New General Manager will lead organization amid significant investment in expanding, strengthening regional transit network
Lesley Kandaras, who has been with Metro Transit since 2019, will serve as the agency's next general manager, the Met Council has announced. Kandaras is the first woman to permanently fill this position at Metro Transit.
The general manager provides leadership, vision, and operational and administrative management for Metro Transit, which serves the seven-county Twin Cities metro. Metro Transit has an annual operating budget of more than $530 million, a six-year Capital Improvement Plan of $2.57 billion, and 3,000 employees.
In the coming years, the agency will grow its light rail and Bus Rapid Transit network, expanding access to frequent and reliable service across the region. The agency is also focused on improving public safety on transit, creating a better customer experience, and recruiting workers needed to support transit operations.
“I firmly believe Lesley is the right person for this position because she recognizes how important transit is to the economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life in the Twin Cities,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “She is a well-respected leader with a deep knowledge and understanding of how transit can improve the quality of life for our region. I am confident her distinguished track record of leadership and innovation will help foster a metro area that is livable, prosperous, sustainable, and equitable for all.”
At Metro Transit, Kandaras has served as senior manager-policy development, chief of staff, and interim general manager. Kandaras began at the Met Council in 2012, working in the Communications and Government Affairs departments and implementing inter-divisional initiatives.
As chief of staff, she served as an adviser to the general manager and led Metro Transit's Administration and Executive Affairs Department, which includes Outreach, Communications, Marketing and Transit Information, Equity and Inclusion, and Strategic Initiatives.
A regular transit rider, Kandaras has championed efforts to center customers and staff in the organization's decision-making processes. She was instrumental in the creation of the agency's Safety & Security Action Plan and is an enthusiastic supporter of Metro Transit's Great Workplace Project, an employee-driven effort to create a more effective and inclusive workplace.
“As the demand for transportation and mobility continues to grow, Lesley is approaching this important work as both an opportunity and challenge,” said Deb Barber, Chair of the Met Council's Transportation Committee. “She fully understands the importance of leveraging Metro Transit as much as possible because our regional system has capacity to grow. Most of all, she’s committed to making sure we fully understand the changing needs of our customers to ensure we are providing the right services to meet the increased transit demands throughout the region.”