Lapse in Metrorail Operator Recertification Prompts Reduction in Service

A lapse in Metrorail operator recertification prompted a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes effective Monday, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced. Service impacts are expected to continue until the end of May. 

With guidance from the Board of Directors, Metro removed 72 train operators from service who were out of compliance with recertification prior to May 2021. 

“The WMATA Board of Directors received a safety briefing on Thursday that included learning that nearly half of all rail operators had lagging recertifications,” WMATA Board Chair Paul Smedberg said. “The Board finds this unacceptable and extremely disappointing. We support Metro management’s decision to immediately remove from service operators who became out of compliance more than a year ago as a first step. The Board directed Metro management to provide a full accounting of how and why this occurred and develop a plan to ensure it is remedied as fast as possible.”

The recertification includes classroom instruction and supervised testing in the rail yard and on the mainline. Officials stressed the importance for train operators to refresh on the rules, reinforce their knowledge, and benefit from evaluation.

WMATA estimates the process to get 250 rail operators compliant with recertification will take two to three months. 

“The Board is deeply concerned about the impact this operator shortage may have on our customers and the region,” Smedberg said. “However, the Board made it clear safety is the top priority and while Metro has made strides in recent years, this issue demonstrates that more work must be done to ensure an organizational-wide safety culture.” 

Metro officials are also reviewing refresher training for more than 2500 bus operators. “We are identifying bus operators who have lapsed refresher training and will take steps to ensure compliance with Metro’s rules,” Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader said.

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