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Maria Smith takes the wheel at Mountain Line

WESTOVER — When Maria Smith accepted an offer to become the Mountain Line Transit Authority’s marketing officer in 2007, she didn’t know how consequential that decision would be for herself or the agency.    

She accepted another offer on Thursday — this one making her the third general manager in Mountain Line’s 28-year history. 

Following a 20-minute executive session, the MLTA Board of Directors reconvened a special meeting to unanimously approve Smith’s hiring at a base salary of $126,006.10. 

“I really appreciate the support of my staff and that of the community. It has been extremely helpful. I’m looking forward to serving,” Smith said. “I have a million ideas that I would love to implement as far as getting better information to the riders and just making the rider experience a little more pleasant.” 

Smith has served as interim manager since David Bruffy ended a 25-year run in the position back in July. Prior to that, she spent five years as assistant manager of administration and marketing.  

She was one of 12 applicants for the opening, but the only applicant interviewed by the board. The two sides have been in negotiations since. During the board’s Sept. 20 regular meeting, the body voted to counter an offer from Smith. According to information presented during Thursday’s meeting, the terms that were ultimately accepted were presented to the board on Wednesday. 

The process required an extension of Smith’s “interim general manager” designation beyond the initial Sept. 30 expiration date. The extension was set to expire Friday. 

Thursday’s special meeting included Barbara Parsons, who occasionally serves as a consultant for MLTA. 

Looking forward, Smith said she’s ready to move on a number of projects, including the implementation of a new program for veterans, the launch of an upgraded customer-service facility and the push for renewal of the countywide transit levy. 

Admittedly, she didn’t arrive at Mountain Line with plans to one day lead the county’s transit service. That’s where this ride has taken her.

“It’s been quite a journey,” she said. “I started as the marketing officer in 2007. We went through a period where our assistant manager fell ill. At that time, we all stepped up and did what we could to help Mountain Line out. That’s just kind of what it’s been about. At a certain point you grow a commitment to the agency. I’m here to serve in the best capacity that I can for Mountain Line. That’s what it comes down to.” 

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