Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager Paul Wiedefeld suddenly announced his retirement in June while the agency continues its efforts to return its sidelined 7000-series trains to service.
He served as executive director of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport from 2002 to 2005, then again from 2009 until he was dismissed by Gov. Larry Hogan in mid-2015; a few months later, Wiedefeld was replaced at BWI Marshall by Ricky Smith.
Wiedefeld accepted the WMATA job in late 2015 after the board’s first choice to fill the position dropped out of the interview process. At that juncture, WMATA ridership was down, with many commuters concerned about punctuality and dependabilty.
Other notable moments of his tenure included:
- Smoke filling a Yellow Line train at the L’Enfant Plaza station and a passenger dying.
- The creation of SafeTrack, to improve safety and reliability.
- Launching Back2Good in 2016, aimed at improving the customer experience.
- Growth of ridership, pre-pandemic.
- The 7000-series trains being pulled off the tracks last fall after a derailment due to faulty wheel axles. That issue was followed by a federal transit authority investigation that revealed WMATA officials had been aware of the problem for four years.
The WMATA board of directors is beginning a national search for a replacement.