Robert G. Decker
Mr. Decker was a member of the "All-Authorities Committee," the organizational predecessor to the New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA). Mr. Decker was also active in the formation of NYPTA.
Mr. Decker began his transit career in 1947 as the Assistant Traffic Engineer in the Transportation Department of the International Railway Company. Here he performed a key role in the post-World War II modernization of the bus network. At that time the Transportation Department was responsible for "putting service on the street." Mr. Decker contributed to the reorganization of IRC into NFT, taking it from bankruptcy in 1947 to profitability in the early 1950's. He was directly responsible for many new innovations at the NFT. He introduced radio-dispatching to the NFT in 1954. In 1961, the NFTA operated the largest privately-owned, radio-equipped transit system in the world. Mr. Decker was responsible for the introduction of air-conditioned buses in 1956 and express service to the suburbs in 1959.
In 1964, Robert became the Vice President of Transportation at the Niagara Frontier Transit System Inc. Here he directed operations of Niagara Frontier Transit, Inc., one of the last privately owned urban bus companies in the U.S.
Mr. Decker moved forward in his career to become the Executive Vice-President of the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority), in 1974. Mr. Decker held this position until his retirement in 1983. In 1974, Robert directed the transition of six (6) private bus companies into the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System. He directed Metro's role in the design, construction, and integration of the Metro bus system with the new Metro light rail system, which initiated revenue service shortly after his retirement. Mr. Decker also directed the rapid restoration of Metro service after the "Blizzard of 1977," an event that lead to the declaration of Buffalo's first national emergency.
In addition to his activities with NYPTA, Mr. Decker served as APTA's Operations Committee Chairman in 1973 and served on the APTA Board of Directors, 1976-1980. He was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame, 1992.
Mr. Decker, 84, of Cape Coral Florida and Point Abino, Ontario died suddenly on September 8, 2002. He was inducted in 2002.
Desmond was introduced to transportation while serving the United States Army in the 547th Transportation Company in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and later with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea. In 1957 he started as a bus driver in The Bronx with Surface Transportation Inc., (now known as Manhattan & Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority).
In 1968 Desmond was promoted to Dispatcher and worked in Manhattan and the Bronx receiving extensive exposure to all phases of dispatching. He moved to a Senior Dispatcher position in 1972 filling various positions as Patrol Supervisor, Assistant Chief Dispatcher in bus depots, and spent several years in the Scheduling Department.
In 1981, he was appointed Superintendent of Roads and worked with the Road Control Group in all boroughs of New York City, monitoring bus routes for scheduling compliance and maintaining service in emergency situations. He again changed jobs in 1984 and was assigned to Casey Stengel Depot in Queens and retired from that position in the fall of 1985 as a General Superintendent.
Desmond later went to work for The New York State Public Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) as a supervisor in the lower New York State area. The PTSB is a state agency which oversees transit companies receiving State Operating Assistance. Responsibilities included investigating fatal, multiple injury and mechanical failure accidents and assisting transit companies in creating, monitoring and implementing System Safety Program Plans as well as performing audits to ensure compliance in all aspects of the plans. He retired again in 1999.
Desmond comes from a transportation oriented family. His brother Kevin worked for the New York City subway system, and another brother, John, was a bus driver in Manhattan for The Fifth Avenue Coach Co., who later became the president of the Transportation Workers Union. Desmond is married, has six children and fifteen grandchildren. He was inducted in 2002.
Mr. Sheardown began his career at Orenda Engines in 1952. It was the last time he ever worked for someone else. He then began a career as an entrepreneurial risk-taker and made significant contributions to the bus manufacturing industry as well as the New York Public Transit Association.
In 1959, he bought Sheardown Transport from his father. He sold this business in 1970 to create Sheardown Tire, which still operates in suburban Toronto. In the mid-1970's, he began acquiring trucking and transportation companies, operating 300 trucks and trailers. In 1976, he owned and operated Atlantic Bus Lines, a 200-school bus operation in Markham, ON. He was the private subcontractor for the first incarnation of Wheeltrans, the elderly/disabled service for the Toronto Transit Commission. Mr. Sheardown bought Ontario Bus Industries in 1979. He grew this company from 80 employees with $2 million in annual revenues to a staff of 1,300 with $150 million annual revenues. He entered the U.S. bus market by establishing a manufacturing facility in Utica, NY. His firm designed and built the ORION II in 1983, thus providing the first low floor bus designed to enhance access and mobility for people with disabilities. He began exporting the ORION II to Sweden in 1988. The CNG ORION was developed in 1987, the first hybrid ORION was developed in 1988 and the ORION V was developed in 1989. He and his staff led the industry in the development of the low floor bus, CNG deployment and hybrid technology. Only poor health slowed this corporate dynamo!
