WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Almost a year since Metro took hundreds of 7000-series train cars off the tracks after a derailment, they’re slowly returning to service.
On Thursday, Metro’s board met to discuss a wide range of issues plaguing the system and to find ways to improve safety and reliability.
Metro’s general manager Randy Clarke says they’re taking constant measurements of the wheels on the 7000-series trains every four days and so far he says they haven’t found any issues. Still, some riders are skeptical.
There’s still no answer to what the root cause is of the derailment of a blue line 7000-series train last year but Metro is stepping up its safety checks to make sure train wheels don’t move too far apart.
“We have a lot of data that I think it’s 53,000 measurements and we have not had one wheel that has shown out of conformance,” Clarke said.
This week concerns were raised when a 2015 report by a Metro consultant was uncovered by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. It details that Metrorail knew of a series of issues dealing with metro tracks that could cause wheels to move out of alignment.
Clarke says they weren’t hiding anything.
“We gave the documents we are following the NTSB rules around investigation and anything the NTSB says we can push along we are doing that,” Clarke said.
More 7000-series cars are being put back into service even without a root cause.
“There’s no chance I would ever be in this position and knowingly run service that I do not believe is safe,” Clarke said.
Some riders are still iffy about the situation.
“I don’t know to believe them or not. They haven’t been that forthcoming in the past,” said Alissa Sagri.
“I’m new to DC so so far I’m having a great time and I haven’t had any problems. I feel very safe on it,” said Allison Bass.
And as safety goes, Clarke says there will be a bigger police presence in the system with officers getting on and off trains and buses.
Metro still needs to find a way to close a $184.7 million dollar budget gap. They said that fare evasion is a big problem.
“I’ve definitely seen more people hop the gates in the past year that I’ve been taking the train than probably ever before,” Sagri said.
That’s why Metro will be piloting solutions to add to the current gates.
“Different styles whether they’re the actual leaves themselves or kind of on the stanchions in the middle, maybe ways to not allow people to kind of slide across them as easy, but again, the whole idea is we were not into this over-policing,” Clarke said.
Clarke says the Silver line extension is on track to open this fall with simulated service beginning October 3. But if they don’t bring more 7000-series trains back, phase two of the project could be delayed after six yellow and blue line stations open in late October.