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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 14, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT

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already eliminating a lot of the silos because of what was happening with all the direct reports to you, when something went wrong, everyone looked to somebody else. you really did highlight some of those problems well and acknowledged that metro is actually at this time doing less with more, to quote your statement, and in nearly 10 years there have been no significant reductions in work force resulting in redundant positions among back office staff that will be abolished through attrition where possible. it's important to note that you've identified, in the need to modernize this, that the back office staff we might not need now needs to be reallocated. we need to have management changes there or labor changes that we would probably need to change this. we can't have redundant positions that are unneeded soaking up resources we need on the front line and i particularly appreciate that you're putting more safety
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resources into all the stations and as you're going through the process. the organizational span of control, we know is too wide, as you noted in your -- in the meeting we had yesterday and it's not mission focused. so i appreciate particularly what you've been highlighting on the customer focus of metro and the need to have a much more customer focused work force and to have that be certainly a top priority. i was able to go up to the rock recently, the rail operations control center, and i know one of the biggest concerns that i had had when i read articles like "the washingtonian" back in december, was the training program. i noticed in the recent audit that they identified training as a key problem area. any way we can help you as you go through that process of revitalizing and changing that training so we have the best people available and get the
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most value for the money and resources we're putting in here. i thank the chairman for allowing us to join you here today. i thank the general manager for his work and particularly in recruiting, the new safety officer that i understand, i guess announced a little while after we met yesterday, the new york city transit's patrick loven to be our new safety officer. never has there been a time when he has been more needed. i appreciate the opportunity to as be with my colleagues today the and look forward to discussing this. >> thank the gentlelady from virginia. recognize our ranking member, ms. duckworth. >> in the united states, rail transit ranks among the safest modes of transportation but as sully sullenberger warned, of the commercial aviation industry, it's important not to define safety as to absence of -- as the absence of accidents. we have been through a very safe
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period, it's easy to think it's because we're doing everything right but it may be that simply we are doing some things right but not everything and we simply can't relax. unfortunately, a series of rail accidents in our nation's capital reminds us of sully's statement and how it applies to mass transit. over the past seven years, nine passengers and seven employees have been killed on the washington metrorail system and many more have been injured. riders have lost confidence in metro and rebuilding trust will require far more from wmata that reminding everyone that driving is more dangerous than riding. of course, congress must hold itself accountable for creating a weak federal transit administration. according to the railroad counterpart, f.t.a. lax the authority, resources and experience necessary to make sure state oversight agencies effectively protect rail transit passengers and workers.
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i'm concerned at that entire rail transit sector may be out of step with the positive safety trends experienced by other forms of transportation such as global aviation. in aviation, we've managed to cut the rate of crashes and fatalities in half between 2000 and 2012. moving forward, rail transit must learn from past experiences of other transportation industries. it's worth remembering the observation from mr. deborah hersman, former chairman of the national transportation safety board, who when describing aviation's solution to a more proactive approach to safety, grimly noted that in previous aviation eras, the lessons of accidents used to be written in blood where you had to have an accident and had to kill people to change procedures or policy or training. i fear that her morbid description of aviation's past safety culture sounds too familiar when examining the challenges facing rail transit.
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nearly a decade has past since ntsb investigated the 2006 derailment of a chicago transit authority train. ntsb's work produced a comprehensive list of recommendations for c.t.a. and f.t.a. according to the accident report, it offered many recommendations to rail systems around the country. for example, they recommended that f.t.a. inform all rail transit agencies of the c.t.a. derailment and among other things make sure all rail transit systems have the capability to communicate with passengers during an emergency and the ability to remove smoke from tunnels. this was 10 years ago. ntsb found that f.t.a. oversight of the reasonable transportation -- of the regional transportation authority was inadequate and failed to correct track deficiencies. despite the recommendations in 2006, it became tragically clear
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on january 12 of 2015 that neither f.t.a. nor wmata implemented reforms to prevent similar incidents a decade later. metro could not communicate with passengers during the emergency. worst of all, metro's inability to remove smoke from the tunnel had deadly consequences. my constituents wonder why we spend taxpayer dollars on ntsb investigations if the lessons are never learned, let alone acted on to prevent future accidents. moving forward, there seems to be bipartisan recognition that f.t.a. was set up to fail and i'm pleased that map 21 strengthened f.t.a.'s ability to enforce rules. i thank the chairman's leadership. we cannot relax. we must examine what further enhancements must be made to f.t.a.'s statutory authorities and examine key issues as to whether f.t.a. would be a more effective safety regulator for metro.
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this committee should play an important role in helping reform spread across agencies in all levels of government. at the end of the day, the millions of americans that rely on mass transit care very little about which federal agency is overseeing which state entity. passengers simply want peace of mind that their local mass transit system will transport them safely to work and back home to their families. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses and about how we can achieve this goal. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> let me recognize the chair of the government operations subcommittee, gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you for your leadership on requesting this hearing and thank each of you, many of you for coming back another time to address an issue that is important. obviously the d.c. metro system transports nearly 200 million
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riders annually and these are not just only the hard working citizens and federal employees of the district but people from all across the country who come here to visit and look at and enjoy america's treasures, the monuments that are here. the washington metro was once the gold standard of public transit. but in recent years it's become synonymous with several other words -- poor service, delays, and rampant safety concerns. and in many ways this just adds to the unfortunate situation that wmata riders find themselves today. this hearing focuses on the efforts that wmata has sought to address some of the issues surrounding the safety and delays and general service and to work towards making sure that our d.c. metro system will once again deserve the moniker that it is indeed the best transit
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system in the country. the metro rail system recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and while any system that has been in service for that length of time is bound to experience its fair share of maintenance problems, the wmata metro rail system seems to be plagued by dangerous and systemic problems. in the past few years, wmata has experienced a large number of significant accidents and passenger safety events and certainly we can all remember not too long ago in 2015 when one passenger was killed due to the electrical cable fire that -- that sparked an arcing incident that obviously is still under investigation and still being dealt with, that resulted in a large amount of smoke filled railcars. i was surprised to find that that event was just not unique.
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it was unique in that we had a tragic loss of life. but in talking to some of my staff, i found that we've had smoke-filled cars and other potential problems even more between that event and the one that obviously has brought us here to this additional hearing today. following the july -- i mean, the 2015 incident with the ntsb undertook an investigation, and issued an urgent safety recommendation that wmata needed to address, the related electrical cables to prevent further fire hazards. just last month, an electrical cable at the mcpherson square metro station experienced the same type of arcing incident that we had previously identified. the fact is that this same type of fire hazard is continuing to result and major fire-related incidents raises questions as to
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the effectiveness of wmata's safety efforts and the agency's oversight of wmata. in response, wmata and the general manager, the new general manager, as my colleague pointed out, closed the metro rail system for 29 hours to conduct an emergency safety inspection and this emphasis on safety certainly is a step in the right direction for wmata and to get back on track, the nation's premier public transit system. it created unbelievable chaos within the city on that particular day. i think many people experienced unbeevable hours of traffic jams that they would not normally have experienced, just because of that shutdown. safety does come first but it also shows the importance of this rail system to this city and the way that we do work and so it is a must that we have to address this. beyond the safety related
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issues, wmata seems to be besieged by miscommunication and back biting that sometimes, between the operational controls represented by the general manager's office and the policy controls represented by the wmata board. this issue was particularly visible in the aftermath of this mcpherson incident where there seemed to be a public disagreement between the board and the general manager as it relates to the action necessary to get wmata back in a state of good repair so i look forward to each one of your testimonies today working with the witnesses to not only address the safety concerns that have really affected wmata but also to create a unified face for a system that we need to help restore the confidence and trust for those that use the system each and every day.
