Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC), the public-private partnership that built new tolled tunnels linking Norfolk and Portsmouth, has hired Philip Shucet as CEO. His first task, according to the Virginian-Pilot: Fix customer service.
“I’ve got to understand it, then we’ll fix it,” Shucet told the Pilot minutes after the announcement. “But know this – everyone who uses that tunnel is a valued customer, and we’ll treat ’em that way.”
The state contract with ERC has come under fire in recent weeks for its handling of unpaid tolls. The company has imposed late fees and processing fees that socked motorists with bills as high as $18,000, the Pilot has reported. Because the tolling contract is nearly impossible to re-negotiate, Governor Terry McAuliffe has said he would publicly pressure ERC parent companies Macquarie and Skanska to change ERC’s business practices.
Fixing ERC’s customer-relations problems is the latest in a long line of rescue operations. Shucet first made his mark in Virginia as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) when he overhauled procedures to bring in construction projects on budget and on time. After leaving VDOT he rescued the Norfolk Tide light rail system from massive construction cost overruns, and then was called upon to oversee the ticklish implementation of upgrades to U.S 29 north of Charlottesville.
Bacon’s bottom line: Most people working the interstices between the public and private sectors are usually looking to line their pockets by trading on their relationships. Philip Shucet is a different breed. Not to say that he hasn’t done well for himself as a businessman and consultant in recent years, but he could work anywhere in the country he chooses and probably make a lot more money. Fortunately for the commonwealth, Shucet, who lives in Virginia Beach, has chosen to dedicate much of his career to public service and tackling some of the state’s biggest, stickiest transportation problems. We’re lucky to have him.
Update: Neil Williamson with Charlottesville’s Free Enterprise Forum offers a different take on Shucet’s departure from the Rt. 29 Solutions team: “In our three years of observation, we have grown to appreciate the charming manner in which Shucet manages (some might say manipulates) meetings and their outcomes.”There are currently no comments highlighted.