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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 07:02 PM ET, 05/12/2011

Metro roundup: Spending on overtime is up; crime is down on rail

Metro officials gave a slew of spending numbers at the Thursday meeting of the board’s finance committee meeting. The highlights: Favorable, Metro’s year-to-date expenditures are $38.7 million below budget. Unfavorable, Metro is $4.4 million over budget in its spending on salary, wages and overtime.

Metro’s revenues year-to-date are $19.6 million below budget, in part because of shortfalls in rail and bus revenue. Average weekday rail ridership for the month of March was 753,500 trips, 1.3 percent below the average weekday in March 2010. On buses, ridership for March was 11.5 million trips, up 5.5 percent from March 2010.

Overtime is up, Metro officials said, because it has a shortage of skilled rail and bus workers as it tries to repair and maintain the system and is having to pay existing employees to work longer hours. Metro officials said they are working to hire more supervisors, inspectors and other skilled personnel.

“Overtime is a tool that was programmed in to deal with the worker shortage,” Dave Kubicek, who was promoted this week to become Metro’s deputy general manager of operations, told the board. “Based on overtime expenditures, it is best to start having full-time workers so we can reduce the overtime of existing employees.”

Metro board members said they worried that some Metro employees were working too many overtime hours and could become fatigued and create safety problems while during their jobs.

But Metro safety officials assured board members that they’re trying to achieve safety while also working hard — and fast — to meet recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In other Metro news:

• Metro’s Police Chief Michael Taborn said overall crime on bus and rail is down. But incidents against bus drivers is up — mainly in the Southeast area, where mostly juveniles are reported throwing rocks and spitting at drivers, he said.

The theft of electronic devices from passengers is a continuing problem, he said. Serious crime on Metro hit a five-year high in 2010, according to data released earlier this year. Robberies went up 13 percent, fueled by a 20 percent rise in the snatching of electronics.

• Escalator/elevator update for those tired of walking up stairs: Major repairs were started at the Bethesda, Dupont Circle, Metro Center and U Street Metro stops. Work was completed on escalators at Anacostia, Bethesda, Dupont (two entrances) and Metro Center.

• In other news, WTOP first reported Thursday that two Metro train operators had run through red signals in the past month at the Brentwood rail yard.

Metro spokesman Steve Taubenkibel said in an e-mail, “at no time was there a risk to passenger safety as the trains were not in service, nor was there any collision risk.”

Both operators were removed from service and will be retrained following any disciplinary process, he said. Running red signals is considered a serious safety violation.

A Red Line train leaving Farragut North station in February 2010 was derailed by safety devices after the operator failed to stop at a red signal. Three passengers suffered minor injuries but hundreds were trapped underground for more than an hour. Metro fired the operator.

By  |  07:02 PM ET, 05/12/2011

Categories:  Metro

 
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