Former BWI executive selected to lead Washington metro

Paul J. Wiedefeld, the former veteran chief executive of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, was picked Thursday to head the struggling Washington Metro system, officials said.

Wiedefeld, 60, led BWI twice, from 2002 to 2005, and from 2009 until this summer, when he was replaced by Gov. Larry Hogan. He also served for two years in the top role at the Maryland Transit Administration, to which he was appointed by then-Gov. Martin O'Malley.


He grew BWI, which is now the nation's 22nd-largest airport by number of passengers, by overseeing the construction of a Southwest terminal and a parking garage. The airport has increased its international traffic by 22.5 percent in the last year, and four new airlines have announced plans this year to begin flying into it.

In 2008, while at the helm of the MTA, Wiedefeld temporarily closed the northern half of the light rail system to allow for more frequent inspections of the trains' wheels, after the agency discovered some had slipped on leaves en route to Timonium and Hunt Valley.


Mort Downey, chairman of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said Wiedefeld will "help us build a new standard of safety, reliability, and financial stability for our system."

A Federal Transit Administration report in June found that D.C.'s metro system was understaffed and had other serious problems. The report was commissioned after a deadly January incident in which a train filled with noxious fumes, causing one person to die and others to be sick.

In the metro agency's statement Thursday, Wiedefeld said he was "humbled and excited to learn of the Board's unanimous support," but declined to comment further until his contract is finalized and he is officially appointed on Nov. 19.

Wiedefeld made $294,304 as BWI's chief executive.

The metro agency's board also announced that it has commissioned an efficiency study to "provide a road map" to Wiedefeld as he enters the top role.