Many students have longer commutes because of the monthlong Metro SubwayLink shutdown. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

Reading and hearing about the Metro's emergency closure, "Metro ran a year on rails found unsafe" (Feb. 20), raises many troubling questions to which Mayor Catherine Pugh, Gov. Larry Hogan, riders and, most importantly, Maryland taxpayers should demand answers. For example:

  1. How did MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn determine that operating the system for over a year while 17-plus turns were out of compliance (with the MTA's own geometric standards) was taking acceptable risk? Was this his sole determination or were there outside engineers who could provide objective anecdotal evidence on the matter?
  2. Why wasn't Program Maintenance (PM) employed starting in late 2016 or early 2017 to address the known non-compliance turns? Surely, such work could have been performed during the night while passenger service could easily be suspended.
  3. Why did this issue have to culminate in an emergency shut-down? Did a budgetary issue take precedence over an operational problem?
  4. What specific remedial actions has the Metro instituted to prevent the excess wear in the future? What best practices can the Metro initiate using the examples of premier subway systems domestically and internationally?
  5. How much will the emergency repairs and bus-related expenses total and what would be the costs relative to the PM costs had the PM been performed throughout 2017? As taxpayers will be footing the bills, they deserve answers.
  6. What are outside rail engineering firms saying about other operating problems at the Metro and/or at the Light Rail? Are other "emergencies" looming? Clearly, given how this maintenance was handled, full disclosure to the taxpayers is warranted.
  7. Why haven't Mayor Pugh and Governor Hogan called for Mr. Quinn's resignation?

When the MTA views the safety of commuters in such a trivial manner, Marylanders have the right to be skeptical, to question the agency's leadership and indeed also to demand changes at the top.


Christopher A. Pistell, Ruxton

The writer is principal of Ruxton Rail Group which advises in rail and transportation investment.