Jul 09 2009

Latest Metro Fail: Sleeping on the Job

Published by at 7:38 pm under Breaking News

YouTube video apparently shows operator napping

By JIM IOVINO

Updated 8:48 PM EDT, Thu, Jul 9, 2009
Related Topics:Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority | Adrian Fenty

A Metro train operator recently received a one-week suspension for texting while operating a train, but starting Monday future incidents will result in automatic termination.

Metro Takes Tougher Stance on Texting on the Job
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As Metro adopts a no tolerance policy for bus and train operators using cell phones and PDAs on the job, pictures of a sleeping Metro operator surface…

Metro announced the new policy Thursday after at least one incident caught on camera by Metro riders and incidents involving operators on other transit systems across the country.

Meanwhile, in the latest Metro fail, a 14-year-old boy took video of an operator apparently nodding off while a train is speeding down Green Line tracks between College Park and Greenbelt.

The videographer, Gregory Thomas, told Fox5 that the incident happened June 18 and he sent the video to Metro June 23, the day after the deadliest crash in Metro history.

“At first he’s dozing off then, he’s not in a full sleep,” Thomas told Fox. “I see him start to doze off and his head going limp.”

Fox said Metro is reviewing the video and that it wasn’t clear what the operator was doing.

The video follows another YouTube clip of a Metro operator who was videotaped while texting on the job. That operator was suspended from his job for a week without pay.

But starting July 13, Metro’s three-strikes-and-your-out policy will be replaced by a zero-tolerance policy for any Metrobus and Metrorail operators caught using a cell phone, texting or using a PDA while operating a vehicle.

Metro said the current policy was that a first offense resulted in a five-day suspension without pay; the second a 10-day suspension without pay and the third offense resulted in termination. The new policy will be immediate termination. However, it will allow train and bus operators to use personal cell phones during a Metro-defined emergency situation.

Many, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, said the suspension of the train operator for texting on the job may not have been enough.

“I think you could make a strong case to fire the person,” Fenty said on his weekly Connecting with the Mayor segment on NBC4. “I can’t imagine there weren’t rules and regulations to govern that internally in WMATA.”

Of course, Fenty has his own Metro problems. The Examiner reported that the District does not have the $50 million it pledged for Metro in joint effort to provide the transit agency with dedicated funding. Where did the money go?

Mayor Adrian Fenty removed the budget item approved in November, according to a council report. Council sources said it was redirected to pay for other items.

A Fenty rep told the Examiner that the mayor is committed to providing its share of the funding, but gave no details on how it would pay it. The District already has an estimated $340 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

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