Kincannon names new Knoxville Area Transit director


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Mayor Indya Kincannon has appointed Isaac Thorne to be Knoxville’s new director of transit. Thorne is currently the CEO of Connect Transit in Normal, Illinois. 

“Isaac has a winning track record in the transit industry,” Kincannon said.  “He is an innovative leader who never loses sight that public transit is a customer-focused service.”

Isaac Thorne

Thorne spent nearly 13 years with Connect Transit, where, prior to serving as CEO, he served as chief operating officer, interim transportation director, procurement director, and operations manager. 

Thorne succeeds Transit Director Dawn Distler, who left in 2018 to direct the regional transit system in Akron, Ohio. Interim Director Melissa Roberson will return to her position as KAT’s Chief Administrative Officer. 

“I am excited to be working with the employees of the City of Knoxville, Knoxville Area Transit and most importantly, our customers,” Thorne said. 

“It is an honor to be trusted to lead an exceptional transit system that has been nationally recognized in the beautiful City of Knoxville.” 

Over the past several years, KAT has expanded its alternative fuel options. Nearly a third of the fleet consists of hybrid electric vehicles. 

Thorne was part of Connect Transit’s team that was named the 2015 American Public Transportation Association Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year. That same year, he was named to the list of Mass Transit Top 40 Under 40. 

“I am also confident that he is the right person to continue to move KAT toward an all-electric fleet as part of our city’s sustainability strategy,” Kincannon said. 

Thorne’s first day will be Aug. 31. 


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