Metro announced yesterday that Paul Wiedefeld, the former CEO of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, has been selected as the agency’s next General Manager and CEO.
Following a lengthy search process, the WMATA Board of Directors is expected to make Wiedefeld’s appointment official on Nov. 19.
With Metro in turmoil due to ongoing rail service reliability problems and financial challenges, state officials and lawmakers welcomed the appointment of an experienced executive to Metro’s top post.
From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.):
“Today’s news concludes a period of uncertainty for Metro. Paul Wiedefeld’s transportation and executive experience gives him the tools to provide WMATA with the leadership a first class transit system needs. I look forward to working with him to ensure a safe, reliable future for Metro as a critical part of the national capitol area’s transportation infrastructure.”
From Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe:
“I am pleased to see that the WMATA Board has unanimously chosen Paul Wiedefeld to lead the agency as its General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Wiedefeld’s significant experience in managing safety and operations in the transit industry will surely serve him well as he steps into his role with Metro. I am hopeful that this appointment, though overdue, will give WMATA the stability and expertise it needs to produce meaningful change across the agency. I look forward to Mr. Wiedefeld’s formal confirmation by the Board on November 19th.”
A joint statement from U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.):
“We’re pleased to finally see this progress in bringing on new management for Metro after a year-long search.
“As federal lawmakers, we have been strong advocates and effective partners for Metro. In his years of service to BWI, Mr. Wiedefeld has proven himself to be a creative and successful infrastructure manager in the public sector. We are eager to meet with him to emphasize our shared commitment and steady focus on turning-around the troubled Metro system.
“We’re prepared to work with Mr. Wiedefeld as he accepts the challenge of improving the safety and reliability of this pivotal regional investment for Metro passengers and visitors to the national capital region.”
After a jump, a press release from the recently-formed WMATA Riders’ Union.
Another Chaotic Metro Commute — The late morning rush hour commute on the Orange and Silver lines was snarled by a disabled train at Courthouse. Overcrowded platforms were reported at Arlington Metro stations. [Twitter]
Nazi Memories in Arlington — Longtime Arlingtonians shared their memories of former Williamsburg Blvd resident George Lincoln Rockwell and his Arlington-based American Nazi Party with “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark. One vivid memory comes from the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who happened to patron the same Arlington barbershop as Rockwell. His only remark to his daughter after Rockwell was assassinated at the Dominion Hills Shopping Center: “They shot the Nazi today.” [Falls Church News-Press]
E-CARE Stats — The stats are in for Arlington’s Halloween E-CARE recycling event. According to the county, 1,784 residents dropped off items, including 72,185 pounds of household hazmat materials and 2.5 tractor trailers full of electronics. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
Marine Corps Marathon Wrap-up — Despite a soggy start, spirits were high for the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon, which wound through Rosslyn, D.C. and Crystal City Sunday morning. The winners were a 22-year-old recent West Point grad, representing the Army team and, on the women’s side, a Costa Rica native who only started running seven years ago. [Run Washington, Stars & Stripes]
Orange Line Delays — Orange Line riders are experiencing delays of up to 25 minutes this morning due to a broken rail in Maryland. [Twitter]
School Bus Camera Tickets May Be Refunded — Arlington County is considering refunding tickets issued by stop arm cameras on public school buses, following a determination by the state Attorney General that the county doesn’t have the legal authority to issue such citations via mail. [Washington Post]
I Like This Park Because — Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation has erected two new chalkboard in Rosslyn Highlands Park, asking park users why they like the park. [Twitter]
Top Bus Lines in Arlington — The county-run transit organization Arlington Transportation Partners has a list of the top five most important bus lines in Arlington. They are: ART 43, ART 45, ART 42, Metrobus 16 series and Metrobus 38B. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
New Little Free Library in Arlington — There’s a new Little Free Library in Arlington. The resident-created library is located at 1723 N. Veitch Street, three blocks north of the Courthouse Metro station. Affordable housing developer AHC, which helped with the library’s creation, is planning a celebratory launch party tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Photo by Jennifer Currier
School Bus Cameras Stop Issuing Tickets — The stop arm cameras on Arlington public school buses are no longer sending citations to those who drive by the buses while the stop signs are activated. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring determined that Arlington does not have the legal authority from the General Assembly to issue summonses from school bus cameras by mail. [Washington Post]
