Thursday, November 22, 2001

Metro’s chief engineer has resigned after weathering criticism about system failures in new subway rail cars and faulty escalator repairs during his 18-month tenure.
Charles L. Stanford’s resignation last week has temporarily left the transit system without an overseer of operations, but it is not expected to affect the system’s safety. The position had been vacant several months before Mr. Stanford was tapped to fill it early last year.
“He was under pressure to leave,” one Metro employee said of Mr. Stanford’s departure. “They [Metro officials] said he was not in tuned to what they were doing.”
“He got fed up. He had enough,” said another Metro engineering employee.
Metro spokeswoman Ray Feldmann yesterday said Mr. Stanford resigned to return to work for a consulting firm, adding that he was not aware of any problems.
“He left here on good terms after informing his supervisors a few weeks ago that he was leaving to accept this new opportunity with the consulting firm,” Mr. Feldmann said in a prepared statement.
No one has been named to replace Mr. Stanford, whose last day at Metro was Nov. 12.
He began working for Metro April 5, 2000, after the Metro board and the Federal Transit Administration began looking into the transit system’s hiring of high-priced consultants to fill routine jobs. Among the positions questioned was that of chief engineer, which Metro paid a consulting firm more than $300,000 a year to fill.
The Washington Times first reported about Metro’s hiring of the consultants last year.
As the head of the engineering division, Mr. Stanford was one of the main officials in charge of Metro’s new 5000 Series subway cars, which are about a year behind in being delivered and put into service.
Metro had to order the cars’ manufacturer, CAF of Madrid, to stop construction after the company failed to make needed modifications. Metro workers said the cars still have braking problems and the doors open while the trains are moving.
Prototypes of the cars are being used sparingly on Metro’s Green Line.
Metro bought 192 cars from CAF at a cost of $220 million. They are being assembled at the AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md.
Mr. Stanford also monitored repairs of Metro’s escalators, which have failed repeatedly even though the transit agency has hired contractors for the repair work. Metro hired the contractors after The Times reported in 1997 that maintenance records were being falsified and repairs were not being done.
Metro workers said Mr. Stanford was under constant pressure to find fixes for the two major components of the subway system, but he was continually frustrated by a lack of resources.
“They don’t have anyone there to replace him,” said a Metro engineering employee. “He was out of place. He did not fit in. He was a professional engineer and they aren’t.”

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