With Metro bus drivers negligently causing crashes and injuring pedestrians, and with the recent revelations that some of Metro's drivers have horrendous driving records, the discovery that Metro has not allowed independent inspectors to inspect the tracks is troubling, to say the least. One investigative report from the Washington Post points out that if Metro has nothing to hide about their safety procedures and protocols, they sure aren't acting like it. Washington Post reporters Joe Stephens and Lena H. Sun obtained records showing that transit officials have "stiff-armed" (their words, not mine) repeated requests by independent monitors to verify that Metro's safety features pass muster. See Duck and Cover at Metro. Why?
Metro's history is not one to brag about, and as the major transporter of the public in our area, Metro's safety procedures will be scrutinized by lawyers and politicians seeking to understand the recent spate of crashes, injuries caused by trains, and deaths to Metro workers. Four subway workers were struck and fatally injured by trains in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, monitors from the Tri-State Oversight Committee (an entity that tries to monitor Metro safety standards) found "a shocking number of violations of Metro's safety rules." Amongst the violations: train operators failing to warn track workers by sounding their horns; dispatchers who didn't warn train operators that track workers were out on the rails. Although Metro was advised of these violations, and safety hazards, the response was not what one would expect: Metro refused to allow independent monitors to walk the tracks to check compliance with safety practices. And then, last June, we have the biggest train crash in Metro history at the Fort Totten subway station.
Fortunately, the bad publicity caused by the recent revelations has led Metro to reconsider: officials of the agency will now allow monitors to inspect the tracks. But since Metro's first responsibility is to ensure the safety of its passengers, it seems that bad publicity should not be the impetus for the implementation, and adherence to reasonable safety procedures.
In a region with one of the the worst traffic congestion problems in the country, public transportation is essential. Safety should be of the most important consideration for Metro officials, not bad publicity.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of negligence resulting from Metro's actions, whether on the subway, trains, or buses, call the Law Offices of Clark & Steinhorn.