In the wake of several high-profile problems, the Washington D.C. metro system (WMATA) is considering shutting down an entire line for up to six months in order to fix the litany of maintenance problems plaguing the system.
Earlier this month, WMATA chief closed the entire system for 24-hours after a fire on one of the lines, and is now considering closing the “Blue Line” which is in desperate need of repairs.
From The Washington Post:
Metro’s top officials warned Wednesday that the transit system is in such need of repair that they might shut down entire rail lines for as long as six months for maintenance, potentially snarling thousands of daily commutes and worsening congestion in the already traffic-clogged region.
Board Chairman Jack Evans and General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld put rail riders on notice about possible extended closures at a high-level conference of local leaders. The discussion also revealed strong resistance to what Evans said was a “dire” need for more than $1 billion a year in additional funding for Metro.
The officials’ comments underlined the depth of Metro’s problems, which are steadily becoming more apparent as Wiedefeld continues to probe the rail system’s defects since he took over as the transit agency’s chief executive in November.
Until now, Metro has typically done repair work at night or during short shutdowns over weekends.
An exception was the unprecedented shutdown of the entire system on a regular workday March 16 for emergency track safety inspections. Wiedefeld ordered that closure in what now seems to have been an initial taste of more bitter medicine to follow.
“The system right now, in order to do the maintenance that needs to be done, cannot be done on three hours a night and on weekends. It just can’t,” said Evans, who also is a D.C. Council member (D-Ward 2).
“So in order to do repairs that are necessary, it may come to the point where we have to close the entire Blue Line for six months. People will go crazy. But there are going to be hard decisions that have to be made in order to get this fixed,” Evans said.
Although he twice singled out the Blue Line as a candidate for closure, Evans said any of Metro’s six lines could be shuttered in full or in part. He said the Red Line was the least likely to be shut, because much repair work has already been done on it.
“That’s up to Paul [Wiedefeld]. He’s the operations guy. I’m just the board member,” Evans said.
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