Metro said Friday its technicians have discovered the problem arises when trains make brief stops at station platforms, departing before the automated arrival message sequence for “doors opening” ends. If the train leaves before the arrival message finishes, then the “step back, doors closing” warning message won’t play, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. Operators have been told to keep doors open until the warning can play.
The safety commission announced Friday on Twitter that it “has requested a formal investigative report of this issue and looks forward to reviewing and providing more information soon.”
“The [safety commission] encourages riders to report any safety issues if encountered,” the agency tweeted. “Reports can be made at the safety concerns portal on WMSC’s website: wmsc.gov.”
The recorded warnings are a federal requirement listed in the Americans With Disabilities Act, which states that “auditory and visual warning signals shall be provided to alert passengers of closing doors.”
Stessel said rail car engineers and technicians conducted a fleetwide inspection of 7000-series cars this week and found no glitches. But when they recreated a combination of conditions, they found that the rail cars’ audible messaging system can play only one informational message at a time.
“While relatively uncommon, this appears to happen when the announcement sequence exceeds the station dwell time,” Stessel said in a statement. Metro is “instructing train operators to wait for the announcements to end before initiating a door-close command.”
The transit authority is revising the warning announcements for 7000 series trains to make them “shorter and clearer,” Stessel said, and it’s working on a software fix to ensure the door-closing announcement always goes off before a train leaves a platform.
A report on that investigation is scheduled to be released soon by the safety commission.
In 2015, Metro’s 4000-series cars had to be pulled from service for door problems. The series had other safety concerns and has since been retired.