House Republicans blasted D.C. Metro leaders for mismanaging the transit system in an oversight hearing Wednesday, who in response demanded more funds from the city.
“We have a Metro system in crisis,” Republican Rep. John Mica told Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and Chairman Jack Evans, a D.C. Council member, at the hearing. “I’m not here to make up for bad management. I’m not here to make up for a poor safety record. I’m not here to make up for a lack of action. I’m not going to bail you out.”
Wiedefeld and Evans were called to testify about recent failures of the crumbling system and how they plan to fix it. Wiedefeld was brought on less than a year ago to reform the city’s metro, and is developing a detailed two-year plan to fix the system, which he’s expected to release in the coming weeks.
“Now you’re the new kid on the block and we’re counting on you, but I want people fired,” Mica said to Wiedefeld at the hearing. “You need to get in there and fire people and get that place in order.”
Evans responded to the criticism by shifting blame to Congress for failing to provide the funds he says are necessary to fix the system. “Next time something happens, I’m blaming you guys,” he said.
D.C.’s Metro drew national attention in March for unexpectedly shutting down the entire system for 29-hours to do emergency repairs after a track fire earlier in the week. And last year a women died after a metro car stopped in a tunnel and filled with smoke related to a track fire. (RELATED: Angry Commuters Buckle Up For Day Without Metro)
Evans demanded more funds from Congress for the Metro, although Mica noted Congress has already awarded the system more than $700 million in federal grants for repair and maintenance. Those funds have largely gone unspent, due to what Republican House members called years of management failures. (RELATED: Metro Chief Walks Back Talk Of Closing Lines For Six Months)
“All I’m asking you for is $300 million, which is your fair share, given the fact that we transport 50 percent of your workforce every day,” Evans said in the hearing. “You want there to be safety? You want this to be reliable? Or do you just want to leave here and do nothing?
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