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UCHRA Transportation Director Retiring After 35 Years

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UCHRA Transportation Director Retiring After 35 Years

UCHRA’s Transportation Service Director Rebecca Harris is retiring after 35 years.

Harris called the local system one of the best rural transit systems in the state.

“We have gone from 70 employees in transit to over 200 transit employees,” Harris said. “Our funding levels when I first started in transit were around $800,000 a year, and we are around 10 million today.”

Harris said she decided to retire to have enough time to train new director, Holly Montooth, especially if the census upgrades Cookeville to a small urban area.

“Retiring now would allow a new director to come in and be able to dive in and understand the operations before that actual urbanization change happens in Cookeville,” Harris said. “Because, that changes public transit.”

Harris said when she first started, she never imagined going from gasoline fueled vehicles to having regular meetings about electric buses. An all-electric E-450 shuttle bus is soon to operate through a partnership with Tennessee Tech University.

“As director, I am working about three to five years out,” Harris said. “We are having lots of conversations today about alternative fuel sources that I would have never dreamed of having 30 years ago, even 10 years ago.”

Harris started in 1985 as a clerk in the workforce division before moving to the Community Services department. In 1989 she was named the County Coordinator of White and Van Buren counties and became involved in transportation. In September 2001, Harris was named the Transportation Services Director. Harris said the future for UCHRA’s transit system is bright.

“I feel very good about where the department is at,” Harris said. “We are providing more public transit trips then any other rural system in the state, currently. I see that continuing to grow. The demand is growing even with the pandemic that we have gone through. The numbers are not back to pre-pandemic levels, but we are getting there.”


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