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DC Metro GM Goes Scorched Earth, Fires 20 Managers And Says More Layoffs Coming

Metro’s general manager cleaned house Friday, firing 20 station managers as part of an ongoing effort to reform the system.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld followed through on a threat to fire people from the troubled transit system after a disastrous start to the year brought D.C. Metro under national scrutiny. Wiedefeld sent an internal memo Friday alerting workers to the restructuring, which included letting seven senior managers go, reports NBC Washington.

Wiedefeld previously stressed safety must come before convenience for Metro workers, saying priorities at the transit agency need to change. One-third of the workers fired Friday came from rail operations.

“I began management restructuring by reducing my direct reports from 21 to 9, and departments are currently being realigned under the new structure,” reads the memo to employees. “This includes streamlining management to improve effectiveness and accountability.”

Wiedefeld met with 650 managers May 10, after a rash of track fires and one track explosion, to discuss the various safety failures. The firings follow a Customer Accountability Report (CARe) that aims to make the transit system more efficient. Metro sources say more firings are likely as the shakeup continues. (RELATED: Two Week-Long Track Shutdowns Imminent As DC Metro Reveals Final Repair Plan)

“As part of this restructuring, 20 managers are being released from WMATA, including seven senior managers,” the memo said. “CARe also calls for the elimination of redundant positions, and that review is underway.”

The news came just a day after Wiedefeld unveiled Metro’s ambitious ten-month repair plan dubbed SafeTrack. The project begins June 4 when officials will single-track trains between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations. Officials will then initiate a 16-day shutdown of the orange, blue and silver lines between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road and will close the Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations until July 3.

For almost the next year, maintenance crews will work round the clock during a series of 15 scheduled “safety surges” on various sections of the track. Crucial maintenance will happen through a combination of single-tracking, partial line closures and reduced service hours on every line except the newly constructed portions of the silver line.

“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” Wiedefeld said Thursday in a press release. “SafeTrack also includes weeknight work that will require single track operations in sections starting at 8 p.m.; it means closing the system at Midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m. and committing to a moratorium on extra hours of early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.”

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