By Maria Saporta
MARTA General Manager Jeff Parker died Friday night in an apparent suicide, MARTA confirmed.
Rita Scott, chair of MARTA’s board of directors, released a statement on Parker’s death:
“The MARTA Board of Directors mourns the shocking death of our Managing Director/CEO Jeff Parker who committed suicide. He was an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken. As President and on behalf of my fellow MARTA Board members, we are devastated by this loss as we appreciate Jeff’s leadership and look forward to seeing him deliver on his vision for public transit. The entire metro Atlanta area owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformative efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he created. As we struggle to understand the complexity of this tragedy, we mourn with and for his wife Erin, his daughters and all of Jeff’s family and friends as well as his MARTA family. As we continue to grieve, we want you to know that suicide is preventable and help is available.
According to multiple people close to the transit agency, Parker was killed by a MARTA train at the East Lake MARTA station around 10:30 p.m.
MARTA tweeted at 10:39 p.m. Friday night notifying the public of an emergency in East Lake, saying there would be delays on the Blue Line.
At 2:41 a.m. Saturday morning, MARTA tweeted an update: “In response to the emergency in East Lake, shuttle bus service and MARTAConnect are now terminated. We thank you for your patience.
Stephany Fisher, a MARTA spokeswoman, sent the following statement at 8:47 a.m.:
“With very heavy hearts we share the official news of the tragic passing of Chief Executive Officer/CEO Jeffrey Parker on Friday evening January 14, 2022. Please keep his family in your prayers and meditations. In the coming days we will be sharing more information on the transition plan, including bereavement advice for employees as we process this devastating news.Jeff cared deeply for MARTA and his leadership gave us a strong foundation moving forward.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens released the following statement:
“I am shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of my colleague and friend Jeff Parker. As Managing Director and CEO of MARTA, Jeff and I worked closely together when I chaired the Transportation Committee of the city council. Jeff understood that MARTA is more than just a transportation system – it represents connectivity for residents and visitors to our great city and region. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff’s family and friends, as well as to the MARTA staff and board, during this very difficult time.
Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, released the following statement:
“All of us at ARC are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jeffrey Parker. He was an inspirational and driven leader who led MARTA through one of the most challenging times in the agency’s history. He championed a modernized, more equitable transit system that puts the customer first, a vision that will last. He was our partner and we cherished our working relationship with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. loved ones in these difficult times.
Earlier this morning, longtime MARTA board member Jim Durrett confirmed that her death was an apparent suicide. “Nobody knows the WHY,” Durrett wrote in a text.
Durrett dispelled another rumor – that Parker had been fired from the agency.
“What I can tell you is that he was NOT fired,” Durrett wrote.
Board member Robbie Ashe confirmed that Parker is in an excellent position with the board.
Parker became managing director of MARTA nearly four years ago after a 35-year career in the transportation engineering and consulting industry.
On Wednesday, the Council for Quality Growth hosted the annual “State of MARTA” program, which was full of good news from the agency able to weather the COVID pandemic on a balanced budget as well as its plans to expand. the regional transport system.
At MARTA State, Parker unveiled the transit system’s new rail cars with a sleek design that had already received praise from the public.
According to his biography on the MARTA website, Parker’s career in transportation began in 1985 with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) where he started as an intern and rose to oversee extensive light rail lines. and heavy from the agency. During his 20-year tenure at MBTA, he led various efforts to improve the reliability, safety, security and customer service of the nation’s oldest subway system.
Parker has been an active member of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), serving on its Board of Directors and chairing its Rail and Rail Transportation CEO Committees. He has served on the board of several major transportation organizations, including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Bradley International Airport, and the I-95 Corridor Coalition.
In Georgia, Parker has served as a board member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Transportation Alliance, Council for Quality Growth, Central Atlanta Progress, and Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. .
Parker is regularly recognized as one of Atlanta’s most influential leaders, recently named one of Atlanta Magazine’s Most Powerful People of 2020 and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100: Most Influential Atlantans of 2020. Parker has also recognized in 2019 by the Atlanta Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS-Atlanta) as its “Man of the Year” for his strong record in hiring and promoting women in the transportation industry.
Parker graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741”
To access services and immediate crisis assistance, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Lines (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.