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Former CTA exec returns to run transit agency

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday hailed his new CTA chief, Dorval R. Carter Jr., as “the right person at the right time” to take the transit agency to “the next level.”

Emanuel praised Carter for being a “great manager” and “problem solver,” as well as for his connections in Washington D.C., where’d he most recently worked as acting chief of staff to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“I now have an ally who can work his Rolodex like mine and we can actually now have a tag team to go get that [federal] money,” the mayor said, speaking to reporters at the CTA’s 74th Street garage.

Carter, who worked at the CTA from 2000 to 2009, said he was happy to be back in Chicago but declined to outline specific goals for the agency.

Dorval Carter, new CTA president, is joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush at the CTA garage at 1815 W 74th. | Brian Jackson/For the SunTimes

Carter replaces Forrest Claypool, who is returning to City Hall as chief of staff to the mayor.

“Carter, who has more than 30 years of experience in public transit at both the city and federal levels, joins the CTA from the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., where he most recently has served as Acting Chief of Staff, to Secretary Anthony Foxx,” Catherine Turco, a spokeswoman for Emanuel said in an emailed statement.

“Dorval is a seasoned professional who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about public transportation to the CTA,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in the press release. “And just as importantly, he already has a long and successful track record with CTA, and understands the opportunities and challenges it faces.”

In his previous CTA stint, Carter executive vice president and chief administrative officer. He will return to the CTA the week of May 18, at a time when the mass transit agency is engaged in a massive capital improvement program that includes “The New Blue” and a new 95th Street Station on the Red Line.

Also in the works is the downtown bus rapid transit system, known as Loop Link, and a decision on whether to go ahead with the controversial Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan despite opposition from area residents and elected officials.

In addition, the CTA is trying to fend off Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed doomsday budget cuts that threaten to force massive services cuts and fare increases. On Monday, Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Kirk Dillard had made the case for a new tax to help pay for mass transit infrastructure, arguing the agency has a more than $30 billion backlog in projects. The RTA oversees the CTA and Metra and the suburban Pace bus system.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced his choice to head the CTA, Dorval Carter, at a news conference Tuesday in the transit agency’s 74th Street garage. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times