Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Emergency Call Goes Unanswered

This is the third report of an emergency button not soliciting a response that we've heard about, so we asked Metro about it. They said: "Checking intercoms is part of the daily train inspection. If one is found to be inoperative, the cars are not released until the intercom is fixed."

From Amelia:

I was waiting on an idle train at Greenbelt after coming back from BWI, and there was this crazy (and pretty obviously drug-addicted) woman who lit up a cigarette on the train and was being verbally abusive to everyone around her.

This older lady went to another end of the car and pressed the emergency call button.

Nothing happened.

From what I could see and hear, nobody answered, and no Metro agent ever came to the car, even though we were there for several more minutes.

Nothing too bad happened in the end. The crazy woman continued to shout obscenities and threats, and very nearly got into a physical fight with the older lady later in the trip, but it made me wonder whether the emergency call buttons actually work.

What if someone had been calling about a passenger having a heart attack? What if this crazy woman had whipped out a weapon instead of a cigarette?

From your recent post about the crazy dude on the Red Line, I guess maybe call boxes only connect to the driver and not to Metro authorities.

This is unsettling, although it would explain the lack of response at the time. We were idling at Greenbelt for many minutes, which is also probably when the driver switch was happening.

Other items:
Catoe on bus driver's less-than-stellar record (WTOP)
All-transit solution to 270 traffic? (Examiner)
Tea Party protesters complain about Metro (WSJ Streetblogs)

Photo: nevermindtheend

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Matt' said...

Correct assessment.

The intercom only connects you to the operator of the train. When the train is idling at an end-of-line station, there is not always an operator on board.

In the stated example above, the appropriate thing to do would have been to use the emergency intercoms located on the station platform.

Anonymous said...

Metro needs to make it clear when to use what emergency device. I think most of us assume the emergency button on the train is the one to go with for issues ON THE TRAIN. duh.

Anonymous said...

Well, and anyway, what's a train operator going to do for you other than to call "Central" and get permission to hold the train while Central calls Transit Police. Cut out the middle man!

Reason enough to program the number for Metro Transit Police into your cell phone - "see something, say something" right?


Anonymous said...

Seems like when you tell someone, they either can't or won't help anyhow.
I have also had experiences with crazy people on the train (did anyone see the bleeding crazy man in L'Enfant on Sunday afternoon???), but metro employees usually are unable to be found or say they can't help.
Yes, the emergency buttons need to be better marked, more widely available, closely monitored, and with instructions on when to use.

Ben Schumin said...

Everyone is quite correct about the call buttons on the train going to the operator. I've had to use the intercoms twice, though for more mundane reasons than wackos. I was on car 1064 some time ago, and the doors wouldn't open on our car. Got up, called the operator, and asked permission to send people through the bulkhead door. Another time, I was on 5191, and the operator had not turned the lights on in the train. Quick call to the operator, and the lights were on.

Anonymous said...

Consider yourselves BLESSED! I was assaulted by a drunk, 300+lb man on the Richmond to Fremont Bart Train. The same 40-50yr fatso was screaming, drunk, assaulted other passengers, sexually assaulted a very young woman max 22 yrs old, & I reported him to BART police. 3 witnesses including the 22 yr old, & a guy who stated he was grabbing others, taking pics of the young woman's butt, midriff,& that he grabbed her trying to kiss her BUT HE WAS NOT ARRESTED!!! I told the police to arrest him & NOTHING!!! A young boy 11yrs old stabbed for NO REASON on a SF Muni bus in the afternoon on his way from school! Another 30 yr old guy attacked 2 weeks ago on the SF Muni bus & nothing was done b/c no police response when driver called HQ. Yesterday a catfight over a seat that turned into an assault when the black woman puched the korean woman as shown by you-tube. AT LEAST DC CARES & YOU ARE SAFE! Next time call 911 & I bet you get a response. I did & was told to get Bart police at next stop ha-ha!

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