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People News: New Orleans RTA, HDR

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Marcin Taraszkiewicz (pictured) has joined HDR as Rail and Transit Vehicle Technology Lead.

Marcin Taraszkiewicz (pictured) has joined HDR as Rail and Transit Vehicle Technology Lead.

Alex Z. Wiggins will retire as CEO of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), effective Dec. 31. Also, Marcin Taraszkiewicz joins HDR as Rail and Transit Vehicle Technology Lead.

The New Orleans RTD announced Dec. 7 that Alex Z. Wiggins, who joined in July 2019 as the first publicly appointed CEO since the agency was formed in 1979, will be stepping down, effective Dec. 31.

Lona Edward Hankins, who has served as Deputy CEO of Planning and Infrastructure since December 2019 responsible for “overseeing the development and execution of capital assets and the implementation of infrastructure projects,” will serve as interim CEO until the RTA Board of Commissioners permanently fills the role.

“The RTA Board of Commissioners would like to thank Alex Z. Wiggins, who joined the RTA at a pivotal time in the agency’s history,” said Mark Raymond, Jr, Board Chairman. “His New Orleans roots and vast transit experience gleaned from transit properties in Seattle, Chicago and southern California uniquely positioned him to lead the agency through its transition to bring agency administration, operations, and maintenance functions in-house as well as the agency’s first major route overhaul since interim service was introduced following Hurricane Katrina. Together, these achievements allowed the agency to better prioritize local rider needs, regional connections, and transit equity.”

“Thank you to the RTA Board, staff, and riders for trusting me to lead our incredible staff to help build the world-class transit system New Orleanians deserve,” said Wiggins. “I am proud of our team’s many accomplishments, including our response to Hurricane Ida, stabilization of the passenger ferry service, breaking ground on the Canal Street Ferry Terminal, and initiating the Bus Rapid Transit Study, which will significantly enhance regional connections in the region.”

Separately, on Dec. 9, HDR announced that Vehicle Engineer Marcin Taraszkiewicz has joined HDR as the firm’s Rail and Transit Vehicle Technology Lead where he will be working closely with HDR’s transit, freight, advanced technology and sustainability colleagues to “keep HDR at the forefront of this quickly changing field of expertise.”

Based in Fulton, Md., Taraszkiewicz, brings more than 29 years of national and international experience in new vehicle procurements, modifications, maintenance and operations in light rail, heavy rail, commuter, bus and metro vehicles. He has authored and presented papers on a range of topics related to vehicle technology, including community impacts, costs and efficiencies, and regulatory requirements for safe operations in joint use corridors.

Taraszkiewicz serves on the American Public Transportation Association’s  (APTA) Hydrogen/Battery Propulsion Subcommittee, and is the lead instructor for the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association’s (AREMA) “Introduction to Practical Railroad Engineering.” According to HDR, Taraszkiewicz’s expertise has “recently been at the forefront of advancements in hybrid and zero emissions technology for new trainset and locomotive purchases in northern and southern California.”

“Marcin is a recognized leader in the rail and transit market and a sought-after expert by operators and agencies,” said HDR Rail and Transit Systems Director Rick Schmedes. “I’m thrilled to start working with him to assist our clients with their vehicle technology needs.”

“The drive to zero emissions and emphasis on sustainable operation poses many challenges for the rail and transit industry but also many exciting new opportunities,” Taraszkiewicz said. “I’m looking forward to working with clients to provide solutions while leading a growing team of rail and transit engineers at HDR.”

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