The National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) is praising the decision of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to seek competitive contracting opportunities for the maintenance and operations of the Metrorail Silver Line extension.
“The NRC commends Paul Wiedefeld and the WMATA senior leadership for recognizing that competitive contractors can help WMATA provide quality service for customers, while being more cost efficient to the transit agency,” former NRC Chairman and current NRC Transit Committee Co-Chair Larry Laurello remarked after the announcement. “Safety is first and foremost for railroad contractors.”
NRC believes contracting out and introducing competition will dramatically improve outcomes for riders, rail worker safety and WMATA’s ongoing financial situation.
WMATA explained in a statement that under its plan to “Keep Metro Safe, Reliable and Affordable,” the use of competitive contracting is recommended as a way to control operating and maintenance costs – including future pension costs, which have grown to unsustainable levels.
“Contractors thrive in a competitive environment. The opportunity to bid for rail operations and maintenance contracts on a major transit system is a win for our industry,” NRC Board Member Marc Hackett said following WMATA’s statement. “Under this new approach, NRC member companies will have an opportunity to deliver quality services at a fair price, on time, and on budget, all while maintaining the highest safety standards.”
NRC Executive Vice President Matt Bell, who noted that he is a daily Metrorail commuter, says riders and taxpayers alike want reliable and safe service from the nation’s heavy rail transit systems.
“WMATA will be able to save taxpayers millions of dollars by controlling operating and maintenance costs by working with private contractors on the Silver Line Phase II extension,” said Bell.