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Dunning Jr. named OCTA’s Chief Operating Officer

Johnny Dunning Jr., Chief Operating Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority. Courtesy photo.
Johnny Dunning Jr., Chief Operating Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority. Courtesy photo.

Johnny Dunning Jr., a proven transit leader with 25 years of industry experience and an avid bus rider himself, has been named Chief Operating Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority.

As COO, Dunning is responsible for leading OCTA’s Operations groups, including bus, commuter rail and OC Streetcar (now under construction), paratransit, microtransit, and mobility management. He will also oversee vehicle and facilities maintenance. Dunning, who joined OCTA in 2017, had been serving as interim COO since January.

“I’m very happy that Johnny has accepted this role because he has clearly demonstrated his strong leadership, effectively guiding the Operations team to deliver on our mission of providing safe and reliable transit services for the people of Orange County,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson.

Dunning will work directly with CEO Johnson and Deputy CEO Jennifer L. Bergener to continue advancing Orange County’s evolving public transit needs, including continued advancement of the agency’s zero-emission bus program.

“I’m honored and excited to take on this position and continue working with our talented OCTA team,” Dunning said. “As a bus rider myself, I routinely get a first-hand look and am able to talk directly with coach operators and other riders to see where the system is working best and ways to enhance efficiencies and the customer experience. I look forward to continuing to develop and provide public transit solutions that best serve all of Orange County.”

In his five years with OCTA, Dunning served as Department Manager for Scheduling and Bus Operations Support, managing bus ridership information, resource planning for coach operators and OC Bus performance.

OCTA, with an annual budget of $1.65 billion, has continued to evolve its transit services to serve the public’s needs. In addition to operating the fifth largest transit agency in California (based on pre-pandemic ridership levels), OCTA provides paratransit services, oversees Metrolink commuter rail and vanpool services, operates the OC Flex microtransit service, funds community and seasonal shuttle services, and is currently building the OC Streetcar. The 4-mile modern electric streetcar will provide another important transit option in downtown Santa Ana and Garden Grove, communities that comprise one of the nation’s most densely populated areas.

Dunning is a career transit professional with 25 years of experience in transit-system planning at small and large multimodal agencies. Prior to OCTA, he served as the Manager of Service Planning with the North County Transit District and in planning positions at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

Dunning holds advanced degrees in Civil Engineering and City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he gained his appreciation for public transportation as a student who relied on public transit to access his education.

He is a native Californian who grew up in Orange County and continues to live in the community he serves with his wife, Nya. He is also the father of three children and an ordained minister.

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.