“The audit calls the number of safety-critical defects “disturbing” and a sign of long-term lack of maintenance”

by Prince Of Petworth April 11, 2016 at 11:00 am 15 Comments

A couple jumps into the rear doors of the Circulator bus as the doors closes... they didn't quite make it.
Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

From WTOP:

Ninety-five percent of DC Circulator buses inspected by an outside firm had at least one safety problem so significant they should have been pulled from service, according to an audit obtained exclusively by WTOP…The audit calls the number of safety-critical defects “disturbing” and a sign of long-term lack of maintenance.”

  • textdoc

    Jeez. And the Circulator isn’t even part of WMATA — it’s part of DDOT. (Though for all I know, DDOT could have a contract with WMATA for maintenance.)

    • jdre

      If I read the full linked article correctly, they do indeed.

      • jdre

        Or they contract to Metro, who then contracts to “First Transit” as the operator (and I assume maintainer).

      • textdoc

        Ahh… I didn’t see the link.
        Sounds like typical WMATA:
        “Overall, the audit finds the D.C. Department of Transportation and Metro have failed to carry out effective oversight of First Transit, the private contractor that operates the Circulator. DDOT owns the buses, and contracts with Metro to oversee First Transit. [. . .]The audit finds that the Metro inspector overseeing the maintenance with quarterly inspections never looked under the buses, where issues such as oil leaks and more were found.”

        • jdre

          Lol. Never looked under the vehicle. So, apparently, the inspector just sort of looked at it from across the lot. Great.

          I wonder if anyone can be sued in this situation. DDOT, as owner, (all “failure to oversee” aside) should surely be able to say “you didn’t maintain the vehicles we own and pay you to maintain, badly enough that you are negligent.”

          But that would be accountability, so that won’t happen.

        • DC_Chica

          wow, thanks for posting that tidbit – I am speechless

  • GBinCH

    That’s terrifying.
    Also, POP, what’s going on in that photo? Were people trapped in the circulator door? The photo makes me grimace.

    • Tim

      Yea that’s not just any stock photo. What the heck happened there?!?!

      • west_egg

        According to the photographer: “A couple jumps into the rear doors of the Circulator bus as the doors closes… they didn’t quite make it.” This photo was apparently also the subject of a caption contest (way, way) back in 2010.

  • Josh

    You know, I just don’t freakin’ get it. Is it me or does the level of incompetence around here just shock the brain? WMATA’s issues are nothing new, the streetcar’s roll-out was a complete joke (and I say that as someone who supports the vision of the entire 37-mile system), and now this?

    • Welcome

      I’ve lived in DC for many years and I mostly like it here. However, you take the good with the bad. The bad is that for whatever reason DC government and basically anything affiliated with it will be the most incompetent entity ever. Why? I have no idea, but it had always been this way as far as I remember. Nothing with DC gov is easy or simple, from getting new trash bins (a several-months-long nightmare), to getting drug houses that owe literally hundreds of thousands in back taxes cleaned up, to the disastrous state of Metro, the Circulator, and now the Streetcar. You want to know why the plan to reward kids for not being criminals will fail? Because odds are 100 that the program will be ruined by incompetence, corruption, or both. Welcome to DC.

      • Autoexec.bat

        Everything associated with DC government and WMATA is a jobs program. That’s it. Patronage is valued over competence all day, every day. Accountability is non-existent. This is the result.

        • Makhnovisti

          That, and privatization! WMATA subcontracts to First Transit, and what do you know…

      • jdre

        You may be on to something that answers your own “why” question.

        The population of DC decreased every year from 1965 to 2005. So we are about 10 or so years into a regained interest in living in the District itself (i.e., not “looking across at DC from Virginia with binoculars”) and probably less time than that since decent investment.

        So every time I say “why are things managed so horribly here?” I’m guilty of really saying “why hasn’t proper care been taken in managing a city I only recently started giving a sh!t about?”

        I’m exaggerating for effect, but basically, maybe problems developed long ago, before hordes of affluent young professionals lived in the city and used its infrastructure, rather than commuted in from suburbs and fled back out after work.

    • jdre

      I’m (hesitantly) hopeful that, since DDOT sought the 3rd party audit, they will use these results to build a case that WMATA/First Transit didn’t fulfill their requirements as contractor/subcontractor. Whether that means they can be sued, or merely dropped from the contract and replaced with a contractor without their head’s up their @sses, I’m hoping this sparks some real change.

      It sounds like DDOT knew there was a problem, and got independent data to support the source of it.


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