William E. Harrell is the president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit.
Since his appointment in April 2012, Harrell has led HRT to achieve its mission of connecting Hampton Roads with transportation solutions that are reliable, safe, efficient, and sustainable, with a vision of reshaping HRT 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 an aging bus fleet and 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.” And that statement could not be more true.
Harrell’s current undertaking is developing a new bus network that is more relevant and responsive to our needs in Hampton Roads 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, with over 4,000 employees. Harrell is also a Credentialed Manager with the International City/County Management Association. With over 35 years in public service, Harrell 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.