WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan met Tuesday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to talk about Metro and how to improve the system.
While all declined to talk about the specifics of the meeting, remarks were focused on two main topics: hiring a new general manager to deal with safety and financial issues at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and forming a new oversight panel with independent legal authority under federal law.
“The good is we’re all three on the same page. We’re all committed to doing whatever it takes,” says Hogan.
McAuliffe called out the Metro board of directors for taking too long to hire a new general manager. It’s been 10 months since Richard Sarles announced he would be leaving the transit agency. Sarles officially left office in January.
“It’s time for the board to get their act together. It’s time for them to pick a new leader. Let’s get a dynamic leader. The three of us have agreed. We’ll help recruit them,” says McAuliffe.
“This is not all that complicated and I have been somewhat critical. It’s taken way too long,” he adds.
Bowser called the meeting productive. She served on the Metro board of directors before being elected mayor.
“Certainly from our perspective in the District, I think we’re working from the same page to make sure that the system is the best that it can be,” says Bowser.
The Tristate Oversight Committee also came up in a news conference. The group has been heavily criticized as a toothless organization without any legislative backing to hold Metro management accountable for safety. Last month at National Transportation Safety Board hearings there was talk about forming a new oversight agency that would have legal authority under federal law to hold Metro accountable.
“We’re going to do it. I’m going to bring it to my legislature in January. We need an independent agency with teeth. Clearly the prior program didn’t work,” says McAuliffe.
“It is critical that WMATA immediately address required actions from FTA’s Safety Management Inspection and hire a permanent general manager to address WMATA’s urgent safety and financial management issues. At the same time, regional leadership must move as quickly as possible to stand up a new State Safety Oversight Agency, which will provide an even greater level of oversight for WMATA,” Foxx released in a statement following the meeting.