President Bush has nominated former New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member James S. Simpson to be the head of the Federal Transit Administration. Simpson, whose selection was announced by the White House on Jan. 17, is chairman and CEO of Victory Worldwide Transportation Inc., a moving company based in Staten Island, N.Y.
If the Senate confirms the 49-year-old Simpson as FTA administrator, he would succeed Jennifer Dorn, who was approved in October as the U.S. alternate executive director to the World Bank.
Simpson was named to the New York MTA board in 1995 by Gov. George Pataki and served as a commissioner until last year. Simpson had chaired the MTA's committee on planning, real estate, safety and security.
According to an MTA biographical sketch, Simpson started at Victory Van Lines in 1976 as a driver while he was in college and bought the company in 1980. Simpson also is a former chairman of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and a graduate of St. John's University in New York.
"I think he'll be a good player," says Mortimer Downey, chairman of Parsons Brinckerhoff's PB Consult unit. Downey also is a former MTA executive director. His tenure there pre-dated Simpson's years on the board, but in checking with former colleagues at the authority, Downey says they "had very positive things to say about him."
Downey adds, "He's hard-working. He's run a business all his life" and "as a board member really did understand business issues...and did his homework."
Simpson has no direct rail management or operations experience, but Downey says that as an MTA commissioner "he's seen commuter rail, he's seen subways, he's seen buses."
Simpson declined to be interviewed, citing his pending confirmation hearing.