Metro Chief Executive Richard A. White announced yesterday that he was taking away agency cars and free parking for dozens of his top managers and the board of directors that oversees his agency.
White said that as of July 1, the number of employees who are assigned vehicles they can take home and park free at Metro's downtown headquarters would be reduced from 135 to 49. Three other Metro employees, including White, are provided vehicles as part of their contracts.
Metro Chief Executive Richard A. White announced that 86 fewer employees will have assigned vehicles and free parking.
(Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
Officials said that when board members come to Metro headquarters in the District, they will have to pay the same daily parking fee as anyone else, though many will be reimbursed by their jurisdictions.
Board member Gordon Linton, who represents Montgomery County, said yesterday that the move to reduce car use "reflects the kinds of policies we should have at a transit agency."
D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who represents the District on the Metro board and has acknowledged that he drives most places, criticized Metro officials for allowing the policy to last as long as it did.
"This doesn't relate to the transit mission of this agency at all," Graham said. "It seems to have grown without close supervision."
The policy allowed take-home vehicles for a slate of job categories that managers said would be reduced to three: supervisors of at least two sites more than 10 miles from headquarters; managers of multiple construction sites; and Metro police officers who hold command or K-9 responsibilities.
To accommodate the changes, Metro officials said they will create 23 daily spaces and charge the market rate, expected to be about $10 a day. Some employees will pay a monthly fee of $150 for a spot.
Transit officials said the change was prompted by a regular review of practices. "This is about tightening up the ship . . . and making changes where necessary," said William Scott, assistant general manager for labor.
Scott said that the newly unassigned cars will be added to the system's vehicle pool and that over time, the change will save money on buying and maintaining vehicles. Metro has more than 900 vehicles that are used for such duties as security and maintenance.
The change comes after several months of criticism over the driving habits of Metro leaders. In November, White acknowledged that he had not regularly ridden his system to work for four years and vowed to stop driving his Metro-issued SUV to the office.
A month later, a Washington Post survey of board members revealed that none of them was a regular bus or rail rider.
A majority also said that they couldn't remember riding a Metrobus, and half said that it was rare for them to use the subway.
Board members and all of Metro's roughly 10,000 employees ride buses and trains for free.