Ryan Daniel, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, always sets high goals for himself in order to achieve success in his career. Daniel started as a bus operator in New York in the late 90’s and has worked hard to advance his career to the point of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the transit system in St. Cloud, MN. His unwavering determination to achieve his goals is what makes him an inspiring young man.
Daniel was drawn to transit at an early age. Although his first interest was aviation, riding the bus to and from school sparked his interest in wanting to know more about the role of a bus operator. That opportunity presented itself for him in the late 1990’s when he decided to become a Bus Operator for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit (MTA). During his tenure as a Bus Operator Daniel looked forward to the annual the Bus Roadeo.
The Bus Roadeo is a competition of driving skills amongst bus operators. To commemorate its heritage, a fleet of vintage buses dating back from 1917 to 1999 are on display for spectators to see. Daniel was inspired by the physical presence of these buses which had plied the streets of the New York City over the last 100 years. He could see the future in these buses from the past.
During his journey as a young adult Daniel encountered many people who did not think he should be in command of a 40-foot bus navigating through the city streets of New York. It came to a point where intending customers woould board the bus, take one look at him and ask if he had a driver’s license. In some cases they would decline the ride and wait for the next bus, but Daniel didn’t let other people’s thoughts limit his ability to pursue his goals.
While driving a bus in New York City Daniel obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After graduation he worked as a Training Manager for Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus, Ohio; a Manager of Bus Operations for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington, DC and now Chief Executive Officer, for St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, (Metro Bus) in St. Cloud, MN.
“I’ve been fortunate to work at organizations that have always embraced diversity and supported my pursuit of new opportunities,” said Daniel.
In his current role as Chief Executive Officer for St. Cloud Metro Bus, Daniel is responsible for ensuring that the agency achieves its overall vision, mission and goals and for providing leadership and guidance to the region regarding transportation related issues.
“To say the journey has been humbling would be an understatement, especially considering in the transportation industry there are still relatively few young male minority Chief Executive Officers,” said Daniel.
Daniel is a member of the St. Cloud Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Board and Board Member for United Way. In both roles, he serves as an advocate for Metro Bus and transportation in our region. In 2014, St. Cloud Metro Bus was nationally recognized by the Community Transportation of America as Small Urban Transit System of the Year. In 2015, Daniel himself was recognized by Mass Transit magazine as one of their “Top 40 Under 40.” This recognition focuses on individuals who have shown a capacity for innovation, demonstrated leadership and a commitment to making an impact in transit. Unrelated to transit, but demonstrating community leadership and service, Daniel has been instrumental in the development of Jugaad Leadership Program. (JLP). Jugaad is a Hindi word that means “innovation.” The Jugaad Leadership Program is a grassroots leadership program for minorities and other under- represented people in the St. Cloud area.
“Relocating to a city without my parents was hard,” said Daniel, “However, I was quickly embraced by the community and I actively sought opportunities to get involved.”
Daniel’s story is a good reminder that you can always aim for excellence no matter the circumstances. In closing, Daniel’s advice to all: “Keep your mind open to opportunities. When you see a path forward, don’t be afraid to take it, even if it’s something you may never have considered before. If you have confidence in yourself, you find that it’s a lot easier to make those tough decisions.
“I’ve been fortunate to work at organizations that have always embraced diversity and supported my pursuit of new opportunities.”
Ryan Daniel, CEO Metro Bus St. Cloud, MN