NJ Transit’s outgoing head, Richard Sarles, will take over as interim WMATA General Manager on April 3.
He and WMATA Board Chair Peter Benjamin answered some questions at a recent news conference. He has always ridden transit after growing up in a no-car household in North Jersey where he and his family used the bus to get everywhere. Along with his $25K/month compensation, he will get a 1-bedroom apartment in the area, which he has asked to have within walking distance of a Metro stop.
Sarles insisted that he doesn’t want the permanent job, as he’s looking forward to retirement, but that his love of transit, the importance of WMATA in our nation’s capital, and the challenge made him take this temporary opportunity.
Many questions revolved around safety. Sarles said safety would be his top priority, followed by service reliability. Safety, he said, requires attention at all levels, from the train and bus driver up to top management and the Board. He will make sure people are thinking about safety every day on the job.
He also promised to listen to employees, the Riders’ Advisory Council, and others. He’s already talked with his friends who live in the area about Metro.
Channel 9 ended the press conference by asking some stupid question about which sports team Sarles will be rooting for. (We couldn’t hear the questions on the audio stream). Sarles said he will root for the home team at whatever sporting events he goes to.