Profile on: Shirley DeLibero, former CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) and NJ Transit
Interview location: Shirley’s condo in Milton, Massachusetts and Ashmont Grill in Dorchester, Massachusetts
How we got there: by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
In one word, Shirley describes herself as “tenacious.”
As far as public transportation circles are concerned, Shirley DeLibero is known as the Queen of Transit. Her career expands over three decades. From improving transportation at agencies in Boston; Washington, DC; Dallas; and New Jersey; all the way to Houston, where, as CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), she oversaw the construction of the METRORail, the city’s first light rail. Her efforts in Houston were even recognized with a building named in her honor, the Shirley A. DeLibero Rail Operations Center.
“Everybody thinks, oh you’ve had a great career. You have a building named after you,” says Shirley, sitting in the living room of her condo in Milton, Massachusetts. “But they don’t understand some of the nuances that you go through. I had a lot of hard nights.”
— Shirley DeLibero
Shirley was born in 1937 and raised in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, a fact betrayed by her Eastern Massachusetts accent. Her parents and grandparents had emigrated from Cape Verde, an island country off the northwest coast of Africa. “It was a great way of growing up,” she says. “Living on the Cape, I feared nothing and everybody loved me.”
Her family moved to Boston when she was fourteen. “That was a real awakening,” she says. “I remember coming home from school and telling my mom someone called me ‘n-----.’ I’d never heard that word. It sounded funny to me.” Cape Cod, she says, “kept me innocent. Boston was reality. It’s been like that since.”
You can enjoy more of Shirley’s story as well as the stories of other transit aficionados across the country at PeopleWhoMovePeople.com.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
5 Major Forces Shaping Mobility Technology
New technologies and emerging trends have shifted the way in which people determine how and when they get to where they need to go. The impact this has on public transit is significant, and as a result, these forces are shaping the future of mobility technology for transit agencies.Read More
The world is constantly changing. 2020 will be very different from 2017, and 2050 and 2100 even more so. With that in mind, these are some trends that are shifting the way we think about transportation and mobility.Read More
Win APTA Transit System of the Year
As the former Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Andy Byford spent much of his time making substantial improvements to the system. When Andy joined the organization, he was aware of the problems at TTC. However, where some people might have seen obstacles, Andy saw a huge opportunity.Read More