It is inevitable that the June 22nd train crash would focus a good deal more attention on the operations of Metro both past and present. At first it was reports of sleeping and texting operators and then metro train doors that imperiled riders by not closing. More examination by NHTSA revealed the 2005 near-miss in which three trains almost collided.

Somehow, that story was largely glossed over at the time but some fine reporting by our favorite hometown newspaper, the Washington Post brought to public view the extent of the 2005 problem. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/08/AR2009090803061.html

Now, when a metro rail employee is struck by a train or killed by a gravel-spreading machine or a contractor electrocuted at a metro bus garage we start to examine whether there is a pattern.

Metro has an extraordinary record for safety with no deaths since 1982 and should be lauded for this. But, years of insufficient or erratic funding sources coupled with limited federal safety scrutiny are catching up with the system.

The tragedy of the Fort Totten crash this summer could be somewhat ameliorated by a detailed examination of Metro's operations, leading to needed improvements in funding and safety that could pay dividends to all patrons.

Until then, be careful out there.
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