Task Force Recommends Metro Governance Revamp

Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010  |  Updated 8:16 PM EDT
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New  proposals would dramatically change how our Metro system is run.

Tom Sherwood

New proposals would dramatically change how our Metro system is run.

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Metro's decades-old governance structure is dragging the transit agency down and has to change, according to a new report by a task force.

Area leaders and industry experts believe the structure has contributed to Metro's deterioration in recent years. The transit system has suffered fatal accidents, management instability and unsatisfactory reliability, according to the task force.

Metro has grown into a big bureaucracy over the decades, and the report said there's no one clearly in charge, NBC Washington's Tom Sherwood reported.

The task force recommended creating a seven-member Governance Commission to hold the Metro board more accountable. The commission would include the governors of Maryland and Virginia and Washington's mayor. The task force also recommended the commission establish more clearly defined board responsibilities and a more transparent process for appointing board members.

The effort to streamline and improve operations comes as the system searches for a permanent general manager.

The report by the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Regional Council of Governments suggests streamlining the board, imposing an independent chairman and increasing the powers of a general manager, Sherwood reported.

The proposals won immediate support from Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has tried to exert more power over Metro. But Virginia congressmen Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly said power should remain in northern Virginia, where Metro is located. And there are worries that the loss of a veto could weaken D.C. negotiations with more powerful suburbs.

Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin said the board would review and act on the recommendations as soon as possible.

“We look forward to addressing the issues raised in this report with all deliberate speed, as well as those raised by our own Riders Advisory Council and other governance recommendations we receive,” Benjamin said in a statement released Wednesday.
 


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