A long-running battle between Metro and the agency Congress authorized to regulate Metrorail safety spilled into public view again Monday, when transit leaders called for mediation over a dispute they say threatens Metro’s ability to provide better rail service.
Metro announced during a news conference on the federal holiday that it is appealing directives from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission that prompted the removal of train operators from service to correct what the commission said was a training lapse. The transit agency is also fighting the commission’s decision not to allow Metro to scale back wheel inspections on its 7000-series rail cars, a move that would allow Metro to increase the number of trains it operates.
Metro said the safety commission’s decisions would, in effect, prohibit the transit agency from restoring pre-pandemic waits of about five minutes by this summer after a wheel safety issue sidelined much of its fleet. Safety commission officials, meanwhile, say Metro is continuing to ignore oversight and safety protocols.
The escalating feud over a holiday weekend followed a period in which Metro has sought a return to normalcy, hoping to shake off a rail car suspension and a pandemic that harmed its finances. Metro has eyed the coming months for a rebound, but the dispute with its regulator ushered in more uncertainty for the transit agency as it hopes to lure back customers.
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