City Quietly Cuts Transit Manager Loose

The post on the City website is brief, and to the point: “The City of Guelph has parted ways with Phil Meagher, general manager of Guelph Transit. We thank Phil for his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavours.” Somehow, the way this was buried on the City’s website, it’s doubtful that the City wishes Meagher well in the future.

When the Guelph Tribune asked Colleen Clack, the Deputy CAO that oversees transit operations, for specifics, they were not very forthcoming. “In order to move forward with some of our key initiatives we needed to make that change in leadership,” Clack told the Trib. All David Godwaldt, general manager of human resources, had to add was “He was terminated without cause.”

Okay, but why so mysterious? It’s not like the City is unaccustomed to losing high level staffers, like when Ann Pappert opted to not renew her contract as CAO back in May, or when City Treasurer Janice Sheehy depart for a new gig in Peel Region in February.

Meagher’s time as Transit manager has been fairly eventful. Hired in August 2013 his tenure was marked by the lockout in summer 2014, a new navigation system on buses that’s been in place for months and still doesn’t seem to work right, and highly controversial service cuts this past year including no peak service in the summer, reduced service on stat holidays, and no Free Ride Friday program for Guelph Storm fans. And it gets worse…

According to the Tribune, the Transit Growth Strategy has been shelved indefinitely. Meagher was one of the driving forces behind that over the last few years, and after no money has invested to implement it last year, it was deferred to the 2017 budget process, but the upcoming capital budget makes no mention of it either. For transit users eager for more frequency on key routes and a new 10-minute “spine” route from Woodlawn Rd to Clair Rd, it looks like they’re out of luck.

Long story short, the City of Guelph wants you to know that even though they’ve fired the General Manager of Transit, who’s been on the job for more than three years, and that they did it suddenly and then buried the news on the website (seriously, I ran a Google search of just the website for the words “Phil Meagher” and it took seven pages to find it), everything’s fine.

“An interim manager [general manager of emergency services, Andy MacDonald,] has been appointed. Work associated with upholding the day-to-day operation of Guelph Transit is uninterrupted. The City will ensure a smooth transition and continue to deliver the service our community expects,” said the release.

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