Mikulski, a harsh critic of Metro since the 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people, said recent incidents have left her constituents “terrified.”
“When you get on the Metro and you’ve got kids with the stroller, you wonder — if the cars open and you’ve got to jump down and evacuate quickly, what will happen to you?” she said. “If you’re a senior trapped in a car with 100-degree heat and your pacemaker starts to race, you wonder what’s going to happen to you.”
Metro officials said the agency will continue to station extra employees at key spots throughout the system in case there is a recurrence of the glitch that halted service on all five rail lines over the weekend.
Mikulski and other officials had gathered Monday afternoon at Metro’s operations center in Prince George’s County to address recent changes in federal law that will create uniform safety regulations for subway and light-rail systems nationwide.
Metro’s weekend troubles ended up being a focus of the event.
The top Metro official at the event, Deputy General Manager Dave Kubicek,said officials still don’t know what caused train monitoring systems to go dark twice in a 12-hour period. And it was not clear when they would have answers.
He said officials do not think the blackout was caused by a cyberattack. “It’s not a network-type system,’’ he said. “It’s a closed-loop system. That’s why we don’t believe it’s from outside.”
At the same time, officials continued to downplay the role the train monitoring system plays in daily Metro operations.
“It’s a system that’s critical to the operation of trains, but it is not a safety-critical system,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
But some safety experts say Metro’s train monitoring system does play a critical role in its operations.
“These computer systems are basically the brain and the eyes and the ears of the operator,” said Najmedin Meshkati, a University of Southern California systems engineer who studies transportation safety. “If they go blind, you are having someone in control with insufficient information. You can’t have blind and deaf operators.”
Robert Sapitowicz, vice president of marketing and communications for ARINC, the Annapolis-based company behind the system, said he could not talk about the investigation because Metro officials had asked that all calls be referred to them.
Meanwhile, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said they do not plan to open an investigation of the outage. The Tri-State Oversight Committee, which monitors the rail system, expects to receive a preliminary report on the incident this week.