A third of the Metrobus fleet almost was pulled off the streets just before the evening rush hour yesterday, but the aversion of that problem did not keep the Farecards system from behaving strangely at the Farragut West subway station.

Metro general manager Theodore Lutz received a telegram about noon from AM General, the company that built 620 of Metro's buses, then built them again by redoing the air condition and fuel tanks and fixing some structural problems. Riders will remember.

The telegram told Lutz to get the buses off the street until a parking according to Lutz, had developed a brake drum was removed. The drum, history of shattering while the bus was underway and puncturing the passenger compartment with shrapnel-like fragments.

"We checked with other cities that have AMG buses," Lutz said. "We learned that the bad drum had been replaced on most of our buses when they redid the airconditioning." AM General comfirmed that analysis just in time for Metro to operate the evening rush hour without change.

Lutz said no more than 100 of the AM General buses still had the bad drum and they will be fixed by the morning rush hour. "We intend to bill AM General for the overtime," Lutz said.

About 5 p.m., just as the bus situation was calming down, every single electronic Farecard vending machine in the Farragut West station entrance at 18th and 1 Streets NW closed down. Then the gates - which permits those with Farecards to enter the platform area and catch the train - also closed down.

There was a mass confusion and some anger at that busy station in the heart of the rush hour, according to Metro spokesman Cody Pfansthiel. Most of the machines were fixed by 5:30, Pfanstiehl said.