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so i'd like to thank our witnesses for attending today's hearing, for taking the time to work with this committee to ensure that when wmata celebrates its 50th anniversary, it can do so and that we can celebrate it as being the best transit system in america. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. chairman mica: i thank the gentleman. let me recognize the ranking member of the government operations subcommittee, the gentleman from virginia, mr. connolly. >> if i could do a unanimous consent before the time starts. i have a statement to be entered into the record on behalf of our colleague, chris van holland of maryland, a long-time supporter and some time critic of metro and been a great partner in -- >> without objection, so ordered. >> i thank the chair. mr. chairman, i appreciate the opportunity to revisit the safety and service challenges faced by the washington metro system. i spent 21 years of my life working on metro related issues.
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now as a member of this body. no one's more disheartened than i with the current unacceptable state of affairs. in the wake of the january 2015 tragedy, we held two hearings in which i said metro was facing multiple crises. a crisis in leadership. a crisis in safety. a crisis in commuter and stakeholder confidence. and a crisis in funding. let me start with the most significant improvement, which is the november hiring of general manager paul wiedefeld. his hiring was long overdue. as metro went 10 solid months without a permanent general manager. i think most observers agree he is proving to be the right leader at the right time to help get metro back on the right track. i rode the orange line with mr. wiedefeld through northern virginia in january so he could hear firsthand from riders about their safety and reliability
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concerns and because the gods were on our side that day, we encountered two cracked rails in the process leading to many delays. mr. wiedefeld recently issued a customer accountability report in which he lays out the hard truths about safety, reliability and basic customer service coupled with more than 50 actions he and the agency will begin to take to address those. of course, that's in addition to the urgent safety recommendation made by the ntsb as part of its ongoing investigation into the tragedy. in addition, the f.t.a., which conducted its own safety inspection, has 91 of its own corrective actions. i know the new general manager agrees that safety ought to be priority number one. since our last hearing, two additional incidents have rattled riders and eroded confidence. first a train derailed in early morning hours of august 6 on the
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orange, blue, silver lines between federal triangle and smithsonian. the train which was not carrying passengers yet derailed due to a defect in the rail line, a wide gap previously detected but misreported and unfixed. then metro suffered a gut punch march 14 with another electrical arcing incident, on the orange blue silver lines at mcpherson square. thankfully, the incident also occurred before the system opened but it was a disturbing safety shortfall that should have been identified and fixed immediately following the tragedy at the plaza. it would seem mr. wiedefeld shared that assessment, prompting him to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of closing the entire metro system for 24 hours in order to allow for emergency inspection of all such cables. though it created a significant challenge for the region's commuters and federal
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government, which encouraged employees to use unscheduled leave and telework on that day, i supported the decision for that one-day closure though i caution against prolonged closures in the future. it served as a shot across the bow that the culture of mediocrity is no longer acceptable. what's been particularly frustrating, with each of the safety investigations is the revelation that metro does, in fact, appear to have good policies and procedures in place. they're just not followed, they're not implemented, something i know mr. wiedefeld aims to rectify. in addition, shutting the system serves as a welcome message to riders, if you can call it that, welcome, that is, that somebody is finally taking their safety and reliability concerns seriously and demanding accountability within the system. as part of his internal
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assessment of metro, i've encouraged mr. wiedefeld to make significant personnel changes and i'm pleased by yesterday's announcement about the hiring of a new chief safety officer. further, those responsible for allowing these issues to languish should step down or be removed. given all of this, it should be no surprise that metro ridership has declined by 6% and 12% on weekends. in response, metro hired a consultant to conduct a top-to-bottom review of its operations, mckinzie and company report offers a blueprint for both strategic short-term fixes that could be applied immediately along with more long-term recommendations. my time is running out, mr. chairman, in the opening statement. but i know we will discuss financing as part of this hearing and i will hold off on that part of my statement until we get to that round. thank you. >> thank the gentleman and members will have five legislative days for anyone who wishes to submit a written
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statement in agreement with the minority that is so ordered. we now are pleased to turn to our panel of witnesses and again i want to welcome you. let me first introduce the honorable jack evans, chairman of the board of washington metro transit authority. mr. evans. we have mr. paul wiedefeld, the new general manager of the washington metropolitan area transit authority. welcome, sir. we have the honorable chris hart, chairman of ntsb, national transportation safety board, and we have ms. carolyn flowers, senior adviser at the federal transportation administration. i guess you're new to that position but we also have accompanying you, mr. matthew, is it wellby, and he is
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executive director of the federal transportation administration. -- federal transit administration. i'd like to welcome all of our witnesses. the order of business is such that we allow you about five minutes. some of you have been here before, some of you haven't. we'd like you to summarize your testimony, hopefully in that time. if you'd like additional information or statements or data to be submitted, just ask through the chair or a member and we'll be glad to do that. now, this is an investigation, an oversight committee of congress so we do swear in all of our witnesses, so i'd like you to stand if you would, please, raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give before this committee of congress is the whole truth and nothing but the truth? let the record reflect that all of the witnesses answered in the affirmative. again, i want to welcome our
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chair of wmata, mr. evans. and we will recognize you first. >> speak into the mic. the red button there. mr. evans: thank you. good afternoon, my name is jack evans, and i'm chairman of the board of the washington met metropolitan transit authority. i want to thank you and appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today on what is the most critical issue facing our regional. -- facing our region. and first, chairman mica, i want to acknowledge your enormous commitment in leadership in the transportation field throughout the country and chairman meadows, i want to thank you for coming to the state of the union
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speech by our mayor -- state of the district speech, and we appreciate your support of the district and ranking member, duckworth, as a graduate of the elliott school of international affairs at the george washington university where i know you're very familiar with the district of columbia and ranking member connolly, i thank you for your constant support and advocacy for metro and i thank all of you and recognize and thank my congresswoman, eleanor holmes norton who has done a fabulous job representing our region. i want to give you a little background. i moved to washington, d.c. as a summer intern 1976, had an opportunity to ride metro when it first opened and you've heard my comment before. it was a shining, new metro system, reminding us all of the jetsons, the tv show, george
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jetson and there it was. i moved here in 1978 permanently. rode metro throughout the 1980's and 1990's. in 1993, joined the board of metro and served on the board from 1993 to 1999 twice as chair of the board. i left metro in 1999, end of 1999. it was a shining example of regional cooperation and as has been mentioned, was the envy of transit systems throughout the country. rejoined the board in january of last year and i was outraged. and i want you to know this, at what i had found. 15 years after i left the system, the finances were in chaos and the operations were just behind it. what happened? how did we get here? first we have to realize something. i want everybody to recognize this. metro is all of us. it's not just paul and i. metro is everyone in this room and we have to take responsibility for this system and get it fixed. because we talked about who rides metro with 200 million people ride metro a year. district, virginia, maryland residents.
