Task force seeks new Metro structure
[This post will be updated]
12:10 p.m. update: Metro Board of Directors Chairman Peter Benjamin issued the following statement in response to the release of the task force's report: "We understand the critical role of Metro governance in providing safe, reliable and effective transit service in our region and we greatly appreciate the hard work of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments/Greater Washington Board of Trade task force and the careful consideration which it gave to the issues. We look forward to addressing the issues raised in this report with all deliberate speed, as well as those raised by our own Riders Advisory Council and other governance recommendations we receive."
Original post: A joint task force has determined that Metro's governance structure is outdated, lacks accountability and has "contributed to its decline."
The task force of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) issued a 35-page assessment that calls for "dramatic changes" to how Metro is run.
"WMATA has had two GMs and two interim GMs over the past five years. No organization can operate effectively with that kind of turnover," Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said in a statement. "The lack of clear accountability and responsibility is eroding faith in the system among riders, funders, business leaders, and government officials. The increasing lack of confidence is a reality that threatens the future of the system."
The report calls for the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of the District to take a "much stronger role" in selecting the members of the Metro board of directors.
It also calls for the creation of a governance commission to make the improvements and hold the board accountable.
"There is no clear understanding" of who is accountable for running Metro, said David Robertson, executive director of MWCOG.
The governance commission would include seven members:
-- Maryland's governor
-- Virginia's governor
-- The District's mayor
-- Washington Suburban Transit Commission chairman
-- Northern Virginia Transportation Commission chairman
-- District of Columbia council chairman
-- The administrator of the General Services Administration
The task force called for the restructuring of board membership, creating a four-year term for the chairman, and possibly eliminating the veto power of members.
"There is a palpable loss of confidence that the agency is headed in the right direction," Robertson said.
Some of the recommended changes would require the complex process of revising the compact that governs Metro. Task force members said some of the changes could be implemented without pursuing that route.
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