The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit General Manager Joe Turcotte died of cancer on Monday, according to a TCAT press release. He was 51.
Turcotte became the organization’s general manager in 2005. Under his leadership, TCAT was recognized as the best transit system of its size in North America by the American Public Transit Association in 2011, according to Nancy Oltz, TCAT manager of operations.
“Joe had a vision for TCAT to be a great place to work and that this would lead to a high quality of transit services to this community,” Oltz said.
TCAT transit service supervisor Stuart Douglas said Turcotte’s leadership helped the service to expand and improve.
“Joe, during his years with TCAT, helped the organization blossom,” Douglas said. “Our ridership increased from 3,000,000 rides per year to over 4,000,000 rides per year.”
Cornell Vice President for University Relations Emeritus and former member of the TCAT Board of Directors Henrik Dullea ’61 — who chaired the search committee that hired Turcotte — said he chose Turcotte for his history of maintaining good relationships with the public.
“We were very impressed by Joe’s professional history in the public transit business, particularly his record of taking rider concerns into the decision-making process,” Dullea said. “He was especially impressive as he negotiated repeated agreements with the United Auto Workers and saw to their fair and equitable implementation.”
Turcotte was also a dedicated father and husband and a passionate hockey player and fan, according to Douglas.
“He was totally devoted to his wife and son,” Douglas said. “His wife was his childhood sweetheart.”
Douglas added that Turcotte “truly cared” for everyone he worked with and brought “a feeling of inclusiveness” to TCAT.
“He had a wonderful dry sense of humor which could lighten up the darkest days,” he said.
TCAT communications and marketing manager Patty Poist agreed, saying Turcotte’s leadership was “easygoing” and genuine.
“Joe was compassionate, fair and an amazing human being,” Poist said. “We loved him dearly and his passing is indeed heartbreaking.”