Tangherlini’s interim tag is not just going to go away

According to an article in today’s Post, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is beginning a nationwide search for a replacement for Richard White, the general manager who resigned under pressure last winter. Since February, the position has been held on an interim basis by Dan Tangherlini, who had been in charge of the District’s department of transportation.

Tangherlini, who started with WMATA in February, has been an aggressive manager thus far:

In his first five months at Metro, rank-and-file workers say, Tangherlini has boosted morale with visits to rail yards, bus depots and other work sites, something the previous general manager never did.

Board members said Tangherlini, who has made customer service his top priority, has brought them fresh ideas and initiatives, often suggested by customers and employees. These include Metro’s recent decisions to allow passengers to use credit cards to pay when exiting parking lots and to improve lighting in the dim underground stations.

Tranportation officials in Maryland and the District have both endorsed Tangherlini, who will apply for the permanent position with agency that runs the nation’s second largest subway system and fourth busiest bus system. Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is concerned that Tangherlini may be too “D.C.-centric” to be “an enthusiastic cheerleader” for expanding Metro to Dulles. Connolly also says “Virginia has no beef against Dan Tangherlini at all. We just don’t know him.” For his part Tangherlini is saying the right things:

I can’t entirely be judged by people who support my candidacy. I have to be judged on my own actions, and I have been working tirelessly on the Dulles issue to do whatever we can to have [Metro] support it. I do understand the importance to Northern Virginia of that project.

Will the search merely be due dilligence or a wind up being a changing of the guard? We shall see.

4 Comments so far

  1. Doug (unregistered) on July 21st, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

    Parallel to this story is the $1.5B federal bill passed on the House Tuesday, with a stipulation. DC, VA and MD must match the funding, to continue improvements to the Metro over the next 10 years. This appears to be a source of “pride” among politicians, if not among users when things go wrong.

    I like the Metro, but the signage and communication need improvement in my opinion. Bleak windows, station signs that do not have enough contrast or size in the station tunnels, engineers who mumble or say nothing, all contribute to confusion unless you know the system well enough.

    For visitors rather than regulars, this often means they aren’t sure where they are en route, a silly and easily fixed problem.

    I never had these problems travelling the subways in New York. I always knew which station I was arriving at, and their system is much older.

    If the Washington Metro system is the pride of the nation, then why is it so bleak? I can’t even imagine what it must be like for disabled people, especially older folks with bad eyesight.

    The system should be clear and simple and easy to use. It is not.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 21st, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

    If Metro was smart, they’d absolutely, positively keep Tangherlini in the position as long as they can, simply because he’s the best damn thing to happen to WMATA since the Metro was built. Period.

  3. steven (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2006 @ 3:13 am

    agreed, tom. tangherlini is a great example of positive public agency leader.

  4. Don (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

    I still don’t understand why station stops aren’t recorded messages rather than spoken by the engineer. While it doesn’t seem like a big challenge to speak intelligibly and audibly it clearly is beyond the ability of at least 25% of their workforce. Accept reality and pre-record stop names – engineers can still speak special messages but at least you’ll know next stop, etc.

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