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Randy Clarke

General Manager and CEO, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Randy Clarke, CEO and General Manager, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
In his nearly two years on the job as general manager and CEO for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Randy Clarke has been almost laser focused on shoring up the agency’s finances as it climbs out of the pandemic-induced slump.

Speaking on a panel hosted by the Urban Institute in November 2023, Clarke described WMATA’s unprecedented $750 million deficit, beginning the next fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

“We built an all-day, all-days-of-the-week network, so people can really, truly be reliant on transit,” Clarke said, pointing to stats showing bus ridership at near pre-pandemic levels during the week and exceeding those levels on weekends.

Clarke is a veteran of helming massive urban transit systems. He previously served as transit chief for Capital Metro in Austin, Texas, as well as deputy chief operating officer for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston.

As for the fiscal crisis looming at WMATA, Clarke is facing it head on. He and his team have proposed a variety of budget-cutting measures, as well as shifting some of the capital funding toward operations. Officials have also proposed a 25 percent increase in fares. Clarke also isn’t shying away from expansion to better serve riders — including some very high-profile ones in and around the nation’s capitol — on a sprawling system spanning three states.

“We’re actually delivering the most rail service in the history of Metro right now. Our frequencies are fantastic,” he added.

He’s got a lot of firsthand experience with those frequencies too. Clark is a regular rider of Metro buses and trains who knows what’s at stake at this moment for his agency and public transit more generally. As he said to GT’s sister publication Governing last year, “We have to do well not just for the image of the industry, but for the funding, the regulatory environment, the reputation.”

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to read the full digital edition online.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.