This past weekend the Fresno County region lost a long-time champion and advocate of rural public transit, Jeffrey D. Webster. Jeff was one of the longest-tenured transit executives in the state, having worked in the transportation field for more than 40 years. He served as the General Manager for the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) from 1979-2014. In his 35-year tenure with FCRTA, Jeff oversaw 26 transit subsystems that provided rural, general public transit service to over 500,000 persons annually from each of the thirteen rural incorporated cities and the 25 unincorporated rural communities of Fresno County. During that time the rural transit fleet grew to over 100 vehicles, all of which were alternatively fueled with propane, compressed natural gas or electric batteries. In addition, Jeff converted all of the FCRTA fleet to ADA accessible almost a decade before it became a federal requirement for transit agencies to comply.
Jeff also created the Fresno Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CSTA) in 1983, sustained stable FCRTA fares without increases over the last 1- years of his tenure, and established a program providing free fares to seniors and the disabled through special funding.
In his stellar 35-year career as FCRTA General Manager Jeff consistently demonstrated leadership and vision while providing a rural transit transportation service that is an integral part of the rural community in Fresno County. To this point, Jeff was formally recognized on a national level by his transit peers for his outstanding leadership in 2012 when he won the “Community Transportation Manager of the Year Award” besting thousands of community transportation managers across the country. In addition, the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Transit Center was dedicated to Jeff in 2013 in honor of the work he had done to establish the CTSA in Fresno County, and for his efforts to coordinate between social service transportation and public transit.
Jeff held an undergraduate degree in Architecture and City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Masters’ Degree in City and Regional Planning from CSU Fresno. Jeff was an active member of several National and State transportation associations; CTAA, APTA, CTA and Cal Act serving as president for several terms. He served on numerous Boards, committees and commissions, and he worked in various planning capacities for urban and rural cities, counties, as a private consultant, and he taught at California State University Fresno.
All of us at the Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno COG) and Fresno County Rural Transit Agency express our sincere condolences to Jeff’s family, his many friends and additional former colleagues both within and outside the transit industry. For more details, including the time and location of Saturday’s memorial service for Jeffrey, please see this obituary published by the Fresno Bee.
–Authored by Fresno COG Executive Director Tony Boren, and Fresno County Rural Transit Agency General Manager Moses Stites.