Metro keeps on having deadly incidents. Can this be fixed?

We still know very little about the latest deadly Metro incident in Rockville but even the casual observer can see that Metro has enormous problems in keeping both its employees and its patrons safe.

Ever since the June 22nd, 2009 Fort Trotten Metro disaster, public scrutiny of Metro has increased and the picture being painted is very disturbing. It isn't merely the number and frequency of deaths and injuries but also Metro's seeming ambivalence about safety.

We have reported on a seemingly endless array of safety failings from the relatively insignificant to deadly behaviors.

The inevitable question what is wrong and how can it be fixed?

The answers are not  easy but the bottom-line is that creating a new safety culture for Metro is going to be expensive at a time when the members of the Tri-State Oversight Committee (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia) are all in economic hot water.

Perhaps the impending NTSB hearings will yield some practical answers to the failure of Metro's "fail-safe" track mechanisms that can reduce or eliminate the risk of another "Fort Trotten Crash". The presence of federal board members on Metro's board may make the view of the board less parochial.

However, it is the deaths of Metro workers and the near-misses with safety inspectors that will require more  hands- on changes. Safety needs to take precedence over efficiency. Accountability has to exist. You can't nearly hit safety inspectors and merely lose your train operator position.

Metro employees are as a whole excellent employees and people. (Full disclosure I have represented m any members of Local 689 across the last 25 or so years). But clearly either the safety mandates are not being effectively communicated or they are being disregarded.

This must change and in a transparent, publicly visible fashion. Whomever is made Metro's new general manager must but safety first. The jurisdictions which fund and operate Metro must put safety first.

Safety takes money and oversight. Hopefully, the increased federal involvement will increase both.