Paul Wiedefeld Officially Appointed as Metro's General Manager

Wiedefeld is set to take over Nov. 30

Metro's board of directors officially appointed Paul Wiedefeld its next general manager and CEO Thursday.

The board unanimously voted on Wiedefeld during their meeting, two weeks after members announced their selection. He will receive an annual salary of $397,500 plus benefits, WMATA said.

Wiedefeld is a former top official at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Maryland Transit Administration.

From that background, he knows a lot about transit security. He said he already has special clearance to sensitive information. Regarding heightened security following the Paris terrorist attacks, he said, "I do know that this is not anything new to the agency or to the law enforcement or security people. This is not something that because of this video we woke up and said, Oh my gosh, we've got to deal with this."

Wiedefeld, who is set to begin his four-year contract Nov. 30, said he's ready to take on Metro's major issues.

"I wake up every morning and go to sleep every night thinking about safety, and we have to make sure that everything we do in between makes Metro even safer," he said in a release. "I am absolutely confident that we can run our buses and trains safely and get people to work on time."

The board said Wiedefeld has the experience to lead WMATA in the right direction, after acting GM Jack Requa said the transit system had reached "a low point" earlier this year.

"[Wiedefeld] has provided sound leadership in his previous roles at BWI and MTA, and the Board unanimously agree that his record proves he is the right person to lead Metro, at this time, into its rightful position as a world class transit system," WMATA Board Chairman Mort Downey said in the release.

Downey was asked to step down as chairman when Wiedefeld steps in as GM and CEO.

Wiedefeld plans a top-to-bottom review of Metro.

"I know how I'm going to run the organization," he said. "People will understand that, and either they can perform at that level or they can't and we will adjust as we go."

He does not intend to increase fares at this time.

"I just don't think that this is the time to be asking people for more money when we are not performing to the level that we expect," he said.

His appointment comes after a nationwide search following former GM Richard Sarles' retirement announcement more than a year ago.

Before Wiedefeld's name was announced, WMATA had been finalizing a contract with Neal Cohen until talks broke down. Sources claim Cohen said he was not ready to take on the level of scrutiny required to lead Metro.

Wiedefeld's former colleagues say his experience turning programs around make him qualified to lead the transit system.

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