Public transportation

D.C. Metro Spent $500,000 Maintaining a Self-Cleaning Toilet That Hasn't Flushed Since 2017

A new report from Metro's Office of the Inspector General details the agency's waste when dealing with riders' waste.

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority—Metro for short—can barely run its train system. You'd think keeping its toilets operational would be an easier task.

You'd be wrong, according to a new semi-annual report from Metro's Office of Inspector General, which found that between 2003 and 2017, Metro spent $416,789.32 maintaining a toilet that hasn't flushed since 2017. The report notes that the $416,789 figure is likely an underestimate, as Metro staff were unable to provide investigators with maintenance invoices for 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

"Based on spending from the previous years, it is probable that [Metro] spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out of service since the fall of 2017," reads the report.

This was not the only instance of waste listed in the report. Metro also spent $35,755 on two special silt-filtering pumps for use in its drainage pumping stations. The hope was that these new pumps would reduce the need to hire outside contractors to remove silt from the stations. However, after one of the pumps failed an initial test, a supervisor "had the pumps stored at two different underground locations." The reports says that Metro "personnel did not consult the manufacturer to troubleshoot or repair them. Both pumps have remained in storage for the past four years—one still in its original packaging."

The report also says that, during the solicitation process for a $44 million contract, a Metro employee was using a personal Gmail account to provide a vendor seeking that contract with "sensitive and confidential" information. The OIG's investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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  1. Government is just a word for things we do really poorly together.

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  2. In other words, situation normal. Nothing to see here, folks- move along,

  3. Well, at least they are not paying someone $15.00/hr to clean old fashioned toilets.
    Let’s see – $500,000.00 / $15.00 = 33,333 hours, or just over 16 years of wages for a taxpayer.

  4. Maybe they can get the Chinese to bid on it. Think of the spying they could get done. Think of the blackmail!

    1. Leela: So long, overly complicated Japanese toilet.
      Japanese toilet: Please, not to throw away. I give you happy poopy time.
      Fry: Sorry, you know too much.

      1. It’s never a bad time for a Futurama reference.

  5. I know! It’s the Get Smart entrance to the underground lair!

  6. I’d question the $500k as the auditors for OIG are probably just as incompetent as the guys attempting to “fix” the toilet.

  7. Based on spending from the previous years, it is probable that [Metro] spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out of service since the fall of 2017…

    Don’t be so naive. That money actually went to black ops.

    1. It was flushing quite well, thank you.

  8. (Scene at steak restaurant. Two guys finishing dinner, wine bottles almost empty, lobster shells piled on a plate between them)

    “Sure would like that contract maintains the plumbing at Metro Bill” (slides envelope across table)

    “ No problem Bob. I got a blank invoice right here. You just fill in the amount and i’ll get the boys in accounting to take care of it in the morning”

  9. So public transit in D.C. is fucked up. Given the dysfunctional intersectionality of those two things, how could it be otherwise?

  10. A “for profit” system would not put up with this shit, or … more precisely … they’d not put up with this lack of shit. In what alternate universe do these idiots exist?

  11. …but how does Justin Amash feel about this??

  12. At least the toilet isn’t on fire. I also heard they added dining cars and discounts for rides inside DC. They did shut down all rail south of Reagan Airport for 3+ months, but they’re adding USB chargers!

  13. OMG, what the hack!! how can someone spend $500,000 Maintaining a Self-Cleaning Toilet? It’s terrible

    1. I doubt they did. Most of that money went to line someone’s pockets. I don’t doubt that for a minute. There’s incompetence and then there’s corruption. For $500K, you could replace a toilet twice a week, every single week, and probably still have money left over. We’re supposed to believe that through “mismanagement,” that single toilet was badly maintained? I call BS.

  14. I live in the DC area and take the metro frequently. It doesn’t have restrooms for the public. So, exactly who could have used this toilet?

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