Director of Communications
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) presented Ray Friem, the Chief Operating Officer at Metro Transit, with the Region VII Transportation Manager of the Year Award on August 1, 2011 at the Missouri Public Transit Association meeting in Osage Beach, Missouri. Region VII of the Federal Transportation Administration covers four states: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Metro Transit in St. Louis is the largest transit provider in Missouri.
Friem is being honored for displaying leadership while providing transportation service that is integral to the community and for creating a vision for the system that has support from both within and outside Metro. The FTA award will recognize Friem for his dedication to providing quality public transportation to the citizens of the St. Louis region. It also recognizes his many achievements including leading an internationally recognized vehicle maintenance program which has significantly reduced costs while greatly improving service reliability to transit customers.
Friem’s visionary leadership and metric-based problem solving have substantially raised the St. Louis region’s level of transit service and created an environment and a team that foster a level of excellence that is now being recognized around the world.
Friem assumed responsibility for transit operations in 2003. His responsibilities include managing the Operations and Maintenance Divisions of MetroBus, MetroLink light rail, and Metro Call-A-Ride paratransit van services. He also leads the Planning and System Development Department, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Services, and Metro Transit Security and Fare Collection. His Division provides more than 47 million passenger trips each year using a fleet of 580 vehicles.
Under Friem’s leadership, Metro has successfully undertaken a number of projects that have allowed the Agency to recreate its transit system to operate at higher levels of productivity, efficiency, responsibility, and professionalism. As a result, public transit in this region is now being touted by regional leaders as an economic engine for the bi-state area and an important tool in stimulating economic growth. Metro’s light rail system alone has generated more than $2 billion in transit-oriented development projects along the alignment in little more than a decade.
Friem stays connected to customers and the general public through public presentations and by co-hosting bi-monthly, online live chats hosted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. During those online conversations, Friem and his Planning Chief respond to questions and comments ranging from the placement of a bus stop to plans for future expansion.
Friem and his Vehicle Maintenance Department (VMD) developed one of the most comprehensive maintenance programs in the country. The team analyzed their current performance and though it was good, they wanted to be even better. They invested in preventive maintenance software that provided part and labor accountability and a reliable planning platform. The result of their effort was a fully comprehensive vehicle predictive maintenance plan that prevents vehicle breakdowns and saves money.
The predictive maintenance plan takes a vehicle from the cradle to the grave with major inspection points at every 50,000 miles. The department members then brainstormed and developed a plan to minimize vehicle failures, improve the overall interior and exterior appearance of the vehicles, and control costs. MetroBus vehicles stay on the road an average of 15 years and 750,000 miles compared to a typical life expectancy of 500,000 miles over a 12-year period.
The Vehicle Maintenance Department was internationally recognized in 2009 for being one of the best in the world, and more recently, was featured in BUSRide Maintenance. The magazine highlighted the Agency’s use of technology and data analysis to predict maintenance problems.
With Friem as Chief Operating Officer, Metro was ranked among the top five in the world and #1 in North America for The Metros international award for best Vehicle Maintenance Program. Others in the top five included Singapore; Seoul, South Korea; Warsaw, Poland; and London, England.
Friem has used his expertise, experience, and compassion to guide Metro Transit through some of its most challenging times over the last 15 years.