Washington DC’s Metro is a disaster. Wait times in the middle of the work day can be well over ten minutes. Lines often single track on the weekends. Crowds build. Mid-tunnel stops are common.
At the heart of the problem has been the system’s maintenance workers and their poor safety record. Now, the federal government has decided they’re tired of the dysfunction and that they will withhold funds until Washington, Maryland, and Virginia establish a State Safety Oversight Program for Metro, the Hill reports:
The federal government is withholding a portion of transit funding from three local jurisdictions after they failed to meet a deadline to create a new safety oversight body for Washington’s Metro system.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which assumed temporary oversight of Metro in the fall of 2015, announced Friday that it is retaining 5 percent of fiscal year 2017 transit formula funds until D.C., Maryland and Virginia establish the State Safety Oversight Program.
A total of $8.9 million is being withheld from the three jurisdictions, which goes toward eight different recipients, including Metro.
Commissions are nice and all, but we already have some ideas about why Metro’s safety is so lax. One of the biggest: the maintenance workers’ union that makes it almost impossible to fire anyone. In the case of a worker who was fired for falsifying safety reports, the union has been trying to get the man reinstated—not because they argue he wasn’t at fault, but because they say he is a better worker than anyone who might be found to replace him.
Will the commission look at this kind of behavior? And if it does, will that lead to some serious public sector union reforms?