CLEVELAND – Sean Thompson, a respected transportation veteran with more than 20 years experience, joins the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) as Director of Rail Operations, effective Oct. 31.
Thompson has worked for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) since 2014. Most recently, he oversaw rail safety for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), when the US Department of Transportation assumed temporary direct federal oversight.
“Sean brings a wealth of experience directing day-to-day rail operations. But he also has spent years creating, implementing and overseeing safety initiatives, assuring compliance with safety oversight regulations,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and General Manager of RTA. “His significant accomplishments with safety regulations, and his experience with light rail and heavy rail transit in both new and established systems, make him an outstanding member of our team.”
“RTA is privileged to have someone of his caliber on board. With Sean’s expertise, we can sharpen our focus on safety, while we advance State of Good Repair initiatives,” said Calabrese.
Prior to directing the FTA’s safety oversight of WMATA, Thompson worked in roles of increasing responsibility for FTA, including Director of the Office of Safety Review, where he oversaw the State Safety Oversight Program as well as the new requirements under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).
Thompson was RTA's Rail Training Manager in 2010 and 2011. He left the RTA to work for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as an Operating Practices Inspector and later as Deputy Regional Administrator in Sacramento. There, he directed investigations and inspections in response to railroad incidents and assured regulatory compliance, mitigating safety risks to the public and employees.
While at the FTA, he served on several high-profile investigation teams, including the Bridgeport, CT, commuter train collision and derailment in 2013, and the U.S. DOT response to the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec rail disaster, where an unattended runaway crude train derailed and destroyed the downtown area of a Canadian township. Thompson also worked light and commuter rail operations in Charlotte, Austin and Salt Lake City, where he established and managed new rail service.