Andy Off, Assistant General Manager of Rail Services at Metro, is leaving the agency to become a consultant. WMATA COO Joe Leader will run the search for Off’s replacement, according to an email sent today by General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to the Board. It’s not clear when the baton will be passed officially.
Wiedefeld’s email to WMATA Staff:
Dear Chair Evans and Board Members,
I want to share the news with you that Andy Off has decided to leave WMATA for the consulting world. Andy has been with WMATA for seven years, and his leadership has been key through SafeTrack, standing up our first preventative maintenance program, and improving rail reliability. While we understand the appeal of non-operating challenges for someone of Andy’s caliber with an active family, we are very sorry to lose him at Metro. We will continue to benefit from the top notch team he has assembled.
We have very strong internal professionals who may be candidates for the AGM Rail position, and COO Joe Leader will begin to consider both internal and external candidates over the next month while Andy makes the transition.
Paul J. Wiedefeld
General Manager and CEO
Good Riddens to the SafeTrack Cheerleader?
Andy Off has been at Metro since January of 2012, previously serving as Assistant Chief Engineer for Track and Civil Engineering and Director of Infrastructure Renewal Project Management (IRPM). Before his time at Metro, Off was at the Army Corps of Engineers and an active duty Army Officer. Off led SafeTrack, a success or failure depending on the goals you cite. That makes you happy and grateful or relieved and hoping his successor does something to change ridership numbers Metro thought would be better by now.
Is Andy Off to Blame for Metro’s Drastic Ridership Decrease?
The timing of Andy Off’s departure is eyebrow-raising. Why announce this today and did he want to leave for the “appeal of non-operating challenges for someone of Andy’s caliber with an active family?”
Today’s announcement coincides with a Washington Post scoop showing Metro experts believed reduced service levels would indeed cause ridership to decrease. In public under the Back2Good campaign, Metro officials have insisted the opposite or blamed outside factors like the rise of ride-sharing and bike-sharing. Depending on your reading of the WaPost report, the right conclusions are being reached internally—better service has to come first—and not reaching the top officials with power. Or, you think officials at Off’s level ignored this internal analysis.
This confusion might lead Metro commuters to decide Off et al. are intent on steering Metro into commuter rail-level service with expanded service cuts. The Post says Metro officials high enough in the food chain saw the analysis showing ridership follows service levels that they made big PR moves like a rider survey. However, they didn’t let the report float up to Off’s level. Regardless how much ill intent you read into Off’s time, or for whose agenda the internal moves where taken, Metro officials are arguing with themselves and don’t have a consistent message about their future goals or the methods to achieve them.
At least thanks to Off and Back2Good, we know how much of the system would have been a danger to us were it not for their preventative maintenance. Too bad people aren’t excited about that counterfactual.