Friday, November 12, 2010

So Now What, Mr. Sarles?


From Metro: "WMATA has found that this [issue] is one of improving communications, not discipline."

Metro's top management was caught with their pants down Monday over the escalator cover up. It probably would have remained whitewashed had there not been an incident at L'Enfant.

Here's what Metro itself had to say Wednesday about its escalator/elevator operation:

VTX's findings, combined with Metro's own inspections, affirm that one of the major factors of the state of Metro's escalators and elevators is a result of many years during which there has been a lack of adherence to Metro's own maintenance standards. Metro will continue its focused work until all 588 of the system's escalators and 275 elevators meet the agency's maintenance standards.

The report identifies escalator brake issues among several maintenance issues to be addressed by the agency. Mr. Sarles acknowledged today (Nov. 10) that, while escalator brakes were being addressed as a maintenance issue, greater emphasis should have been placed on brakes as a safety matter and elevated to the Board's attention sooner.

But the question remains who will be held accountable for this abject lack of leadership and utter incompetence, both of which again drew blood from the riding public.

Metro can't seem to permanently fire texting bus drivers and train operators, McGruff-punching employees, sleeping train operators ... the list goes on and on and on, but what about the bigwigs who hold the lives of millions in their hands? They're not protected by a union.

Can Metro fire the management responsible for covering up major escalator problems that led to 18 seconds of terror at L'Enfant?

Will the guy in charge of escalators, David Lacosse, stay on in that role? Will the assistant general manager, David Kubicek, who basically lied to the Board of Directors on Oct. 14, keep his job?

Back in 2008, Lacosse was suspended for a week because one of the people who worked for him made some off-color jokes at a dinner.

Lacosse's response?
“I guess I am the head of the department,” Lacosse told The Examiner. “Ultimately, I’m responsible."
What about now, Metro? Seems like this is considerably more serious. Is he responsible?

We want to know.

The many injured at L'Enfant, as well as the rest of us who now view all escalators as suspect, deserve to know that someone at Metro is held accountable so that years of neglect won't happen again. A frenzied inspection after the fact, a torrent of tweets and the release of a report aren't enough.

There hasn't even been an apology from anyone at Metro!

Metro has many problems, and accountability is, in this blog's opinion, the biggest.

So, here's a chance for you, pro tem GM Sarles, to show that you're not an escalefter blocking progress, that you really meant all those things you said when you took the helm.

What are you going to do?

If you have an opinion about what he should do, email Mr. Sarles and let him know your thoughts: rsarles(at) CC Unsuck (unsuckdcmetro(at)

Other items:
Metro looks to vets to fill jobs (WaPo)
Fed Board member gets vote (WaPo)
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