Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, March 23, 2015

New bosses at Metro, Metrolink have tough jobs ahead

http://www.dailynews.com/opinion/20150319/new-bosses-at-metro-metrolink-have-tough-jobs-ahead-editorial

By The Los Angeles News Group Editorial Board, March 19, 2015



 

 Phil Washington will lead the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Los Angeles County has been on overdrive, trying hard to shed its image as the nation’s traffic-clogged car capital these past years and build out a transit system befitting the sprawling metropolis it is.

With five major rail lines under construction and ongoing transit and highway projects, officials like to say Metro is engaging in one of the nation’s largest, if not the largest, public works programs.
Who leads it matters.

That’s why two recent hires, one by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board and another by the Metrolink board, which serves six counties in Southern California, are important as both agencies see a slump in ridership and face unique but different challenges.

The board of Metro, as the Los Angeles transportation agency is called, named Phil Washington to replace outgoing CEO Art Leahy, who will move over to lead Metrolink.

Washington will need not only to finish the projects already under way on time and within budget, but he comes in as transit officials are considering whether to ask voters to approve a tax that would fund continued expansion of the transit system.

Dubbed Measure R2, after a 2008 voter-approved, half-cent sales tax that is responsible for the transit boom, the potential tax could allow Washington to do what he did well in Denver.

Last week Washington resigned as the head of the Denver Regional Transportation District, where the former army veteran built a national reputation as someone who delivers.

He implemented a massive voter-approved rail expansion program that had been lagging before he took the helm, and spearheaded the agency’s first public-private partnership, a $2.2 billion deal to connect downtown Denver to the airport by rail when it’s completed in 2016. That’s promising.
Washington is described as a charismatic man who can engender loyalty. Los Angeles officials say that his ability to push big projects forward and get them done on time made him an attractive choice.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who heads the board and is wont to talk about his aspirations for a world-class transit system, said, Washington is “the ideal person to manage our $36 billion transportation infrastructure program.” He said Washington’s “track record of maximizing project efficiency, securing much-needed funding and increasing customer service will well serve Metro riders and taxpayers.”

The bar is already high for Washington, but he is not without critics. Some say he overpromised in Denver and ridership fell short. More worrisome is the state of the Denver RTD’s pension, which is going dry.

Washington needs to ensure similar mistakes aren’t made in Southern California. And he needs to focus on the details beyond the expansion — such as making it easier for would-be car commuters to take rail.

Leahy, an operations man with whom many board members were privately frustrated for his handling of construction projects, will jump to Metrolink where his challenges will be cutting costs while improving ridership and safety.

Both men have the potential to change the region’s image and build up an admirable transit system, so long as they have learned from past missteps.