David L. Gunn

David L. Gunn

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David L. Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several significant railroads and transit systems in North America.

Gunn was born in Boston to parents of Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 ancestry whose families had emigrated to Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 from Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 and Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

.

Education


Gunn was educated at Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy is a selective, co-educational independent boarding high school for boarding and day students in grades 9–12, along with a post-graduate year...

 in Andover
Andover, Massachusetts
Andover is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. It was incorporated in 1646 and as of the 2010 census, the population was 33,201...

 and received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

 in 1959. He served in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Reserve from 1959-1962. He received a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1964.

Career


Gunn has the following work experience:
  • Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
    Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
    The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway , often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. The company was first chartered in February 1859...

     1964 to 1967
  • New York Central Railroad
    New York Central Railroad
    The New York Central Railroad , known simply as the New York Central in its publicity, was a railroad operating in the Northeastern United States...

     1967 to 1968
  • Assistant Vice-President, Illinois Central Gulf Railroad 1969 to 1974
  • Director of Commuter Rail, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, often referred to as the MBTA or simply The T, is the public operator of most bus, subway, commuter rail and ferry systems in the greater Boston, Massachusetts, area. Officially a "body politic and corporate, and a political subdivision" of the...

     (MBTA) 1974 to 1975
  • Director of Operations, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, often referred to as the MBTA or simply The T, is the public operator of most bus, subway, commuter rail and ferry systems in the greater Boston, Massachusetts, area. Officially a "body politic and corporate, and a political subdivision" of the...

     (MBTA) 1975 to 1979
  • General Manager and Chief Operations Officer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
    Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
    The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is a metropolitan transportation authority that operates various forms of public transit—bus, subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, light rail, and electric trolley bus—that serve 3.9 million people in and around Philadelphia,...

     (SEPTA) 1979 to 1984
  • President, New York City Transit Authority
    New York City Transit Authority
    The New York City Transit Authority is a public authority in the U.S. state of New York that operates public transportation in New York City...

     (NYCTA) 1984 to 1990
  • General Manager, Washington DC Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is a tri-jurisdictional government agency that operates transit service in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including the Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess...

     (WMATA) 1991 to 1994
  • Chief General Manager, Toronto Transit Commission
    Toronto Transit Commission
    -Island Ferry:The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 until 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department. Since 1998, the ferry service is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation.-Gray Coach:...

     1995 to 1999
  • President, Amtrak
    Amtrak
    The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

    , 2002-2005.

New York City Transit Authority


During his tenure as president of the NYCTA, Gunn instituted operational changes that led to the reduction of graffiti and service improvements in the New York subway system, including the establishment of a "clean car program" and restoring system to state of good repair. Cars were to be regularly cleaned, hundreds of older cars overhauled and tracks and stations rebuilt.

The "Redbird" cars were originally known as "Gunn Red" when they were repainted between 1985 and 1989, under Gunn's tenure.

Toronto Transit Commission


Gunn has a philosophy called "state of good repair" where the first priority is to maintain infrastructure and equipment, making regular repairs where needed and retiring equipment from service at the end of its life-cycle. This brought him in frequent conflict with TTC chairman Howard Moscoe
Howard Moscoe
Howard Moscoe was a city councillor in Toronto, Canada, representing Ward 15 in the western part of Eglinton-Lawrence. Among the most prominent and longest-serving councillors in the city, he is also known for an outspokenness which has landed him in controversy at times. Moscoe is a member of...

, who advocated the use of funds for improving TTC accessibility. Gunn's tenure at the TTC was also marked by changes in management structure, which were criticized by some (including his successor, Rick Ducharme
Rick Ducharme
Richard C. Ducharme P.Eng. has served as an administrator for several Canadian transit and transportation authorities, most recently as General Manager of Transportation for the City of Edmonton....

, in a July 1999 Toronto Star
Toronto Star
The Toronto Star is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its print edition is distributed almost entirely within the province of Ontario...

 article). He also argued against new subway
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 construction.

