Local lawmakers have mixed reaction to Metro closure

WASHINGTON — Metrorail’s planned daylong closure Wednesday is eliciting varying remarks from D.C.-area lawmakers — ranging from appreciation for Metro’s tough call to saying it’s a demonstration of “total agency failure.”

Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 6th congressional district, says it is “deeply disturbing” that it has come to shutting down Metrorail entirely and abruptly on a busy weekday.

“This is a stark demonstration of a total agency failure; now is the time for every stakeholder in WMATA to demand better performance and improved safety,” Delaney said in a statement.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, however, offered a different perspective saying he respects General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s tough decision, which signals improvement at the top of Metro.

“ … It’s also the type of tough call that signals WMATA’s new management team is doing whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Metro riders,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., says “Congress should finally listen to Metro riders and get serious about funding one of the most important transit systems in the world.”

“To label this a ‘wakeup call’ ignores the many other incidents that for years have endangered riders, caused delays and lead to shutdowns,” he added in a statement.

Other local lawmakers saw the good and the bad that comes with a Metro closure — which will be entirely closed from midnight Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, says while she is frustrated for the riders whose lives will be “drastically interrupted” Wednesday, she would be “even more sorry if this action wasn’t taken and something terrible happened,” according to a statement.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Republican representing Virginia’s 10th District, says while she appreciates Wiedefeld’s drastic actions for safety, this action proves the need for “cultural change” at Metro.

“Instead of Metro riders being constantly inconvenienced and put in danger, Metro management throughout the entire system needs to be shaken to its core and be rid of its culture of incompetence. New accountability measures must be put in place,” she said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 8ths District, says the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should offer free bus service around the region. He adds safety has not taken precedence for Metro.

“The shutdown of the Metrorail system for an entire day in the middle of the workweek is an astonishing admission that safety has not been the priority it needs to be at WMATA,” he says.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 5th congressional district, says Metro’s closure letting down those who rely on the transit agency every day.

“I will continue to urge WMATA leadership to put forth a plan that will ensure the safety of the system as they work to address their challenges and to restore the trust and confidence of its riders and stakeholders.”

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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