Photo provided by TCAT

ITHACA, N.Y. — After a 15-month search, Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit has a new general manager, Scot Vanderpool, who has 34 years of transportation experience.

The TCAT Board of Directors announced Thursday that Vanderpool would move up the position of general manager, after being hired in January as TCAT’s operations manager. In the past, Vanderpool has worked at the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority in Syracuse and at Syracuse University.

Vanderpool is replacing Joe Turcotte, who passed away in May 2016 and served in the position for more than 10 years. Alice Eccleston, who served as TCAT’s assistant general manager and human resource manager, served as acting general manager in 2015 during Turcotte’s illness and after his death.

“I’ve heard so many great things about Joe Turcotte; I’m honored, I know Joe will be a tough act to follow,” Vanderpool said in a news release.

Related: TCAT mourns the loss of General Manager Joe Turcotte to cancer

Vanderpool was interviewed separately by three teams made up of board members, TCAT employees and community members. Vanderpool’s experience in Syracuse and at TCAT gave the TCAT board confidence that he be able to meet the many demands of mass transit, TCAT Board Chairman David Howe said in a news release.

“Transit agencies all across the country constantly have to grapple with a number of issues, including obtaining adequate, predictable funding, hiring employees in a tight labor market and providing the level of service that riders want and need,” Howe said in a news release. “We believe Scot is up to the challenge. He has demonstrated a real passion for improving customer service and collaboration with the Tompkins County community, as well as building solid relationships with the United Auto Workers Local Union 2300, which represents our bus operators and maintenance crew.”

Frank Proto, a member of the TCAT board, said a moment that made Vanderpool stand out was how he handled TCAT’s operations during Winter Storm Stella in March. Proto said Vanderpool brought his sleeping bag to the office and slept there for three nights to coordinate operations and “make tough decisions to make sure employees and riders got home safe and sound.”

Vanderpool said in a news release that he has always been customer focused, and said TCAT’s mission should always be centered on improving customer service and listening to the community.

Vanderpool said he is particularly enthusiastic about a project that will roll out in late August that will enable passengers to access real-time information at their fingertips via mobile apps, desktops and laptops.

“We’ve never had the capability to immediately communicate information to our customers; this is an exciting chapter in TCAT’s history,” Vanderpool said.

Vanderpool will officially begin working as general manager Aug. 11.

Featured photo provided by TCAT.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.