Friday, September 4, 2009

The Safety of Culture

WMATA loves to talk about its "culture of safety," but in the latest safety mishap, a woman jogger was hit by a Metrobus yesterday and was seriously injured.

It's a sad story, but if you aren't already flabbergasted that there has been yet another WMATA "incident," read on.

According to the original Fox story*, "the bus was equipped with security cameras, [but the] recording device for those cameras was missing from the vehicle. A spokeswoman for Metro could not explain why the recording device was missing."

Isn't a camera, by definition, a recording device? That would be hard to explain.

Regardless, the bottom line is we may never know what happened--whether it was the operator's fault or the jogger's--because a potentially key piece of evidence is missing. Later reports indicate a nearby police camera caught the whole incident.

While the slogan "culture of safety" plays well in a sound bite, almost everything Metro does points to an agency that is driven instead by the safety it seems to find in its own self defeating culture. A culture in which few seem accountable. A culture that appears to tolerate employees that berate passengers. A culture in which an operator would think it was OK to pull over a full bus so that he can stop at the KFC. A culture in which the chief spokeswoman loses her cool on the air. A culture that seems to let things slide until there's a major accident. A culture apparently ruled by a union determined to protect a few bad apples at the expense of dedicated workers and, more importantly, riders. A culture that lacks the leadership to take at least some responsibility for Metro's problems instead of playing the funding card for nearly every single shortcoming. A culture in which the Board plays the blame game for a politically unpopular decision to close the airport station this coming weekend. A culture that sends buses out on the roads without working safety cameras and who knows what else. The list goes on and on.

We don't know exactly what Metro is culturing, but as the "incidents" and "situations" pile up, it would appear to be highly contagious. (h/t @hostagehoosier & @ahwahoo2006)

*This language has since been removed from the Web story without explanation by Fox. Here's a screen grab of the Google search result clearly showing the language was there. The information is still in the broadcast version of the story:

Other items:

A good experience with WMATA customer service (nutgraf)
Metro: Open meeting laws don't apply to conference calls (Examiner)
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Anonymous said...

I've got $100 that says the accident was the driver's fault.



Michael said...

The camera would be the device that takes optical input and turns it into a signal. The recording device would be the object that takes that signal and stores it to a medium, like a videotape or hard drive.

So there you go. The camera could have been there happily creating its signal, but without something to listen and write it down, it's useless.

Anonymous said...

Oddly, yesterday afternoon I overheard a Metro bus driver (waiting near a stop for shift change, not on a bus) arguing with someone on behalf of pedestrians. He kept insisting that pedestrians always have the right of way. Always! Crazy.

Anonymous said...

and 1/2 the bus drivers turn off the NextBus GPS tracker - which I cannot believe they even have the option to do. What BS!

This city is a crock of shite. Cannot wait to move out.

Anonymous said...

many bus drivers are a menace to cars, bikes and pedestrians. i wonder if any of them have working cameras at all, bc have would be convicted of reckless driving

Anonymous said...

Amen. Can I get a "Fire John Catoe?"

Dave Stroup said...

There's also a petition online.

178 signatures thus far.

Unknown said...

The union is what needs to be shut down.

If Metro workers had to go by job performance alone, then many would be out on the street.

Drivers should be required to clearly identify themselves by signage or announcing: my name is first and last - no nicknames, this bus route is, if you have a problem with my service please call.

That would make them provide Service instead of product.

Anonymous said...

Want to bet that the driver removed the "recording device" after the fact?

Anonymous said...

this is the best summation of metro's problems i've seen. nice job.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. METRO sucks because it is a jobs program first and public transportation system second. It is the culture of entitlement that creates a culture of indifference. If you love Metro, you'll love ObamaCare.

Anonymous said...

When I come to DC I am always impressed with how helpful everyone is, how easy Metro is to use and how safe I feel. it's terribly sad, the accidents were horrible, but it seems like you are lucky to have Mr. Catoe.

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