Metro’s acting general manager hears complaints about operations

WASHINGTON — Metro’s acting general manager insists the transit agency is doing all that it can to improve Metro’s safety and reliability, but some are doubtful.

Jack Requa heard a litany of complaints at a forum on Metro problems sponsored by the Montgomery County Council Transportation Committee.

“We hear from bus riders whose buses don’t show up, and Metro Access users who have trouble scheduling a ride. And too often we’ve seen tragedy with the deaths of passengers and employees,” says Joan Kleinman, district manager for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

Kleinman was one of several panelists who laid out criticism of Metro’s operations. Transportation committee chairman Roger Berliner says the goal is to find short-term and long-term solutions to Metro’s problems.

“Almost every day … we read about or experience a problem with Metro — not small problems, big problems,” Berliner says.

The Transportation Committee wants Metro to have stronger accountability, better fiscal management, lower fares and better system performance.

“We need money; we need manpower, staff to do the work and we need the time on the system to make the repairs, and that’s where single-tracking or station shutdowns take place,” Requa says. He added that Metro is about halfway through a major five-year track repair project.

Montgomery County’s elected leaders made clear that they receive many rider complaints about non-operating Metro escalators.

“The escalators are emblematic of the overall problems we are seeing. WMATA’s own vital signs report shows a system that at the very best is treading water,” says Del. Marc Korman, who says Red Line on-time performance has been flat.

But Requa suggests that the problems with escalators may be overblown: “I know there’s a lot of comments on escalators and elevators. I think our performance is 90 percent or more on escalators.”

While elected leaders express impatience with Metro, Requa says the transit agency is working as diligently as possible, investing $1 billion a year on rail system safety improvements and repairs.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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