Commuters Brace For More Than A Month Of Single-Tracking On DC Metro Amid Criticisms Of Repairs


Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Steve Birr Vice Reporter
Font Size:

Federal inspectors are concerned over the quality of current D.C. Metro repairs as the transit system gears up for more than a month of single-tracking due to SafeTrack.

The next round of SafeTrack repairs kicks off in the wake of criticism from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) over already completed maitinence work. In roughly 30 reports from federal inspectors, officials documented 130 track defects found in areas already “fixed” by Metro’s SafeTrack program, such as loose fasteners. Inspectors found other track infrastructure in “very poor” condition during their reviews of the completed work, according to The Washington Post.

Inspectors noted some encouraging progress being made in the tunnels, but critics are worried the reports call into question the quality of SafeTrack repairs. Surge 9 SafeTrack repairs begin Thursday on the orange line. (RELATED: Brutal Commute: DC Metro’s Repair Equipment Derails)

“We’ve learned something every time we’ve done one of these,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. “I wish every time we did something, it was 100 percent.”

Orange line trains traveling between the Vienna and West Falls Church stations will single track for 42 days for Surge 9 SafeTrack repairs. Officials are warning riders to expect crowded trains and reduced service through Oct. 26 while maitinence work is conducted.

D.C. Metro officials are grappling with rapidly declining public trust in the transit service in addition to pressure from the FTA. Only 42 percent of Metro riders said the system is reliable in a recent survey and commuters are ditching Metro entirely at an alarming rate. (RELATED: Repairs Cost DC Metro 20 Million Trips As Ridership Plummets)

Ridership fell by 11 percent between April and June when SafeTrack began and the declines appear to be accelerating. Passengers took 8 million fewer rides between April and July alone. Metro made 321 million passenger trips for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, marking a 6 percent decline over ridership in 2015. Metro officials previously estimated ridership would grow by 3.2 percent this fiscal year.

Analysts warn if the trend continues, the D.C. Metro will have a $1.1 billion budget shortfall by 2020.

“We need more money,” Jack Evans, chairman of the Metro Board, told The Washington Post. “If we don’t get it, then I don’t know what the option is. We have to then stop service.”

Evans wants greater funding for the Metro from the District, Maryland and Virginia. Evans is requesting $300 million from Congress to help balance its budget sheet, and $1 billion annually in dedicated funding from the local governments to conduct the necessary actions to keep the system running.

Follow Steve on Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact