Randy Clarke selected to lead WMATA

May 10, 2022
WMATA’s Board noted Clarke’s demonstrated ability to be a “transformative, strategic thinker” as the agency looks to the future.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors has named Randy Clarke to be the authority’s next general manager and CEO. Clarke will succeed Paul J. Wiedefeld who is retiring in June.

“With the current challenges facing Metro, we knew we needed to find an accomplished and innovative executive who has a track record of effective leadership,” said WMATA’s Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “It was obvious to the board that Mr. Clarke was clearly the one candidate who most demonstrated his ability to be a transformative, strategic thinker who would redefine how the organization moves forward over the next several decades, ensuring Metro’s important role in driving future regional mobility.”

Clarke currently serves as the president and CEO of CapMetro in Austin, Texas, where he has led the development of the authority’s strategic vision, changed how the authority performs community engagement, forged partnerships and worked to address the authority’s financial viability.

CapMetro has also developed into an industry leader with its diversity, equity and inclusion program and WMATA’s board notes Clarke intends to continue with that focus at WMATA.

Clarke joined CapMetro in 2018 from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and secured one of the largest voter-approved referendums for transit expansion, Project Connect. The multi-billion expansion program will not only add to the city’s mobility network, but also address historic inequities in Austin and pair the infrastructure investment with anti-displacement measures.

As Clarke recently told Mass Transit as part of the April/May cover story, “We’re changing not just transit in Austin, but we’ve also changed the culture of a region.”

During his time at MBTA, Clarke held several roles including deputy chief operating officer, chief safety officer, responsible for the organization’s safety oversight and director of security and emergency management.

“I am honored to be selected as the next GM/CEO of Metro and want to thank the WMATA Board for their confidence in me to help lead this amazing organization through a critical time in its future,” said Clarke. “As a fellow transit customer, I will be focused on delivering the safe, reliable and customer centric transit service that this region deserves. I look forward to meeting with staff, customers, stakeholders and community members to learn more about how we can collectively build a bright future together.”

Wiedefeld to exit June 30

Wiedefeld is set to exit the agency on June 30, following six years as general manager and CEO.

Wiedefeld was hired in November 2015 during a particularly difficult time in the agency’s history. He is widely credited with improving rail safety and reliability through SafeTrack, securing dedicated funding, developing one of the transit industry’s largest ($2 billion annual) capital programs to restore the system to a state of good repair and steering the agency through the pandemic in partnership with labor leaders.

When he announced his intent to retire in January, Wiedefeld noted “the seismic shifts happening in transit and the region” and WMATA’s need for a “leader who can commit to several years of service and set a new course.”

“Without question, Mr. Wiedefeld was the right general manager/CEO for Metro for the last six years,” said Smedberg. “We are appreciative of Paul’s commitment to the authority and his ability to put programs in place to improve safety, service reliability and financial management.”

CapMetro plans for transition

“We will certainly miss Randy at CapMetro,” said Travis County Commissioner and CapMetro Board Chair Jeffery Travillion. “I’m proud of the work that we’ve accomplished under Randy’s leadership over these last four years. He’s brought us together in so many ways, from building the community’s trust to secure funding for Project Connect to building trust with our staff that led to improved operations and better relations with our labor union. I’m grateful for his time with us, and our board wishes him great success in our nation’s capital."

CapMetro's board will meet this month to work with Clarke on next steps for the transition of leadership at the agency.

“All along my desire has been to see more communities served through providing better access to high-quality transit, and it’s been an honor to have served the people of Austin and Central Texas,” Clarke said. “I want to thank the incredible staff at CapMetro, our board members, customers, community stakeholders and partners for your support and friendship for the four-plus years that I’ve called Austin my home. This place and you all will be always near to my heart.”


Article updated 1:50 p.m. 5/10/2022 to incorporate CapMetro statement and plans.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.