WASHINGTON – Members of a joint House committee pointed fingers at witnesses called to testify, including a federal safety official, Metro’s board chairman and a Metro union representative, during a hearing for Metro SafeTrack Friday.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and subcommittees on Transportation & Public Assets and Government Relation hosted the hearing.
Although Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Chris Hart also spoke at the hearing, representatives from a committee and two subcommittees directed most of the harsh questions to Metro Board Chairman and D.C. Council member Jack Evans and FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11), a committee member, accused the Metro board of being ineffective as a group and singled out Metro’s board chairman. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-11), chairman of the government operations subcommittee, blamed the FTA for part of Metro’s failures and allotted the FTA 30 days to create a new plan to make Metro safe.
Raymond Jackson, executive vice president of Metro union Amalgamated Transit Union-Local 689, attributed union members’ falsifying reports to Metro management culture. He said he would never recommend members of his union be fired.
The joint committee rehashed some of this year’s worst safety incidents, including a train running off the rails, broken rail parts and rail fires, riders self-evacuating to the tracks and a train operator exceeding a speed limit and nearly hitting two inspectors.