William E. Harrell

William HarrellWilliam E. Harrell is the president and CEO.

Harrell has led HRT on a mission to connect Hampton Roads with transportation solutions that are reliable, safe, efficient, and sustainable, in keeping with the agency’s vision of reshaping itself into a progressive mobility agency that promotes prosperity across Hampton Roads through collaboration and teamwork.

Under Harrell’s leadership, HRT has embarked on an aggressive plan to restore the agency’s capital budgets as the basis for improving the bus fleet to deliver more reliable services. 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 a sustainable future.

He often says, “While you may not ride public transportation, chances are you depend on someone who does.”

Harrell’s current undertaking is developing a new bus network that is more relevant and responsive to the region’s needs through the Transit Transformation Project. The project has taken a “blank slate” approach to developing a transit system that better serves the region – one that is convenient, efficient, and equitably funded, and meets the needs of the public.

Harrell came to HRT from the City of Chesapeake, Virginia’s third largest city, where he was city manager. Harrell oversaw the day-to-day operations of an operating budget of more than $900 million and over 4,000 employees. Harrell is also a Credentialed Manager with the International City/County Management Association. With over 35 years in public service, he has served in various leadership roles including chief administrative officer in Richmond, Virginia, and assistant city manager in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Suffolk, Virginia.

Harrell is a board member of Rail-Volution, a national organization committed to building livable communities with transit. He is the Treasurer of the Virginia Transit Association, an active member of the American Public Transportation Association and a regional board member of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

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. He and his wife, Dr. Johnna C. Harrell, reside in Chesapeake.

He was appointed in April 2012.