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22 million people visit this region every year. and 35% of our riders are federal workers. 50% of the federal work force rides metro. that's all of you. that's all of us and it's an important thing to remember for later in my comments. so what are we dealing here? we're dealing with operations and paul's going to talk about that. he's going to talk about how we got to where we are and what we're going to do to fix it but i can say we have years of neglected maintenance and the idea of fixing this by working three hours at night and on the weekends is not working. we need a better plan. now, the finances. even if this system were operating like a clock, it will never survive under the financial structure that we have in place right now. quickly, we get our money from two areas. $1.8 billion budget, $900 million from the farebox, $900 million from the region.
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right now what i'm dealing with, a $2.5 billion unfunded pension liability problem. next year's budget, starting out of the box for $100 million short because we balanced this year's budget with $100 million of one-time money. add on to that increasing costs, we're $150 million short out of the box, and i have an $18 billion deferred capital problem.ce this is the maintenance paul will talk about that needs to be done. it's the new occurs we have to buy and it's systematic problems like the roslyn bottleneck that prevent us from getting trains across the river, into the district. all has to be fixed. what are our solutions? number one, we need the federal contribution on the operating side. we need $300 million from the federal government. $900 million divided by three, $300 million, each jurisdiction is doing. that the federal government needs to do that, as well.
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you paid for 2/3 of the system. you put $6.9 billion into the system. you have to help us. secondly, we need a regional funding source. we have been talking about it since 1993 when i first joined the board. this committee had a hearing. here it is. 2005, you spent your whole time talking about a regional funding source and nothing ever happened. i need $1 billion a year from the region and if the region won't do it, the tennessee valley authority, a federal agency, set up by all of you, in order to collect money. so let me conclude with this. i have been the finance chair in the district of columbia for 17 years. ok? we were here in 1995 with a city that was bankrupt. without federal assistance and eleanor holmes norton was the leader on this. without federal assistance, we would not have made it. the federal government assumed a
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$10 billion unfunded pension liability that the district of columbia had. and paid for our prisons and our judicial system. giving us the breathing room we needed as a city to survive and become what i would say is one of the most dynamic cities in america today who has the best financial picture. so that's what i'm asking for you today. we are in this together. we need your help. thank you for the opportunity to testify. >> thank the gentleman. let me now recognize the general manager of wmata, mr. wiedefeld. welcome and you're recognized. mr. wiedefeld: good afternoon, mr. chairman. thank you for having me today. i'll be very brief but since i've come aboard four months ago, a big part of my time has been spent reaching out to the community. i've got a firsthand experience from using the system, listening
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to them, walking the tunnels, walking the bus garages and maintenance facilities. i've learned about the issues and opportunities we have. unfortunately during this time i've had to make difficult decisions. first one dealing with the blizzard we had that affected the region and the second one is the cable fire at mcpherson square. both of those decisions were driven by commitment to safety for customers and employees. in the near term, my priorities remain to be safety, service reliability and getting our fiscal house in order as the chairman mentioned. last month, also mentioned, i put out a report, customer accountability report that outlines the number of actions based on my short time here of things i want to do and things i've heard and what we learned from mckinzie and other sources. the purpose of that report is to be transparent but more important is to be accountable to the public and for the
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managers to be accountable and basically setting that bar. that's why that was done and it will continue to grow. and although the actions i've taken i think reflect a different management approach and the start of a change of culture here, there's still quite a long way to go and this is where i need the stakeholders in this region to support me to get there. i think we need to step back and look at what we have been doing in terms of the maintenance of the system. we've gone from crisis to crisis. we tend to deal with things one-off and that just cannot go on. we've created a program to try to do the improvements which we're not getting done. it's inefficient. we are impacting our customers day to day, on weekends, and we're suffering from that so i will be coming out in the very near future with a new program to get at these issues and get this system up to the state it should be and then we'll continue to maintain it from there.
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the solutions will not be easy so i'm not going to sugar coat it, that is for sure. but there are things we have to do to get this to where we want to be. last month we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the system and it is something to celebrate. metro's played a central role in transforming the region into one of the most dynamic in the world. it's shaped the land use. it's become the backbone of our economic development. it's played a central role in meeting the mobility needs of the residents and visitors alike. 1.2 million passengers per day, and supported environmental goals, particularly in air quality. in short, metro will remain the critical economic growth and quality of life in this region but it is time to be realistic to address the challenges we're facing as a region to make metro system great again, challenges that must be met given the vital importance to the region today and tomorrow. i want to thank our regional
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congressional delegation for their support and the chairman and congressmen for agreements to help reach us cellular phone installations. >> we'll hold questions until the end. mr. hart is the chairman of the ntsb. welcome back and you're recognized, sir. >> thank you. good afternoon, chairman mica, chairman meadows, ranking member duckworth, ranking member connolly. thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of the ntsb. the ntsb has completed its investigation into the smoking incident. the board is expected to approve the final report at the public meeting may 3. as i reported last year, our
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investigation revealed that some electrical connections associated with power to the third rail were improperly constructed and installed without sealing sleeves. the absence of sealing sleeves can create the potential for electrical short circuiting which results in fire and smoke events in the system. nearly a month after the lafonte plaza incident, we examined others and found those cable connections were missing sealing sleeves. most recently, we were informed by wmata of an arcing event at the mcpherson square station. we observed the damage to the traction power electrical components were similar to that of the la enfant plaza accident. one portion of the cable was vaporized by intense heat as was a portion of the third rail cover board similar to the
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l'enfant plaza accident. in june 2015, we recommended that they were constructed and installed with sealing sleeves. it is clear that the cable connectors at the mcpherson square station were not modified. what is unclear is how it was independent. we are anxiously waiting for wmata's report. since 1982 the ntsb has investigated 13 accidents involving wmata. more than half have occurred since 2006. our l'enfant plaza investigation has illustrated again that rail transit accidents continue to cause injuries and death and that more effective oversight of rail transit is necessary. that is why we included improved rail transit safety oversight in our most-wanted list of improvements. inadequate safety oversight can result in many hazards that are allowed to develop and system
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and constitute systemic hazards. the physical hazard that led to the l'enfant plaza station accident is present system-wide. that is where the ntsb issued urgent safety recommendations to the secretary of transportation in january 2016 urging that wmata be constituted a commuter authority so that the federal railroad authority can exercise oversight. it was acknowledged that tri-state oversight committee, or t.o.c., lacked the level of oversight needed to ensure safety at wmata. however, he disagreed with our recommendation to transfer safety oversight of wmata to the f.r.a. and instead determined that the f.t.a., the federal transportation administration, would begin increased oversight and directly enforce and investigate the safety oversight of wmata. while we can all agree that the
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current oversight of wmata by the t.o.c. is insufficient, we are concerned that the f.t.a.'s oversight is not equivalent to that provided to other similar properties or heavy commuter rail. f.t.a. has very little ability to oversee wmata effectively. the f.t.a. has no prior experience in direct safety oversight or as a state safety oversight agency, has limited staff. every day, millions of people use rail transit to go to or from work, home or other destinations. in the case of wmata metro rail, ridership is critical to the effective operation of all branches of the federal government as evidenced by the recent unprecedented shutdown for the system for one day.
