Subway Shutdown

Metro trains arrive in the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station Tuesday, March 15, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In the wake of a recent day-long, system-wide closure of the region’s subway system that revealed massive health and safety concerns, officials of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced a strategy for repairs that may require entire rail lines to close for as long as six months.  The announcement was made by Metro CEO and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld March 30, during a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the Metrorail system.

“What we have been doing has not been working,” Wiedefeld told the participants.  “We cannot Band-Aid; we cannot paper over some of these issues.”

D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans said during the symposium that riders should expect extended delays over a protracted period of time while WMATA tries to rectify systemic issues.

“If we are going to fix the infrastructure, we can’t do it three hours at night. There may be decisions where we have to close down whole lines and repair them, which are going to be very unpopular. But, the only way that we are going to get this system fixed is to make unpopular decisions,” Evans said.

While no repair or specific line closure schedule has been announced, Evans told the Washington Post he is certain “people will go crazy” if it comes to a point where the entire Blue Line has to be shut down for six months—but it may necessary.

Several hundred underground cables within the system have been found to be without protective casing, making them susceptible to catching fire or causing major smoke incidents, similar to the one that caused the shutdown of the McPherson Square station in March.