Mr. Sheardown was the earliest corporate supporter of the New York Public Transit Association. His firm sponsored 100% of the State Roadeo for many years. He and his staff attended every meeting of the New York Public Transit Association. He was inducted in 2002.
Edmund F. Shultis, Jr.
Mr. Shultis was founding member and the first President of the New York Public Transit Association.
He graduated from Oneonta High School in 1940, and from SUNY Cobleskill with a degree in Business in 1942. Shultis also attended Drexel Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University. Mr. Shultis was a World War II veteran who served in the Armed Forces from 1943-1946. Mr. Shultis served in the Pacific Theater after graduating from OCS in 1944 at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He was one of the first groups in Japan after the atomic bombs were dropped. Upon his return, Ed continued his service to his county in the National Guard from 1948-1964. He retired at the Rank of Captain and Commanding Officer.
Following World War II Mr. Shultis was a printer in the feed business as well as a Territory Manager for Allis Chalmers/New Idea Farm Machinery. Ed then began a long and interesting career in public service. He served as City Clerk in the City of Oneonta. Mr. Shultis then moved on to become the first Purchasing Agent for the City of Oneonta, where he wrote the City's purchasing plan. When Mr. Shultis began his position as the City's Transportation Director, he founded the Dial-A-Bus Transit System for the City of Oneonta. The system was later named the Oneonta Public Transit System by a new Transit Director. He retired from public service in 1986. Throughout his career he received numerous honors and awards including the 10th Anniversary Bus Service Award from the City of Oneonta for Devoted Service and Dedicated Leadership.
Ed was very active as a community leader. He was the founder and first President of the NYS Purchasing Association. He also founded MAN-to-MAN, a Prostate Cancer Group for the Oneonta and Cooperstown Area. Mr. Shultis was active in his church and was the Elder Sunday School Superintendent. He worked with the Boy Scouts as and Explorer Leader as well as coordinating special activities for a number of other youth groups. Mr. Shultis was active in the Rotary Club for more than 45 years. He also co-chaired a successful building drive for the Upstate Home for Children.
Ed Shultis was inducted into the New York Public Transit Hall of Fame in 2002. He passed away on December 15, 2008.
Mr. Tanski has a long work history in the transit industry. He began is career in 1946 as a Helper at the International Railway Company and moved on to become a Mechanic at the International Railway Company in 1947.
Mr. Tanski began a long and distinguished career at the Niagara Frontier Transit System, Inc. in 1952 as an Automotive Engineer. He advanced his career with the Niagara Frontier Transit System, Inc. in 1966 he became the General Shop Foreman and in 1967 he moved on to become the Superintendent of Equipment. As Superintendent of Equipment for NFT, Mr. Tanski oversaw modernization of maintenance functions performed in streetcar barns and horseshoe nail factory to today's garage and shop facilities. He is recognized as a pioneer in maintenance technology. Edward maintained all the technological equipment advancements: Radio-Dispatching, Air-Conditioning, High-speed Express buses. He coordinated the centralization of separate heavy maintenance functions, such as the Hertel Avenue Unit Change Shop and Forest Avenue Body Avenue Body Shop into the Cold Spring Central Shop.
Mr. Tanski became Vice-President, Equipment and Maintenance 1978, a position he held until his retirement from the Niagara Frontier Transit System, Inc. in 1989. As Vice President, Maintenance for Metro, Mr. Tanski designed the Cold Spring Central Shop, as well as the Frontier, Cold Spring, and Babcock bus garages to optimize internal bus movements for servicing and inspection maintenance. He consolidated maintenance operations for the combined 6 private bus companies into the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System. Mr. Tanski set up the maintenance operation to integrate the Metro bus system with the Metro light rail system, which initiated revenue service during his tenure. His experience and service to the transportation industry and the NFT were invaluable because IRC/NFT had "done it before."
Mr. Tanski received the APTA "Golden 100" Award for Metro's Maintenance Efficiency in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. He founded Niagara Frontier Live Steamers, model railroad association.
He served as President of Truck and Bus Maintenance Association of Western New York. Edward was an active member of NYPTA. He shared knowledge and "best practices" with many NYPTA members to facilitate the evolution of modern maintenance practices. He was inducted in 2002.