Metro's troubles keep mounting. This month, the transit agency got hit with one problem after another: a stranded train, a derailment and a computer glitch that shut the system down. Now, one senator wants federal regulators to do a new safety audit on Metro.
The series of safety mishaps have raised alarm not seen since the 2009 Red Line train crash. A federal safety audit following the deadly accident revealed significant safety gaps. Given Metro's recent problems, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) demanded an updated audit by the Federal Transit Administration saying in a press release, "We need to focus, fix and continue our reform efforts on Metro."
There is no argument from passengers on that.
"If there needs to be an audit of their safety just to make sure that everything is on track so they can avoid situations like that in the future, then absolutely," said Alexis Gentle, a Metro rider from the District.
In July, a botched evacuation put passengers in danger. Days later, a train derailed. Then came the computer glitch. This was on top of other problems over recent months in which train doors opened while moving, a brake piece falling off a train and a Metro worker hit by a train at a rail yard.
Metro's General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles called July "a tough month," and with calls for a safety audit, Metro faces more scrutiny.
"I think we've made a lot of progress on improving, and as I said from the day I took this job, there are a lot of years we weren't doing the right thing. It's going to take years to recover," said Sarles.
He welcomed a safety audit and any improvements it recommends.
An audit would look at Metro's entire system, equipment maintenance and safety procedures.
During the computer outage, Metro's back up system failed. The transit agency is working to solve the issue. The computer glitch was caused by a partial failure of a computer circuit board. The backup system didn't know how to respond, given the unusual way it failed. Metro replaced the part, but still doesn't know what caused the circuit board to fail.
"It's still to be investigated. I don't know that we'll ever actually determine it," Sarles responded.
With the extreme temperatures, Metro is hearing complaints about hot, un-air conditioned cars. The transit agency says about 2.5 percent of cars have had the cooling system fail while in service. It is one of the Metro's many problems that keep piling up.
"As a person who takes Metro everyday, it does get me to and from downtown D.C. So it's good, but I also see long term, they've got some real challenges," said Metro rider Phil Herr.
Passengers recently revolted over a proposal to increase the maximum wait time allowed between trains to 30 minutes off peak. Although the agency said it didn't intend to make the wait that long, it was necessary because track work affected on-time performance. On Thursday, Metro's board tabled the issue until September and will reconsider.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski calls for Metro safety auditMore>>