WASHINGTON–Metro’s week was anything but good. The transit agency faced a tough few days, during which it suspended its search for a new leader, asked its board for permission to obtain a big loan and saw a police-involved fatality.
Fatal shooting near Potomac Avenue station
The investigation continues following a police-involved fatal shooting of a man in a rail tunnel near the Potomac Avenue station Thursday night.
It is still unclear what threat the man, who D.C. police said was “partially clothed,” posed when the Metro Transit Police officer fired slightly before 9 p.m.
A D.C. police homicide unit has opened an investigation into the shooting. The incident closed the station for riders of the Blue, Orange and Silver lines Thursday night, but they reopened Friday morning.
Leadership clash slows search for new chief
An internal rift within the board has temporarily derailed the search for a new chief executive.
Metro officials announced the halt in the search Thursday, stating the board needs more time to consider what kind of leader it needs.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and another D.C. board official moved to replace longtime transit executive Tom Downs, a board member since 2011 who disagreed with Bowser’s and new Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s views that Metro needs to hire a financial turnaround specialist.
Along with waiting until Bowser picks her new appointee for the Downs’ seat, the search is at a standstill following last month’s sudden withdrawal of three finalists for the position.
Money woes pose problem
Metro needs major money. Despite financial missteps and skepticism in the agency’s money handling, Metro’s chief financial officer wants authorization from the board of directors to obtain a $220 million short-term loan.
Metro is also attempting to coax the governments of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to invest in long-term projects, including newer and safer rail cars.
The agency’s short-term debt currently totals $502 million, which Metro Board Chairman Mortimer Downey said has mainly funded improvements and projects.
Image reconstruction needed
Metro has hired two firms to help improve its image following a year of highly-publicized fiascos.
The firms, O’Neill and Associates and Hill + Knowlton Strategies, are in place to help with crisis management.
The hiring comes in the midst of all the challenges Metro has faced so far, including the Jan. 12 L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident that left one person dead and more than 80 hospitalized and the subsequent ongoing investigation.