Virginia Transportation Leaders Honored by Virginia Transit Association with Distinguished Leadership Awards

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December 17, 2020

Department of Rail and Public Transportation
Contact: Haley Glynn Email:
Phone: (804) 351-6647


Virginia Transportation Leaders Honored by Virginia Transit Association with Distinguished Leadership Awards

~ Secretary of Transportation recognized for transportation leadership and 
DRPT recognized for swift action in response to COVID-19 pandemic ~


(RICHMOND) – The Virginia Transit Association (VTA) presented its annual awards at a virtual reception on December 15, honoring Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine with the 2020 Distinguished Public Official Leadership Award and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) with the Public Transportation Distinguished Leadership – Public Agency Award. Each year, VTA recognizes outstanding leadership and contributions by individuals and agencies that are working to advance public transportation in the Commonwealth.

One of the most significant achievements in the Transportation Secretariat this year was the passage of the Governor’s Omnibus Transportation Bill. Signed into law in April as Chapter 1230, the legislation restructures Virginia’s transportation funding model, making a financial commitment to a truly multimodal transportation system. The legislation also supports the Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative and establishes a Transit Ridership Incentive Program to promote improved transit service and reduce barriers to transit use. 

“I want to thank the Virginia Transit Association for recognizing the Commonwealth’s dedication to providing essential travel connections for all Virginians,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “From legislative efforts to create fiscal flexibility to the providing vital resources when and where they are most needed, the Commonwealth has demonstrated its commitment to creating access and mobility for all Virginians as we support Virginia’s economic recovery.”

“The omnibus bill would not have been possible without the fearless and persistent leadership of Secretary Valentine,” stated Virginia Transit Association Executive Director Lisa Guthrie. “It was her deep commitment to public transportation that was evident in the long days of the General Assembly session where prolonged negotiations dragged on.”

Public transportation continues to provide vital connections for essential workers and basic lifeline services throughout the pandemic. The public transportation leadership award recognizes DRPT for its distribution of an additional $11 million in statewide operating funds to transit agencies in the spring of 2020. The emergency funding was identified from prior years’ savings using DRPT’s MERIT (Making Efficient and Responsible Investments in Transit) prioritization process, resulting in no negative impact on current allocations.

“DRPT’s swift action to provide additional funding to its transit partners just days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, enabled Virginia’s transit systems to make service changes without fear of an immediate budget crunch,” continued Lisa Guthrie. “The money enabled agencies to offset unanticipated expenses and maintain cash flow. DRPT staff is deserving of special recognition for their foresight and quick action during this crisis.”

“At the onset of the pandemic, under the leadership of Secretary Valentine and the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Transportation Secretariat immediately began work on a proactive response to ensure that the critical movement of people and goods continued,” said DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell. “DRPT staff worked quickly to ensure transit agencies across the Commonwealth had the resources necessary to remain in operation and keep Virginia moving.”

As we battle the pandemic together, DRPT remains committed to providing COVID-19 Guidance to our transit partners and best practices to support safe operations. In addition to the $11 million, DRPT has distributed nearly $100 million in CARES Act funding, provided face coverings to small urban and rural transit agencies in the Commonwealth, and coordinated reporting to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).    


About the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation DRPT’s mission is to improve the mobility of people and goods while expanding transportation choices in the Commonwealth through rail, public transportation, and commuter services. DRPT is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of its services on the basis of race, color, or national origin as protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For additional information on DRPT’s nondiscrimination policies and procedures or to file a complaint, please contact the Title VI Compliance Officer, Mike Mucha, at (804) 786‐6794, TDD 711, or 600 E. Main Street, Suite 2102, Richmond, VA 23219.