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Atlanta public transit CEO, 56, dies by suicide after stepping in front of a train

Atlanta public transit CEO Jeffrey Parker committed suicide on Friday night after stepping in front of a train in the outskirts of the city.

Parker, 56, was struck at the East Lake station in Atlanta at 10.30pm, a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority official told DailyMail.com

No motive for his suicide has been announced. The DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com.  

He is survived by his wife Erin and his daughters.

MARTA Board of Directors Chairwoman Rita Scott described him as ‘an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken.

‘We are devastated at this loss as we valued Jeff’s leadership and looked forward to him bringing his vision for transit to fruition. The entire metro Atlanta region owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformational efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he created,’ she added. 

Parker was named general manager and CEO of the agency in March 2018.  Since then, he has overseen transit expansion plans, helped negotiate a three percent annual raises for workers and led the agency through a Super Bowl and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution

In 2020, Parker won a three-year contract extension, securing his job until 2026.

His salary at the time was $366,575, according to the AJC. He was also eligible for a bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary – or $36,657. 

He reportedly told the board that ‘any bonus or base salary pay raise was inappropriate this year,’ according to MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher. 

Atlanta transit CEO Jeffrey Parker died by suicide Friday night after stepping in front of a train

He died at the East Lake station on the outskirts of the city, a MARTA official told DailyMail.com

He died at the East Lake station on the outskirts of the city, a MARTA official told DailyMail.com

On Saturday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp shared his condolences in a tweet.

‘Marty, the girls, & I are saddened to learn about the tragic passing of Jeffrey Parker – GM/CEO of MARTA. In addition to a remarkable professional career in the public/private sectors, Jeffrey was known for his civic engagement and support for the advancement of his communities,’ Kemp wrote.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said: ‘I’m so sorry to hear this. My prayers are with Jeff’s family, friends, and colleagues.’ 

Parker graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a degree in Computer Science, according to his MARTA biography

He was named one of Atlanta Magazine’s Most Powerful People of 2020 and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100: Most Influential Atlantans of 2020. 

In 2019, he was recognized by the Atlanta Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS-Atlanta) as its ‘Man of the Year’ for his history of hiring and promoting women in transportation.  

‘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. As we continue to grieve, we want you to know that suicide is preventable and help is available to you,’ said Chairwoman Scott.

The governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta (bottom) shared their condolences Saturday

The governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta (bottom) shared their condolences Saturday

Parker helped lead MARTA expansion plans, including formally requesting federal funding for a bus rapid transit line in Clayton County, one of the counties that make up the Atlanta metro area, according to the AJC

He requested funding for the $300 million project through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts Program.

In 2019, Parker called for a $100 billion ‘moonshot for transit’ investment as the region’s population was set to grow by 2.5 million by 2040, the AJC reported.

The massive funding goal – which would have vastly shadowed a $2.7 billion, 40-year plan approved by Atlanta voters in 2016 – didn’t go well with some lawmakers.

‘That’s about 50 years of current GDOT spending,’ state Rep. Brett Harrell said at the time. ‘Not an ROI [return on investment] that sounds appealing to me.’

Parker oversaw expansion efforts in Atlanta and Clayton County and helped renegotiate workers' contracts. Above, Parker (far right) with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in May 2021

Parker oversaw expansion efforts in Atlanta and Clayton County and helped renegotiate workers’ contracts. Above, Parker (far right) with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in May 2021

Parker called for a $100 billion 'moonshot for transit' investment in 2019, though he didn't specify where the money would come from at the time

Parker called for a $100 billion ‘moonshot for transit’ investment in 2019, though he didn’t specify where the money would come from at the time

He made $366,575 a year in 2020, the year his contract was extended until 2026

He made $366,575 a year in 2020, the year his contract was extended until 2026

Collie Greenwood has been named acting CEO and general manger of MARTA. He is a former chief service officer at the Toronto Transit Commission

Collie Greenwood has been named acting CEO and general manger of MARTA. He is a former chief service officer at the Toronto Transit Commission

MARTA named Collie Greenwood as interim general manager and CEO after an emergency board meeting Saturday.

Greenwood is a former chief service officer at the Toronto Transit Commission. He joined MARTA in 2019 as the head of bus operations and was promoted to deputy general manager of operations last January.

In 2019, MARTA, under Parker’s leadership, approved a new contract that gave its workers three percent raises for the next three years, AJC reported.

The agreement gave a 25-cents-an-hour longevity premium to all employees with 20 or more years of service and added a ‘parity pay adjustment’ of 50 cents an hour to all bus and rail operators. 

It added $1 an hour for mechanics and other skilled technicians and came with $1,000 ratification payments for full-time employees and $500 for part-time workers.

Britt Dunams, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, which represents more than 2,500 MARTA and other local transit workers, said:

‘We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the tragic death of MARTA general Manager/CEO Jeffrey Parker.

‘Parker understood the importance of MARTA and public transit for our city, our members, and our citizens.

Recently, we had been working with Parker to further strengthen the relationship between our Union and management that recognized the critical role our members have played in keeping our communities moving through the challenging times of the pandemic. In his memory, we will continue that important work and strive to make MARTA safer, more accessible and more affordable for all Atlantans.’ 

For those at risk, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. 


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