TopVet: David Gunn, Amtrak CEO

David Gunn

David L. Gunn, who had previously headed the largest transit systems in both the United States and Canada, was named president and CEO of Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, effective May 15, 2002. Gunn, who served in the U. S. Naval Reserve, was president of the New York City Transit Authority from 1984-1990 and was chief general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission from 1995-1999.

"I have always been a proponent of a strong national passenger rail network," Gunn said at his appointment. "While we face substantial financial and physical challenges, I’m convinced that by securing adequate operational and capital funding, we will be able to rebuild our plant and equipment in an effective and efficient manner, and continue to provide a high-quality service to the traveling public." As chief general manager of the largest transit system in Canada, he led 10,000 employees serving 1.3 million daily passengers with a system of 1,500 buses, 650 heavy rail cars, and 250 streetcars. In this position, he improved the system’s cost recovery ratio from 66% to over 80% and implemented a "State of Good Repair" capital program.

Gunn previously had been general manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from 1991-1994. There he developed the accelerated construction plan and initiated building of three of four remaining segments of the planned 103-mile rail system. He also developed and implemented a multi-year $1 billion capital rehabilitation program, and strongly improved productivity at the agency.

As president of the New York City Transit Authority, he is credited for establishing strong fiscal controls, corporate goals, and performance measures, while rebuilding track, railcar, and bus fleets. From 1979-1984, he was general manager/chief operations officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). He reduced that system’s operating costs from $138 million to $97 million per year, while rebuilding and replacing its subway cars, buses, trackless trolleys, and trolley fleets. He also planned and negotiated the takeover of Philadelphia’s 400-mile, 800-train-per-day commuter rail system from Conrail and Amtrak.

Among Gunn’s other past executive positions were director of operations, 1975-1979, and director of commuter rail, 1974-1975, for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; and assistant vice president, 1969-1974, for the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. He worked for the New York Central System in 1967-1968 and for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1964-1967 at the beginning of his career.

Gunn graduated from Harvard College in 1959 and continued his education at Harvard Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA in 1964. From 1959-1962, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

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