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NJ TRANSIT MOURNS PASSING OF LOUIS J. GAMBACCINI
NEWARK, NJ -- NJ TRANSIT is mourning the passing of Louis J. Gambaccini, the agency’s founding Chairman of the Board of Directors, who died at his home in Skillman, N.J., on Sunday, August 19. He was 87 years old.
Mr. Gambaccini helped shape transportation policy and initiated innovative solutions for transit issues during a career that lasted more than five decades. His long and distinguished career in transportation included tenure in senior management positions in transportation management at several key area agencies.
In 1978, he was selected to serve as the Commissioner of Transportation and through his leadership, NJ TRANSIT was created on July 17, 1979. He served as Commissioner from 1978-1981 and was the Board Chairman of NJ TRANSIT from 1979-1981.
“Lou Gambaccini’s dedication to transportation was in a class by itself. He served NJ TRANSIT with distinction and helped initiate vital transportation solutions for the people of New Jersey. He will be missed,’ said Governor Philip Murphy.
“It was Lou Gambaccini’s vision that the people of New Jersey needed a strong transportation system for their travel to work, appointments, and everyday life commitments,’’ said NJ Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairperson Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “His leadership as the founding Chairman of NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors provided a stable, guiding path for everyone to follow and his dedication to excellence set the gold standard we all aspire to reach each and every day. His passing is a great loss.’’
“It is truly sad to hear of the passing of Lou Gambaccini,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Lou was a strong advocate for an improved public transportation system and his 50-plus years in the industry serve as an inspiration for all of us to elevate the standards of public service. There will never be another person like Lou Gambaccini.’’
Mr. Gambaccini’s expertise in transportation extends to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia, where he spent more than eight years as general manager. Prior to SEPTA, he served 32 years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with 20 years as Vice President and General Manager and other senior positions overseeing the Port Authority Trans Hudson Corporation (PATH).
In 1997, he was recruited by Rutgers University to administer the federally funded National Transit Institute and established the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, including the founding of a new research institute – the Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute.
He chaired a number of professional organizations, including The Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee, American Public Transportation Association and the former Tri-State Regional Planning Committee. In 1983, he founded and served as first chairman of the Council for Excellence in Government, a national advocacy organization committed to continuing the pursuit of excellence in government.
For those who knew him and worked with him, his tireless work ethic and reputation for inspiring others will be a part of his legacy.
"He was the consummate professional in everything he did. He excelled in everything he did, and, most important of all, he was a nice man,” said former Governor Jim Florio.
“Lou Gambaccini's outstanding character and vision represented the best in public service. He pursued what he thought was the right policy regardless of the politics. He engaged those who worked for him, seeking our ideas and always focusing on the impact on the people we serve. Discussing policy and politics with Lou was always enlightening and energizing. And as an early advocate for women in transportation, Lou helped many women advance in our own careers,’’ said Anne Canby, who succeeded Mr. Gambaccini as NJ Department of Transportation Commissioner in 1981, and was a close colleague and friend.
“Lou was a lion in the world of public service. Where others were cautious and too often accepting of the average, Lou aspired to and expected excellence in service to the public, both for himself and for those who worked under his leadership,’’ said Jerry Premo, NJ TRANSIT’s first Executive Director.
“Lou Gambaccini set the standard of excellence in his extraordinarily productive tenure as New Jersey’s Commissioner of Transportation,’’ said Martin Robins, director emeritus of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University. “He inspired a generation of public servants in the state’s transportation community. Lou’s competence and integrity were essential in 1979 to his and Governor Brendan T. Byrne’s success in overcoming legislative reluctance to the creation of NJ TRANSIT. His campaign on behalf of the 1979 Transportation Bond issue was a model in public education and engagement.’’
Mr. Gambaccini has received numerous awards and honors and has been inducted into the Halls of Fame of the American Public Transportation Association and the NJ TRANSIT Corporation. In 2011, the Louis J. Gambaccini Civic Engagement Series was established at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Through the generous support of friends, colleagues and family, this Series honors Mr. Gambaccini’s legacy in public service and his lifelog dedication to upholding the highest standards of civic responsibility.
He earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.
About NJ TRANSIT
NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 944,000 weekday trips on 252 bus routes, three light rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and through Access Link paratransit service. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 165 rail stations, 62 light rail stations and more than 19,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.
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