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Maryland considers dedicated Metro funding

  • Published in Local

Maryland Flag Metro LogoANNAPOLIS — A delegation for business people and elected officials made their way to the state capital Tuesday to make their case that Metro, the region’s struggling mass transit system, needs a reliable supply of state dollars.

On Tuesday, the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee held a public hearing for a bill that would give the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority $125 million in dedicated funding. WMATA has requested this type of funding for some time from the three jurisdictions of D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as it is one of the few mass transit systems in America without a source of dedicated funding or a consistent permanent supply of public money.

Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who served on the Council of Governments, a regional body of elected officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia that work on regional issues, said no issue has united people more than the need for a dedicated funding source for Metro.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board of the Council of Governments for many years and last year as chair,” Berliner said. “In all of those years, no issue has united our entire region, Republicans and Democrats, urban and suburban, more than the need to finally provide dedicated funding for Metro.”

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Metro Inspector General wants independence

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metro logoWASHINGTON — Metro’s Inspector General Geoffrey Cherrington wants to take steps to ensure his office’s independence from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority management, and he has some ideas as to what those steps should be.

Cherrington said he plans to propose amendments to the resolution that governs the Office of Inspector General and its employees that would solidify its independence from the rest of WMATA

“I can’t say this strong enough, because I don’t want this to be twisted. I’m not arguing with the way Metro has its policy instructions,” Cherrington said. "Government agencies and quasi- government agencies need policy instructions, they need regulations, so people know what they can and cannot do. It’s just some of that policy instruction can’t apply to this office because we need more tools and we need a business model that supports an independent OIG.”

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Metro radio tests not done

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metro logoWASHINGTON — Preliminary findings of the investigation into last week’s Metro derailment show tests of the radio communications system used in the tunnels are not occurring as often as they should because radio shop employees aren’t performing them, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Chairman and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday. 

 “It was essentially an antenna problem [in the area of the collision],” WMATA Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin said Thursday, explaining the source of the difficulties in communication between Metro’s rail operations control center and the train operator during the derailment, which occurred at 6:30 a.m. Jan. 15. “Employees adjusted the antenna after the incident.”

Lavin said investigators discovered both the antenna problem and that fact the testing took place less frequently than it should have.

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Red Line derailment due to small defect

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metro logoA veteran transportation engineer who helped design the Metrorail system’s tracks says last week’s derailment may not have been preventable because track problems aren’t always visible to track inspectors and technicians.

“A [defect] may not have been big enough to warrant an action,” said Gus Ubaldi, a transportation engineering consultant who, in the 1970s, was part of the team that designed Metro’s track layout. 

Ubaldi said that inspectors and technicians may not have been able to see if a problem with one of the rails posed a potential derailment hazard, and the stress of trains running over the problem area could have caused the rail to break without warning.

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Signs of pre-existing damage found in Metro derailment

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metro logoWASHINGTON, D.C. — Metro Safety Chief Pat Lavin said Thursday the piece of track where the Red Line train derailed Jan. 15 showed signs of pre-existing damage.

Metro officials said the site of derailment was an eight-foot section of fractured rail. Investigators found a crack at the bottom of the broken rail which “appeared to show signs of oxidation.”

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Metro mulls refund policy

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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.

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Derailed!

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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.

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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.

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