Chad Heid will start his new job as BSOOB director July 21. He comes to Maine from the Albany area of New York, where he worked for the Capital District Transit Authority for 15 years, the last 8 1/2 as manager of service planning. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD — Chad Heid was raised in western New York and has spent much of his life working in the Albany area, helping people get to where they need to be. 

He’ll be doing that locally in about three weeks, when he takes up his new job as executive director of Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit on July 21. 

While the capital district of New York is nowhere near the ocean, Heid said he sees similarities between where he’s worked  and the cities of Biddeford and Saco — like Cohoes, a city of 17,000 just north of Albany, where old mill buildings are being repurposed into housing, and a mix of businesses. 

“They’ve been attempting to find a resurgence in a postindustrial world, and transit plays an important part in that,” said Heid. “Transit can work in so many functions in helping support existing residents and in a community seeing new development. Transit is a wonderful equalizer.” 

In a telephone interview late last week, Heid said some people don’t have direct access to jobs or other pursuits, but transit can connect them. 

Heid, 39, holds a master’s degree in business and a graduate certificate in urban policy and has worked in various capacities for the Capital District Transit Authority in Albany, most recently as manager of service planning, a post he’s held within his long tenure at the transit authority — he began working there in 2006 — for 8 1/2 years.  

“I spend a lot of time in the planning chair, making sure that transit aligns with development patterns,”  he said. An area of  focus has been trying to find ways to utilize transportation to advance the goals of small and medium sized urban areas.

Now, he’s looking forward to coming to Maine. His family, wife Laura and boys Cooper, 6, and Austen, 4, will join him here later this summer. 

“(Chad Heid) is an experienced transit professional dedicated to advancing transit to benefit the customers it serves today and tomorrow,” said Greg Tansley, chair of the Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit Committee. He said Heid impressed the committee with his enthusiasm, experience, and a commitment to transit and those people and businesses that rely on it. Tansley thanked committee numbers and transit staff for their dedication and commitment through the recruitment process. 

The district’s previous director, Tony Scavuzzo, served for two years, and chose not to renew his contract, instead moving on to an opportunity in project management. 

Heid arrives in the wake of a number of changes at BSOOB Transit, including the installation of a new payment program that sees riders pay fares using either a mobile app or a re-loadable smart card. As well, eight new trolleys and four buses, two of which are electric, are part of the fleet, and the agency recently received word from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Committee, that they’ve been awarded $1.2 million to buy two on-route chargers for their electric buses.  

There have been other changes, as well. Last month, 32 drivers, mechanics and other workers, employed by  BSOOB , looking to negotiate better wages, voted to join the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 714, according to the Associated Press. 

BSOOB, established in 1978, provides service in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, to Portland via Scarborough and South Portland, and to Portland by Zoom express. As well, trolleys serve various coastal locations seasonally.  

Heid said he’ll be a hands-on, engaged community member. 

“I’m excited to come to a place where there seems to be momentum and a pattern of investment and engagement,” he said. 

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