By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former airports executive was named to head Washington's troubled mass transit authority on Thursday, the agency said, taking over a system plagued by safety shortfalls.
Paul Wiedefeld, 60, the former chief executive of Baltimore's international airport, received unanimous board backing to become general manager and chief executive of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency said in a statement.
The transit agency for the U.S. capital area has been without a permanent general manager since January, when Wiedefeld's predecessor retired.
The U.S. Department of Transportation last month took over safety oversight of Metrorail, the WMATA subway system, which is the second-busiest in the nation. Metrorail has long been plagued by smoky tunnels, breakdowns and deadly accidents.
Metro officials have said they might have to raise fares as the agency grapples with improving the balky rail service.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by David Alexander)