David L. Mayer, PhD is the first-ever chief executive officer of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC), the state safety oversight agency (safety regulator) for WMATA’s Metrorail system. Dr. Mayer joined the WMSC in June 2018. Dr. Mayer previously served as the first-ever chief safety officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a position he held from December 2014 through May 2018. The MTA’s operations include subways, buses, two railroads, seven bridges, and two tunnels in a service territory that includes New York City. Dr. Mayer was responsible for enterprise-wide safety strategies to ensure the safety of employees, customers, and the general public. Dr. Mayer served as the managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a position he held for five and a half years ending in November 2014. In that role, he functioned as the agency’s chief operating officer and senior career executive by overseeing the agency’s technical organizational units.
Dr. Mayer’s NTSB career began in 1991 as a transportation safety researcher. He worked on studies involving recreational boating, truck driver fatigue, aviation safety in Alaska, air traffic control equipment reliability, and railroad/highway grade crossing safety. In 1996, Dr. Mayer was assigned to the Office of Aviation Safety where he was involved in the day-to-day operation of that office, and he participated in a number of high-profile, major accident investigations. He was extensively involved in the investigation of the 1996 in-flight break up of TWA Flight 800, handling both investigative data management and leading eyewitness activities. He also served as Deputy Chief, and later as Acting Chief, of the Human Performance Division.
In 2001, he was named assistant managing director and in 2005 he was promoted to deputy managing director. While serving as deputy managing director, Dr. Mayer concurrently served for 10 months as the NTSB’s chief information officer, where he oversaw the agency’s information technology, records management, and information security programs.
In February 2007, Dr. Mayer became a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES). In 2009, he became the managing director of the NTSB. Dr. Mayer was a 2012 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for strong leadership in the SES. He has worked on accident investigations and safety projects in all modes of transportation. Dr. Mayer was trained in experimental psychology as a human factors specialist and holds a doctorate from Rice University in Houston. He holds a private pilot’s license and is a licensed amateur radio operator.