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Meet Ysela Llort!

Ysela Llort
Miami-Dade Transit
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Legislative, and Bus and Paratransit CEOs committees

How many people are employed at Miami-Dade Transit?
Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) employs approximately 3,500 employees. We are the largest public transit agency in Florida and consistently rank in the top tier of all transit agencies in passenger trips, revenue miles, and vehicles operated in ­maximum service.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have worked in the transportation industry for approximately 30 years. I began my career with Virginia DOT, where I was the first female assistant district engineer for planning and operations in the Northern Virginia region.

Then I moved to Florida, where I worked as assistant secretary for intermodal systems development at Florida DOT (FDOT). That job included the executive ­management and operation of the department’s planning, environmental management, and public transportation programs. I also directed long-range and strategic planning, as well as formulated policy for developing capital improvement and investment plans for the state’s intermodal transportation facilities.

After leaving FDOT, I worked as assistant county manager for Miami-Dade County. I oversaw the county’s major transportation departments—including Miami-Dade Transit, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, and the Seaport, among others.

In August 2011, I was requested by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to serve as interim director of MDT. Six months later, he officially appointed me to the director position and I became the department’s first female Hispanic director.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been on the board for more than three years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
One reason: public service. Most of what I’ve done in my professional life has been in the field of trans­portation. I have always been interested in public service and knew that effective transpor­tation was the best way to get people to where they need to go, and create economic opportunities.

I believe public transportation primarily does three things: It moves people, connects places, and engenders prosperity. I wanted to be a part of an industry that makes great things happen in a community.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Which one helps you do your job?
I have personally benefited from the timely, relevant publications that APTA produces. I also appreciate the ability to exchange ideas with industry leaders, allowing members to “compare notes” and learn from each other. This is one of the most invaluable services I believe that APTA provides to its members and others in the transportation industry.

What do you like most about your job?
Perhaps the best thing about my job is working with professionals who are dedicated to providing the best transit experience for our riders and who strive to make good things happen, no matter how challenging the task at hand may be.

To give you an example, last year, during the Miami Heat victory celebration in June, we registered a record-setting number of trips on our Metrorail system—approximately 117,000. That day it felt as if we moved most of South Florida, and we did so safely, efficiently, and without a hitch. Such a large-scale effort can only be credited to the dedication of our hard-working MDT employees who assisted passengers, answered questions, and helped minimize waiting times. I was very proud of the work we did that day.

I was also pleased to have worked on one of the county’s key transportation projects—the Metrorail extension to Miami International Airport—from its inception to its completion. During my years at FDOT, former Secretary José Abreu and I obtained the first $100 million for the project. As MDT director, I worked closely with staff, bringing the project to its completion. When we inaugurated the station in July 2012, I had the honor of cutting the ribbon alongside Mayor Carlos Gimenez, several of our county commissioners, and other officials. In this industry, it is rare to have the privilege of working on a project from the beginning to the end. So, it was an amazing experience to have a hand in bringing such a large and important project to fruition.
I also relish finding opportunities for growth and change that can improve the services we provide to our patrons.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
They might be surprised to learn that, for just $2.25 per ride, Miami-Dade ­Transit’s Metrorail system offers a phenomenal view of the sunset and city skyline as seen from the trains on the elevated tracks that go to and from our new Miami ­Inter­national Airport station.

It is truly a sight to see.
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