Kitsap Transit honcho to retire early next year

After more than 27 years in he bus business, Kitsap Transit Executive Director Dick Hayes announced his retirement at the agency’s Tuesday commissioners board meeting.

“We’ve finally got to the point where the budget is stable,” Hayes, 68, said Wednesday. “It wouldn’t be fair if I tried to help create the long range plan and then hand the plan off to someone else.”

Not only is the agency at a turning point with the board wanting to develop a long range plan, he said he would also like to have more time to spend with his wife and children. He has a grandson that he wants to build a boat with. Hayes plans to retire in mid-January of 2012 to allow time for the board to find a successor.

Hayes will remain on staff as the agency negotiates with Kitsap Mall about relocating a bus stop near one of the mall entrances. In November, mall management told the agency that they would not renew the lease agreement when a new tenant requested the transfer station be removed from the west entrance.

Hayes said he expects the transfer center will have to relocate off of mall property and the agency is exploring nearby alternatives. The transit agency is required to vacate the mall by Feb. 15, but Hayes added that they are in discussions with mall management to extend it another month.

Hayes began working for Kitsap Transit in August 1983 after spending time as assistant director for Tacoma Transit and operations manager and acting executive director for Pierce Transit. He has been the agency’s only executive director. He recalled the first five years at Kitsap Transit were spent replacing buses from 1947 with slightly newer buses.

“It was a bus broker disguised as a transit system,” he said.

What Hayes referred to as his “last phase” with the agency, which began in late 2008, included layoffs, fare hikes and service cuts like terminating Sunday operations, which he said had some people calling him the “anti-Christ.”

“I’m not getting any younger or stronger,” he said. “I’m ready to retire.”

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