Metro tunnel in D.C.
Dupont Circle Metro station Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

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Metro is slowly addressing its myriad problems including longtime delays, safety issues, and agency leadership departures. Let’s take a look at some of the recent upward-ish moves for the region’s transit agency.

• On Thursday, May 19, WMATA announced it had started to tackle its seven-month-long train shortage problem. Last week, Metro installed the first automated inspection system to do daily testing on wheelsets for its 7000-series railcars. Those cars had to be pulled out of service in October because of potentially “catastrophic” safety concerns with their wheels. Engineers will now start configuring, testing, and ordering work on the system, according to Metro

• Green and Yellow lines reverted to more regular service on Monday following a week of longer wait times. These Metrorail lines, which had been running every 20 minutes, have gone back to 15-minute intervals. Trains that serve both lines arrive every seven to eight minutes, according to Metro.

The improved wait times are a rare ahead-of-schedule moment for the agency, which had projected reduced service to last through the end of May. WMATA had announced last week that the 72 out-of-compliance train operators pulled out of service because their training certification had lapsed would mean an operator shortage. The announcement had come amid a recent rise in ridership and no end in sight for the train shortage. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld went into early retirement shortly after the announcement. Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader also resigned.

• On Tuesday, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, an independent oversight agency, shared Metro’s latest plans to restore most of its 7000-series fleet, the Post reports. Metro will work throughout the summer to bring back 750 of its 1,300 Metrorail cars, WMSC said, but gave no ETA.    

“Metrorail is required to follow all aspects of its plan, including the frequent back-to-back inspections in Metrorail shops, careful control of the railcars, determining the required number of personnel across the Metrorail organization to execute the plan properly, training all these personnel and the necessary [technology] changes to carry out this plan,” safety commission Chief Executive David L. Mayer said in WMSC’s monthly meeting Tuesday. 

One of the technologies Mayer alludes to is a digital readout that makes it easier to assess whether wheels have shifted—a defect that widens the distance between wheels on their axle and contributed to a derailment last year.

Another innovation at play is a navigation app designed to help blind and low-vision riders, DCist reports. Metro and its partner, the UK-based start-up Waymap, are launching this technology at the Brookland, Silver Spring, and Braddock Road Metro stations, with plans to expand.  

• The not-so-fun news for riders: As part of its Platform Improvement Project to safeguard against wear-and-tear platform safety issues, Metro will repair five Orange Line stations, WJLA reports. The following stations will be closed from May 28 to September 5: New Carrollton, Landover, Cheverly, Deanwood, and Minnesota Avenue. The Blue Line will also be affected throughout the summer for aerial structure repairs. 

Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Out of an abundance of caution after the Texas shooting on Tuesday that killed 21 people, local officials are stepping up security measures by D.C.-area schools for at least several days. [NBC4, WJLA]
  • After the new-school shine has worn off, Whittle School in Northwest faces low enrollment and financial troubles. [Post]
  • Police are investigating a shooting in the 1200 block of North Capitol Street NW that took place hours after another shooting in the area. [WUSA9]

By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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  • The Council took one of its final votes yesterday on the 2023 budget. There weren’t many major changes, but At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman did persuade her colleagues to set aside $20 million of any future surplus revenue to help excluded workers. Her efforts to defund the planned purchase of the old Key Bridge Exxon station and redirect the money to other priorities were less successful. [Post]
  • With less than a month to go before the primary, Mayor Muriel Bowser and At-Large Councilmember Robert White are hitting the airwaves in the mayoral race. [Twitter]
  • A lack of high-quality public polling is befuddling D.C. politicos (though even without data, some progressives are conceding that Bowser will likely win re-election). [Axios]
  • The D.C. Police Union, which represents the bulk of MPD officers, has endorsed Eric Goulet in the Ward 3 Council race. He appears to be the only candidate they’ve backed in the 2022 primaries. [Twitter]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Managers of vegan hotdog cart HipCityVeg are looking for converts among Nats fans. [DCist]
  • Michele’s bar director Judy Elahi is organizing a cocktails and oysters event to raise money for Planned Parenthood in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade. [Eater]
  • Are you traveling this holiday weekend? Here’s where you can grab a bite at the region’s three airports. [Eater]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Teresa Castracane Photography

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  • From its NoMa offices, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts returned for the first time since the pandemic began with this year’s contest winner Alisa Amador. [Post]
  • Mount Rainier’s art-focused cluster of warehouses known as Artists By the Tracks has a new owner. The firm, Nobody Properties LLC, promises to keep the studios in place and add murals and more. [East City Art]

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Some NFL team owners would allegedly support a significant suspension of Dan Snyder as opposed to forcing him to sell the Commanders. [Commanders Wire]
  • The Nats continue to struggle—this time against the Dodgers—but hey, at least Stephen Strasburg threw nearly three innings in a rehab start last night. [Post]
  • Elena Delle Donne became the 40th WNBA player to score 4,000 career points. [WTOP]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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