Cursing. Shouting. Snoring. Lots of complaining.
Those are all common sounds at SEPTA board meetings.
Until today, though, never a grown man trying not to cry.
That was pretty exceptional.
But, then again, so was the man choking back those tears: Joe Casey, who is retiring after 34 years at SEPTA, the last seven as its general manager.
Replacing him will be Jeffrey Knueppel, who was named general manager by the SEPTA board in a special meeting today.
While Knueppel was the man receiving the promotion, everyone’s attention was on Casey, who is credited for vastly improving SEPTA’s finances, its relationship with the City of Philadelphia, and its opinion in the public eye. Casey announced his retirement in August.
Casey accepted commendations and accolades from representatives of Governor Tom Wolf, the State Senate, the State House of Representatives, area Congressmen, PennDOT, and Mayor Michael Nutter. Under his management, SEPTA won the American Public Transportation Center’s “Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award” in 2012.
Casey gave short remarks towards the end of the meeting – his last GM’s report to the board – thanking employees and the Board, who then gave him a standing ovation.
Rep. John Taylor (R-177) and former PennDOT Sec. Barry Schoch both credited Casey’s sound financial management of SEPTA for clearing the way for Act 89 by making increased funding for mass transit sufferable to rural representatives in Harrisburg.
Knueppel has spent his entire career at SEPTA starting as an entry level Structural Engineer in 1988. A Cooper Union graduate, Knueppel quickly advanced through SEPTA’s rank, becoming Chief Engineer at 36. Before being named General Manger, Kneuppel served as Deputy General Manager of two divisions: Operations and Engineering, Maintenance & Construction.
Knueppel was recently named Assistant General Manager in preparation for this succession.
“Joe has been very successful as a general manager,” said Knueppel. “We are looking to build on what he’s accomplished.”
Knueppel takes over a transportation agency in relatively rude financial health and with plans to not just maintain, but expand, the system. Knueppel said he’s excited to further the growth SEPTA enjoyed under Casey’s management.
“I like to build things,” he said.