Jan 15, 2022 - News

MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker has died

The late MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker speaks into a microphone at an outdoor event
Jeffrey Parker, the CEO and general manager of MARTA, speaks at the West End station in December 2020. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Jeffrey Parker, a longtime transit veteran who since 2018 has led MARTA during one of the most ambitious periods in the agency's history, died Friday evening. According to MARTA, the cause of death was suicide. He was 55.

  • "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," MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott said in a statement.

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

Background: Parker was named MARTA's CEO and general manager after a long career in the public and private sector, including 20 years with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and as the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Earlier this week, Parker hosted the annual State of MARTA event where he highlighted the transit agency's achievements during the challenging COVID pandemic and unveiled a new rail car design.

What they're saying: Tributes to Parker and condolences for his family, friends and colleagues poured in from elected officials, civic leaders and transit advocates.

  • Mayor Andre Dickens, who worked closely with Parker as the Atlanta City Council's transportation committee's chair, said in a statement that "Jeff understood that MARTA is more than just a transportation system — it represents connectivity for residents and visitors of our great city and region."
  • The Atlanta City Council said Parker's "time at MARTA was marked with both a pragmatic and profound vision for our region’s future, and his intelligence, thoughtfulness and dedication will be sorely missed."
  • Doug Hooker, the executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, called Parker "an inspirational and driven leader who steered MARTA through one of the most challenging periods in the agency’s history. He championed a modernized, more equitable transit system that puts the customer first, a vision that will be lasting."

Governor Brian Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and many others have also shared tributes.

  • MARTA staff lowered the flags outside the agency's Lindbergh headquarters to half-mast.

If you or someone you know needs help, help is available. Call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Both are staffed around the clock.

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