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WMATA's Top Rail Official Resigns

Troup speaks to reporters about the red light overrun Thursday, hours before his resignation was announced.
WAMU/Martin Di Caro
Troup speaks to reporters about the red light overrun Thursday, hours before his resignation was announced.

Metro’s second-ranking official has resigned, according to a memo by WMATA General manager Paul Wiedefeld sent to all transit authority employees Thursday night.

The resignation of Rob Troup, who oversaw Metrorail's operations, maintenance and capital rebuilding program, came hours after he attempted to explain why an empty Orange Line train overran a red signal and came within 200 feet of crashing into another train carrying an unknown number of passengers last week near Smithsonian station.

The 16-member board did not call for the resignation, said Corbett Price, one of the D.C. appointees to Metro's board. The decision apparently was between Wiedefeld and Troup. Other top Metro officials will assume Troup's duties for now, Wiedefeld said in the memo. (The situation at WMATA is one of the topics Friday on WAMU 88.5's The Politics Hour, with guests including U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.)

The Orange Line incident was the latest in a long string of recent safety mishaps that began on Jan. 12, 2015, when an electrical malfunction caused smoke to fill the Yellow Line tunnel south of L’Enfant Plaza station, claiming the life of Carol Glover of Alexandria and sickening more than 80 other passengers.

During the intervening year the second-busiest subway system in America continued to stumble through embarrassing lapses, including the derailment of an Orange Line train last August and chronic operational problems. Routine rush hours have anything but routine.

Troup, the system’s top engineer and officially WMATA's deputy general manager, often found himself publicly explaining what went wrong. Meanwhile, ridership has plummeted.

But in his memo, Wiedefeld offered only praise.

“During his tenure and applying three decades of rail and transit design, construction and maintenance expertise, Rob played an invaluable role in the rebuilding and expansion of Metrorail,” Wiedefeld said. “Under his leadership, Metro launched the Silver Line, introduced new rail cars, and began the tough work of rebuilding the Metrorail system, including the rail infrastructure itself as well as the stations, elevator and escalators and facilities that our customers rely on each day.”

Price, the board member, also praised Troup’s work.

“I held Mr. Troup in the highest regard and I am stunned by his resignation,” Price said.

Troup’s departure may open the way for the new general manager to reorganize the rail side of the transit system and assign one official to oversee each of the areas that were under the deputy general manager’s purview: operations, maintenance, and the multibillion-dollar capital rebuilding program.

Troup also was ultimately responsible for the troubled Rail Operations Control Center — Metro’s version of an air traffic control tower — which has come under scrutiny after multiple federal safety investigations uncovered an array of deficiencies.

“Effective immediately, I have assigned Assistant General Manager of Transit Infrastructure and Engineering Services Andy Off to focus on the day-to-day delivery of rail service by overseeing Rail Transportation, Track and Structures and Car Maintenance,” Wiedefeld said in his memo. “All other offices and parts of the [Deputy General Manager of Operations] will report temporarily to Executive Managing Officer Jack Requa, until a new rail organization is announced in the near future.”

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