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that is why it is so important for wmata and rail transit systems nationwide to be subject to competent oversight bodies that have standards and rules along with the power to enforce those rules. although each system has unique equipment, operating environments and challenges, all need safety to continue operations. i look forward to responding. >> thank you, mr. hart. i'll recognize ms. flowers with f.t.a. at this point. you're recognized. thank you for inviting me to discuss the metrorail system. at the fta, the safety of public transportation passengers and workers is our single highest priority. in washington, d.c., serious
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incidents have highlighted the need for change and improvement. passage of --,he congress granted the fta the authority to oversee the safety of public transportation through the existing oversight agency structure. since then, fta has reorganized safety andhened oversight functions to take on the role. each transit agency is still responsible for infecting -- for inspecting its own infrastructure. fta overseas the oversight agencies, which provide day-to-day oversight of rail transit safety. that leaves the fta with the shape standards, issued directives, and step in a's are not abley
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to. managementd a safety inspection of metrorail and 54ro bus, which resulted in safety findings. in october 2016, secretary fox instructed fta to assume the responsibilities of the local sso way, the tri-state oversight committee, which has lacked adequate enforcement authority. since last fall, fta has been on site, providing direct oversight of metrorail. subject is composed of matter experts.
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over the past several months, we have conducted inspections and investigations and verified corrective action. as of last week, fta had .onducted 107 inspections during these inspections, we identified defects requiring 56 remedial actions by metro. we are directing 140 open investigations. in late march, we initiated a safety blitz. it focused on three areas. the fta role is temporary. maryland,ical that
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virginia, and the district of columbia joined together to create adequate resources. in closing, as the former ceo of the charlotte area transit , i know that challenge the service to man's. aeping people safe is not choice. for our part, fta took action. focuses on the safety needs and we continue our jurisdictions to establish an effective system for the long-term.
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thank you for calling this hearing. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. i will dive into questions. i want to talk about the january 12, our subsequent hearing on february 13. i want to look at the overall the crisis and chaos in metro. held ahe incident, we hearing. we identified what we thought was the problem. you identified it again today. you tell me you gave recommendations to wmata. is that true? number, given a
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verified safety deficits. when did you first give them? do you recall when you went in? >> june last year. theve a problem because current director is not there. the first thing you would have done, i am not the sharpest is change engineer, the cables we saw were shorted, that did not have proper seals and were arcing. can you tell us what was done? >> 65% of them are done. >> where they done after june
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and to what day? >> they are still not done. we think the arcing was the problem of the smoke and why you shut it down march 16. there is about 35% undone of the cables. this afterved in that. we found out what we asked you to do years ago and promised you $1.5 billion to get the communications and other things. it was only done of the station. that is why we probably lost that life because they could not communicate. agreementmunications finalized? >> it is. >> wendy you anticipate that will be done?
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doing a one section in the tunnel as a pilot. after we see how we are trying to do that, we will bring out a schedule based on that. >> you are going to see what it takes to do a mile at a time. >> we are going to do a mile as a pilot and then we will come out with a schedule. we need to restore public confidence. that needs attention. that is part of what i want resolved and threatened to withhold money if we did not get something done. this money game is mind-boggling. what is the unliquidated balance and open grants and money coming from the federal government. isof the 18th of march, it
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$783 million. it is not like they do not have the money. had $485 million . they had the money available. what they have is incompetence not to get the job done. a new kid on the block and we are counting on you. i want people fired. i want something done. we have to resolve the arcing. the arcing causes smoke and people died. for 29 hours.down ridership andng increasing operations costs here. let me -- this burns me. this caused me to go deeper into your finances. you gave a nice presentation.
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i was here when we put the control board in. you are running three quarters of a billion dollars in debt. you have unfunded liabilities, up ions, the most screwed have seen in business and government. what are you running? half a billion? >> we have $2.7 billion in reserve funds. >> you are dealing with people who are broke. i'm not going to bail you out. pennsylvania, 61%. one gives more money for
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capital improvements. nobody has more money than you have available. there is lots of money available. what we do not have is leadership, management. these people need to step up to the plate. virginia needs to step up, maryland needs to step up, and the district now needs to step up to the plate. you are not going to get it out of my folks. the improvements can be made. no other system in the country has the kind of resources into it. to divide, divide by four and have everybody step up to pay for it. i not here to make up for bad poor safety records, not here to make up for a lack of actions.
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the new general manager, what i saw with the liability, you in aoned the liability multibillion dollar area. >> $2.5 billion. >> that is huge. that needs to be addressed. it does not need to be bailout by the federal taxpayer. i have spoken my piece. i will act to make certain we get this in order. i wish you well. , we willork with you give you all the tools. you have money available. you need to get in there and fire people, i think you are doing some of that. with that, i yield to the ranking member. >> thank you for holding this hearing. the remainder of my questioning to the member from virginia.
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>> i think mr. mica for his passion. as the passion cools, he has asserted virginia has to step up to the plate. he does not want to burden his people. i do not want to burden on mine. virginia, we pay, my local taxpayers. when you say bailout, my constituents hear something different. i hope you will keep that in mind. mrs. comstock and i care about ours. we for the bill in virginia, not the state. we already pay high subsidies and we have one of the highest recovery rates in the country because we don't have a dedicated source of revenue. the federal government does not provide operating subsidies. not one penny. it is the only member that does
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not. do you want me to yield? >> i will put in the percentage capital.aid for >> capital is different than operating a >> most of their problems are capital. >> their problems are operational. operational, there is about 2% from the district. some districts have as much as 6%. they take money and put it into operations that we have allowed. we have done that in times of financial distress. reclaiming my time. where you stand is where you sit. where my constituents stand is that they federal government gets a free ride every day in metro because it does not take operating subsidies. is about $300 million a year.
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you can make all of behavior you want out of the fact that the federal government makes operating capital and that did not come without strings. it had to be matched dollar for dollar and we had to give up voting seats on the board of metro. the federal representatives are not limited to capital issues when they vote. they get a free vote on the operating side of the house. they don't pay for it. as a matter of perspective. having said that, i associate myself with the remarks, your remarks, mr. chairman, about operating difficulties and holding people accountable. i am concerned, given the depth ,f the problem, that people frankly, examples are going to have to be made of some people. managerjust mean senior
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ement. we have to hold people accountable in every layer of the system. recommendations, you recommended the safety oversight be done by the fra, not the fta. why? >> you are looking for an solution. the fta can do the things the fra does now. people to inspect and people to enforce if the rules are not being met. the fta can have that eventually, but they do not have it today. >> you are not the director of the fta? you are the senior adviser?
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the lead at fta. >> the lead. >> i came after the secretary. have the capability that the ntsb recommended? >> we feel we do. agree with ntsb that action was needed to improve oversight. we had death, accidents, people injured. hart says we need the fra is the fta does not have it now. oversight of public transportation and you strengthened our authority. >> i am aware of what we did in the statutes.
