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Metro GM Blames Recent Mechanical Problems On Cold Weather

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The Yellow Line was the only one operating without problems on Wednesday morning.
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The Yellow Line was the only one operating without problems on Wednesday morning.

Metro's top executive says cold weather is mostly to blame for another morning of mechanical problems that snarled trains on four of Metro's five rail lines.

Disabled trains led to long delays in the heart of rush hour on all lines but the Yellow Line. One morning last week, all five lines had problems, and Metro General Manager Richard Sarles even got stuck waiting on a freezing outdoor platform. Appearing today on WAMU's The Kojo Namdi Show, Sarles said the cold is the problem.

"The Metro is not immune to the weather, especially very frigid days like today," Sarles said. "Today and some of the other deep freeze days we've had, we've had troubles with the rolling stock of equipment."

There are problems, though, that commuters are all too familiar with: old equipment — especially rail cars — that is slowly being replaced and a multi-year reconstruction effort that has three more years to go. It will take five years to roll out the first compliment of new 7000 series rail cars.

"Well, I don't like to ask people to be patient. They deserve to have a system that works everyday," Sarles said. "We have made a lot of improvements over the last three, four years."

The metrics Metro uses to measure on-time performance for bus and rail service or the service of its escalators and elevators do show improvement, but for commuters stuck just about every morning in another rush hour-delay, those metrics don't mean much, especially with Metro preparing to raise fares again this year.

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