Metro brake problems known for six years, board member says

A Metro official says that financial problems caused brake repairs to be pushed off.

A Metro board member who also serves as a the head of WMATA's safety committee told the Washington Post Thursday that the agency knew about brake problems for years but didn't do anything about them.

The Post's Dana Hedgpeth reports that Metro board member Mort Downey said the transit system knew about ongoing issues with trains for six years and had a plan in place to fix them, but never carried it out.

"(WMATA) “apparently put a fix into a planned overhaul of the wheels and motors but for financial reasons canceled it,” Downey told the Post.

The revelation comes in the wake of two separate incidents in which parts of brake systems, called friction rings, failed on cars in operation.

On Dec. 20, a friction ring failed on a train traveling near L'Enfant Plaza, causing nearly four hours of delays and necessitating the evacuation of nearly 300 people from the system.

About two weeks later, it happened again, this time on an Orange Line train near the Stadium-Armory station.

No one was seriously injured in either incident. In the aftermath of the two brake failures, Metro inspected the brake systems on hundreds of cars, leading to the replacement of almost 300 friction rings.