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i am talking about capability today. -- that ist the ntsb why did not recommend your agency have safety oversight. yet, the secretary decided to overrule or ignore that recommendation. staff,ave, on our regulatory experience from fra and faa. >> regulatory? >> from regulatory agencies who have safety experience. that have to do with whether you have the ability to hone in on cable covers that could arc? who cares about regulatory authority? >> we have created a safety blitz on our track effectiveness on lamotta. >> on the day -- what was the day that we shut down? >> march 16.
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>> the day before the holy day. st. patrick's day. did you have people in metro inspecting the cables along with metro? >> mydid identify issues question, on the 16th of march, , secretary foxs decided to overall the recommendation, were you inspecting the cables that could arc? >> we were not. >> you are not. one of the most important safety anues we are facing in unprecedented move, shutting fta,the whole system, the which claims authority, overruling the ntsb, you were
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not there. >> that is correct. >> we are supposed to have confidence in your ability while d.c.,e lecturing marilyn, and virginia to get their act together, you are nowhere to be seen. we are dealing with a potential life-threatening issue. whatuld you like to know we did? >> i would like to know where you were on march 16. ,> we were working with wmata talking with them about what they were doing, we did oversight of their inspections the night before. information to verify what they were doing and we are now conducting our own blitz of the system. my time is expired.
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thank you. mr. connolly, they had between half a billion and three quarters of a billion dollars sitting in the bank to make the repairs. said it was necessary after someone died and we told them to do something about it. it is not a question of money. it is a question of management and somebody doing something. >> thank you. we have two different issues here. one is safety and a deferred maintenance issue. the other is a management issue. i want to address both of those. we have some pictures here that may be we can put up. if you can explain to the pictures of that
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, i guess theyture are jumper cables. is this where the issue is? i need a picture of the jumper cables. that one. >> these provide propulsion power to the third real -- to the third rail. sleevee is a fiberglass there. seed to needs a ceiling keep stuff from coming inside. >> an insulator to keep it from barking. >> to keep contamination from getting into the connection. >> is this the only place you can have an electrical problem that would create smoke in the tunnel. gethe insulators, if they
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contamination in it, the electricity can arc from the third real down to the ground. >> if we are going to inspect this, and i see the general manager wants to step in. >> that is one potential source of arcing. the cables, if they are in the wrong direction, laying on the aound, it is built on floating slab. it can move. if that cable is laying over concrete and it rubs, here are the things that can happen. >> when i am coming to understand, the jumper cables are not the only source of potential problems and it we had thet when inspection, it was a jumper cable only check list. who made that decision? it was a jumper
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cable issue. that is where you get the arcing from. ofwill affect some sort cable situation. rep. meadows: mr. hart, would you say that is adequate enough? that we are looking for only jumper cables and that is satisfactory? mr. hart: all cables, not just jumper cables. rep. meadows: so why would we only look at your cables? mr. hart: i think it is the terminology. rep. meadows: it says right here. i ask that we submit this for the record. rep. mica: without objection. rep. meadows: it says only jumper cables shall be inspected , exclamation point.
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mr. hart: again, i think it is a terminology issue. those that you see with the big orange booze, what are being called jumper cables, if you recall, when we came out the next day and saw the cable that was frayed, that is where you have two pieces of cable that have a space. there is a smaller cable that goes back and didn't have the large orange boot. we weren't looking only at the orange good cables. rep. meadows: you are saying that the language on here only jumper cables did not mean to only look at jumper cables. your sworn testimony here today is that they looked at all -- mr. wiedefeld: they looked at all electrical cables and closed any gap between the third rail. rep. meadows: ok. let me go in the list further. mr. evans, your solution and i have read a few of the articles and i heard your testimony today. let me understand. you need another $1.2 billion in operating revenue. is that right? mr. evans: we need $300,000 times four. right now, we have $900 million.
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rep. meadows: so you are only saying an increase of $300 million good you want the federal government to pay the $300 million. mr. evans: the federal government is a full partner, a fourth partner that pays zero. rep. meadows: according to your testimony, when we originally put in this this system, we were more than a full partner and we put into thirds of the capital improvements originally. mr. evans: that's right. the government pay two thirds of the cost to build this system. rep. meadows: so you are saying it needs another $18 billion in terms of capital. mr. evans: yes. rep. meadows: so your plan --
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rep. meadows: so your plan is to give 18 billion dollars in close down the system for six months in order to have a good system. is that the best? mr. evans: no, that's not my plan. rep. meadows: i guess you were quoted as saying as close it down for six months. when i heard that, i could think of traffic jams for six months. mr. evans: congressman, let me say this. if you want me to come up into good news, i can do that. but if you want to hear what we really need to do, that is the only reason why i'm here. rep. meadows: ok, where's the 18 billion -- if you are going to get testy about it -- let me just say i've got the numbers. if you are looking at increasing the operating revenue, you become the most expensive operating system, more expensive than chicago or new york or pennsylvania. so why would you have the
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highest operating cost out there? what would justify that? if you want to look at numbers, let's look at them. mr. evans: we are the second largest transit system in america. rep. meadows: new york is higher. mr. evans: if you had the opportunity to travel the world as i have, beijing, paris, london, moscow, and see a world-class system, this system has become an embarrassment in the nation's capital and we are all in this together. rep. meadows: those are all communist countries. mr. evans: paris, london, communist countries? they are capital cities. if we want a world-class system like they have, the federal government in those countries pay for all of the system. all i'm asking from you is $300 million, which is your fair share given the fact that we transport 50% of your workforce every day. you want them to be safe to you want this to be reliable.
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you want to leave your like we did in 2005 and do nothing. and if we do that, next time something happens, i am blaming it on you guys because we need your help. rep. meadows: you're the one that has been on the board. how can you blame us? you are the ones making the decisions. mr. evans: i've been on the board a year. it is not operating well now and we need the resources, in addition to the wherewithal. rep. meadows: when can you get this committee a full breakdown of how that money will be spent? mr. evans: within a week. rep. meadows: i yield back. mr. evans: let me just say this. you're never going to have a better chance. you have a chairman and myself who has done this for years. you have a general manager who is as capable as anybody has ever been. if we leave here today and do nothing -- and mr. chairman, when you are saying you're not going to give us a dime, really?
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is that what you are saying? we need resources for the system. this is your system. this is my system. you're going to put your parents and your kids on this system, a system like it is today, really, give me a break. we really have to step up. i have reports are from 2010, 2011, 2005 where we have done nothing. we cannot leave here and do nothing again. >> the balances that have been unexpended. it was a half a billion almost. the money is there. mr. connolly: i'm going to yield to my good friend eleanor holmes norton. ms. norton: as to who needs
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metro, when metro shuts down the federal government shuts down. we have evidence of that just recently. just try getting along without metro. if you want the federal government at all. it is liability because the federal government didn't give us control over our own system. the federal government gave d.c. not one thin dime. the district is the only city that has any responsibility for state functions. i agree with what mr. evans has said. i want to focus on the fact that
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for the first time in its history as i understand it this system is doing short-term borrowing. in order to get operating funds is that true? >> yes it is. ms. norton: you have a rollover borrowing of about $500 million at this point. you are borrowing just to keep the system running. we've got to face this fast. on top of that, there were handwritten drawdown restrictions. to get any of the federal money that is due to you you got to turn in by hand the voucher and effect.
