WMATA hires new executive to run DC's failing subway

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the interstate compact authority that runs the DC subway, is in big trouble. After killing passenger Carol Glover last year due to negligence, and an unprecedented system-wide shutdown to prevent more deaths, it’s now regularly shutting down parts of the system to try to clean up.

Change is needed, and riders hope the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) Joseph Leader, will get it done.


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The system really is in deep trouble. While General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and Chairman Jack Evans keep blaming a lack of funding, WMATA employees are much higher paid than equivalent transit employees in other major cities. They blame the two-track system, but other cities (including Paris) have two-track systems that continue to function.

The system deteriorated badly under former GM Richard Sarles. But Wiedefeld needs to clean out the dead wood he left behind. I’m genuinely hoping Leader will be the leader needed.

Joseph Leader was a consultant brought in to try to help. Previously he rose up the ranks with New York’s MTA. An electrical engineer, he spent years in New York improving maintenance and safety up there.

It sure sounds like his experience meshes with DC’s needs, so let’s give him a chance to succeed.