Metro Should Be Accountable For Poor Emergency Management

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on April 21, 2018.

Although I’m a member of the Arlington Transportation Commission, I am speaking only on my own behalf.

DC Metro’s new slogan is “Back2Good”, but if its recent performance is an indication, Metro is “Back2Bad But Good”. On December 28, three eastbound trains offloaded at Ballston, reversed course and head back the way they came. By the time another inbound train arrived, the platform was packed, leaving one wheelchair bound patron to negotiate his way down the platform just six inches from the edge.

Metro officials explained that trains were single tracking due to a cracked rail near Potomac Avenue, but did not explain why an incident ten miles away required offloading all inbound trains at Ballston. On January 23 several trains were offloaded at Ballston due to a fire near Stadium Armory. Again there was no explanation on the need to offload at Ballston.

On February 28, when a train broke down at Ballston, Metro responded by shuttling inbound passengers from EFC to Virginia Square, creating a bottleneck that made it impossible to board a train. One government manager reported that she paid Uber $62 to just to get to work on H Street.

On April 5, the Washington Post reported that Metro service was interrupted for two hours due to smoke at Virginia Square.

The shutdown not only caused unaccountable delays, it also forced the tolls on I-66 to $47 as passengers abandoned the train for the road.

All these track incidents occurred less than a year after completion of Metro’s $100 million plus SafeTrack initiative. SafeTrack was supposed to fix the tracks. Instead it has simply routinized rush hour delays and hazardous platform conditions.

This is unacceptable. Northern Virginia must put the brakes on a dedicated funding source for Metro until Metro comes up with a workable emergency management plan.

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