A longtime Ben Franklin Transit official who retired four years ago was chosen to serve as the agency’s interim leader Thursday.
Ed Frost, 68, was the chairman of a citizens group that advocated for the passage of a ballot measure to create Ben Franklin Transit in 1981. He then served as the agency’s transit development manager from 1982 until retiring in 2009, overseeing areas such as marketing, customer service, planning and its Dial-A-Ride and van pool service.
The transit board voted unanimously to hire him as interim general manager to help find a permanent replacement for Tim Fredrickson, who announced his resignation last week after 18 years leading the agency.
Frost will be paid $10,000 a month for what the board hopes will be a three-month search.
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Frost told the Herald he wants to give back to the agency that meant so much to him so he was happy to listen when Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, the board’s chairman, called to talk to him about it.
“I’ve got some knowledge and expertise that may help the community and Ben Franklin Transit,” he said. “I told him I would be of service if I could and it went from there.”
Watkins admits that he didn’t initially think of Frost.
“Somebody I talked to said, ‘Hey, remember Ed?’ ” Watkins said. “I said, ‘Ed is a person I should call up.’ Ed, because he’s been in transit so many years, will pick up what he’s missed in the last (few) years.”
Some on the board praised Frost during the meeting.
“You always took the bus every day,” union representative Norman Nelson told Frost. “He really does talk the talk and walk the walk.”
But others questioned the benefits Frost is getting, which credit him for his years of service. They include health insurance and 60 hours of vacation time for three months.
Attorney Pat Roach, who worked on Frost’s contract for the transit, assured the board that Frost was satisfied with the agreement.
“I’d be satisfied with it too,” said Prosser City Councilman Steve Becken.
Roach said Frost’s pay should be comparable with that of Fredrickson, who resigned effective Dec. 31, citing health and personal reasons. Fredrickson, who made $121,092 annually, did not attend the meeting and received little mention.
Frost called himself a “fiscal conservative” who wants customer service to be a priority. But he wants to defer major decisions until the nationwide search for a new general manager is complete.
“I’d love to be able to leave things so that the new general manager can leave his or her imprint on the system,” he said.
w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom