GREENBELT, Md. - Metro opened its doors for a rare look inside its rail yard on Tuesday. The transit agency provided a tour showing off what they are calling a "renewed focus" on railcar inspections. The goal? To bring trains into repair facilities, inspect them, fix them and have them back out on the tracks within 24 hours.
When you usually hear about Metro, it’s because something has gone wrong. But on Tuesday, Metro showed off what they are trying to do right to prevent problems before they happen.
You often hear train operators say, "Don't lean on the doors." Why is that? It turns out when you do, it can mess up the mechanisms that open and close those train doors, which happens about 45 million times a month throughout the entire system.
We also got a look at filters under the railcars that keep out water, but still allow air to pass through. We even saw the wear and tear on electrical parts that propel the train and keep the air conditioning working.
Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld also made it very clear on Tuesday that he was not onboard with the Twitter comments of Metro's union president Jackie Jeter over the weekend that suggested Metro riders share part of the blame for Metro's problems by not advocating for the system.
"Our focus is on what we do,” Wiedefeld said. “We're here to serve the passengers. That's our job. So we just have to make sure that we are providing the best product we can, we are constantly thinking through things, we are trying new things as you see here. But that is our focus. The passengers deserve everything that we can do for them. That's our job.”
A Metro Union spokesperson said they understand the reaction caused by Jeter’s tweet and she had simply gotten frustrated during a conversation about Metro's challenges and did not mean to suggest passengers were responsible for Metro's problems. However, Jeter is hoping that all stakeholders -- the government, Metro, the union and passengers will move forward and will try to advocate for more finances for the system.
This inspection demonstration by Metro comes just days after the Federal Transit Administration told Congress that Metro has been doing better, but it has a lot of more work to do to keep the system in good repair, develop and improve its safety culture.