Some Metrobuses suspended as safety inspections continue

WASHINGTON – Metro hopes adjustments to engine idle settings could prevent sudden bus shutdowns that have led to about 10 percent of the fleet being pulled from service.

The 164 buses that have been out of service since a second unexpected shutoff in late March have only partially been replaced by Metro’s available backup buses, which has meant more than 1 percent of scheduled daily bus trips have not run. That has caused longer waits for some riders.

“We know that some bus customers have experienced varying degrees of inconvenience as a result of this process,” an update signed by Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader, said Tuesday afternoon.

Vehicle inspections and test runs of buses without riders on board continue, Leader said, including alongside drivers on the road.

The latest tweak to be tested increases the buses’ “low idle” speed from 700RPM today to 800RPM, which might prevent a stall.

The buses would then get high-tech monitoring equipment before hitting the road without passengers over the next week.

“If an incident occurs, experts will be able to analyze the data to advance the investigation. However, if the test buses do not experience problems, Metro may begin returning the buses to passenger service in the coming weeks,” Leader wrote.

For now, selected bus trips continue to be skipped.

WTOP’s Chantalle Edmunds contributed to this report.

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