SEPTA unit chief promoted to top job amid FBI inquiry

SEPTA control center - trolley lines

SEPTA control center, trolley lines (WHYY file)

The head of a SEPTA division that is currently the subject of a federal corruption probe has been promoted to one of the highest-ranking positions in the transit agency.

Robert L. Lund, Jr. became one of the agency’s two deputy general managers at the start of 2020. SEPTA’s board, in consultation with SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards, approved the promotion.

Lund has served since 2012, as the assistant general manager of SEPTA’s Engineering, Maintenance & Construction unit, a division targeted in an investigation into the abuse of agency credit cards that may have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for public transit. There’s no evidence Lund was involved in the current investigation. 

The 18-year SEPTA veteran will now report directly to Richards, supervising nearly 80% of all agency operations, bus and rail fleets, and customer experience. He will earn $265,000 a year, up from $206,000. Richards earns $329,730.

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Due to the ongoing and confidential nature of the grand jury, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch declined to comment on matters related to the investigation. But he praised Lund’s long track record at the $1.49 billion agency.

“Mr. Lund has devoted his career to making improvements for the customers he has served, and ensuring he and his staff are accountable and good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Busch wrote, in a statement. “Mr. Lund brings over 40 years of engineering and management experience with him to this position.”

Lund is an engineer by trade who previously worked for the New York Power Authority, which operates 16 electrical generating stations and maintains 1,400 miles of transmission lines in New York state. Busch said Lund was instrumental in implementing SEPTA’s “Rebuilding the System” program, addressing a backlog of state repair needs. Lund also helmed efforts to spruce up the agency’s downtown concourses and a number of suburban train station improvements, among other projects.

Bob Lund (left), Alex Reiner (center) and General Manager Joe Casey (right) pause for a photo after a 2014 board meeting. (SEPTA)

“Mr. Lund will work closely with Ms. Richards to advance initiatives aimed at ensuring that SEPTA will be able to meet the region’s transportation needs, both now and in the future,” Busch added.

Busch described the EM&C division, led by Lund, as a large and multifaceted office that employs 1,500 people with a $700 million operating budget. SEPTA, across all divisions, employs 9,500 people.

Investigators have largely zeroed in on managers within just one subunit of EM&C, known as Bridges & Buildings, according to sources inside the agency. SEPTA sources first told PlanPhilly last summer that a number of managers within Lund’s old office were subject to a probe initiated by SEPTA’s internal auditors. Reports of bogus procurement orders and missing equipment later led to the involvement of federal authorities and the empaneling of a grand jury, which will determine whether to bring criminal charges against staffers.

The scheme allegedly involved a string of the transit agency’s facility managers who colluded with outside vendors to fabricate fraudulent supply and repair invoices. Invoices were paid, using SEPTA office credit cards, but the requested services or merchandise were never fulfilled.

Since the investigation came to light last year, SEPTA has tightened restrictions on the use of agency credit cards and numerous managers have left EM&C. A SEPTA facility, along with at least two private equipment suppliers, have been visited by federal agents.

High-level sources within SEPTA indicated that the investigation was likely to continue into the summer.

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