As the D.C. area dives into August, all of us look forward to taking our summer vacations, either to the beach or to somewhere else beyond the Beltway. The District Council adjourned for recess on July 15 and will reconvene Sept. 16. This is usually a sleepy time for Council business, but my office is open and always here to help.
Late last month, District Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo announced his resignation from the agency, effective Aug. 11. Leif was appointed to lead DDOT by Mayor Bowser in January of 2015. He has been an asset to the progress made at DDOT and at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Leif has done a yeoman’s job as the director of DDOT. His vision and drive for change on every level of the District’s transportation agency have been felt by employees and commuters alike. I wish him well in the next chapter of his career.
Last week, Mayor Bowser announced that DDOT’s current deputy director, Jeff Marootian, will become the agency’s interim director. Jeff has served in multiple transportation-focused roles over a long and dedicated career. He served at DDOT under Gabe Klein. Later, he transitioned to the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Obama administration, then returned to a leadership position at DDOT. I know Jeff will work in the best interests of District residents. As chairman of WMATA, I look forward to working in partnership with him to improve transportation services for every resident of the D.C. area.
Just as there has been changes at DDOT, there have been many positive changes at WMATA. All of the Metrorail system’s 1000- and 4000-series railcars were retired at the beginning of July to make room for the new 7000-series cars. Many of the 7000-series cars arrived ahead of schedule. They are more reliable than the cars they replaced and provide much needed stability for the nation’s third-largest subway system. Coupled with the final stages of SafeTrack, overall service has improved with fewer incidents and breakdowns.
Metro has a long way to go to get back to prominence as one of the best run subway systems in the nation. However, gains made by investing in new railcars and in SafeTrack continue to pay dividends for commuters. Of course, there could be setbacks, but WMATA is now moving in the right direction.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.