Metro General Manager Carmen E. Turner announced plans yesterday to reorganize the transit authority's staff in an attempt to reduce costs and improve bus and rail service.
Turner appointed Theodore G. Weigle Jr., currently the authority's assistant general manager for transit operations, to the newly established post of deputy general manager. She also promoted Metro's bus and rail service directors to higher-ranking positions with broader authority.
"We're going to have a stronger, more efficient effort in terms of our ability to provide service," Turner said. She added that she would consolidate several offices partly to reduce administrative overhead. "We've got some duplication of effort," she said.
The shifts, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, represented Turner's first high-level reorganization since she became general manager last year. Turner and other Metro officials have previously expressed concern about several personnel problems, including vacancies in some senior positions.
In another development yesterday, members of Metro's board of directors met with a group of handicapped bus riders and agreed to consider equipping more buses with special lifts for wheelchairs. The group had urged the board to require lifts on all newly purchased buses.
"I agree with the principles and the goals. I would be prepared to look at this," Arlington County Board Vice Chairman John G. Milliken, the Metro board's chairman, told about 50 disabled Metro patrons, many in wheelchairs. "We are interested in working with you."
The meeting stemmed from a series of demonstrations about six weeks ago during which Metro bus service was disrupted and several protesters were arrested. The demonstrations were staged by a Denver-based group called ADAPT, an acronym for American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit. Yesterday's meeting with Washington-based groups occurred without incident.
The Metro board meeting at which Turner's reorganization was proposed took place one hour earlier than had been scheduled, according to a notice to the news media. As a result, few reporters were present. Officials said later that the board voted to approve the plan.
Under the reorganization, Shirley A. DeLibero, who has directed Metro bus service since last year, was named assistant general manager for bus service. Fady P. Bassily, the current rail service chief, was promoted to assistant general manager for rail service. They were given expanded authority over personnel and supplies.
Turner said the plan to consolidate several offices would lead to a reduction of 85 administrative positions, slightly more than previously proposed. Most of those cutbacks are expected to result from eliminating now-vacant positions and from resignations and retirements, officials said. The currently vacant post of assistant general manager for public services was abolished.
As deputy general manager, Weigle is expected to oversee much of the day-to-day operation of the bus and rail system. Turner said his appointment "will remove many daily operating and administrative decisions from the general manager's desk." Before Turner was named general manager, Weigle was considered a leading contender for the job.
Turner's reorganization included shifts in offices dealing with safety, planning, supplies, transit police, marketing and maintenance.