Thursday, June 18

Subway safety in the capital of the world's most powerful city

After the subway smoke incident on January 12, which cost a life, people who use the Metro subway system -- the second busiest in the USA -- began waiting for the federal report on Metro's safety record. The incident had been just one of many that had plagued the system for years. Everyone knew the final report would be bad news. I don't think anyone, and certainly not this Washington resident, thought it would be this bad. 

The topper is that the report shows that Metro's favorite perennial excuse, that they need more funds, holds no water regarding several of the most serious issues plaguing management of the system.   

FTA report: There are significant flaws in Metro’s safety management system
By Lori Aratani 
June 17 at 9:06 PM
The Washington Post

Metro’s central train control center — tasked with ensuring the safety of thousands of passengers moving through the nation’s second-busiest rail system — is chronically understaffed, chaotic and filled with distractions, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

Staff members lack adequate training and have no formal checklists to help guide them in doing their jobs. Employees frequently ignore rules — several were seen using cellphones while working. And in other instances, because of miscommunication trains were directed into areas that should have been off-limits.

“These are serious findings that strongly indicate that, despite gains made since the Fort Totten accident, WMATA’s safety program is inadequate,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Acting FTA Administrator Therese W. McMillan said the report is an “important wake-up call” for WMATA.

“Since Fort Totten, Metro has made important progress,” she said, adding that Metro has a safety foundation in place that it didn’t have before the 2009 Red Line crash. “What they lack is effective execution.”

Metro officials declined to discuss the report, issuing only a prepared statement. A spokeswoman said Wednesday that Jack Requa, the interim general manager, was not available for interviews Wednesday.

The FTA investigation of Metro was just one of several underway (see the WaPo report).  I'm not going to make any more of an editorial comment than I already have. I'm afraid I'll write what I really think.  

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