Metro Board Chairman: Current Maintenance Strategy Clearly Not Working

It is broke, and now it's time to fix it. Again.

Days after raising eyebrows with comments on shutting down large sections of the Metro system, Jack Evans, the chairman of Metro's Board of Directors, said it is clear the current maintenance strategy for Metro isn't working. Right now, most maintenance is squeezed into tight windows on nights, weekends and during some midday hours.

"The option clearly that was started five years ago hasn't worked. We have to move away from that option and come up with a different option," Evans told News4 Monday.

While Evans said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld ultimately will come up with a new maintenance strategy, he wouldn't speculate on exactly what it would be.

"I hope he comes forward with a bunch of options," said Evans in a one-on-one interview. "But if you close something entirely you can do it faster and cheaper. As you move away from that, then it gets more expensive and much longer to fix. Paul will probably have some options as to what we will do, and then we can make our choices."

Evans also declared Metro now has the right leadership team in place to make a meaningful difference in fixing the beleaguered transit system.

"Paul and I are just delivering the message," said Evans. "But I think Paul and I are taking a different tone in upping the urgency. This is no longer something that you can chose to ignore."

Evans talked about having a track record of financial turnaround success in the District and Wiedefeld having a strong financial record as the former head of BWI Marshall Airport. He said he is confident that with the proper funding from the local jurisdictions and the federal government, Metro's woes can be fixed.

"I'm not interested in Congress or anyone saying we are waiting for you to get your (financial) house in order," Evans said. "We have got our house in order. We have the best people now in charge. Now we need you to step up and support us in getting this done."

Evans said even though local governments and the federal government will be asked to contribute more toward Metro, riders should be spared higher prices.

"I do not do fare hikes and I don't do service cuts. I think it's ridiculous. The fare system we have doesn't even make any sense to me. To raise fares for people in providing the service we are providing now makes no sense. I think you are going to have to look to the jurisdictions and the federal government," he said.

Top Metro leaders head to Capitol Hill next week to testify before Congress about turning the troubled system around.

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