WASHINGTON — Metro has selected its candidate for general manager: Neal Cohen, an executive with aerospace and defense products supplier, ATK, multiple sources tell WTOP.
Cohen has accepted Metro’s offer — but it’s not a done deal yet, sources said on the condition of anonymity.
Cohen is an executive with ATK, but he also spent 16 years with Northwest Airlines and US Airways, where he was in charge of restructuring, profitability and growth initiatives.
The new general manager will face several problems right away.
Metro still needs to complete safety directives from the 2009 crash outside Ft. Totten, including replacing the 1000 series railcars with the new 7000 series. The Federal Transit Administration issued 91 safety recommendations from an audit released in June.
Metro will have a new list of directives when the National Transportation Safety Board completes an investigation into January’s deadly smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.
Financially, the FTA put the agency on a restricted drawdown list for federal grants after it found Metro misused the money in past years. Revenue is stagnant, labor costs are rising, and ridership has declined over the past five years.
As a result, Metro is facing tough choices as the budget season ramps up in December. D.C. Councilman Jack Evans has said he won’t support any fare hikes in 2016 as a way to solve the problems.
After the smoke incident, the derailment near Smithsonian, and the transformer fire at Stadium-Armory, Evans said passengers are frustrated with Metro and restoring trust is the primary goal.
Former General Manager Richard Sarles announced his retirement last September, then left the post in January. Jack Requa was named interim general manager at that time.