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Posted at 3:21 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Sarles, Metro board members sworn in

By Ann Scott Tyson

Video from Metro

Interim GM Richard Sarles was today sworn in as Metro's permanent general manager and CEO, as the board underwent its biggest ever membership change.

Four new members were sworn in, who went on to vote to confirm Sarles. Outgoing board chair Peter Benjamin administered his oath of office, calling Sarles a "true and tested leader," before stepping aside for Catherine Hudgins to take the board's reins.

The practice of a regionally rotating chair, too, could change today, though. The agenda includes taking up a plan to remove the rule rotating board chairmanship annually among jurisdictions.

"Over the last 10 months, I have seen what we can do by working together, but even more so, I see what is possible in the future, which is why I am here today," Sarles said in lengthy remarks. "With a 40-year transportation career and as a transit rider for more than 60 years starting when I was just a boy, I could not pass up the opportunity to stay."

He was lauded with praise from the board and received a standing ovation.

The Riders Advisory Council, along with several people during the public comment session, called on Metro to halt the recently launched bag inspection program, which it called overly intrusive. Some said the practice invited lawsuits.

And new Metro board member Kathy Porter joined them in voicing concerns. Porter said an alternative might be more police patrols, and said at a minimum riders should have been consulted.

Metro federal board member Mortimer Downey, who drafted Sarles to the board, said 25 percent of all terrorist attacks in world have been on surface transportation systems. Mortimer said Sarles asked to be considered for the permanent job.

By Ann Scott Tyson  | January 27, 2011; 3:21 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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