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Congress Not Impressed With Metro's Safety Measures

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Weekend delays are expected on the Metro for the next 12 months.
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Weekend delays are expected on the Metro for the next 12 months.

By Matt Laslo

As Metro officials asked Congress for more federal funding, they got an earful from lawmakers frustrated with safety problems in the rail system.

Metro officials want $150 million from Congress. But with 13 deaths on Metro rail in the past year, lawmakers are increasing oversight of the agency. Metro interim General Manager Richard Sarles tried to calm lawmaker’s fears by laying out new safety plans for both passengers and workers.

"We have set deadlines for delivering certain items, delivering when we’re going to have the track worker protection manual done, for example. We’ve already completed the draft, but now we have a deadline for finalizing that and starting training," says Sarles.

Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski told Sarles she isn’t impressed with his benchmarks.

"Start with the manual, but that’s the whole darn problem, which is that we hear, they’re giving out manuals and they meet deadlines," says Mikulski.

Sarles says Metro also plans to hire more safety officers soon. The transit authority is still wrestling with a nearly $200 million budget short fall. Metro officials told lawmakers the federal funding is essential to keep the system in good repair.

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