Toronto's only fatal subway train accident, the 1995 Russell Hill subway accident that claimed 3 lives, happened only 8 months after Gunn became head of the TTC.

Amtrak


Gunn assumed the presidency of Amtrak
Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

 on May 15, 2002, and was fired by the board of directors on November 9, 2005.

Gunn came to Amtrak with a reputation as an experienced operating manager. During his tenure at WMATA (the Washington Metro) from 1991–1994, Gunn was frequently at odds with that agency's board of directors, which included representatives from the District of Columbia and suburban jurisdictions in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. His work as president of the New York City Transit Authority
New York City Transit Authority
The New York City Transit Authority is a public authority in the U.S. state of New York that operates public transportation in New York City...

 from 1984 to 1990 and as Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission
Toronto Transit Commission
-Island Ferry:The ferry service to the Toronto Islands was operated by the TTC from 1927 until 1962, when it was transferred to the Metro Parks and Culture department. Since 1998, the ferry service is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation.-Gray Coach:...

 in Canada from 1995-1999 lent him a great deal of credibility as these two agencies were each the largest transit operations of their respective countries.

During his administration at Amtrak, Gunn was the subject of congressional criticism.

The view of the Gunn administration at Amtrak was that no form of mass passenger transportation in the United States is self-sufficient as the economy is currently structured. It said that highways, airports, and air traffic control all require large government expenditures to build and maintain, although some of those taxpayer dollars are gained for other modes under the guise of user fees and highway fuel and road taxes. Before a Congressional hearing, Gunn answered a demand by leading Amtrak critic Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 to eliminate all operating subsidies by asking the Senator if he would also demand the same of the commuter airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

s, upon whom the citizens of Arizona are much more dependent. McCain, usually not at a loss for words when debating Amtrak funding, did not reply.

Gunn eliminated almost all of the express business while improving critical equipment repair facilities and services to keep trains moving. He stated that continued deferred maintenance would become a safety issue which he would not tolerate and his management team implemented Amtrak's first system-wide comprehensive capital program with planned target dates and budgeting. Under Gunn, Amtrak's ranks of unionized and salaried workers were reduced.

On November 9, 2005, Amtrak's Board of Directors fired Gunn, ostensibly for his refusal to split the company in preparation for privatization; Gunn was opposed to this policy, pointing out that the entire reason Amtrak was created was because private railroad companies did not wish to run passenger services. The Chairman of the Board, David Laney, provided a statement that read "Amtrak's future now requires a different type of leader who will aggressively tackle the company's financial, management and operational challenges". Recent problems had included Gunn's decision to suspend Acela service in the Northeast Corridor until wheel and brake problems were sorted out with the manufacturer, as well as Gunn's philosophical difference over dividing long distance inter-city services from the Northeast Corridor. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office
Government Accountability Office
The Government Accountability Office is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress. It is located in the legislative branch of the United States government.-History:...

 one week before Gunn's dismissal stated that Amtrak needed to continue to improve the way it monitored performance and oversaw its finances in order to achieve financial stability.

Retirement


A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Gunn retired to his family home on Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

 in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. He has become associated with the Free Congress Foundation
Free Congress Foundation
The Free Congress Foundation , is a conservative think tank founded by Paul Weyrich. It was based near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C...

 since his dismissal from Amtrak. He currently sits on the board of a local transit service in rural Richmond County
Richmond County, Nova Scotia
Richmond County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.-History:Named in honour of Sir Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond and Lennox, who was Governor General of British North America 1818-1819, Richmond County was created in 1835....

 known as the Strait Area Transit Cooperative. and will be consulting for his former employer, WMATA

Further reading

  • Six Myths About Amtrak: Testimony of Amtrak President David Gunn before House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. April 10, 2003.

Multimedia

  • CBC Archives Gunn briefly talking about a Toronto subway accident.

Websites