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
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
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
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
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.