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Curious what's happening on the Hill today regarding WMATA? Follow along with real-time updates from some of D.C.'s fellow transportation reporters and onlookers, as we receive more reports and info on how the proceedings are shaking out. As a major transportation system and visible across the nation, WMATA has the challenge of creating a strong security presence and backing while operating on a budget that, according to representatives from Metro today on the Hill, doesn't come close to providing the type of intense Metro Transit Police presence that people might need. Will the issue of the alleged increased militancy of the Metro Transit Police also come up? I wonder. It was a big concern at Monday's meeting of Amalgamated Local 689.
The hearing has just ended, so here, as we receive more news, are some reactions from those who were there:
#WMATA checks on employees' driving and criminal records every 2-3 wks, Police Chief Taborn says. Contractors once per year.
How much do you suppose it costs to background check #WMATA employees every 2-3 weeks? Not that it isn't needed...
The updates continued to pour in and emphasized the struggle of WMATA's budget, the limit to 450 transit officers, and how to keep the system secure in spite of all that.
Holmes Norton says need subway safety bill as no federal safety rules for #WMATA. Bill has been reintroduced, after floundering last year.
#wmata - taborn says 22 to 25 attacks on bus driver. Mom with stroller punched driver in one case. Calls it most difficult job.
#wmata - if transit security programs aren't funded, transit police chief taborn says better security falls to wayside.
#wmata -- gm sarles says other agencies have easier grant process and 2/3 of dollars spent in grants.
Just FYI, metro police department has about 450 officers, but Lanier points out it has to police a population the size of DC every day
Sarles threatens w/o $150M fed money #WMATA would slide back: "We'd operate safely. That doesn't mean we'd operate reliably."
Updates to continue coming in throughout the day as we receive more information on today's hearing.