Board Chairman Jack Evans and General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld put rail riders on notice about possible extended closures at a high-level conference of local leaders.
The discussion also revealed strong resistance to what Evans said was a “dire” need for more than $1 billion a year in additional funding for Metro.
The officials’ comments underlined the depth of Metro’s problems, which are steadily becoming more apparent as Wiedefeld continues to probe the rail system’s defects since taking over as the transit agency’s chief executive in November.
Until now, Metro has typically done repair work at night or during short shutdowns over weekends.
Photos: What Washington looked like during the Metro shutdown
An exception was the unprecedented shutdown of the entire system on a regular workday March 16 for emergency track safety inspections. Wiedefeld ordered that closure in what now seems to have been an initial taste of more bitter medicine to follow.
“The system right now, in order to do the maintenance that needs to be done, cannot be done on three hours a night and on weekends. It just can’t,” said Evans, who also is a D.C. Council member (D-Ward 2).
“So in order to do repairs that are necessary, it may come to the point where we have to close the entire Blue Line for six months. People will go crazy. But there are going to be hard decisions that have to be made in order to get this fixed,” Evans said.
Although he twice singled out the Blue Line as a candidate for closure, Evans said any of Metro’s six lines could be shuttered in full or in part.
He said the Red Line was the least likely to be shut, because much repair work has already been done on it.
“That’s up to Paul [Wiedefeld]. He’s the operations guy. I’m just the board member,” Evans said.