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i do not have any problems with that because of what fda found in terms of control and so i understand in the beginning that after having had written correspondence over this it looks like to do this process and getting to validation. it looks like you have done your duty diligence but in the process this is why i'm talking about going forward. in the process you have so delayed getting funds through it. you had to go and do short-term borrowing. that is why i don't care what it is just so it is streamlined and doesn't leave wmata waiting
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10 or more days to get money that congress has already allocated to it. have we got a monitoring system that will allow us some form of technical drawdown rather than the hands drawdown given the fact that you've gotten through all the controls except being validated? i'm just asking that you not throw the system deeper into debt than it already is. that looks like what we usually see what summary goes out of business. >> it is on the capital side, not the operating side. my understanding was that for the first time you had borrowed in the short term. >> it is short-term funding but it is short-term funding but as for the capital program.
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ms. norton: you are not done short-term borrowing? not in the history? they are rolling over. they can't pay it. i am trying for a way to get this over with. here's the money wheel you. how close are we to is streamlined approach? >> we have been going through the validation process. i think we are getting closer. ms. norton: this is costing them money, in interest. it is a perfectly valid question to say give us the date we've tried everything else. to see when they get their old money in the new way.
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i will defer to the man who has been working with wmata. >> we have paid $845 million to metro and metro brings us the request for payment. ms. norton: when can they get off of these restrictions that are putting the more heavily into debt? >> in the coming months we will make sure that metro is doing the financial activities that we requested in our oversight review. during 2016 it is possible that
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metro will fulfill their requirements that it can move off the restricted drawdowns but it will be up to metro. ms. norton: i'm going to ask you to get me within 30 days a new proposed date when it will no longer have to be on these kinds of restrictions. i want only to say to my good friend mr. evans the idea of creating a dedicated funding source. this has become a mantra. put a proposal on the table. nobody's going to do anything about dedicated funding until somebody put something on the table for others to react to. i think that would move the ball forward. i thank you very much. >> we have exhausted the republicans on our side. >> i did know was that easy to exhaust the republicans.
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ms. comstock: i have heard some of the back-and-forth here. i would like to recommend to all of my colleagues is to focus on our new general manager who is really set out some good things that we can all agree on. there will be time later for some of the food fights and some of the things we've seen here. what we need to focus on right now. i would encourage everybody to work on the things we agree on first before we start any of these fights. i appreciate what mr. evans said. he is as capable as anyone who has been here.
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you stated that over 10 years there have been no significant reductions in force resulting in the redundant positions among backs office staff. what do to immediately abolish this? some of the funding for the pensions will be for these positions that are unnecessary. you are trying to minimize the problem here. how can we help you immediately remove those redundant positions and put people where they need to be? and fire the people when you fire somebody for direct wrongdoing you are saving on the pension costs right there. for 10 years they caused all these problems and didn't do anything. those people need to be fired. we need to be taking the action that helps you make those
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changes. cultural change. so we can see your positive action here. i would like to work with you and my colleagues on that type of positive action. >> i have already started to move in that direction. personnel changes. i reorganized the agency and try to make it very clear to everyone that this is the way we operate and if you do not understand that, you are not a good fit. i'm not going to get into individual personnel issues. ms. comstock: i know the hr department seems to be one of the departments that is not working very well.
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things like the maintenance department. they didn't have simple things like repair kits with necessary parts for common repairs. who has been running the maintenance office that didn't put those basic repair kits out there. any auto body shop knows this. the person who is running this. i think is helpful if we see people like that moving on and putting capable people to do these kinds of basic repairs. hr people who understand how to move these people along. the audit really shows that the problem is execution. you have put out very good ideas. but if you are not able to move the deadwood out, that execution is going to be a real problem. let us help you move that deadwood along. you've seen bipartisan agreement on the faster you can get that deadwood out the more we can
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help you. >> i am moving in that same direction right now. ms. comstock: on the hr front, have there been any changes at this time? >> yes in terms of, one of the issues was the different parts of the agency were buried under operations. so i've pulled that all apart and created an internal support group auditing procurement. maintenance, hr, labor. have a separate group that is under new leadership. they are digging through all those issues.
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ms. comstock: we've asked some questions and i appreciate some of the people we been waiting to get responses from. we've been asking basic information. like absentee reports. people get a lot of overtime and that is added to their pension. a lot of those problems can be worked out there if we have a really good hr department. since i haven't gotten the answers on that i assume that that continues to be a problem. >> i thank the gentlewoman for her insightful questions. the chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr.
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connolly. mr. connolly: mr. evans, chairman mica talked about the $783 million as if you were just sitting around watching soap operas and allowing this money to accumulate. isn't there a difference between obligated funds and expended funds? mr. evans: yes, sir. what the chairman was referring to was obligated funds. mr. connolly: how much of that is for the purchase and delivery for new 7000 series cars? mr. evans: i don't have those dollar figures off the top of my head.
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a lot of those are tied to big purchases. some of the issues we've had is when the tsunami hit japan that affected kawasaki which is the provider of that. the company went out of business. that slowed those dollars up. we are in the range of where one day. mr. connolly: irish you to help help dispelu to this myth that you are sitting on a lot of capital even what to do with. it is actually good and prudent not to pay your bills until the product or service is been delivered and has met your specifications for the expected quality. especially since the reason we
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are purchasing new railcars is safety. the new cars aren't going to pancake like the old ones did. i think we have to get the data out there so that we dispel this myth that you are sitting on a mountain of capital so why should we give you anymore. mr. evans: this is obligated money. we need new capital. right now we can run cars through the rosalynn bottleneck. we are going to have to build a new tunnel and it is going to cost billions of dollars to have -- billions of dollars to do it otherwise we will have a system that is not reliable and it will take forever to get
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anywhere. this is just one example of many that we need to capital dollars four. mr. connolly: i would like to know how we compare to other transit systems that receive federal grants. i think we're in the same ballpark. at this point i will yields to my friend mr. delaney from maryland. mr. delaney: the scale of this failure at metro is a most unimaginable. it has become a national embarrassment. i agree with my colleagues that it is a management problem. the system has been underinvested in. we haven't talked about the board and the governing system. you can only blame management for so long. ultimately a fiduciary board is responsible. this enterprise had a fiduciary board for a long time. if this was any other enterprise besides metro the board were then dismissed and a new board
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would have been appointed. do you believe that the board of metro, if you had to certify it, that the board members have deep experience in operations and financial management and sophisticated transit systems. or had tremendous experience in creating systems of accountability and metrics for their management team. do you feel like you can certify that the individuals who sit on this board. they have a safety committee, obviously they completely failed. a finance committee, complete failure. customer service, complete failure. it just seems to navy that at -- just seems to me that at some point we have to ask hard questions about who is on the organization and
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what is their experience are these people get positions because of political payback and they know nothing about transportation? why are we not getting the top executives in the washington region? do the people on the board know what they are supposed to do and are they the kind of people you would put up their resumes and say there is no better person in the country for this. is that the kind of board that is governing this or is that really the problem? mr. evans: that is not the type of board that is here. we have a 16 member board which is way too big. when i was on last time we had 12 and that was too big.
