The leader of the D.C. Metro system revealed his vision for the agency after SafeTrack repairs end, with a plan dubbed “Back2Good.”
The main focus is the replacement of older, deteriorating railcars with newer trains. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said that the majority of daily delays are a result of train malfunctions, predominately with the older models. The ambitious plan seeks to reduce delays by 25 percent by retiring two fleets of trains and upgrading all eight car trains to the new 7000 series models, reports WJLA.
Wiedefeld said roughly 60 percent of service disruptions are due to the unreliability of the older trains.
“While we remain focused on track safety and reliability, we must tackle the fact that six of every ten train delays are due to issues with our railcars,” Wiedefeld said Wednesday at The National Press Club, according to WJLA. “Getting back to good means running trains safely and on time.”
Wiedefeld also made promises to improve safety, particularly the problem operators have with overrunning red signals in tunnels. Officials plan to install software in all trains that will alert operators and stop them from running through a signal and potentially causing a tunnel collision.
Additionally, Wiedefeld said they plan on expanding cell phone service in tunnels and installing a public radio system in stations and tunnels to improve safety for track workers and riders.
Federal officials revealed earlier this month that repairs of the D.C. Metro system related to SafeTrack will cost nearly double what the agency originally budgeted and will extend into the summer. The report estimates repairs will conclude in June, 2017, rather than March, but federal officials are careful to say that repairs could face further extensions.
Metro is currently facing a budget shortfall of $275 million. Analysts warn that if the trend continues, the D.C. Metro will have a $1.1 billion budget shortfall by 2020.
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