WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), together with Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), today called on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) Board of Directors to convene an emergency safety meeting following revelations that Metro neglected to fix an identified safety problem. Metro, once again, put service over safety and maintenance, leading to the derailment of a train near the Smithsonian station last week. While the Metro Board of Directors has directed the General Manager to complete an operational investigation within 10 days, the next meeting of the Metro Board of Directors isn’t scheduled to take place until September 10.
“Enough is enough. How many more times do we have to express our anger, frustration and outrage? This most recent incident is unacceptable and further demonstrates a pattern of neglect to physical infrastructure critical to the safety of those who ride Metro and those who work on it. We demand accountability from Metro. We call on the Metro Board of Directors to convene an emergency safety meeting following the completion of the General Manager’s operational investigation to identify and triage the most pressing safety and infrastructure concerns. Metro must act with urgency to ensure the safety of riders is no longer ignored. If this means the Board has to micro-manage these repairs, then it must be done.”
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), several deficiencies in these areas were implicated in the deadly smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza Metro station earlier this year. Yet in June, the NTSB also reported that numerous power-cable connections near Metro’s subway tracks are incorrectly installed, leaving them vulnerable to contaminants that could lead to a short-circuit that can produce smoke and fire within the system tunnels similar to that which occurred near L’Enfant Plaza on January 12. A FTA review released last month also identified significant and continuing concerns with Metro’s safety programs. The safety inspection found that Metro was prioritizing service ahead of maintenance. Sadly most recent derailment and the significant disruption to the system, is an example of this significant problem.
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