"Board members in business and government are usually expected to concentrate only on setting broad policy. But some advocates say overseeing transit agencies is different because of the effect they have on thousands of people and their need to be appealing, safe and fast to compete with cars.
And unlike some other transit boards in California, Metrolink -- carrying about 47,000 passengers each weekday -- has no slots reserved for people who directly represent riders or the public at large.
'To be fair, the role of a transit agency board isn't to nitpick daily operations. They're supposed to be focusing on the bigger picture,' said Margaret Okuzumi, executive director of BayRail Alliance, a transit advocacy group in Northern California. 'The problem is if they're not familiar with the day-to-day experience, it's hard for them to relate to what kind of conditions would better serve their riders.'
Even when Brown led the Metrolink board, he said, he found it hard to get colleagues to directly experience the service they provided."