Metro mulls refund policy

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON D.C. — A proposal to refund Metro passengers for late trains during rush hour moved one step closer to becoming a reality last Thursday after a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration committee unanimously approved a plan that would refund passengers for trains that are late by 15 minutes or more during rush hour service. 

The unanimous recommendation by Metro’s Safety and Service Delivery Committee’s during its Jan. 11 meeting brings the plan one step closer to final approval, and needs only the full WMATA board's approval before going into effect, which WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said could happen as early as Jan. 26.

“We know we still need to earn back their confidence,” explained Assistant GM Lynn Bowersox.



  • Published in Local

Metro officials continue to investigate Red Line derailment 

metro logoWASHINGTON — Metro has not yet determined the cause of Monday’s Red Line derailment, but they are pleased with improvements to emergency responses made in the wake of the fatal L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident two years ago, WMATA officials said.

“The final cause has not been determined,” said WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, while noting that a crack or break in the rail may have led to the derailment, which took place at 6:40 a.m. outside Farragut North station on Monday. Metro is also considering whether human error was a contributing factor, he said.


Single-tracking and delays likely after Red Line derailment, Metro GM says

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON — Metro riders who relied on the Red Line experienced single-tracking and longer wait times Tuesday morning as Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority crews worked on the site of the train derailment, officials said.

Wiedefeld advised commuters to allow for additional travel time while Metro workers work to return the three derailed 7000-series train cars to the section of track they came off of, located outside Farragut North station.

Metro investigators are looking mostly to determine if infrastructure problems led the railcars to come off the running rail Monday, Wiedefeld said, but they are also considering whether human error was a contributing factor.


Metro still having trouble with “Back2Good”

  • Published in Local

Metro officials said in a November report the yearlong SafeTrack program did not meet goals for some of the projects as management had claimed; more service disruptions will be caused by single-tracking and shutdowns for additional repairs. 

Quality assurance internal compliance and oversight (QICO) officials at Metro said several of the projects from the year of SafeTrack’s multi-day, single-tracking- and shutdown-related projects either left some problems unresolved or had fresh problems develop after the SafeTrack program ended. Some problems led to service disruptions such as speed restrictions. 

Metro officials determined Metro has problems in planning, defining scope of capital projects such as SafeTrack and ensuring that work consistently meets the requirements for inspection and data recording from inspections. Also included in the report are corrective action plans for each of the problems found in the investigation.


Metro cutting negative SmarTrip balances

  • Published in Local

WMATA metro logoStarting Monday, Jan. 8, Metro riders will no longer be permitted to have a negative balance on their SmarTrip cards after entering or leaving a station or bus with slightly less than the required fare.

WMATA Chief Financial Officer Dennis Anosike said that fare gates and bus fare boxes would stop allowing negative balances because the unpaid negative fares are costing Metro too much potential revenue. 

"In an environment where every dollar counts, we are taking a common sense approach to ensure that Metro is properly collecting the value of the transportation it provides to reduce the demand on Metro customers and the region for additional funding," Anosike said on Nov. 24.


Shake, Rattle, but Metro won’t roll

  • Published in Local

metro logoA Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority contractor has confirmed that some homes located over a section of the Green Line are vibrating more than they should but the cause of the vibration is unknown, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said last week.

“WMATA continues to analyze track conditions, car design and car maintenance to identify the cause or causes for the elevated readings,” Wiedefeld said, but a report on the investigation of vibrating homes will not be available until 2018.

Ward 4 D.C. Council member Brandon Todd said residents in Northwest D.C. have been complaining to him about vibrations and damage to their homes for more than a year. 

“I remain extremely concerned that progress on this matter has been unusually slow, given the significance of the impacts described by residents,” Todd said last month.  “They report intense shaking of the vibration of their homes, which is causing cracks in the wall and other property damage. Similar reports have also occurred in other neighborhoods throughout the district.”


Select Red Line stations closed so Metro can replace cable before it fails

  • Published in Local

WASHINGTON — Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority crews and contractors shut down several Red Line stations the weekend of Dec. 16 and 17 to replace a failing communications cable that posed a serious safety risk.

WMATA Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader said on Thursday that the decision to replace the cable was made after the new general superintendent in charge of Automatic Train Control requested an audit of non-traction power cable inspection records and after Leader recommended to General Manager Paul Wiedefeld that WMATA replace the cable after it was found during an inspection this week to not meet Metro specifications, though inspectors did not determine a reason for the cable’s failure.

“The decision was made on Tuesday not to try and pinpoint where the failure might be or what might be causing the failure… just replace the cable,” Leader said.


Metro Union Chief Sounds Off

metro logoSILVER SPRING — The president of Metro’s largest union says recent management decisions put riders at risk of losing their jobs due to tardiness.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president Jackie Jeter is criticizing WMATA managers’ decision to allow contractors to run shuttle bus services while a Red Line station was closed last month because deficiencies in the shuttle service created a risk that riders might lose their jobs due to tardiness.

Metro management paid private bus operators to transport riders between Silver Spring Station and Fort Totten Station when WMATA temporarily closed Takoma Station for a capital improvement project. Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly had said the long trip times and long lines of people waiting to board at Silver Spring Station Nov. 27 were due to traffic caused by an unrelated vehicle crash that day.

However, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president Jackie Jeter – whose union represents more than 9,000 Metro employees – attributed the shuttle delays Nov. 27 and 28 to WMATA’s decision to use private buses operated by contract bus operators rather than Metrobus drivers and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority vehicles.

“Metro needs to take responsibility for their piss-poor planning. This shutdown – which is SafeTrack, only by another name – was announced over the summer,” Jeter said. “They had time to prepare, yet here we are with private contractors who can’t get the job done in a way that gives the riding public the Metro service they deserve,” she added.


“Good Old Boys Club”

  • Published in Local

Woman claims climate at WMATA discourages sex assault reporting

metro logoA union shop steward and veteran bus driver for The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority says the culture at WMATA discourages women from coming forward to report sexual harassment.

Linda Mercer, who has been a bus driver for more than 15 years, posted a video on her Facebook page making the claim.

"There's always been a good old boys club within WMATA," Mercer said.

“You can't tell, because when you tell, you're blackballed,” Mercer added.

In the video on her Facebook page she outlined the problem: “There have been plenty of women that have been sexually assaulted, touched in ways they don't want to be touched.”

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