Metro’s board of directors swore in another new member Thursday as it also reviewed new protocols for the board and setting up more structure for how it operates.
Artis Hampshire-Cowan of Mitchellville, a Howard University senior vice president, will serve as the alternate board member for Prince George’s County. She replaces Marcell Solomon, a Greenbelt area lawyer.
Seven new members have been appointed to the board since December, part of an effort to overhaul the transit agency as it attempts to move beyond the safety problems of recent years. Reports from a special task force and the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council have criticized the authority’s governing structure.
Metro’s board is preparing to adopt next month its first permanent set of bylaws that will define the roles of Metro board members and how the board should operate. The new bylaws are also expected to help define the authority of some of Metro’s top positions, including the role of general manager and chief executive officer.
Prince George’s has yet to finalize how much Hampshire-Cowan will be compensated, but a proposed contract could be worth up to $75,000. Compensation for Metro’s board is paid by each jurisdiction and varies widely. Board members from Virginia get paid $50 per board meeting, and District and federal representatives are not paid.
Hampshire-Cowan is one of 14 members on Metro’s board. There are two empty seats, including one for an alternate board member from the District and one for an alternate from the federal government.
At the board meeting, Hampshire-Cowan said alternate members to the Metro board serve a vital role by participating in decision-making. She said officials in Prince George’s who recruited her “communicated that Prince George’s County was underserved” by its previous alternate. They made it clear, she said, that she is expected to attend all board meetings and to actively participate in them.
Solomon did not return calls seeking a comment.
Here are some other highlights from the Metro board meeting.
l More elevators and escalators will be out of service as Metro pursues an aggressive capital improvement program. Officials said that the work has been backlogged for quite a while but that they have the funding to proceed. Officials lowered their targets for escalator availability to 89 from 93 percent.
l Metro’s on-time performance for its bus and rail system has barely changed year over year. For buses, it was up to 77.5 percent in March, from 76.6 percent in 2010. Rail on-time performance rose to 91 percent in March, up from 90 percent the same time a year ago.
Board members expressed concern that buses need to improve their on-time reliability. But Metro officials have reduced their targets for rail and bus. They were lowered from 95 to 90 percent for rail and from 80 to 78 percent for buses.
l Metro staff members gave a presentation about names at Metro stations becoming too long, such as Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan. They said the transit authority should consider changing some names as it prepares for the opening of the Metrorail extension to Loudoun County and other service changes.
They also displayed a new sign expected to go into new rail cars that have been ordered for the line and to replace the system’s oldest cars. The “dynamic” sign highlights the train’s location and displays the next stop while showing all of the locations on the line.
l The board approved spending $7.2 million to purchase land next to the Landover bus garage for a Metro Transit Police facility. The force says it needs new space to house some units that are operating out of trailers on other sites.