David L. Gunn
|David L. Gunn|
|Born||June 21, 1937 (age 77)
|Nationality||United States of America / Canada|
|Known for||President of Amtrak|
David L. Gunn (born 21 June 1937) is a transportation system administrator who has headed several significant railroads and transit systems in North America.
Gunn was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover and received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Harvard College in 1959. He served in the United States Navy Reserve from 1959 to 1962. He received a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1964.
Gunn has the following work experience:
- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, 1964 to 1967
- New York Central Railroad, 1967 to 1968
- Assistant Vice-President, Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, 1969 to 1974
- Director of Commuter Rail, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), 1974 to 1975
- Director of Operations, MBTA, 1975 to 1979
- General Manager and Chief Operations Officer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), 1979 to 1984
- President, New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), 1984 to 1990
- General Manager, Washington DC Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), 1991 to 1994
- Chief General Manager, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), 1995 to 1999
- President, Amtrak, 2002 to 2005
New York City Transit Authority
During his tenure as president of the NYCTA, Gunn instituted operational changes that led to the reduction of graffiti and service improvements in the New York subway system, including the establishment of a "clean car program" and restoring the system to a state of good repair. Cars were to be regularly cleaned, hundreds of older cars overhauled and tracks and stations rebuilt.
The "Redbird" cars were originally known as "Gunn Red" when they were repainted between 1984 and 1989, under Gunn's tenure.
Toronto Transit Commission
Gunn has a philosophy called "state of good repair" where the first priority is to maintain infrastructure and equipment, making regular repairs where needed and retiring equipment from service at the end of its life-cycle. This brought him in frequent conflict with TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, who advocated the use of funds for improving TTC accessibility. Gunn's tenure at the TTC was also marked by changes in management structure, which were criticized by his successor, Rick Ducharme, amongst others. He also argued against new subway construction.
Toronto's only fatal subway train accident, the 1995 Russell Hill subway accident that claimed 3 lives, happened only 8 months after Gunn became head of the TTC.
Gunn came to Amtrak with a reputation as an experienced operating manager. During his tenure at WMATA (the Washington Metro) from 1991 to 1994, Gunn was frequently at odds with that agency's board of directors, which included representatives from the District of Columbia and suburban jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia. His work as president of the New York City Transit Authority from 1984 to 1990 and as Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission in Canada from 1995 to 1999 lent him a great deal of credibility as these two agencies were each the largest transit operations of their respective countries.
During his administration at Amtrak, Gunn was the subject of congressional criticism.
The view of the Gunn administration at Amtrak was that no form of mass passenger transportation in the United States is self-sufficient as the economy is currently structured. It said that highways, airports, and air traffic control all require large government expenditures to build and maintain, although some of those taxpayer dollars are gained for other modes under the guise of user fees and highway fuel and road taxes. Before a Congressional hearing, Gunn answered a demand by leading Amtrak critic Arizona Senator John McCain to eliminate all operating subsidies by asking the Senator if he would also demand the same of the commuter airlines, upon whom the citizens of Arizona are much more dependent. McCain, usually not at a loss for words when debating Amtrak funding, did not reply.
Gunn eliminated almost all of the express business while improving critical equipment repair facilities and services to keep trains moving. He stated that continued deferred maintenance would become a safety issue which he would not tolerate  and his management team implemented Amtrak's first system-wide comprehensive capital program with planned target dates and budgeting. Under Gunn, Amtrak's ranks of unionized and salaried workers were reduced.
On November 9, 2005, Amtrak's Board of Directors fired Gunn, ostensibly for his refusal to split the company in preparation for privatization; Gunn was opposed to this policy, pointing out that the entire reason Amtrak was created was because private railroad companies did not wish to run passenger services. The Chairman of the Board, David Laney, a George W. Bush appointee, provided a statement that read "Amtrak's future now requires a different type of leader who will aggressively tackle the company's financial, management and operational challenges". Recent problems had included Gunn's decision to suspend Acela service in the Northeast Corridor until wheel and brake problems were sorted out with the manufacturer, as well as Gunn's philosophical difference over dividing long distance inter-city services from the Northeast Corridor. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office one week before Gunn's dismissal stated that Amtrak needed to continue to improve the way it monitored performance and oversaw its finances in order to achieve financial stability.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Gunn retired to his family home on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has become associated with the Free Congress Foundation since his dismissal from Amtrak. He currently sits on the board of a local transit service in rural Richmond County known as the Strait Area Transit Cooperative. and will be consulting for his former employer, WMATA. In November 2014, Amtrak named ACS-64 class unit number 600 after Gunn.
- Hall, Joseph (1999-07-21). "GO chief transfers to TTC". The Toronto Star (Toronto). pp. B1, B5.
- (November 9, 2005), Amtrak Board Releases Gunn. Retrieved November 9, 2005.
- "Arrivals & Departures". Trains Magazine 66 (3): p 11. March 2006.
- Strait Area Transit - Team Accessed February 23, 2009
- "Ex-general manager David Gunn to assess D.C. area Metro system". The Washington Post. February 18, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Six Myths About Amtrak: Testimony of Amtrak President David Gunn before House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. April 10, 2003.
- CBC Archives Gunn briefly talking about a Toronto subway accident.
- David Gunn announces retirement in Toronto: Article from Coupler, TTC internal newsletter announcement in Toronto, (prior to Gunn becoming President of Amtrak)
- Destination: Freedom Papers 2002
- AP: Amtrak President Fired
|General Manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
|President of the New York City Transit Authority
Alan F. Kiepper
William A. Boleyn
|General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Lawrence G. Reuter
|Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission
|President of Amtrak