Laundry Room Fire at The Shelton — Yesterday around 6 p.m. a dryer in a laundry room at The Shelton apartment building (3125 24th Street S.) in Nauck caught fire. The fire was reportedly controlled by a sprinkler system, but not before filling the third floor of the building with heavy smoke and prompting an evacuation. [Twitter]
Last Weekend for Hudson Trail Outfitters — The local adventure retailer Hudson Trail Outfitters says this will be their last weekend in business. The company, which has a store on Pentagon Row, is offering 50-80 percent off remaining items. [Hudson Trail Outfitters]
Rep. Beyer Wins Spelling Bee — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) won the National Press Club’s annual Politicians vs. Press spelling bee Wednesday night. Beyer won by correctly spelling “apostasy” in round 23. The win keeps the spelling bee title in Virginia, after Sen. Tim Kaine won last year. [Politico]
‘Most Interesting Man in Arlington’ Contest — Don Tito in Clarendon will be hosting its first ever “Most Interesting Man in Arlington” contest Saturday night. Hosted by Mel, of 107.3’s morning show, the contest will judge based on looks and a series of challenges. [Clarendon Nights]
Discover Cherrydale This Weekend — The Cherrydale Business Alliance will hold its second annual “Discover Cherrydale” festival on Sunday afternoon. The event will feature vendor booths, a beer garden, food trucks and various family-friendly activities. [ARLnow Events]
Red Top Given Green Light for Stickers — An Arlington County Board-ordered review of new stickers on the back window of Red Top taxicabs has found no safety hazard. Lou Gatti, a long-time cab driver who is now an industry critic and who was the one who raised concerns, was disappointed by the findings. “There are no checks and balances in this industry, except for me,” Gatti is quoted as saying. “I can’t understand why no one seems to care about the facts and the laws, except me.” [InsideNova]
Blue Line Issues This Morning — A faulty switch near the Pentagon prompted Metro to route Blue Line trains over the Yellow Line bridge for a significant portion of this morning’s rush hour. [Twitter]
Fire Station 8 Task Force — At its Tuesday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a charge for its new Fire Station No. 8 task force. The task force will review viable sites for the fire station, will seek a location that will improve fire and EMS response signs, and will seek to balance costs with service needs. [Arlington County]
More Metro Delays This Morning — Delays and overcrowded trains made for “another miserable day” on the Orange Line during this morning’s commute. Metro says it’s hoping to have full service restored on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines by the end of the year, following a catastrophic fire at an electrical substation in D.C. [WMATA, Twitter, Twitter]
Old Growth Forest in Arlington Recognized — A 24-acre portion of Glencarlyn Park, just south of Route 50, has been recognized by the Old Growth Forest Network. The park has trees that were likely saplings while the British burned the White House across the river during the War of 1812. [Arlington County]
GW Parkway Repaving Nearly Complete — Crews are starting to wrap up a repaving project on the GW Parkway that has prompted lane and ramp closures over the past few weeks. The formerly pockmarked section of the Parkway north of Reagan National Airport now has a smooth coating of asphalt. [WTOP]
Lee Highway Streetlight Upgrade Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a $2.2 million project to replace 1.5 miles of aging streetlights along Lee Highway with new, energy efficient LED streetlights. Some residents have previously complained of an “ugly” blue tint from the county’s LED streetlights. [Arlington County]
Ballston IHOP is Turning 50 — The IHOP restaurant in Ballston will turn 50 years old early next year. Reportedly, it was the first Virginia location for the chain. [InsideNova]
Arlington Hosting Metro Safety Seminar Tonight — Officials from Arlington County and WMATA will be participating in a Metro Safety and Preparedness Seminar tonight in Ballston. A panel of officials will discuss Arlington’s response to Metro incidents and emergency preparedness tips for Metro riders. [Arlington County]
Photo by Justin Funkhouser
In 2004, Metro Chief Richard White predicted a “death spiral” for the Metrorail system due to chronic underfunding.
Federal and state budget disputes were preventing Metro from getting the $1.5 billion in maintenance investment it needed, leading White to warn of “a systemic service meltdown.”
Eleven years later, White’s prediction seems to be coming true. And he wasn’t the only one to see it coming.
“Right now, there’s no money for transportation funding in anyone’s budget,” Chris Zimmerman, who at the time served on both the Arlington County Board and the Metro board, told the Washington Post in 2004. “I’ve got a state government that’s happy to let everything fall into the toilet. And we’ve got local governments that have limited means to raise money. We’ve got nothing to work with.”
Zimmerman resigned from the Metro board in 2010, and stepped down from the County Board in 2014. Now serving as Vice President for Economic Development for the group Smart Growth America, Zimmerman shared some thoughts on Metro’s current woes during a phone interview with ARLnow.com.
In 2002, Zimmerman and the Metro Board were actively seeking additional capital funding for Metro from Maryland, Virginia and the federal government — but to little avail. With inadequate funding, Metro wouldn’t be able to afford the track and station maintenance and new trains needed to keep the system running smoothly.
