railroad’s assets remain in good repair.

He sees as challenges ahead the federal mandate to develop and implement a complex computerized GPS-based safety system, South Shore capacity issues, implementing its 20-year plan, and moving the West Lake expansion through regulatory, funding and approval hurdles.

Noland said he supports public transit because “we can’t keep building ribbons of highway.” Passenger expansion, however, could result in a potential bottleneck at Chicago’s downtown Millennium Station that will need to be addressed, he added.

Noland’s employment begins Oct. 27. A three-year contract was approved giving him a base compensation of $172,500 annually. The Glen Ellyn, IL resident is required to relocate to Northwest Indiana by Dec. 1 of this year.

He told reporters he commuted on the South Shore to Notre Dame from Illinois when he attended college there.

The vote to hire Noland by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which owns and operates the South Shore passenger line, was unanimous by seven voting members attending the special meeting including Porter County Commissioner John Evans.

Noland was recommended by a search committee of NICTD president Mark Yagelski of LaPorte County, Hanas and NICTD counsel Charles Lukmann. Yagelski said he was extremely comfortable recommending Noland.

The full NICTD board did not interview the final candidates from among 58 resumes generated in a nation-wide search begun in June.

In remarks prior to the vote, Noland said it is an honor to replace Hanas, who he described as one of the top railroad leaders in the country."I bring a passion and commitment to this position to build on the foundation Gerry’s laid.”

Noland said he knows all the key players at METRA when NICTD begins upcoming negotiations on renewing its purchase of service agremeent with its Illinois counterpart. The new manager also said there is a tremendous number of similarities between METRA and South Shore customers.

Noland said he’ll be getting to know the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority --- which is partnering with NICTD on key projects --- in more detail.

Noland said he believes in the value of transit-oriented development that brings residential and business growth around commuter facilities.

The father of three grown children, Noland said he and his wife love this area. He said he left METRA when the authority brought in a new management team.


Posted 10/2/2014




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