- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

Metro General Manager Richard A. White yesterday said the first four of 192 new rail cars will be in service next week to help ease crowding on the D.C. subway system.
Mr. White said Metro engineers and workers are "just working on some fine points" to get the four Series 5000 cars, built by CAF of Madrid, in service on the Green Line extension that opened in January.
Metro aims to put 28 new rail cars in service through the fall, Mr. White and Deputy General Manager Jim Gallagher said yesterday.
"It's going to be a little bit slow," Mr. White said of getting the remaining cars in service.
Metro hopes to release about eight cars a month into service, with the first 20 to go on the Green Line extension, which has 40,000 riders a day — double what Metro officials expected for this year. They expected the extension to have 40,000 daily riders in 2005.
CAF failed to deliver 80 cars to Metro by July 30 under its $220 million contract, thus is being fined $330 a day per car. The cars were to have been used on Metro's Red, Blue, Orange and Yellow lines.
Mechanical and computer glitches have kept the cars off-line. Mr. White said the main issue that has kept the cars out of service is the inability of the door chime and message to activate automatically when doors close.
Mr. Gallagher said CAF is supposed to deliver 110 cars by Sept. 30. The total 192 cars are due by next summer, but Metro officials expressed skepticism the cars will be ready for service.
Metro plans to have all of its four-car trains turned into six-car trains with the addition of the 5000 Series and 6000 Series rail cars, Mr. White said.
Meanwhile, the subway system — while not close to capacity — is in dire need of funding from Virginia, Maryland and the District to meet the demands of increasing ridership, Mr. White said.
"It is clear that the door is closing fast on our ability to continue to absorb additional demand," he said.
At yesterday's Metro Board of Directors meeting, Mr. White announced that the average daily ridership last month was 674,786 — 60,000 more passengers than the previous year. There was also weekday high of 703,281, more than 15 percent higher than last year.
"Every time you peel back the onion, you just see that it gets a little more complicated," Mr. White said of the difficulty in finding revenue for the 25-year-old system.
According to Metro officials, more than $9.8 billion is needed by 2025 just to maintain the current 103-mile system. Another $2.5 billion is needed to buy rail cars and other equipment to meet demand.
The money situation is so tight that Metro originally had planned to buy 94 or more 6000 Series rail cars by early next year; because of a lack of "funding sources," Mr. Gallagher said that number is being pared down to 50, with 18 designated for the Blue Line extension to Largo.
Mr. White said he and Metro are focused on lobbying local and state governments to get the extra funding they will need. Last year, localities in Virginia gave Metro more than $105 million, in Maryland more than $141 million, and the District more than $159 million.
Virginia state Delegate John A. "Jack" Rollison, Prince William Republican and chairman of the House of Delegates Transportation Committee, said the money Metro needs from his state may not be there.
"We're not going to have a lot of money in the future for transportation expansion," he said.
Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, in February pledged $750 million over the next six years for mass transit, with Metro getting $157 million to buy new buses and rail cars.



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