“It was foreseeable and it was foreseen,” he said of Metro’s problems today.
What would it take to fix the chronic system breakdowns that are causing long, frustrating commutes and chasing away riders? Zimmerman said it would take a lot more than that $1.5 billion figure sought in 2004 — and would likely require intervention by the federal government in the form of increased annual funding.
“What would actually make a difference is if [the federal government] would partner with our system… we have federal folks on the board but we don’t really have a federal funding partner,” he said. The feds have been providing funds to Metro for capital improvements, but Zimmerman argues that the level of funding doesn’t reflect Metro’s critical importance in helping the federal workforce in D.C. get to their jobs.
A fire at the Foggy Bottom station prompted single tracking, leading to delays of 20 or more minutes in each direction. As of 8:35 a.m., Metro says it was no longer single tracking.
Inbound and outbound trains at Rosslyn have been arriving on the same platform, leading to crowded conditions.
OR/SV/BL passengers at Court House, Rosslyn & Foggy Bottom, all trains on the Largo/New Carrollton platform. 8:03a #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) October 16, 2015
— John Pittman (@JohnPittman) October 16, 2015
Pax waiting for eastbound SOB train at Rosslyn unable to board b/c train is overcrowded. Platform is filling in too. #WMATA
— dcmetrosucks (@dcmetrosucks) October 16, 2015
— Ben Smith (@bmcsmith92) October 16, 2015
Hat tip to @unsuckdcmetro
There has been no shortage of headlines lately about problems with the Metrorail system.
Chronic delays, minor incidents fouling up entire rush hour commutes and long waits on the weekends have become the norm with Washington’s once-gleaming subway system. It’s the result, many say, of deferred maintenance and a lack of investment in the system’s upkeep.
Metro says it’s trying to catch up, but even the maintenance is causing problems. This weekend alone, “reconstruction of the Metrorail system” will result in “service adjustments” on every line other than the Green Line. The Orange, Silver, Blue, Yellow and Red lines will all see 24 minute headways between trains.
Metro acknowledged last week that service breakdowns may be responsible for steadily decreasing ridership.
Are you, personally, taking Metro less often this year as a result of less reliable service?
Tree Falls on House During Storm — A big tree fell on a house in Arlington during Friday’s heavy rain. No one was injured. [WJLA]
More Orange Line Woes — Orange and Silver line riders this morning reported relatively long waits between trains and, at Arlington stations, numerous inbound trains too crowded to board. Also this morning, a man suspected of stealing a woman’s purse at the Virginia Square station was taken into custody — reportedly by an off-duty FBI agent — at the Clarendon Metro station, according to scanner traffic. [Twitter, Twitter]
Entrepreneurship Push for Latinas — The Shirlington Employment and Education Center, which runs a day laborer program near Shirlington, is starting a new program intended to provide training to immigrant women who want to start their own business. [InsideNova]
Changes at Blue Virginia — The Arlington-based Democratic state blog Blue Virginia has a new website. The site’s long-time former platform Soapblox, which also hosted dozens of other progressive blogs, is shutting down on Oct. 15. [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
Metro said that an inbound Orange Line train offloaded at East Falls Church just before 8:30 a.m. due to a brake problem.
That, coupled with reduced rush hour service on the two lines due to power issues around the Stadium-Armory station following last week’s transformer fire, has caused big delays.
Via Twitter, riders are reporting longer-than-usual waits between Orange and Silver Line trains. Trains that are arriving at Arlington stations are full, causing overcrowding at the stations as riders continue to wait for trains.
I've been in Clarendon metro for 40 minutes now. About 5 cars have arrived that were packed. Stem-to-stern. Fml https://t.co/md5kbILKzA
— Rachel Joy Larris (@RachelLarris) September 28, 2015
— Courtney Fogwell (@CourtneyFogwell) September 28, 2015
— David Buzby (@buzbyindc) September 28, 2015
Metro says that repairs on its nine-megawatt power substation near Stadium-Armory are expected to drag out over the next six months or so. During that time, speed restrictions will be in place around the station, and Orange and Silver Line trains will run less frequently during rush hour while skipping the station entirely — a strategy intended to reduce congestion while coping with the lack of track power around Stadium Armory.
“On Friday, Metro began running Orange and Silver line trains every 8 minutes during rush hours, rather than every 6 minutes, to reduce the number of trains in service at any one time,” the transit agency said in a press release. “Metro is also increasing the number of 8-car trains on the Orange and Blue lines to provide additional capacity.”
Hat tip to @unsuckdcmetro
Update at 5:00 p.m. — Service has been restored through the Stadium-Armory station, but residual delays are expected and trains will proceed through the station as a slow speed.
