Seattle Department of Transportation moving on without Kubly


Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new administration will not include Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly.

The Seattle Times reports the decision as a “mutual” agreement between Kubly and the new mayor but the Ed Murray selection to head the city’s second most visible department was carrying enough Seattle transit baggage to make the choice mostly unsurprising.

Kubly leaves Seattle City Hall having helped drive passage of the largest transportation levy in the city’s history while making measurable progress in lowering the rate of workers in single occupancy vehicles driving downtown. He took over the job as Sound Transit’s money powered the construction of the First Hill Streetcar which finally opened in January 2016 after more than a year of delays. Along the way, Kubly found himself dispatched to Europe to help sort out problems with the company manufacturing the trains. The First Hill Streetcar’s extension north on Broadway was dead on arrival. Other problems were of his own making. In 2016, Kubly admitted to ethics violations over the deal to bring the Pronto bikeshare system to life in Seattle. Pronto was dead three months into 2017. But Kubly’s relatively nimble department quickly ushered in the next era of floating, dockless bike shares run by private companies.

With Kubly moving on, Durkan has tabbed Goran Sparrman to take over SDOT in the interim as a search is launched for a new director. Sparrman was SDOT’s deputy director and, previously, served as director of tarnsportation for Bellevue.

In her statement, Durkan thanked Kubly for his service. “In a time of unprecedented growth, Scott set the stage for a significant increase in multi-modal investments in our city, which will have an impact for decades to come.”

“Our region has been trying to catch up to its transportation needs for decades, and the next few years will be critical for creating more safe, efficient and well-connected transportation choices that make it easier and safer for residents to get around on foot, by bike and via mass transit,” Durkan said. “With a number of significant projects in the pipeline, the next leader must be well positioned to deliver on investments, improve bus service, effectively implement light rail expansion, and prioritize our maintenance backlog.”

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2 thoughts on “Seattle Department of Transportation moving on without Kubly

  1. My favorite burn on Kubly’s departure was in the Seattle Times comments section:

    “To be fair, Kubly is uniquely talented: I didn’t know it was possible to be disliked by urbanists and the Lesser Seattle crowd and despised by your own staff all at once.”

    Wishing him the best… elsewhere.