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they added four federal representatives a few years ago. it is unwieldy to say the least. it is just too many. your point is well taken people don't come there with enormous experience. most people don't and they are there for a whole variety of reasons. sometimes they are there because nobody else would come. that is who you have is a board. it is never been clear what the board does. in the past the committee has criticized the board for being too involved in the operation. then there were complaints that was not at all involved. mr. delaney: that is why you need a good board because they will know what their job is. they look at the ceo and they say these are the goals. if you don't reach them, we will
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make a change. they have committees that ask the right questions. and make sure things are happening. whatever has to be done to fix the system which will involve more capital there has to be a serious conversation about completely reconstituting this board. actually getting some people sitting around the table who know what they're doing. we can't be sitting here looking at pictures of jumper cables . there has to be a management structure and a governance structure. one of the biggest embarrassments in my opinion is to be on the board of this thing for the last 10 years because
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you utterly failed. mr. evans: we had a report on this five years ago and nothing happened. nobody is willing to give up anything. every time we bring up this idea of changing the board everybody backs away from it. we need to do something here. mr. delaney: whenever congress comes up to address this problem we should be putting on the table.
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the board has to certify the person is an expert. we need that kind of certification. ensuring that real board members. mr. evans: can anybody hear name the four federal board members? mr. delaney: i just looked them up. i could not certify that any of these people are experts. i am a fiduciary of the federal government's money and the state of maryland's money. >> the gentleman from maryland makes a very good point but i would caution my colleagues that federal law cannot dictate who was on the board of metro. nor can federal law tell the paying jurisdictions who they get to a point of metro. if federal law wants to do that we would have to change it. we don't pay an operating subsidy and so we can tread lightly and telling virginia and
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maryland and dc who will serve on the board. this is not a federal entity. story in the post about how the writers of the blue line have felt for years. closing the blue line for six months perhaps got people even more excited and upset. it has to do with the capacity of the roslynn tunnel. what can we do now before we get this additional infrastructure money? >> i am looking at how we can provide that service.
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it is a technical exercise. i will come out in the near future with that. mr. byers: you also mentioned to -- mentioned the search for the regional funding source. what did you have in mind. did you have any models? >> other states have a dedicated source of funding. whether gasoline tax or something else. no other transit system is operating in a multi-district area. virginia, maryland, and d.c. have to agree on what kind of a funding source or tax or fee whatever you want to call it. is it a sales tax or property or
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some combination of them? we have just not been able to do it. i was just reading history. the tennessee valley authority where the federal government superimposed on tennessee and arkansas is taxing district. i haven't done anything beyond that. i am frustrated with the local jurisdictions inability to deal with it. i went back to the federal government because maybe they can help us out. we need help at metro. if we don't get it, we will be in serious trouble beyond where we are now. >> washingtonian read this amazing story about how metro got so bad. a lot of the story focused on the modest rail operations control center. they talk about an environment where training materials were out of date, it was hostile to new hires. people work long hours just to get the overtime.
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the preliminary report was very critical of the way the control control -- center responded to the smoke at that time. all these things wrap around the culture. a culture that is responsive and executes well. what can you tell us to give us some hope that you are making changes within the control center? >> i changed how the reporting relationship goes so i get more focused on the operations. on a regular basis. making sure they are playing by the rules. the larger issue you're talking about is not confined to the rail operations center. what i found is a strong disconnect between management and the front-line employees
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that has evolved over years where people feel in effect disenfranchised they don't feel a part of the business they don't take pride in the business . that is what i am focusing on to get the front-line people and the managers to understand that if they do not tap into that resource their job is to bring their resource up and not push it down. if you can't do that, then they cannot work here. that is what we need to get this organization in the direction we need. >> in the ntsb report, it is recommended that railways take over the safety aspect. has very limited ability to oversee metro effectively.
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it has limited staff carry out the function. it does not have the authority to leave civil or individual penalties. how do you respond to these documented criticisms of why you are not the right agency to do the safety oversight. >> we are on the job and doing the job. we do have enforcement power. , we have thetly ability to direct wmata to take corrective action when there are safety infractions. we have the ability to withhold funds. as much as 5% to 25% of the fund to compel them to take corrective action. on the experience side we feel we have the technical competence. we have put together an organization that has experience
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from faa and fra. .e have the resources he leveraged resources to augment the oversight efforts we have people working with us. we have people working with us from the office of the secretary. i know ntsb is concerned about whether we can sustain this. we do have additional budgetary authority to augment our safety operations. we think that the response was the appropriate risk. we need to act quickly. fta have the statutory authority. and faa did not have the to overseet the time
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urban public transit. >> the chair recognizes the ranking member for a follow-up question. mr. connolly: you just told us that you have the statutory authority to withhold the funds. and you have threatened to do that if the three jurisdictions do not form this oversight committee in a certain course of time. >> that is correct, one year. february of next year. mr. connolly: have you taken cognizance of the legislative schedules of the two respective states of maryland and virginia? >> yes we have. what we would like to see and we are continuing to provide technical assistance with the three jurisdictions, but we
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would like to see this move forward rather than actually take action to withhold funds. mr. connolly: i support what you are trying to do. one little word of caution. be aware of the difference in the legislative schedules so we are not asking them to do something they can't possibly to do within their legislative calendar. >> we could rather than would. ms. comstock: i think the i thank the- ranking member. as a former member the virginia legislature, i can tell you we are only there from january through march sometimes. i also
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wanted to mention that my predecessor, congressman wolf, he raised the same issues that mr. delaney raised. i appreciate the honesty. in looking at the expertise here. obviously there will be challenges to look at that. i agree with mr. delaney that that needs to be looked at more thoroughly. i wanted to return to some of the management ideas. our new general manager has focused on it. yesterday you had talked about things like looking at paratransit and saving money there. i don't know if maintenance is an area that could be outsourced. could you maybe detail, i think, positive ideas that will have in common and can improve. >> there are a number of things that i think we can do more efficiently by getting out of them to some degree. for instance, parking, it does feed our system, we have 60,000
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parking spaces. that is not a core thing we wake up worrying about, it is opportunity for the private sector to do that. we have a model that has been around for years. but i think with new technology there is opportunities for that. so we don't take away anything from anywhere customers. but to give them alternatives that for us will be cheaper. ms. comstock: you are already identifying ways to cut costs given the on-demand economy. it would probably be more efficient for some of the users. >> right now you have to give 24-hour notice for your trip. a lot of times you have to travel with other people. or you could call up and make it happen very quickly. ms. comstock: we could welcome the uber economy to metro.
