Larry Salci
Consulting Services
Friday, February 23, 2024
Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority Project
General Manager & CEO

State of Michigan Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 755
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In 1971 the Michigan Legislature created the Transportation Authorities Act that allowed for the creation of SEMTA. In its formative years 1971-75 the Authority suffered from turmoil on its Board of Directors and had 3 General Managers in 4 years; suffered from poor public confidence, credibility, and image. The business and political leadership demanded the problem be fixed. The Governor of Michigan, Mayor of Detroit, and Detroit Renaissance, Chaired by Henry Ford II, made significant changes. Detroit Renaissance, composed of the 30 largest companies in Detroit, created a transportation task force from its member companies; General Motors, Ford Motor Co. Chrysler Corp., The Budd Company, and the Bendix Corporation. The Board of Detroit Renaissance was composed of the Chairmen of the member companies, and no alternates were allowed. The Detroit business and political leadership immediately made changes of SEMTA board members and demanded that an operations and financial analysis of the Agency’s problems be performed that would result in a Management Action Plan.

In 1975 Chrysler Corporation granted me a leave of absence to join SEMTA, and in 1976 the SEMTA Board appointed me as General Manager & CEO at age 29. I quickly began a reorganization of SEMTA, recruiting several new senior executives from the private sector, including a new CFO and Director of Engineering and integrated them with existing managers that were previously not given the organizational structure and authority to be productive. I ran SEMTA like a private sector business, but with a social conscience. Customer focus was paramount; especially a transit system competing for customers in the automotive capital of the world. SEMTA was transformed from a concept to a true regional transportation authority that began with the purchase and integration of seven suburban bus companies with an aged fleet that were on the verge of bankruptcy or discontinuing business operations. Under my leadership our management team developed a regional transit plan and the first 5 year capital improvement plan; resulting in a US DOT/UMTA federal commitment of $600 million for broad improvements to the regions transit infrastructure. The Plan included the purchase and replacement of the region’s aged bus fleet , construction of three new major bus facilities, purchase of passenger railcars and locomotives and implementation of commuter rail service, the engineering and contract award for a downtown Detroit AGT circulator system, and the completion of Preliminary Engineering of a 16 mile light rail system on the Woodward Ave. Corridor. Transit ridership was doubled in 5 years.

"It is with regret that I learned of your decision to leave your position as General Manager of the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority. You performed admirably in a complex and difficult positon and performed a valuable service to this community" ".
Henry Ford II
Chairman of Ford Motor Company

"As General Manager, you have displayed dedication and competence in developing a cooperative approach to regional transit in Southeast Michagan. SEMTA has been fortunate to have had your services, and it is appropriate that your accomplishments should lead to new challenges in the private sector".
William G Milliken
Governor of Michigan