Executive Vice President, Operations, Public Safety & Customer Service
“We have a dedicated group of professionals who are not just here to do a job; rather, they are passionate about providing reliable, on-time, safe, and secure service.”
— Tim Kelly
If you ask Tim Kelly to explain his job, he keeps it simple: “If it concerns the customer, it concerns me.” In conversation, he places repeated emphasis on reliability, safety, security, customer service and community. These are key personal values for Kelly, as well as areas of professional responsibility. He began his career in 1983 as a METRO police officer, eventually becoming METRO’s chief of police. He learned early on that working for METRO in any capacity required a broad skill set. “You’re an ambassador - constantly interacting with the public and representing METRO,” says Kelly.
Kelly also learned that a good leader is a good listener, a skill that enabled him to excel in a variety of positions at METRO in many different departments. Today, Kelly leads a team of more than 3,000 employees and all of the agency divisions that have direct interaction with customers: Operations (bus, rail, paratransit, vanpool); Safety (bus, rail, environmental, claims, risk management, drug and alcohol programs); Police, Customer Service, and Emergency Management.
Kelly’s long and varied career at METRO has given him a keen understanding of the workings of each department. It’s also given him a uniquely personal perspective on the evolution and revolution of public transit in Houston. “In 1983, there were buses without working air conditioning," he recalls. "Compare that to today’s fleet of modern, clean and often green-powered vehicles.” He’s seen Houston’s attitude toward public transportation change from disdain or indifference to: “How fast can you get it to my neighborhood?”
There have been big changes in the way Houstonians - Kelly included - live, work, and play. He resides downtown now and takes the train to Astros and Texans games, concerts, theater events, and work. He’s on the front lines for every major Houston event - good and bad - whether its coordinating emergency management during natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, or shepherding “big trainloads of unbelievably happy people” in and out of downtown for crowd-drawing events like the Astro’s World Series victory parade, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the Super Bowl.
Kelly’s career highlights and achievements include many of Houston’s major events and innovations: the success of the Houston TranStar partnership; METRO’s role in the 1990 Economic Summit and the 1992 Republican National Convention; the inception of high-occupancy vehicle and high-occupancy toll (HOV / HOT) lanes; and hosting Super Bowls in 2004 and 2017.
“I came to be a police officer,” Kelly says with an astonished smile. “And I wound up doing things I could never have imagined.”
- METRO, Vice President of Public Safety
- METRO, Chief Safety Officer
- METRO, Chief of Police
- METRO, Assistant Chief of Police
- METRO, Police Captain
- METRO, Police Lieutenant
- METRO, Police Sergeant
- METRO Police Officer
Professional Associations and Activities
- American Public Transportation Assocation (APTA)
- Houston TranStar Leadership Team
- Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Regional Safety Council, Chair, appointment by the H-GAC Transportation Policy Council
- Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) of Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Appointment by U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Education and Certifications
- MS, Criminal Justice Leadership and Management, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
- Graduate, Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), Huntsville, Texas
- BS, University of Houston, Clear Lake, Texas