VIA THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:
In January, Metro waited more than a day to notify the oversight group charged with monitoring its safety that a maintenance vehicle carrying 20 workers slid on an icy Red Line track into a stopped truck.
The communications gaffe violated safety protocols, one more concern after months of safety problems forced out Metro’s top leader and safety chief.
Enter a new general manager and a new chief safety officer, pledging safety would be Metro’s No. 1 priority.
But last week, a communication failure occurred under their watch: The agency waited for a full day before it investigated the incident and before it notified the oversight group about a near miss between two trains.
The agency also reported the wrong time and location for hours after it did make the incident public, saying it occurred near the Red Line’s Forest Glen station at 1 p.m. Wednesday when the train operator actually pushed the emergency brake to avoid another train about 9 a.m. near the Wheaton stop.
“They failed,” said Jackie Jeter, president of Metro’s union representing train operators. “It’s a sign. Even though everyone talks about how seriously they are talking about safety, I haven’t seen that. Somebody has to stop talking and start acting.”
It marked the first major safety incident involving riders since Richard Sarles took over as interim general manager on April 2. His new chief safety officer, James Dougherty, started April 19. In response, both men sent strongly worded letters to staff calling for reform.
But the incident had already renewed outrage toward the agency. Transportation department chiefs from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. together fired off an angry letter. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley slammed the agency’s leadership on WTOP on Monday, telling Metro leaders to get out of the way if they can’t do the job.