- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Metro soon will have a new leader for its troubled operations division — a 30-year veteran of New York City’s transit system.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld announced Wednesday that Joseph Leader will take the helm as the troubled transit agency’s chief operating officer effective Aug. 1.

“I am pleased that Joe sees us as an organization that is changing and hungry for improvement, and that he is enthusiastic about taking on this crucial role,” Mr. Wiedefeld said in a statement.

A former senior vice president of the New York City Transit Authority, Mr. Leader will oversee Metro’s rail, bus and paratransit services, as well as Metro Transit Police, and parking and support services. He most recently worked for the Bianco Associates consulting business.

He arrives amid the implementation of Metro’s “SafeTrack” plan — a yearlong effort to repair aging and neglected infrastructure that has caused frequent delays and dangerous smoke and fire incidents in the subway system.

Metro has shut down parts of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines between the Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue/Benning Road stations in phase two of SafeTrack. In August, when Mr. Leader takes charge, Metro plans to single-track trains between the Takoma and Silver Spring stops in phase six.

Up to the beginning of this year, Mr. Leader was managing the New York subway system, with a $3.4 billion budget. A Vanity Fair article chronicled his efforts in the face of daunting commuter headaches after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“[Mr. Leader’s] first order of business was to pump out the water, and this he organized within the hour, sending in three pre-positioned diesel-powered pump trains to suck from the under-river tunnels even as the surge was receding,” Vanity Fair contributor William Langewiesche wrote. “That was the character of the response from then on: an urgent restoration of the filthy, noisy, overlooked underground. Extensive jerry-rigging was required, but subway service was returned within days — and to uncharacteristic acclaim.”

Before managing the subway as a senior vice president, Mr. Leader served the New York transit system’s chief of safety investigations.

Mr. Wiedefeld said he has learned a lot from Mr. Leader, including his security tactics.

“Working with Joe on restructuring Metro’s rail operations gave me an opportunity to learn his strategic approach to operational safety, day-to-day safety culture and his customer service orientation, which are consistent with the way I want Metro to conduct itself moving forward,” the Metro CEO said.

Mr. Leader will take over from Jack Requa, a former Metro general manager who has been serving as interim chief operating officer since Mr. Wiedefeld created the position in November. Mr. Requa will become Metro’s executive managing officer.

• Emma Patton can be reached at epatton@washingtontimes.com.

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