Bart Mueller leaving SJTA and tolling PERSONNEL
By Peter Samuel
Bart Mueller executive director of the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) is leaving for what he says is a "great job" in the private sector outside of tolling and transportation - effective July 1. He says he has enjoyed nearly nine years at SJTA which operates the Atlantic City Expressway and Atlantic City Airport. The Authority is "in great shape," he says.
Mueller is a Democrat but he has not - as some talk suggested - been pushed out by Republican Governor Chris Christie. He says he has "a great working relationship with the Governor" and it is entirely his own decision to leave.
"It's just time to move on to something new."
61 years old he says his health is good and he is excited about the new job, details of which are, for the moment, confidential.
For the past four and a half years Mueller has been executive director of the SJTA and for a similar period before that he was deputy to Jim Crawford and was mostly involved in E-ZPass.
"Jim was my mentor," he says of Crawford, and "I was, in effect his program manager for E-ZPass."
The Atlantic City Expressway was the first toll facility in the state to implement electronic tolling, he notes, and it will be the first to go completely cashless.
The Authority is ready to move to all-electronic tolling, Mueller says. Design of the AET system is complete and contractors are selected. The Governor and his transportation secretary Jim Simpson only have to give their OK to the SJTA plans, and he says it will be rolled out.
"We are the state's test bed for innovation," he says. Beyond all-electronic tolling the Expressway will be the first to incorporate a full range of ITS services into the driving experience.
"This is a service business and we have to be focussed on providing service. Interoperability across the country is something we just have to do. It isn't easy but not many things worth doing are easy. It's about dealing with different business rules, not technology. The technology is there. We have to figure out how to apply it."
Mueller says he's really a private sector guy and his new job is going "back to the private sector." He spent 25 years early in his career at Bell Atlantic (1971-1996) then ran for office in local government and was an elected official for Camden County (in south Jersey opposite Philadelphia) for a term.
He comes from Oakland in the far northeast of the state in hill and lake country.
The Atlantic City Expressway is a 44 mile, 71km toll expressway from the Philadelphia area suburbs of south Jersey in Turnerville that heads southeast to the Atlantic coast at Atlantic City. Oddly it is 3 lanes beachbound southeast and only 2 lanes northwest homebound for Philadelphians - leading to the quip that it is under the control of Atlantic City interests who only care about getting people to the beach/gambling resort to spend, and don't give a damn about getting them home.
UPDATE: the old saw about 3 lanes eastbound/2 lanes westbound should be put to rest in the next five or six weeks. The westbound roadway has been the subject of third laning for over a year now and SJTA tells us it should be complete this summer and the Expressway will be a regular 2x3 lanes.
TOLLROADSnews 2012-05-31 UPDATE 2012-06-01