Who Was Alan Kiepper And What Did He Have to Do With Annapolis Buses? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who Was Alan Kiepper And What Did He Have to Do With Annapolis Buses?

Alan Kiepper may not have been a household name in Annapolis, but in the world of public administration and public transportation, he was as well known and respected as Ted Kennedy was in the world of politics--without any of the personal controversy of course. Kiepper, who had retired to Annapolis after many years of public service, died last week. Had Kiepper not made his Annapolis his home, I probably would not have posted this piece about him.

As a public transportation professional, I had of course heard of Kiepper and since he came to Annapolis, we would meet for lunch, sometimes just the two of us, and sometimes with other transit professionals and we shared ideas about public transportation, here and elsewhere. He had served as director of the huge transit systems in Houston, Atlanta and then in New York, the nation's largest. He received credit and praise for his leadership.  Kiepper had also been city manager of Richmond, VA and manager of Fulton County, Georgia.
I read some of the obituaries for Kiepper and wanted to share just a few excerpts from The Houston Chronicle, because  I think what he did there might be most inspiring to us in Annapolis:
Houston Chronicle excerpt follows:________________________________________
When newly elected Mayor Kathy Whitmire recruited Kiepper from Atlanta, Houston's buses were a “laughingstock,” said Dennis Gardner, who was Metro's general counsel under Kiepper.

Rail system was goal

Kiepper built new maintenance garages and overhauled the training of mechanics and drivers. To emphasize promptness, he required bus drivers to wear watches. He created Metro's present-day color scheme, with white buses (so he could see if they were dirty) sporting red and blue stripes. But each bus had to “earn its stripes” first by getting a mechanical makeover and cleaning. He required that every bus be cleaned daily, inside and out—a policy that remains in effect today.
“Kiepper could focus on a problem and really just work through it very methodically. And that's what he did with the bus system, put it on its feet,” Gardner said.
Within three years, Houston's bus system won a national award from the American Public Transit Association. Kiepper also won the industry's top management award.
“In terms of the transit business, knowing how to make the buses run on time, and for customer service, he was truly outstanding,” said Alan Clark, director for transportation planning at the Houston-Galveston Area Council.
Under Kiepper, Metro became nationally known for its expertise in cooling buses. “We set a new air-conditioning standard, a requirement that all the bus manufacturers have to meet that's called the ‘Houston test,'” said Metro Executive Vice President John Sedlak, who worked under Kiepper.
The “Houston pull-down” test involves heating a bus to 110 degrees, which can be done inside a bus paint-drying oven. With the bus doors closed, the air conditioner must cool the bus interior to 70 degrees within 30 minutes. (CP's emphasis in bold)
________________Chronicle excerpt ends.
Alan Kiepper will be greatly missed among public transit professionals, but perhaps we can draw some inspiration from his life...and in so doing, draw less perspiration from our bus customers and employ the willpower to do here what he did in Houston and elsewhere.  
Services will be held at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Monday, Sept. 14 with remembrances beginning at 10:30 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. Interment is private.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Hospice of the Chesapeake, 445 Defense Highway, Annapolis, MD 21401 or St. Anne's Episcopal Church, 199 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis, MD 21401.

Arrangements are by John M. Taylor Funeral Home, Annapolis, where online condolences may be made at www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com. 

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1 Comment:

John said...

I knew Alan when he was at Parsons and I was doing ITS work, and then we accidentally reconnected here in Annapolis 7 years later. He was a wealth of info and a great guy.

The last time I saw him was a few years ago when he and Suzan were off on a trip to Europe.

Good guy. Need more of him!

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