Metro General Manager Richard Sarles gets contract extended

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Local,Liz Essley,Metro,Metro and Traffic

Metro's top official will be staying two more years.

The transit agency's board announced Thursday that its general manager and CEO, Richard Sarles, agreed to extend his contract to January 2016.

"I think there's a great team of employees here, from the people out to the field to the executive leadership team," Sarles said when asked why he's staying. "We've made a lot of progress, and the team wants to make more progress. [...] When you're working with a good team and you have a board that's very supportive, you want to keep doing it, and I've still got the energy to do it."

New mobile site for Metro
Navigating Metro by smartphone is getting easier.
The transit agency on Thursday unveiled its new mobile website, geared toward smartphone users.
The site offers Metro's trip planner as well as information about buses and trains nearby.
The agency developed the site on its own after six months of work, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. Its previous mobile site was a collection of plain-text links.
"We're a little late to the party on this, but we've designed a site that we believe is now among the best in the transit industry," Stessel said.
Metro also announced that information about delays and track work will now be available through Google Maps. But live service information, such as when a train will arrive, is still not available through Google Maps.
"We're working on that," Stessel said. "We're not in sole control of the timeline -- Google's a factor too."

Sarles' new contract extension will bump his salary to $366,000 -- a $16,000 raise -- and will allow him to keep any vacation days earned in the first three years at Metro, he said.

"That's all I wanted," Sarles said, pointing out that he has not received a raise so far in his time with Metro. Sarles was offered a bonus in 2012 but turned it down.

The board passed the contract extension unanimously.

Metro leaders have credited Sarles with stabilizing the agency and building a "safety culture" at Metro after the beleagured tenure of former General Manager John Catoe and the 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people and injured dozens more. Sarles, 67, came to Metro in 2010 on an interim basis after retiring as executive director of New Jersey Transit.

The announcement that Sarles would stay two more years came the same day the transit agency's board bid farewell to Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn, who retires this month after 33 years with the agency.

"Mike has accomplished the greatest goals that I think any leader can: He is leaving this place better than he found it, and he developed new leaders, including Deputy Chief [Ron Pavlik], who will succeed him," Sarles said. "[He] has definitely earned the right to turn off the 24/7 BlackBerry, as I know he is looking forward to."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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