Update at 3:55 p.m. — The problems on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines will continue through the evening rush hour, Metro says.
Earlier: Those commuting to D.C. via the Blue, Orange and Silver lines are having a slow and sometimes chaotic go of it this morning due to a fire in the District.
A fire at a Metro-owned power substation near RFK Stadium was reported around 7:30 a.m. That fire has closed the Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations.
Metro says service is suspended between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue, with buses replacing trains. Riders are advised to expect delays on all three lines as a result.
Also, inbound Blue Line trains are running between Franconia and Rosslyn, but are forcing passengers off at Rosslyn to transfer to continue their trip. Overcrowding at Rosslyn has been reported. In some cases, Metro says, Blue Line trains are letting off at the Pentagon station.
Adding to the misery, traffic is very slow for those driving from Virginia to D.C. As of 9:30 a.m., delays extended the entire length of eastbound I-395 and started near Cherrydale and Lee Highway on eastbound I-66. Parts of Washington Blvd, Route 50 and the GW Parkway are also jammed.
The problems come a day before the Pope arrives in D.C., prompting mass road closures and an expected reliance on Metrorail for transportation.
— ClinicEscort (@ClinicEscort) September 21, 2015
File photo by BrianMKA
Brief Ebola Scare at EPA HQ — Hazmat and EMS teams were dispatched to the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Crystal City this morning for a possible Ebola patient. After an assessment by a doctor, it was determined that the patient — a man in his 50s — did not have the likely symptoms of Ebola.
Arlington Launches Startup Competition — Arlington County is partnering with the website Tech.Co to run a contest to attract new startups to Arlington. Starting today, startups can apply for the chance to receive three months of free work and living space, plus free legal advice and public transit funds. [Tech.Co, Arlington Economic Development]
Stolen Car Crashes in Fairlington — A stolen car crashed in a quiet Fairlington neighborhood early Tuesday morning, after fleeing from a traffic stop. The suspects fled the scene and police were unable to track them down. [Patch]
Arlington Artist Survey — Arlington Cultural Affairs is surveying local artists about their needs for space to create art. “We would like to understand the space requirements of artists so that we can optimize the use of our current facilities and plan for future growth… Arlington Cultural Affairs is working both internally and externally to ensure that Arlington’s cultural scene remains vibrant and engaging.” The survey deadline is Sept. 30. [Arlington Arts]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Update at 6:15 p.m. — The disabled train has been cleared and trains are no longer single tracking past the station, Metro says.
Earlier: A large scale fire department response has been dispatched to the East Falls Church Metro station for a report of smoke on a train.
Metro says that a Largo-bound Silver Line train has offloaded at the station after suffering a brake problem. Trains are now single tracking past the station.
Light smoke reportedly filled at least one of the train cars, according to scanner traffic.
Largo Town Center bound Silver Line train offloading at East Falls Church, brake problem. Trains holding behind. 547pm #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 15, 2015
Orange/Silver Line: Single tracking through East Falls Church due to a disabled train at East Falls Church. Delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 15, 2015
Org/Sil Line: No longer single tracking. Residual delays continue in both directions due to an earlier train malfunction at E. Falls Church.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 15, 2015
Metro is describing the incident as a “medical emergency.” A Twitter user said a woman walked off the platform and onto the tracks.
“Lady just walked smooth off the platform onto the tracks at Ballston station right in front of me,” said @Durrrius.
Fire department radio traffic indicates that the patient has been removed from the tracks and is now being treated by medics.
Metro says that trains are again moving through the station, with residual delays in both directions.
Impede Apartments, Get a Self Storage Place — In an editorial, Falls Church’s newspaper of record is warning of “The Lesson of Cube Smart.” The lesson: when Arlington County put up roadblocks to the development of the proposed Shreve Apartments in East Falls Church, developer Mark Silverwood eventually lost patience and figured out that building a “by right” self-storage place would be easier and more lucrative. Separately, Silverwood also proposed an apartment building in Bluemont that was rejected by the community, canceling a proposed revamp of the neighborhood’s Safeway supermarket. [Falls Church News-Press]
More Orange Line Delays — There were morning rush hour delays once again on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines today. A train malfunction at the Virginia Square station prompted single tracking past the station and, once that was cleared, residual delays. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Wins $100,000 — Arlington resident Robert Thomas won $100,000 in a Virginia Lottery Cash 5 drawing last week. Thomas purchased the winning ticket at the Chanda Market at 5550 Columbia Pike. [WJLA]
APS SOL Score Rise — Arlington Public Schools is touting “impressive results” on its students’ 2015 Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Among those achieving significant test score gains were Limited English Proficient and minority students. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok