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DC Metro Plans To Stop Tunnel Smoke Incidents By… Cleaning The Tunnels

After numerous smoke incidents caused massive delays and frustrating commutes for many District of Columbia residents, Metro officials decided they should start cleaning the tunnels again.

Rob Troup, deputy general manager of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, told a group of board members Thursday he hopes cleaning dust and grime from the system’s 100 miles of tunnels will help stop electrical issues and smoke incidents like the numerous ones that have happened this year, The Washington Post reported.

Troup said that Metro stopped washing the walls of the tunnels in the early 1990s, but crews will start powerwashing the rail system soon.

Monday morning three lines on the Metro were shut down for several hours after smoke was found in a tunnel coming from Virginia. The shutdown caused hours-long delays during morning rush hour, which is the busiest time for the train system.

The long disruption in service forced many people commuting to the city to get off at other stations and walk or find other transportation to work.

Some riders reported Uber surge pricing that rose to nearly five times the regular price. One person had to pay over $34 for a three-mile ride.

Troup told the board members the smoke incident Monday was caused by eight insulators, which are meant to contain electrical currents to the third rail. He said that while there was no fire, the electricity caused heat and smoke as it leaked into the tunnel.

The insulators, Troup said, are about 25 years old. They were scheduled to be cleaned next month.

A woman died of respiratory failure in a similar smoke incident in January after a third rail started arcing and filled one of the tunnels with smoke. Many more riders had to be hospitalized due to smoke inhalation.

An NTSB report released later that month found that power continued to be supplied to the arcing third rail for 30 minutes after smoke had been reported.

Metro Performance Officer Andrea Burnside told board members that performance at WMATA is “the lowest in recent memory,” according to WTOP.

Burnside said the system is aging, reports of crime within Metro stations are up and customer satisfaction is down.

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