LANCASTER – After a more than 30-year career in the public transit industry, Antelope Valley Transit Authority Executive Director Julie Austin has announced her retirement. She will leave the agency in early April of this year.
Austin joined AVTA as interim executive director on December 6, 2010, and was permanently appointed to the position on May 2, 2011. She is the third executive director to lead the agency since it was created in 1992.
“Julie’s leadership helped us manage through some complex and challenging conditions here at AVTA,” stated Board Chair Norm Hickling. “She leaves this agency a stronger, more efficient organization that is well prepared to fulfill our vision of improving mobility and serving as a catalyst for economic opportunity for those who live, visit, or work in the communities we serve.”
In 2011 and 2012, Austin oversaw an $11 million expansion project of the AVTA facility that was completed on time and within budget. Under her guidance, AVTA has received industry recognition, including a Small Operator Excellence Award for 2011 from the California Transit Association, multiple First Place and Grand Prize AdWheel awards for marketing and advertising programs from the American Public Transportation Association, and the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
“I’ve achieved my primary goal at AVTA, which was to fine-tune the business practices so that a new CEO could step in seamlessly, without any service or process interruptions,” stated Austin. “AVTA is well positioned financially and organizationally to provide excellent service to its customers. I am thankful to the Board, staff and community for their energy, vision and dedication to continuous improvement.”
In 2013, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors provided $1.9 million to the agency for the purchase of two zero-emission, all-electric buses from local manufacturer BYD. Austin has taken this project one step further by leading the agency in its effort to install wireless inductive charging for the electric buses.
Hickling reflected on the positive changes Austin’s leadership has brought to the transit agency. “Back in 2011, Julie spearheaded development of the agency’s Vision and Values,” stated Hickling. “Today, in 2015, AVTA is a nationally recognized leader in public transportation, and the credit goes to Julie’s dedication and commitment to our core mission.”
Retirement holds promise for Austin who is looking forward to spending more time with her family at her home in Carlsbad, California.