David Mayer, Chief Executive Officer
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.
Sharmila Samarasinghe, Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer
Sharmila Samarasinghe is the WMSC’s Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Samarasinghe leads a team of experts at the WMSC tasked with the day-to-day oversight of safety protocols and practices on the WMATA Metrorail system. Ms. Samarasinghe and her team have extensive knowledge and background in transit safety and operations, especially track and structures, rail vehicles, traction power, and signals and communications systems. Based on Ms. Samarasinghe and her team’s efforts, the WMSC can take action to ensure Metrorail carries out reforms and corrective actions to improve safety. Ms. Samarasinghe has fifteen years of experience as a system safety, transportation and security professional. Ms. Samarasinghe has held a variety of important posts at state transportation agencies and at metropolitan and regional planning organizations. Before joining the WMSC, Ms. Samarasinghe served for over two years as chair of the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), an organization that preceded the WMSC in overseeing WMATA Metrorail safety but that lacked the enforcement powers the WMSC now possesses. Before her service at the TOC, Ms. Samarasinghe worked for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia Railway Express, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Ms. Samarasinghe has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.