Paul Ballard appointed North County Transit District’s interim executive director

A Coaster heads north under the North Torrey Pines Road Bridge in Del Mar two years ago.
A Coaster heads north under the North Torrey Pines Road Bridge in Del Mar two years ago.

(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Paul Ballard, who has held leadership positions at multiple transportation agencies throughout the country, will serve as the interim executive director of the North County Transit District following the retirement of Matthew O. Tucker.

The NCTD Board of Directors announced the appointment immediately after a closed session on Aug. 14.

Ballard will enter a four-month agreement on Sept. 25 at a biweekly salary of $13,692, with potential monthly extensions. His employment agreement will also include a one-week transition period from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, coinciding with Tucker’s final week on the job.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to identify someone with Mr. Ballard’s extensive executive-level experience to help guide the district in the coming months as the board conducts a process for the selection of a new executive director,” said Solana Beach City Councilmember Jewel Edson, chair of the NCTD board of directors.

Ballard has previously served as the interim president and CEO at Trinity Metro-Fort Worth Transportation Agency in Texas, as well as interim CEO and general manager at Regional Transportation District in Denver, Colorado.

According to an NCTD news release, Ballard has also held executive-level positions at Nashville Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee. His was also president of Progressive Transportation Services, president of American Transit Corporation, managing director at ATC/Vancom International, and general manager of operations and maintenance at Bi-State Development Agency.

Ballard earned a Master of Arts in public administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a Bachelor of Science in business, transportation and public utilities management from the Indiana University School of Business.

Tucker, who has been NCTD’s executive director for the last 15 years, announced on Aug. 7 that he will retire from the agency at the end of the month.

The Aug. 14 board of directors meeting was his last.

“A lot of this ability for me to be able to navigate, and for staff to move things forward, was premised upon the fact that we had been fortunate to have excellent boards that provided a consistent policy framework for us, and lots of support along the way,” Tucker said. “When we did make mistakes — because we did make mistakes — it allowed us to continue pushing forward, recognizing there were going to be missteps along the way.”

The Union-Tribune reported on the highlights of Tuckers tenure, which included replacing the entire NCTD locomotive fleet with new locomotives that met emissions guidelines, as well as advocating for the switch to zero-emission buses. There were also lows, such as the San Diego County Taxpayers Association naming NCTD a finalist for its 2014 Golden Fleece Award due to Sprinter trains that had been shut down for nearly three months for repairs that went $3 million over budget.

Del Mar City Councilmember Dave Druker, who serves on the NCTD board, said “there’s nobody else that could’ve filled these shoes.”

“It was a very difficult 15 years, to say the least,” Druker said. “You were able to guide the agency to make sure that it continues to be successful as many other agencies have faltered.”


4:57 p.m. Aug. 14, 2023: Updated with additional information about Ballard’s past experience.