Climate Change: Progress - Combating the Sixth Mass Extinction
Sep 18, 2024 6:30 PM
Rod Diridon, Sr.
Climate Change: Progress - Combating the Sixth Mass Extinction

From 1993 to 2014, Rod Diridon, Sr., was executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), a transportation policy research center created in 1991 by Congress. He is known as the father of modern transit service in Silicon Valley and has chaired more than 100 international, national, state, and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He frequently provides legislative testimony on sustainability.

Mr. Diridon was appointed in 2001 and 2005 by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger, respectively, to the California High Speed Rail Authority Board of which he is chair emeritus. He’s past chair of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and a founder of the APTA High Speed Intercity Rail Committee and National High Speed Rail Corridors´ Coalition. He served as president of the national Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) and was elected chair of the US High Speed Rail Association’s (US HSRA) Board. He served for six years as North American vice chair of the International Transit Association (UITP) in Brussels. In 1976, he chaired the state’s first successful local half-cent sales tax for transit and subsequently co-chaired a state-wide and four successful regional transportation financing and bond elections.

Fortuitously, in 1996 he founded and chaired the Transportation Research Board´s study panel, “Combating Global Warming through Sustainable Transportation Policy.” He advised the Federal Transit Administration and in 1995 chaired the National Research Council´s Transportation Research Board´s Transit Cooperative Research Program. He provided keynotes, especially on sustainability and climate change, in more than 50 US cities and for a dozen international conferences and has published numerous related articles. In his younger years he was an avid bicyclist and has driven electric cars since 1996. His home photovoltaic array is a net contributor to the grid. He’s past chair of the region’s League of Conservation Voters and a life Member of the Sierra Club, AAUW, VFW, and others. He received lifetime achievement awards from APTA, CUTC, National Association of Counties, San Jose State’s College of Business, US HS Ground Transportation Association, US High Speed Rail Association, regional LCV, and others.

His political career began in 1971 as the youngest person ever elected to the Saratoga City Council. He retired in 1995 because of term limits after completing five terms, six times chairing the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Transit Board. He’s the only person to chair the San Francisco Bay Area´s (109 cities, 27 transit agencies, and 9 counties) three regional governments: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Air Quality Management District, and the Association of Bay Area Governments. He chaired nine successful rail system development project boards. In 1995 the region’s main train station was renamed the “San Jose Diridon Station” upon his retirement. He’s now focused on combating climate change by convening the Rotary’s Climate Action Councils.

After receiving a BS in accounting and MSBA in statistics in 1963 from San Jose State University, he served two combat tours as a naval officer in Vietnam. In 1968 he founded the Decision Research Institute which was sold in 1977 after his election. Mr. Diridon has two successful children, Rod (wife Sabra), and Mary Margaret, and four grandchildren. He is married to Dr. Gloria Duffy, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, now president and CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California. In July of 2014 he shifted to emeritus status at MTI.