Plante, strong safety advocate, ends term on Metra board

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John Plante

CHICAGO — John Plante, a strong proponent of railroad safety during his long career at the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra, is leaving the commuter rail agency’s board after serving seven years.

Plante was honored by his fellow directors with a resolution citing his tenure at Metra where he served as board treasurer and chairman of the Safety Committee. Members also expressed appreciation for his expertise and dedication.

Plante took Metra’s safety efforts “to a whole new level,” said Don Orseno, former Metra executive director who was recently appointed to the board. Plante has been a “strong advocate” for safety and is well-known for his efforts in the railroad industry, he added.

“Safety is our most important issue, and you’ve (raised) the bar in that area,” said former chairman Norm Carlson, who remains on the board. Carlson also praised Plante for taking a regional approach to issues facing Metra.

“We are a mass transit system … serving an entire region,” Plante said, echoing that comment. “That perspective is important.” He added that in the “bad old days” Metra and the other transit agencies used to fight over funding, but “we resolved that.” 

Plante, 75, told Trains News Wire that his proudest accomplishment was "helping bring credibility back” to Metra’s board. The agency was rocked by a 2010 embezzlement scandal and subsequent years of turmoil on the board of directors.

“There was a lot of bad history there,” said Plante, who was appointed in 2013. “We were able to put together a group of people (on the board) who were dedicated and took the job seriously.”

Plante also has served on the American Public Transportation Association board of directors and as chairman of the APTA Risk Management Committee. He continues as a member of the Risk Management Committee and all the APTA Security Emergency Management Standards Committees.

Plante retired from the CTA in 2013 after 35 years at the agency. He began his tenure as a trial attorney, and then moved to trial supervision and then managing attorney for the claims department, risk management, and senior manager of emergency preparedness.

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