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Metro's Top Deputy Resigns in Shake-Up

Departure Follows Spate of Problems

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page C01

The second in command at Metro has resigned and a restructuring of top management is underway, Metro Chief Executive Richard A. White said.

The resignation of James T. Gallagher comes as Metro is under increasing scrutiny and is struggling to recover from management missteps. Metro statistics show that subway and bus service is deteriorating.

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As deputy general manager, Gallagher has been responsible for day-to-day operations at Metro since 2000. He is second in authority after White, and in 2004, his total compensation was $197,672.

White said that Gallagher submitted his resignation Thursday and that it dovetails with White's intention to redesign the way the transit system is run after a year marked by service problems, management mistakes and negative publicity. White declined to give details of the reorganization in an interview Friday but said he expected no additional resignations.

Gallagher, 57, said he hopes to land a top job at another transit agency. He said that his resignation will take effect in 30 to 60 days and that he plans to help White with the transition to a new management structure.

The two men have close ties; both helped run the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco before White took the top job at Metro in 1998. Gallagher followed in 1999 and was tapped to become White's deputy the next year.

"I decided that it was time for me, based on my experiences here and at BART, to try to go for one of the top jobs in the transit industry," Gallagher said. "It's a good time to make a handoff."

Gallagher managed daily operations during a period in which Metro has had to answer for a string of management and operations missteps.

He oversaw the agency's troubled contract with LogistiCare to provide MetroAccess, the curb-to-curb service for people with disabilities. Late last year, White announced that Metro suspected fraud in connection with the contract, which continues to be the focus of a review.

Gallagher also supervised the $340 million purchase of Metro's newest 192 rail cars, which were beset by a raft of technical problems, including software snags affecting heating and air conditioning, doors, propulsion and braking.

Some problems are still unresolved, although the cars have been running for several years. The latest headache is a tendency of the rail cars to overshoot the station platform and come to a stop anywhere from several feet to several hundred feet past the station.

And he oversaw the track department during a rash of rail breaks. Internal audits and investigations have found problems with Metro's track inspection program.

The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate a Nov. 3 crash in which a train rolled backward and crashed into an idling train at the Woodley Park Station. Twenty people were injured, and the Red Line was hobbled for days.

In addition, Metro employees and managers under Gallagher's supervision made headlines with a series of errors. Last fall, Gallagher acknowledged that train controllers running late-night service after Redskins games had been opting to run just one train an hour on several lines, inconveniencing thousands of football fans who sat on idling trains as night turned to morning.

Last August, a station manager allegedly brandished a broom and yelled at a pregnant woman and her husband because they inquired about a broken escalator. Also last year, a Red Line operator abandoned a packed train during rush hour because her shift had ended.

Metro's rail cars also have been breaking down nearly twice as often as they did three years ago, increasing delays across all lines as ridership is surging.

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