REGION — Matthew Tucker, longtime executive director of the North County Transit District, will retire from the transportation agency effective next month.
Tucker has served 15 years in the driver’s seat at NCTD, which manages local transit, including the Coaster and Sprinter trains and Breeze buses and oversees the San Diego section of the Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego, or LOSSAN, rail corridor.
Tucker’s last day with the agency will be Sept. 1, NCTD officials said.
“I want to thank the board of directors for their strong support in leading what is one of the country’s most unique and multifaceted public transit agencies,” Tucker said. “I would also like to recognize and celebrate the employees of NCTD and its contractors who show up daily to serve the public. Their hard work and their commitment to public service are so important to this region and to the people who rely on NCTD’s transit services. It has been an honor to work with you.”
The NCTD board of directors will meet on Aug. 10 to craft recommendations for a new interim executive director.
Tucker has overseen the implementation of multiple projects during his tenure, including securing funding and an agreement with BNSF Railway to construct a new Coaster station in downtown San Diego, expected in 2026.
Over the past 15 years, Tucker also supervised environmental improvements, including upgrading NCTD’s entire locomotive fleet to reduce emissions and constructing battery charging and hydrogen stations.
The NCTD chief has also been credited with helping the agency to battle through its financial woes, which took the form of a projected $80 million structural deficit when he joined in 2008. Since then, Tucker has implemented changes that eliminated the deficit, established financial reserves, and created a process to eradicate long-term debts.
The agency continues trying to recover revenues following a COVID-induced drop in ridership. However, since 2016, NCTD has also pursued development opportunities on its properties to generate additional revenue under the leadership of Tucker and the board of directors.
“Matt has been a strong and steady hand at NCTD, a remarkable steward of our region’s transportation assets, and a national leader in the transit industry,” said NCTD Board Chair Jewel Edson. “He has served the San Diego region as a reliable champion for public transit and for the customers who rely on NCTD’s services every day.”
Under Tucker’s leadership, NCTD has also taken an aggressive stance when it comes to its authority over the railway, at times becoming embroiled in conflicts and disagreements with local, regional and state bodies, including the city of Del Mar, the San Diego Association of Governments and the California Coastal Commission.
Last year, tensions between Del Mar and NCTD hit a boiling point when the agency surged forward with plans to implement a controversial fencing project along the bluffs to prevent safety risks from people crossing the railroad tracks.
Residents and the state Coastal Commission sued NCTD for allegedly disregarding coastal development requirements. In May, the federal Surface Transportation Board denied NCTD’s request for recognition of their authority to move ahead with railroad projects.
This is the second retirement announcement from a regional transit head in the past couple of weeks, following the news of Hasan Ikhrata’s scheduled departure from SANDAG in December.