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Metro’s Board of Directors wants you to know they’re concerned about the transit agency’s recent missteps, including the Aug. 6 derailment of a non-passenger train that created confusion and delays for area riders. Metro had known of the issue that caused the derailment for weeks prior to the incident, yet failed to act swiftly enough to ensure safe operation.
The board announced in a press release this morning that its safety and security committee will be meeting on Sept. 3—“earlier than scheduled”—to review Interim General Manger and CEO Jack Requa’s “operational investigative report” on the derailment incident, which, Requa disclosed last Wednesday, was caused by a “wide-gauge” track issue. The eight-member committee—chaired for two years by Michael Goldman and representing all three jurisdictions in the region, plus the federal government—expects to receive that report Aug. 24.
Metro documents show that the board’s executive committee held a meeting on “investigative matters” on Aug. 13. However, the details of that meeting are not public.
The board’s announcement follows a statement it issued last Thursday regarding the derailment.
“The Board is outraged and dismayed that anyone working at Metro would have critical safety information and not act on it immediately,” Goldman said on behalf of the board in that statement. “It is totally unacceptable that the wide gauge track problem reported yesterday by the General Manager [Jack Requa] could go unaddressed and unrepaired for four weeks. This is a breakdown of the organization’s chain of command and our safety culture.”
“The Board looks forward to learning how the chain of command broke down and where the responsibility lies,” Goldman continued. “This is an unforgivable breach of safety that needs to be dealt with firmly and swiftly.”
Metro has had a tough year in terms of safety, starting with the Jan. 12 smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza that left one person dead and more than 80 passengers injured. Following the incident, the Federal Transit Authority published a 116-page report in June that found Metro has neglected to improve safety since a fatal Red Line crash in 2009. “These are serious findings that strongly indicate that, despite gains made since the Fort Totten accident, WMATA’s safety program is inadequate,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, according to the Washington Post. Requa then pledged to act upon the report and create “an even safer system.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery