Leadership change at Metrolink; no fare increase or service cuts made

The commuter railroad Metrolink — which is funded in part by Metro — announced Friday that David Solow was being replaced as chief executive and that Solow was moving to another position overseeing implementation of a new safety system for the agency.

The official press release from Metrolink is after the jump. Here’s a link to a story posted within the hour at the L.A. Times’ website.

As for the fare increase and/or service cuts that the Metrolink Board of Directors was considering, the agency’s press office released this:

The SCRRA board took no action on staff recommendations related to potential service cuts or fare increases. Instead, the board approved a motion by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, and seconded by Montclair Mayor Paul Eaton, to not impose a fare increase at this time and to initiate the FY 10-11 budget process in January, 2010.  The SCRRA board will reconvene its regular board meeting on January 8, 2010.

Metrolink’s press release:

LOS ANGELES, CA December 11, 2009:   After a closed session personnel discussion amongst the Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Board of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority  Keith Millhouse announced that Metrolink CEO David Solow will change his role at the agency effective December 15, 2009.

The Board of Directors and Solow have agreed that he will step down as CEO and for the balance of this fiscal year, until June 30, 2010, he will remain with the agency devoting  full time to the interagency collaborations necessary for Metrolink to implement safety enhancements, including Positive Train Control, and interoperability agreements.

“Metrolink has the opportunity to usher in the era of dramatic enhancements in rail travel in this region and in this country, such as Positive Train Control and the addition of High Speed Rail,” said Millhouse.  “With Mr. Solow’s expertise focused on interagency collaboration, Metrolink has a unique ability to bring together public and private railroads to improve passenger safety and service in our complex railroad operating environment.”

Mr. Solow’s expertise and experience in the interagency operations issues facing commuter rail are widely acknowledged and respected. The Board is appointing him to a new position of “Advisor: Interagency Initiatives,” which reports to the Chief Executive Officer. He will be working pursuant to an at will contract through this fiscal year at his current salary.

To lead the agency into this new era of commuter rail, the Board will immediately begin the recruitment of a successor Chief Executive Officer.

In the interim, the Board is fortunate to be able to name as Chief Executive Officer Mr. Eric Haley effective December 15, 2009.

Mr. Haley will be working under an at will contract as Metrolink’s Chief Executive Officer until the arrival of a new CEO, but for not more than six months.   He brings a wealth of experience to this position from both the public and private sectors and is very familiar with Metrolink and its member agencies based on his experience as the former CEO of the Riverside County Transportation Commission, a Metrolink member agency.

Both Mr. Solow and Mr. Haley are looking forward to working with each other and for Metrolink in their new roles.

“Because I remain dedicated to our top priority of enhancing safety and leading in the development and implementation of new technology, I am pleased to be able to continue   this aspect of the work that I have begun,” said Solow.  “I look forward to a smooth transition with Eric and the Metrolink team.”

“I would like to thank the Board for this opportunity as a capstone of my career.  We face tremendous budget challenges and simultaneously have a plan to continue expansion, which David began,” said Haley.  “David’s recognized expertise in Positive Train Control will be crucial because safety is the top concern.  We are fortunate to have the benefit of David’s experience as Metrolink moves forward with industry leading safety upgrades.”

The Board has authorized a two member ad hoc committee to negotiate final contract terms with both Solow and Haley.  When final, the contracts will be available on request consistent with the applicable law.

One of Mr. Haley’s priorities will be to direct the Board’s search for the new CEO to lead Metrolink to being this nation’s premier commuter railroad.  The Board anticipates hiring a CEO within the first half of 2010. Mr. Haley has agreed that he is not a candidate for the new CEO position.

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