Safety of the Washington Metro
WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) testified today before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Highways and Transit at a member day hearing on the need to improve the safety and reliability of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Click here for a link to the video.
“Thank you Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Holmes Norton.
“I appreciate the opportunity to share my input with the Subcommittee regarding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the need for robust investment and high safety standards.
“The safety and reliability of the Metro is of critical importance not only to Washington, DC, and its surrounding communities. It is also critical to the smooth functioning of the federal government and of our national defense and homeland security agencies, whose employees – both civilian and military – rely on the Metro to get to their offices and duty stations.
“My district is home to 62,000 federal employees and many who serve in military jobs located here at regional installations. Many of them depend on Metro to get to work each day to serve the American people.
“Metro is also a crucial tool for the millions of Americans and foreign visitors who come to our nation’s capital each year.
“I joined the rest of the National Capital Region Delegation last Wednesday for a meeting with Paul Wiedefeld, Metro’s new General Manager and CEO, to discuss WMATA’s new ‘SafeTrack’ plan, which aims to address maintenance and rehabilitation efforts to improve safety.
“The recent incidents of fire and the day-long shutdown for diagnostic inspections have brought to light a number of critical repairs that must be done to ensure that riders are always safe when using the Metrorail system. In some ways, these problems are the result of past failures to invest adequately in long-term maintenance and upgrades.
“As the new 7000-series train cars are brought into the fleet, we need to make sure that the tracks and tunnels these new and modern cars run on are up-to-date as well.
“Metro safety and reliability is a critical concern for residents of Maryland’s Fifth District, which is home to commuters served by all of Metro’s lines. I am very disappointed – as are many of my constituents – that Metro needs to implement the ‘SafeTrack’ plan in the first place. We shouldn’t be in a situation today where entire lines need to be shut down for maintenance and where the predictability and reliability of train schedules has been undermined.
“But I am impressed thus far with Mr. Wiedefeld’s leadership and his determination to take the steps necessary to put Metro back on course to be a system that all in our region can be proud of. We have a way to go before we can get to that point, but it is encouraging that WMATA’s leadership is fully committed to putting passenger safety first and is acting to improve safety in the near and long terms.
“I hope the Subcommittee – and the full Committee – will support investments in Metro safety and service so that the ‘SafeTrack’ plan will be as successful as possible as quickly as possible.
“Congress has a responsibility to make sure that the Metro – called ‘America’s subway’ – can well serve those who serve Americans.
“I want to thank Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton for her untiring advocacy on behalf of Metro and all those who ride it. I look forward to continuing to work with her and with the rest of the National Capital Delegation on behalf of our constituents, who deserve a safer and more reliable Metrorail system.”
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