Atlanta public transit CEO, 56, dies by suicide after hopping in front of a train
Jeffrey Parker, CEO of Atlanta’s public transit system, committed suicide Friday night after hopping in front of a train in the suburbs of the city.
No motive for his suicide has been disclosed. The DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com.
He is survived by his wife Erin and his daughters.
MARTA Chairman of the Board of Directors, Rita Scott, described him as “an outstanding MARTA leader and steward whose passing leaves us all heartbroken.
“We are devastated at this loss as we appreciated Jeff’s leadership and looked forward to seeing him realize his vision of transit. The entire Atlanta metro area is deeply indebted to him for his transformation efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he has laid,” she added.
Parker was named the agency’s general manager and CEO in March 2018. Since then, he has overseen transportation expansion plans, helped negotiate a three percent annual raise for employees, and guided the agency through a Super Bowl and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
In 2020, Parker won a three-year contract extension, securing his job until 2026.
His salary at the time was $366,575, according to the AJC. He was also eligible for a bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary — or $36,657.
MARTA spokesman Stephany Fisher said he told the board that “any bonus or increase in base salary this year was inappropriate.”
Atlanta Transit CEO Jeffrey Parker died by suicide Friday night after boarding a train
He died at the East Lake station on the outskirts of town, a MARTA official told DailyMail.com
On Saturday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp shared his condolences in a tweet.
“Marty, the girls and I are saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Jeffrey Parker – GM/CEO of MARTA. In addition to a notable professional career in the public/private sector, Jeffrey was known for his community involvement and support for the advancement of his communities,” Kemp wrote.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “I’m sorry to hear this. My prayers are with Jeff’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Parker graduated with honors from Northeastern University with a degree in computer science, according to his MARTA biography.
He was named one of Atlanta Magazine’s Most Powerful People of 2020 and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100: Most Influential Atlantans of 2020.
In 2019, he was recognized as “Man of the Year” by the Atlanta Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS-Atlanta) for his history of hiring and promoting women in the transportation industry.
“As we struggle to understand the complexities of this tragedy, we grieve 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 that help is available to you,” said Chairman Scott.
The Governor of Georgia and the Mayor of Atlanta (below) expressed their condolences on Saturday
Parker helped lead MARTA expansion plans, including formally applying for federal funding for a high-speed bus line in Clayton County, one of the counties that make up the Atlanta metro area, according to the AJC.
He applied for funding for the $300 million project through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program.
In 2019, Parker called for a $100 billion moonshot for transit investment as the region’s population would grow by 2.5 million by 2040. AJC reported.
The massive funding target — which would have largely overshadowed a $2.7 billion 40-year plan approved by Atlanta voters in 2016 — didn’t sit well with some lawmakers.
“That’s about 50 years of current GDOT spending,” State Representative Brett Harrell said at the time. ‘No ROI’ [return on investment] that seems attractive to me.’
Parker oversaw expansion efforts in Atlanta and Clayton County and helped renegotiate labor contracts. Above, Parker (far right) with Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg in May 2021
Parker called for a $100 billion moonshot for transit investment in 2019, though he didn’t specify where the money would come from at the time.
He made $366,575 per year in 2020, the year his contract was extended to 2026
Collie Greenwood has been named acting CEO and general manager of MARTA. He is a former chief service officer at the Toronto Transit Commission
MARTA has named Collie Greenwood as interim general manager and CEO after an emergency meeting Saturday.
Greenwood is a former chief service officer with the Toronto Transit Commission. He joined MARTA in 2019 as chief of bus operations and was promoted to deputy general manager of operations last January.
In 2019 MARTA, led by Parker, approved a new contract that gave its employees a three percent pay increase for the next three years, AJC reported.
The agreement gave a longevity premium of 25 cents per hour to all employees with 20 or more years of service and added a ‘parity wage adjustment’ of 50 cents per hour to all bus and rail operators.
It added $1 per hour for mechanics and other skilled technicians and came up with $1,000 ratification payments for full-time workers and $500 for part-time workers.
Britt Dunams, Chairman of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, which stands for more than 2,500 MARTA and other local transit workers, said:
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic passing of MARTA General Manager/CEO Jeffrey Parker.
“Parker understood the importance of MARTA and public transportation for our city, our members and our citizens.
We recently worked with Parker to further strengthen the relationship between our union and management, who recognized the critical role our members have played in keeping our communities moving through the challenging times of the pandemic. In his memory, we will continue that important work and strive to make MARTA safer, more accessible and more affordable for all Atlantans.”
For those at risk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255.