At its November meeting, the COG Board of Directors received a presentation on Metrorail’s preventive maintenance needs and discussed a proposal by General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to decrease nighttime service to provide additional time for maintenance work.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Assistant General Manager of Transit Infrastructure and Engineering Services Andy Off said preventive maintenance could help the system avoid the need for another SafeTrack, referencing Metro’s current accelerated track work initiative that has featured several long-duration track outages. Off said additional time for maintenance over the next two years following SafeTrack will help Metro prevent fire and smoke incidents, prolong the life expectancy of the rail and track, and reduce speed restrictions.
MORE: Metro Operating Hours and Preventive Maintenance Presentation
Following the presentation, COG Board Member Christian Dorsey, an Arlington County Board Member, who also serves on the WMATA Board of Directors, kicked off a roundtable discussion on local perspectives on Metro’s plans.
Dorsey said that he and his WMATA Board colleagues were initially skeptical of the proposal to cut operating hours. He said they asked Metro to explore alternatives, such as single tracking or strategic maintenance surges similar to SafeTrack, and that staff responded with a thoughtful plan that detailed why more maintenance time is required to ensure safe, reliable service.
Several COG Board members voiced concerns about the impact on the economy and urged Metro to ensure that alternatives, such as bus service, would be in place for workers that depend on late-night transit service. At the same time, many also said that while the shorter operating hours would be an inconvenience, Metro’s safety needs remain the region’s top concern and were supportive of Metro’s maintenance plans.
The November meeting was the latest in a series of discussions as part of the COG Board’s focus on restoring Metrorail.
MORE: Recorded audio of the November 2016 COG Board meeting