WASHINGTON — Federal lawmakers were critical of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority leadership at a Wednesday hearing, with one saying simply that “Metro needs to do better.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that Metro’s next general manager will need to work with the independent Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore public faith in the agency, adding, “Obviously, if they don’t think our system is safe … they’re not going to ride it.”
Hoyer’s comments came during a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations, looking into the problems with Kawasaki-built 7000-series railcars that have been sidelined since an October derailment, as well as other issues.
In an opening statement, subcommittee chairman Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) said the agency is plagued by “a culture of mediocrity. … Failure of WMATA is not an option, and we can no longer afford a pervasive culture of mediocrity.”
The website DCist reports Eleanor Holmes Norton, the House delegate representing Washington D.C., questioned how some at the agency were aware of the wheel defects on the 7000-series cars while leadership and the safety commission were not informed: “We need to learn why this information was not shared and what steps have been taken to ensure that such information would be shared in the future.”
Metro inspector general Geoff Cherrington, who is investigating the communications issues, said the agency’s chief maintenance officer felt the problems “could be mitigated again [as with previous problems] with a warranty issue and didn’t decide to run it up the chain of command. We think he should have.”