Oct 28, 2021 - News

Metro delays to continue through Nov. 15

An empty Dupont Circle station from 2020. Photo: Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Reduced Metrorail service will continue through at least Nov. 15, the transit agency announced Thursday, prolonging the region’s transportation headache.

Driving the news: Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld said inspections have been completed on all 7000 series cars, but they remain out of service since being pulled on Oct. 18 after a derailment revealed wheel-based issues dating back to 2017.

Wiedefeld said at a Metro board meeting that he did not know about the 7000-series railcars’ wheel issue over the past four years.

  • “I think it’s too soon,” he said about who should be held accountable. “I think we let the investigation take its course.”
  • The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the derailment and wheels on the 7000 series, which is the system’s newest train cars. Spokesperson Jennifer Gabris told Axios that a preliminary report is expected 30 business days after the Oct. 12 derailment.
  • Wiedefeld said Metro is working with the independent watchdog group Washington Metrorail Safety Commission on a “testing plan that will allow the trains to safely return to service.” Metro has 748 of the 7000-series cars, making up about 60% of its fleet.

Details: Wiedefeld said Metro is aiming to increase the number of trains running daily from 31 to 50 by bringing older cars back into service after safety inspections.

  • Red Line trains will continue running every 15 to 20 minutes and every 30 to 40 minutes on other lines. Silver Line service will still only run between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW.

The big picture: The continued delays are threatening the region’s economic recovery and damaging Metro’s image as an institution on the up, five years after the Back2Good campaign was launched.

  • "Safety is the first priority," Chuck Bean, head of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, tells Axios. "Fixing this issue is essential to a regional return to office."

What they're saying: EatWell DC restaurant group owner David Winer says many of his employees have long given up on Metro as a reliable source of transportation.

  • “It’s just one more nail in a system that seems to be rife with incompetence, and our staff has little faith,” Winer tells Axios.

Winer says his roughly 120 employees often resort to paying for expensive rideshare services, or driving or biking to work when they can.

  • Plus, the rising cost of living in D.C. keeps much of his staff from living near their jobs.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with reactions and more information about safety inspections.


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