Managing the one small portion of the US the Constitution grants the federal government authority, is beyond its competence. Yet, the same believes it knows what's best for the rest of the nation.
Warned for decades, with the voluminous, repetitive reports only the federal bureaucracy is capable of producing and still failure is imminent. A six month shutdown was recommended as the only way to correct the problems. On the good side, the massive traffic jams would keep the government from doing even more mischief.
"Metro sank into crisis despite decades of warnings
Metro’s failure-prone subway — once considered a transportation jewel — is mired in disrepair because the transit agency neglected to heed warnings that its aging equipment and poor safety culture would someday lead to chronic breakdowns and calamities.
For nearly half a century, almost since construction of the subway system began, federal experts, civic and business groups, private transit organizations, and some Metro general managers and directors have raised red flags.
The alarms came repeatedly, at public hearings and Metro board meetings, in crash investigations and published studies, including 14 reports reviewed for this article: The agency lacked a robust institutional safety consciousness, its maintenance regime was close to negligent, and the system desperately needed a steadier, more dependable source of financing.
But generations of executives and government-appointed Metro board members, along with Washington-area politicians who ultimately dictated Metro’s spending and direction, steered the agency on a different course.
“America’s subway,” which opened in 1976 to great acclaim — promoted as a marvel of modern transit technology and design — has been reduced to an embarrassment, scorned and ridiculed from station platforms to the halls of Congress. Balky and unreliable on its best days, and hazardous, even deadly, on its worst, Metrorail is in crisis, losing riders and revenue and exhausting public confidence.
Thousands of pages of documents and dozens of interviews show that the decline of Metro is a story about head-in-the-sand leadership through its history, about political inertia and timidity among the multiple jurisdictions that govern the agency, about fateful misjudgments in strategic planning, and about cautions ignored or underestimated while the subway grew older and rot set in, just as the warnings had predicted.
In the past 15 months alone — among other, uncountable, less spectacular Metro emergencies and daily annoyances — this has happened:
Scores of passengers were sickened, one fatally, in a smoke-filled tunnel; a fire in a Metro power plant slowed and canceled trains for weeks; major stretches of the system were paralyzed for hours by a derailment stemming from a track defect that should have been fixed long before; and, on March 16, in an unprecedented workday aggravation for every Metro straphanger, the entire subway was shut down for 24 hours for urgent safety repairs.
Just this weekend, fire on a Red Line track near the Friendship Heights station caused the evacuation of a train in a tunnel and disruption for hours."
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