August 10, 2022

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House committee probes Metro’s response to wheel problem

Metro security and service arrived beneath congressional scrutiny Wednesday as lawmakers pressed transit company leaders about the handling of problems connected to a derailment final tumble that is led to months of very long delays for riders.

Metro protection and provider came underneath congressional scrutiny Wednesday as lawmakers pressed transit company leaders about the dealing with of issues associated to a derailment final fall that is led to months of long delays for riders.

Metro’s new, 7000-collection rail autos were being pulled from services right after a derailment near the Rosslyn station past October. The issue has been linked to a wheel problem initial found in 2017. The rail cars and trucks make up nearly 60 percent of Metro’s fleet.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Govt Operations, claimed Metro has “jumped from crisis to crisis” adding that its operations replicate a society of “mediocrity.”

He and other lawmakers had loads of thoughts connected to how the challenge with the derailment was uncovered and why no one alerted top Metro officers, even even though it likely place riders at threat.

“Metro demands to do far better,” claimed Residence Vast majority Leader Steny Hoyer, noting his comment reflects the consensus of a lot of of his constituents in Maryland.

All 748 of Metro’s 7000-sequence rail vehicles have been sidelined as a safety evaluation connected to very last year’s derailment carries on, main to extended waits on station platforms, considering that so numerous rail automobiles are out of support.

The rail automobiles are not envisioned to return into service until finally April, at the earliest.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., explained it was difficult to realize why a problem with the rail motor vehicle wheels that was identified various several years back failed to go up the chain of command.

As a substitute it was originally a discussion that took place concerning reduced-stage Metro officials with the company of the 7000-sequence rail vehicles, Kawasaki.

“That’s like if I have got … an oven that’s not operating and is a fireplace risk for the dwelling and I just report it to the oven manufacturer,” Raskin claimed. “And I never convey to any person in the dwelling that the oven is a risk to lifetime or limb.”

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld observed that the initial trouble dealt with only two wheels out of thousands and that it was believed the challenge could be dealt with less than the warranty.

“But that’s not appropriate,” he mentioned, noting that treatments are now in location to make sure likely protection concerns are flagged so they can go up the chain of command.

Wiedefeld programs to action down as the head of Metro afterwards this year, right after foremost the transit agency because 2015.

Connolly praised him for his leadership during a complicated interval for Metro. Wiedefeld led an in depth energy to update the rail process, known as SafeTrack.

Wiedefeld stated he is aware of all of Metro’s difficulties have taken a toll on its clients.

“I fully grasp the inconvenience brought about to our consumers and thank them for their ongoing tolerance,” he stated.

A nationwide search for Wiedefeld’s substitute is underway.

Meanwhile, the response to the derailment has compounded a significant fall in Metro ridership because of to persons doing the job from dwelling all through the pandemic.

“Today, ridership is just less than 30 per cent of pre-COVID, pre-pandemic concentrations and bus ridership is about 40 per cent,” Wiedefeld mentioned.

Federal staff, who at a person time built up near to 40 per cent of Metro’s passengers, have performed a massive position in the drop.