Richard S. Page, chief of the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration, is the leading candidate with Metro Board members to replace Theodore C. Lutz as Metro general manager, The Washington Post has learned.

Page, who managed the Seattle Metro systerm before taking the federal post in 1977, met yesterday with the Metro Board's search committee.

"They made it clear I was under consideration and I told them I was interested in considering it," Page said. No formal offer was made or accepted, he said.

Jerry A. Moore, Metro chairman and head of the search committee, said yesterday morning that Page appeared to have 100 percent support among board members. Other board members close to the selection process agreed.

Page, 40, would bring to the Metro job all the qualities that the board members have said they are looking for. He is intimately familiar with the political intricacies of Metro and the Washington area because he headed the federal task force that negotiated with Metro concerning the completion of the planned 100-mile system. He understands the federal budget process, and he has transit management experience with a big-city system. Page's name also has been connected with a new search by the New York City Transit Authority for an executive director there. "We know we might have competition," one Metro director said.

Page said yesterday that he had discussed the Metro position with his boss, Transportation Secretary Brock Adams. When he came to the federal government, Page said, "I made a commitment to the president and the secretary to do a job and I don't feel like I've completed the job yet."

However, Page said, the biggest item on the agenda has been completed: the massive four-year, $60 billion federal highway and mass transit bill passed by the last Congress.

Adams said yesterday that "Dick Page is absolutely first rate and while we'd hate to lose him I certainly wouldn't hold him back. I think he would do a fine job for Metro and this area."

Page is known to be concerned about the financial insecurity that surrounds Metro's daily operations. Unlike most big-city systems, including Seattle's, Metro lacks a guaranteed source of tax revenue to pay its deficits.

Metro board members indicated that Page is so far in front of other possible candidates at this time that they want to resolve his status before seriously looking elsewhere.

Page makes $52,500 in his present job. Lutz, who has said he will leave in April, is paid $58,000. CAPTION:

Picture, RICHARD PAGE... out in front of the pack