Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Metro Appoints Interim Manager

Following the sudden resignation of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager John Catoe in January, the WMATA board of directors has appointed former New Jersey Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles as interim general manager.

According to a March 4 press release announcing the appointment, Sarles will take up the post on March 29 and will earn a salary of $25,000. His contract is for a year but can be renewed.

Catoe, Sarles’ predecessor, served for three years as general manager, and despite presiding over the WMATA during the June 2009 Red line crash that killed nine people, he was awarded a three-year contract extension by the board in January.

According to the press release, Catoe said that he faced no pressure from the board to resign.

Sarles has 25 years of experience with Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Port Authorities of New Jersey and New York. During these periods, he completed several high-profile projects such as directing Amtrak’s $2 billion high-speed rail project in the Northeast Corridor, the line that runs between Washington, D.C., and Boston, and spearheading the opening of the River LINE light-rail service in southern New Jersey.

New Jersey Transit’s 11,000 employees and 800,000 passengers daily are comparable to those of the Metro, which has 10,000 employees and 1.2 million passengers each day.

According to Peter Benjamin, chairman of the WMATA board of directors, Sarles’ experience as a transit manager would be invaluable as the board searches for Catoe’s permanent replacement.

“The selection of Mr. Sarles is an important step in the board’s efforts to address safety and other important Metro issues,” Benjamin said in a press release. “Richard Sarles has a passion for transportation and the ability and know-how to help Metro regain the public trust and confidence in the system that serves the nation’s capital and passengers from across the region and around the world.”

As interim general manager, Sarles’ focus will be to set the stage for the future general manager, according to Benjamin.

“As interim general manager, he is not expected to solve every problem,” he said in a press conference. “Rather, he is expected to build a foundation upon which the future general manager and the Metro team would base their long-term efforts.”

In a press conference, Sarles, who has worked in the transportation system since his college internships, made it clear he is not vying for the permanent general manager spot.

“I am taking this position as interim GM because Metro is a vital public transportation system, not only in this region but as a symbol in the entire country, and I believe I can make a valuable contribution in the efforts underway to correct problems and rebuild confidence,” he said.

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