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Who’s the best paid transit manager in the country? WMATA’s own General Manager Richard Sarles, who earns $350,000 a year, plus another $3,200 in monthly pension payments from his time working at New Jersey Transit. Sarles did have the good sense to turn down a performance bonus offered by the Metro board, perhaps to reduce ammunition from residents who want Metro to look internally for budget cuts rather than raising fares and taxes.

Each year, Sarles’ salary could pay for 218,750 one-way Metro rides, at the $1.60 non-rush-hour base fare.

The Post reports:

The transit authority has faced sharp criticism recently from passengers as Sarles has proposed an across-the-board increase in fares for rail, bus and parking to help close a $116 million deficit in the authority’s fiscal 2013 budget. He also wants local jurisdictions to provide larger subsidies to help close the gap.

The public has weighed in at six public hearings on the proposed increases. A few riders have criticized Metro’s management for being top-heavy. At an Arlington hearing, one rider called the board and upper management “arrogant” and “tone-deaf.” Another Metro rider brought up executives’ pay at a hearing in Anacostia.

Leslie Wilcox, who rides the train daily from Congress Heights to her job at an environmental agency in Montgomery County, told Metro officials they should “look within their own organization and make cuts.” She called for Metro to “eliminate nonessential positions as in management.”

The other top Metro managers make upwards of $150,000 each, pulling down $3.1 million altogether.