Monday, January 11, 2010


"I often talk with the guys about working to ensure a safer working environment."

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that the driver of the train involved in a near miss with track workers had been "disqualified" from the position of train operator. "Disqualified" sounds like legalese, doesn't it?

That's because, as the article states, "the operator may be eligible for another position."

We all know what "may" means.

Now this operator's infraction was not minor. According to the TOC report (PDF) they were:
"operating at full track speed passed the employees working along the ROW (right of way) without appearing to slow down at all or acknowledge the employees’ presence in any other way, in direct violation of Special Order 07-06 (3.87). Though there were no injuries, the employees and review team members were forced to quickly scramble out of the way to avoid being struck by the train in question due to the speed with which it appeared to approach."

Wouldn't it be nice to totally screw up your job, even to the point where it put the lives of coworkers at risk and STILL "be eligible" for another post within your organization, perhaps pulling the same pay and doing less?

More infuriating is that Metro "may" have a potential cancer among its ranks. It's obvious the employee has little regard for the rules, and now that they've been "punished," they're likely to see themselves as victims. Those two qualities don't usually add up to model employee material. We already know that Metro has a hard time getting rid of bad employees.

We're looking forward to perhaps asking this employee for help one day while they're chillaxin' with a group of fellow workers. If only we could imagine the jovial repartee...

In another Metro gaffe, there was a story in the Post about three women who were trapped in a train that had been taken out of service. Apparently, after realizing they were trapped, they tried to use the emergency intercom to hail the operator. The calls, unsurprisingly, went unanswered.

We've been documenting this problem here for some time here, here and here. Metro has said they don't send cars out with non-working intercom, yet they admitted the opposite later.

As reader Michael pointed out, the article said one trapped rider was left with no recourse but to file a complaint over Metro's customer complaint line. Michael's advice to Metro?
"Try meeting them on the platform with a customer complaint form, a $20 farecard and the business card of the head of rail operations."
If only ...

Other items:
Funny Toles cartoon (WaPo)
Metro eyes cutting 150 jobs amid budget emergency (Examiner)
Metro's 'neglect by design' pads payroll (Examiner editorial)


Anonymous said...

If you look closely at the picture (although it gets blurry in this one), you can see that the front of the car says "Blue" while the top of the train (on the marquee" says Red.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. They can't drive the trains and now we see they can't use that thair PhotoShop stuff real good either.

... still working on how things will improve with all of the latest news... can one improve upon Hell?

Anonymous said...

it's called false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

there goes another 3 million in damages.

Anonymous said...

I think The Simpsons' take on unions (in the context of automakers if I remember correctly) is about right: in the beginning, big business exploited laborers and unions were needed to protect the workers. Then the unions got powerful, corrupt, and greedy, and started making unreasonable demands, and the whole enterprise broke down.
Metro's transit union needs to go.

Anonymous said...

And people flip out when I say that wmata union is a criminal organization because they actively try to protect drug addicts, convicts, and various classes of criminals. The wmata union actively seeks to endanger the public and their only goal seems to be to get as many people killed or maimed as possible, their own members or the riding public.

Anonymous said...

The hiring and training of every WMATA operator is entirely at the discretion of the human resources department. They get to pick and choose who makes up the union, and there are clear provisions in their contracts that allows the operators to be fired.
How smart, dumb, literate, illeterate, friendly, thug, fluent in English, etc the new hiree happens to be, is all up to Human Resources.
If you spend two minutes having a conversation with the the good people at this department (more often than not, they do not have a clue what a particular job entails) you will understand why there is so much incompetence. This is not Catoe's fault, as he is having to work with the hand given to him. If he really were to rid the system of all the bad apples in the union and management ranks, the system would come to a halt.
It is also not as if competent people are knocking on Metros door to fill managerial or line positions.
The Union has a feduciary obligation to protect any member that is facing termination if the contract has been violated. Nowhere is there any rule that prevents WMATA from firing people, they just have to follow the contract.

Anonymous said...

they will just move him to bus side of the house rail does not fire anyone not even the Managers they have all be promoted

Anonymous said...

You can't see it in that picture but the actual electronic sign on the train indicates that it is a red line train. Never mind that big sign in the front window that says BLUE or the fact that the train is at National Airport. Way to go Metro!

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