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>> do we need that many people in a prime location? we're looking at that as well. on the maintenance side, on the fair collections side, there are opportunities where it makes more sense to have other resources applied their. applied there. i will continue to do that. ms. comstock: i really appreciate it. we present really good thoughts that the general manager has already put into this. maybe focus on those things first and bring the cost down. we can have a similar discussion on that when we eventually solve some of these other problems. i appreciate your taking that approach. thank you. the chairman: let me follow up
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on what my friend mr. connolly was saying with regard to jurisdiction. i don't know if you are necessarily the best group. i care a lot about secretary fox, i consider him a personal friend. i don't know if it was the right decision. here is my whole point on this. we have got to get the system in not at ahere you are hearing talking about the safety of this system. while it may be germane today i'm hopeful that in the very near future it will not be a discussion that even comes up. we talked about uber a little bit. i have staff members who are taking uber and other forms of transportation to get to work,
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who used to take the metro, just because they can't rely on metro. that has got to stop. you started by acknowledging the service many of us have provided. acknowledge your service and certainly say thank you. there is no tougher job than local politics. i want to acknowledge that. i guess the fundamental question is, how many more hearings are we going to have before we fix the problem? this is my fourth either hearing or roundtable that we've had about a mass transit system that i don't ride. the vast majority of people use here in the federal government,
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whether it is 50% to 60%. even if it is higher than that, we've got to get it right. by getting it right, i need to figure out who is in charge. is it a 16 member board? is it the new general manager? is it the coalition of people that put forth the people that we sit on the board? who's is in charge? who owns it? in your written testimony you want to make it clear that you do not own the metro, paul does not own the metro. somebody has to own the responsibility. that is what i'm getting too. who do we hold accountable for the system that has deferred maintenance and is not safe? who is that? mr. evans: it is myself and paul. the chairman: you can't have two
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leaders. if paul makes a decision that the board doesn't agree with what happens to paul? mr. evans: we haven't faced that . >> this is a big problem. it is taken for years to get here. deferred maintenance. as we look at this is going to happen where the board thinks one thing and paul, as the expert thinks something else. so paul says that does he get fired? mr. evans: no. in that situation i would defer to the general manager who i believe has the expertise that the rest of us on the board do not have. the closedown is a good example. i turned to paul and say what you want to do? paul said shut it down. and everybody got on board. we have nine of 16 new board members. this is not the board of one
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year ago. i believe it is a better board then we've had a long time. we support the general manager and what he is doing. he's going to come back in six weeks with a plan to fix this. and then we as a region will have to figure out a way to implement the plan. you have not asked me about the blue line. i will address that. we have to come up with a plan to fix this. it is like a bridge going into georgetown that is about to fall down. if we close it entirely new in six months. if we do half is good take me 18 me 18is going to take months and $12 million. convenience versus safety versus time versus money. we as a region have to decide that. the chairman: closing the blue line for six months is not an option. you understand me?
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you will take that to the board. that is not an option. mr. evans: but what we are doing now is also not working. three hours a night and single tracking. the chairman: i went through and looked at the traffic and how people -- and how they had the staff. we could close down the metro on the blue line at 10:00 at night work all through the night and headed back up by 5:00 the next morning. have a normal work period. do more work on saturdays and sundays. i have looked at it and the number of people you affect is infinitesimal compared to during the week. when we make those kinds of statements, jerry and i, it really affects him. i am not going to be getting calls in north carolina about
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the metro in d.c. being down. mr. connolly will. barbara will. you have to understand that what we endured for 26 hours will be multiplied by six months. it is just not an option. you made a statement that use bash -- that you said we. is it him or is it we? who is in charge? ultimately i want to the next , person who is sitting here to certify it is safe and that they have made constructions and if they are asking for money that we have given them. you're saying that he can make the tough decisions and the board is not going to fire him. let me go to you mr. general
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manager. as you have looked at this system, how much deferred maintenance should have been done that was not done? >> i don't have the number of front of me but i think the approach is part of the issue the way we have been trying to do it. the chairman: how many jumper cables were replaced between the death that we had in 2015 and the other day when we shut the system down? >> the numbers of the sleeves are 65%. we tend to do things around a particular issue and not do -- and not look at this thing together. that was just one issue. that is not dealing with the cable that is lying on the ground. that is not dealing with the
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cable that is lying in moisture. that is where we have to come at this thing. the chairman: why would you say that those assessments have not been done? when we have an unbelievable horrific tragedy, we all came to a meeting. we were determined to get this fixed right away and get it done. and yet what i heard from your testimony earlier was that we're smiling -- another test to figure out the safety issue. >> what i'm doing right now based on what happened three weeks ago. what we do, who did what did we do it poorly?
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what did we learn? what did we put in place and did that occur on the day of at mcphern square. there are three things going on. what happened in that short 14 months, what happened in that incident, and what are we doing going forward? we have already initiated a new team that goes out every day to look at the cables. we were not doing that before. now they do the entire system and it takes a month for that. every day, we go out and check that. we have put those things in place. i'm not sure that is all we can do. that is why it has to be part of this overall plan where we say we're going to fix the tracks we are going to fix the cables and the drainage system, we will fix those things as we go out there rather than keep you coming back
5:52 am this, and doing the chairman: how do you respond to the criticism that there is a wmata familyn the that does not really emphasize safety or service. is there such a culture? >> there is. >> part of fixing a problem is recognizing that you have one. i will just say thank you for your candor and your honesty. thank you for your leadership on the board. i have a request for the two of you. if you find that their board members that are trying to exert their influence over the general evans, are you committed to at least letting either me or the ranking member
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know that that is happening. >> yes i will. >> i believe that. to the general manager, if you are getting undue political influence from the board. there will be differences of opinion. are you committed to let the ranking member and me know about this? >> in a certain point i won't be here any longer. the chairman: i want to thank each of you for your testimony. i want to recognize the ranking member for brief closing statement. mr. connolly: i want to thank you mr. chairman for your support and collaboration. us must take ownership for the national capital transit system. you were asking what happened
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and we came up with a way of putting it which is that we have witnessed a maddeningly decade-long descent into mediocrity. where it has imbued the entire workforce. and ifwork 8 or 9 hours it doesn't get done in the timeframe, it is something else's problem. customers are unhappy, so what? answering your question, not my job. it is everyone's concern within the workforce. everything is everybody's job at a certain level. especially when it comes to public safety. what worries me about this deteriorationn --
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are the implications of it. d.c. s washington, this is the capital of the superpower. it is always going to be a target tragically for bad people wanting to do bad things. we cannot allow the deterioration of our metro system to become the soft underbelly of any target in the future. tens of thousands of lives every day depend on that safety. afterakes are even higher the tragic attacks in europe, what more do we need by way of warning that this isn't just a nice thing to do? us beingt just
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anal-retentive. this is about the security of our country. metro is a very important part of that calculus. it behooves all of us to find a swift, efficacious solution to the problems we have identified today. i thank my good friend from north carolina for his indulgence. chairman: i want to thank each of you. we have a task ahead of us. that task is monumental in ways. mr. evans you talked about the fact that when it was originally put in place it was the modern era of the jetsons. i am old enough to remember the jetsons. it is time to bring it back to a point of honor and a standard that not only your constituents
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but ms. comstock's constituents and mr. connolly's can all be proud of it. i am proud to work in a bipartisan manner to do that. afraid, mr. general manager, it will end in your portfolio to fix it. i would like in the next 90 days, an update on what has been done, what is going to happen in the next 90 days. i think it would be prudent if we had a 90 day update so we can look at this. and before we make any long-term decisions on what is closed or not closed. i would ask that we really gets an input from those who benefit from the system each and every day. if there is no further business, the committee stands adjourned.
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