San Fran’s CEO among Metro’s top G.M. candidates

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON — While Metro continues to search for a permanent general manager, the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is one potential candidate for the top job, WTOP has learned.

Nathaniel “Nat” Ford, executive director and chief executive officer of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, commonly called MUNI), is on the list of those applying for the postition.

However, Ford’s name is just one on a list that sources now say contains more than 20 names. The names of the remaining candidates have been kept quiet. Metro leaders have said their search for a permanent general manager would be both national and international.

As the head of MUNI, Ford is in charge of streetcars, light rail vehicles, buses and San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. MUNI is the seventh largest transit system in the country and carries more than 200 million riders a year. Conversely, Metro is the second busiest subway system in the U.S., right behind New York City’s system.

MUNI is an agency of 5,000 employees, while Metro is an agency of 10,000.

Ford started out his career as a train conductor with New York’s MTA. He also worked with San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the heavy-rail subway system that most closely resembles the D.C. Metro system. Additionally, Ford has also been the head of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

Earlier this year, Metro plucked MUNI’s former chief safety officer Jim Dougherty from San Francisco to become the transit system’s new chief safety officer.

Interviews with potential candidates for Metro’s top position are expected to take place this month.

Metro’s current General Manager Richard Sarles is serving as an interim general manager. Even though Metro board members categorized him as “very capable” as recently as last week, Sarles has said that he should be replaced as soon as possible.

Sarles took over the top spot at Metro when former General Manager John Catoe resigned in April.

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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