Robert J. Burke
Robert J. Burke was a great friend to working men and women and an iconic figure in the transit industry in New York State. His tragic death in 1999, at age 56, cut short a life that inspired all who knew him. He left behind a legacy of committed friends and workers and a bus company that continues to set a high standard for others in the industry.
At the time of his death, Bob was the founder, President, and co-owner with his wife, Myra, of Queens Surface Corp., the largest private bus company in New York City. He had arrived at this position in 1988, twenty years after beginning his transit career as a bus operator. His improbable success was a result of tenacious effort, risk taking, and professional acumen. His integrity and intelligence won him the support of people who helped him along the way. His empathy and forthrightness won him the loyalty and camaraderie of his colleagues and employees.
Bob started his professional career in the Navy, serving as quartermaster aboard the USS Intrepid. In 1965 he joined the NYC Transit Police and remained there for two years. In 1967 he joined the NYS Police and was forced to resign due to illness. He began driving a bus in 1968 for Club Transportation in Westchester.
As a bus operator he was proud to be elected a union officer in the Transport Workers Union, Local 100. In 1970 he went into management, holding a series of positions including road superintendent, dispatcher, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and general manager. In 1983 Bob moved to Albany as Vice President and eventually Chief Executive Officer of Mountain View Coach Lines and School Transit, Inc. In 1986, he was hired to run the operations of Queens/Steinway Transit Corp. He bought the 800-employee, 337 coach operation in 1988.
Bob's career was built upon a foundation of hard work and understanding. He was an active member of the Bus Association of New York, serving as President from 1990 to 1992 and again from 1997 until his death. Bob was also a founding member and officer of the Mass Transit Operators of New York. He was active in many fundraising events and gained recognition among numerous civic and charitable organizations for his generous efforts on their behalf.
Bob's cherished wife Myra and their son Martin continued running Queens Surface Corp. until February of 2005 when the operations were taken over by the MTA.
Bob Burke was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
John A. Garrity
For 14 years, (1982-1996), John A. Garrity was responsible for providing public transportation service to the people of the RochesterGenesee Region of New York State as Executive Director of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and General Manager of the Authority's Regional Transit Service and the Authority's operating subsidiaries. The dual role as both Authority CEO and General Manager of all operations, culminated nearly 40 years of service to the Transit industry in New York State.
Jack's 25 years in Rochester began as a Vice President with City Lines Management Corporation, assigned as Resident Manager of Regional Transit Services. He served in that post from 1972 to 1976 when he was asked by the Authority to become RTS General Manager. He continued in the top operating post until 1982 when he assumed his dual role with the Authority.
Under Garrity's leadership these years saw the development of a modern metro bus system, new operational facilities, a multi-county Park and Ride system, a Lift Line system to serve disabled citizens, and a network of successful intra-county systems to serve the Authority's more rural counties One of these systems was the first of its kind to achieve 100 percent recovery of operating cost.
Jack Garrity's transit career began after he hung up his U. S. Army, and college football uniforms. He graduated in 1957 from Fordham University with a B. S. Degree in Business Administration.
His first position was as a Dispatcher with Greyhound Lines after completing the company's Management Training Program. From 1957 to 1960 he also held the positions of First Grievance Officer and Assistant to th Regional Manager.
In 1960 he joined Schenck Transportation Company of Floral Park, Long Island. During the next 10 years with the company, Jack served as Driver Trainer, Safety Director, Claims Manager and Personnel Manager.
As 1970 began, Jack left for Albany to become an Associate Motor Carrier Specialist with the New York State Department of Transportation. He remained with the Department as part of a three-man section in the Development Division until 1972 when he began his years with the Authority in Rochester.
Jack Garrity became well known both statewide and at the national level because of his dedicated efforts with the New York Public Transit Association, and the American Public Transit Association. He served on the NYPTA Board of Directors for over 10 years and as NYPTA President in 1990-91.
He was active with APTA and its predecessors for 30 years and served on the, APTA Board of Directors for over 10 years. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Public Transit Foundation for four years.
Jack now resides in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford with his wife, Gael. The Garrity's have 5 children. He was inducted in 2000.
David Putz began his career with New York State Department of Transportation in June of 1967 as a Transportation Engineer Trainee. He worked his way up to Senior Transportation Analyst in just three short years, in the Planning Division of the Planning and Research Bureau. David's career spanned 33 years at NYSDOT. He retired in August, 2000 from his position as Director in the Transit Services Bureau of the Passenger Transportation Division.
David's contributions to the state's transportation industry earned him the Department's E. Burton Hughes Award in 1974 and the Commissioner's Award of Excellence for Lifetime Achievement in 1999.
David lives in Albany with his wife of 21 years, Kathleen, and their two children, Kristin 19 and Michael 17. He was inducted in 2000.
Gordon Thompson joined the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) in 1968 as Urban Transportation Planner. One of Mr. Thompson's major accomplishments included his work on the design and implementation of plans for the Metro Rail line. Thompson's vision included the rail system's eventual extension from Angola to Niagara Falls.
Gordon Thompson spent 23 years with the NFTA. After the completion of the rail line, Mr. Thompson helped to develop a regional bus system serving all of Erie and Niagara counties, which connected to the Metro Rail.
Until his untimely death in February of this year, Thompson was active as a transit consultant, advocate of a proposed high speed rail line across New York State; and a board member and former vice chairman of Citizens Regional Transit Corporation.
Gordon Thompson is survived by his wife of 54 years, Yuriko, two daughters, Tamiko and Kathryn; five sons, Philip, Lawrence, Paul, David and Francis, and five grandchildren. He was inducted in 2000.
Warren Woodruff began his career in public transportation as the first General Manager of CNY Centro, Inc. (successor to Syracuse Transit), and subsidiary of the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority.
He remained in that position for 23 years until retirement in 1995. During that time he saw the renaissance of public transportation in Central New York, began transit service in Cayuga and Oswego Counties, and was involved in building facilities in Oswego, Cayuga, and Onondaga Counties. He championed many innovations in public transportation including: RUCUS (computer run cutting and scheduling), institution of part-time drivers to more efficiently utilize manpower and handle peak periods, and saw the installation of inline engines and brake retarders to improve safety and brake life. Just prior to retirement he worked with staff on the introduction of CNY buses and the concept of an intermodal transportation center for Syracuse and Central New York which has come to fruition.
Warren lives in Skaneateles, New York, with his wife, Winifred. He has two children, Alison and David, and four grandchildren, James, Julia, Taylor and Katie. He was inducted in 2000.