Metro’s new general manager, Paul J. Wiedefeld, starts work today.
There won’t be much time for a honeymoon — the veteran transit executive will face budget troubles, angry riders, a dysfunctional board and unprecedented level of federal oversight of the transit agency’s rail operations, not to mention growing competition for riders from app-based transportation services such as Uber, Lyft, Split and Bridj.
But Wiedefeld, 60, a Baltimore native says he is ready. As he told The Post earlier this month.
I’m going to wake up every morning thinking about the safety of the system, and I’m going to go to bed every night thinking about the safety of the system.
Wiedefeld was most recently chief executive of Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport before he was replaced in July by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). He will be Metro’s highest paid chief executive, making $397,500. By way of comparison, Wiedefeld’s base salary is more than the chief of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority who oversees the nation’s largest public transit operation, which includes an extensive network of subway, bus and commuter rail systems.
Even before he officially began the job, Wiedefeld was immersing himself in all things Metro. He met with several members of the D.C.-area congressional delegation and scheduled a meeting for Dec. 14 with the newly formed WMATA’s Riders’ Union. And he said he plans to spend as much time as he can in his first month on the job outside of Metro headquarters.
I’m not going to be held captive in headquarters, he told The Post. I really just want to get out and meet all the stakeholders,” from the halls of Congress to the crowded aisles of rush-hour trains. And I’ve already started doing that on my own. I think it’s important for me to just get out and hear what people have to say.
He may become a familiar face for riders on the Red Line. Wiedefeld says he plans to find a place along Metro’s oldest line because it offers him a one-seat ride to both Metro headquarters and Union Station where he’ll take a MARC train home, just north of Baltimore. (His teenager daughter is still in high school and the family doesn’t want to uproot her).