January 15, 2018
by Bruce DePuyt
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State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery) said Monday’s Metro derailment in Washington, D.C., underscores the need for Maryland, D.C. and Virginia to approve a new source of maintenance funding for the beleaguered system.
“It’s distressing,” she said. “After all of the inconvenience of SafeTrack, it’s very worrisome to have a problem like a derailment.”
The train derailed along a downtown stretch of Metro’s Red Line around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, ridership that hour was fairly light; only 63 passengers were on board when the crash occurred, and no serious injuries were reported.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told reporters on Monday that it’s going “to take some time” for repairs and testing to take place, though he did not offer a more specific estimate.
“It underscores the urgent need for a reliable source of funds to maintain Metro’s infrastructure,” Kagan said. “Metrobus and Metrorail must be safe, frequent, reliable and affordable.”
Lawmakers in Annapolis, Richmond and the District are all hoping to approve legislation this year to provide the agency a dedicated source of maintenance funding. A maintenance backlog led the agency to embark on a lengthy catch-up program in 2016 and 2017, work that required large sections of the system to single-track or stop running entirely, at great inconvenience to commuters.
Metro ridership has dipped in the wake of safety and reliability concerns.