Richard Sarles was appointed Interim general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) by the Metro Board of Directors today, and will begin his duties on March 29.
“The selection of Mr. Sarles is an important step in the Board’s efforts to address safety and other important Metro issues. We have searched for and found an experienced transit professional who will hit the ground running while we continue looking for the best permanent General Manager,” said Peter Benjamin, Chairman of the Metro Board of Directors. “We are fortunate to have a man of Mr. Sarles’ ability who understands the many challenges we face and can immediately begin to address the safety and financial issues that so deeply concern our riders and employees.”
Sarles, 65, has more than 25 years of experience in the transit industry with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He will begin his new duties following his retirement from New Jersey Transit, where he most recently served as Executive Director.
New Jersey Transit is comparable in size to Metro. New Jersey Transit has 11,000 employees and provides commuter rail, light rail, bus and paratransit services for more than 800,000 passenger trips daily. Metro has approximately 10,000 employees and provides approximately 1.2 million passenger trips daily on rail, bus and MetroAccess.
As Executive Director of New Jersey Transit from 2007 to 2010, Sarles opened River LINE light rail service in southern New Jersey, and oversaw the extension of both the Newark Light Rail and Hudson Bergen Light Rail services.
From 2002 to 2007, Sarles served as New Jersey Transit’s Assistant Executive Director for Capital Programs and Planning, managing the agency's $1.3 billion annual capital program as well as all three light rail operations in the state.
Sarles served at Amtrak from 1996 until 2002 as a Vice President leading the Northeast Corridor’s High-Speed Rail program. He directed Amtrak’s $2 billion high-speed rail project that brought 150-mph train service to the Northeast Corridor and electrified the railroad for the first time in history from New Haven, CT, to Boston, MA.
Sarles previously served for more than 20 years in construction, project management and project planning roles with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
During his tenure with the Port Authority, Sarles led a successful effort to overhaul and manufacture new PATH cars at a major rail car manufacturer that set up a plant in the region, creating thousands of local jobs. He also oversaw the modernization of major trans-Hudson facilities, including vehicle tunnels, bridges and PATH.
“Metro must move forward to improve safety for our customers and our employees. The Board will give Mr. Sarles both the responsibility and the authority to take whatever measures are necessary to accomplish that goal,” Benjamin added. “Richard Sarles has a passion for transportation and the ability and know-how to help Metro regain the public trust and confidence in the system that serves the nation’s capital and passengers from across the region and around the world.”
Sarles earned his Masters of Business Administration degree from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Engineering from The Cooper Union in New York.
He will earn $25,000 per month as Interim General Manager.
Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr.’s last day at Metro will be Friday, April 2.