William E. Harrell

William E. Harrell is the president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit.

Following his appointment in April 2012, Harrell established a vision to reshape HRT into the most efficient and customer-driven transit agency in Virginia.

The focus from the beginning has been to improve HRT’s finances. Under Harrell’s leadership, HRT has embarked on an aggressive plan to restore the agency’s capital budgets as the basis for improving an aging bus fleet. He has pushed hard for cost containment and improved efficiency. These efforts lie at the heart of improving the overall customer experience because a healthy, well run agency will have the resources to invest in its future. In February, 2014, he successfully guided HRT to winning approval from the agency’s governing body the first basic fare increase in the agency’s history.

Harrell believes that the foundation of a viable transit system that supports the regional economy and quality of life will require a dedicated funding stream. This will ensure frequent and reliable service to key destinations. In this regard, he has initiated a community conversation on this important topic called Connect Hampton Roads. Join the conversation here.

Harrell came to HRT from the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, where he was city manager. Harrell oversaw the day-to-day operations of Virginia’s third largest city, an operating budget of more than $900 million, and more than 4,000 full and part-time employees.

Prior to Chesapeake, he was chief administrative officer in Richmond, Virginia, where he managed more than 20 departments and agencies and a budget of more than $800 million. During his tenure, more than $450 million in private investments came to the city. Harrell also served as the city’s deputy city manager over all city operations.

Harrell has been the assistant city manager in Greensboro, North Carolina, where responsibilities included coordination of department overseeing water resources, transportation, planning, environmental services and parks and recreation.

Before Greensboro, he was the director of public utilities and, eventually, assistant city manager for the City of Suffolk, Virginia.  Harrell has been honored by the Virginia Chapter for the American Society for Public Administration with the G. Robert House Young Public Administrator Award.

A graduate of Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Harrell earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning from the University of Virginia. Additionally, he earned a second master’s in public administration from the university.

Harrell and his wife, Johnna, reside in Chesapeake.