Metro faces numerous issues as a result of Covid-19

Metro+faces+numerous+issues+as+a+result+of+Covid-19

Photo by Walker Price

Maisie Derlega

Metro is facing numerous complications and possible financial adversity as a result of the pandemic. These difficulties may strongly inconvenience students who rely on Metro rail and bus as their main mode of transportation. 

Washington Metro Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) budget is being cut significantly due to decreased ridership from the pandemic. Cost-cutting measures could mean that when school resumes, whether that’s in a year or a few months, there will be fewer buses and trains. DC students’ travel to school may be changed in more ways than just this. On September 18 the Metro Board of Directors voted on “potential service cuts, schedule changes, and other cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, that will be necessary to balance the budget.” The board will make a final decision on the proposed changes in November.

Metro is also facing allegations of the work culture being a “toxic workplace.” According to a new audit by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, the workplace is filled with “racial and sexual comments, harassment, and other unprofessional behavior.” 

The audit goes on to state that despite previous reposts that have “repeatedly raised alarms” following fatal incidents in 2009 and 2015, Metro management has failed to address most safety concerns and there are still “a variety of safety risks for everyone who depends on Metrorail.” Metro has a long history of ignoring problems when they arise. Even in 2015 when federal officers assumed safety oversight of the Metro, the takeover led to Metro being ordered to correct more than 51 safety problems, requiring 91 corrective steps. As of today, the task remains incomplete according to zukus.net.

In response to this, Metro board member David Horner says WMATA should shut down the entire rail system until it can address significant safety, staffing, and cultural issues at the Rail Operations Control Center. This could be the largest disruption of Metrorail since Metro shut down the entire system for a day in 2016 to address power cables that started fires. “Cultural change is essential to maintaining safety for riders on the system,” he said. “Treat this as a crisis” (dcist.com.)

It is not clear how Metro plans to respond to these criticisms. It is possible that a solution would diminish city transportation funds even further and ultimately require further layoffs and service cuts from which according to the Union, could take years to recover.

Kids Ride Free has not been affected by these budget cuts. Students can pick up the 2020-2021 school year cards every Wednesday at Wilson.