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Posted at 10:07 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Gray taps Downs for Metro board

By Washington Post Staff Writers

Former Amtrak president Tom Downs will serve as a D.C. voting member on the board of the directors for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, according to sources within the Gray administration.

Downs was co-chairman of the transportation committee of Gray's transition. He was president and chairman of Amtrak from 1993 to 1998.

The news was first reported by

On Monday D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) was named to the board to replace longtime Metro board member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). Downs will replace Neil Alpert, who has represented the District on the Metro board since October 2008.

The move is the latest change for a Metro board facing a major overhaul both due to changes in leadership around the region and as board members have grown weary of serving in the time-consuming positions.

Chris Zimmerman of Arlington, who stepped down last month, has been replaced by Mary Hughes Hynes, another member of the Arlington County Board. Maryland member Gordon Linton has also announced his departure and Maryland board member Elizabeth Hewlett has said she intends to leave.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker notified member Marcell Solomon last month that his contract will be terminated Jan. 21.

Metro is also searching for a new permanent general manager. A search committee has winnowed the list of candidates and is expected to present the final slate to the board for consideration this month.

New board members are expected to be sworn in during a regular board meeting at the end of the month. Board Chairman Peter Benjamin is expected to cede the chairman's role to Virginia member Catherine Hudgins due to the expiration of his term, but he plans to remain on the board.

By Washington Post Staff Writers  | January 5, 2011; 10:07 AM ET
Categories:  Amtrak, Metro, MetroAccess, Metrobus  
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Tom Downs was also City Administrator of the District in the 80s. He and Vince Gray have a long history of working with and respecting each other. With his resume of municipal and transportation leadership, Downs looks to be a very good choice.

Posted by: nan_lynn | January 5, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

This story was unintentionally funny. The story states: "The move is the latest change for a Metro board facing a major overhaul both due to changes in leadership around the region and as board members have grown weary of serving in the time-consuming positions."

Based on comments here and Metro's generally inept management from the Board level on down, the ridership may be weary as well, but of the board members.

On one hand, w/the resignations and replaces, the Board will losing institutional history. On the other hand, some new leaders might provide new viewpoints in contrast to the old members' entrenched positions.

Posted by: RockvilleBear | January 6, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

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