Metro’s “Unprecendented Summer of Tragedy” Continues

The Washington Post wrote this morning about yet another Metro worker who was injured on the job. A six car train struck a rail worker on the Yellow/Blue line this morning. Here’s how the WaPo sums up the summer so far:

In less than three months: nine people were killed and 80 injured in a June 22 crash; a Metro worker was killed by a gravel-spreading machine; and a subcontractor was electrocuted while working at a bus garage. Last week, a 30-year-old House staff member, Amanda Mahnke, was struck by a Metrobus near Dupont Circle, and she remains hospitalized in critical condition.

And now another worker has been struck. So far, he’s still alive, so that’s good. Metro is falling apart, no joke. And they do not care to take any steps to fix themselves. According to WaPo, in 2006 the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Metro install devices to automatically warn workers of oncoming trains, and to warn drivers of workers ahead. This came after three workers died in two crashes. Did Metro install those devices? Of course not! Metro GM Catoe says he doesn’t want workers to start relying on them, and then not look for trains manually, too. Sounds like a great reason.

NTSB also recommended in 2005 that Metro replace all 1000 series cars, because they presented a danger of telescoping in on themselves if involved in a crash. Did Metro replace the 1000 series cars, or at least start working on replacing them a few at a time? Don’t be silly! Too expensive! And a 1000 series car is the one that telescoped in the June crash, killing nine people. Great job, Metro! I love your “culture of safety”!

The problem is that there is no board that has power over Metro. The NTSB can’t enforce rules. The Tri-State Oversight Committee can’t either – in fact, that committee has no offices, no telephones, and no permanent staff! We need some teeth for our regulatory organizations, or stuff like this will keep happening. Metro will refuse to implement safety reforms because they’re “too expensive,” and no one can force them to do otherwise.


One Response

  1. Lauren,

    You are right on the mark. It is a real joke. When Catoe made that very unwise statement about complacency, that it’s better to just let things go as they are (unsafe) instead of giving them the additional layering of safety technology that was recommended by not only the NTSB but also the key transit committees APTA and IEEE. I was shoked when he made this statement. Its obvious that they are alread complacent and all the training in the world is not helping.

    He says that he will make a decision in two weeks. It will be interesting to see what he actually does.


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