Remember a year ago when Metro said they were going to ‘crack down’ on the rash of “doors opening” off platform? That new safety and training programs would be implemented to keep such accidents from happening?
It hasn’t worked.
WaPo caught the story on Monday: over the last two months, there have been 17 incidents of train doors opening at stations with cars still in the tunnel. Of those 17, 14 of them were eight-car trains that weren’t properly berthed. During rush hour. Most on the Red Line. The other three were six-car trains…two of which not properly berthed.
The reason for the 14? “Virtually all improper door incidents occur because operators forget they are in an eight-car train” and don’t get docked at the front of the platform.
This is just beyond ludicrous. It’s simple stupidity. (Not to mention the wide-open potential for jokes.) And this is the transit line whose boss was named “Best Transit Manager of the Year.”
Seriously, this is a simple measure that shouldn’t be happening. It’s a safety violation that WMATA assures the public they take as a serious offense; operators are suspended for 12 days without pay for the first incident. The second kicks them off running a train for 18 months, demoting them to operating a bus (explaining the surly attitudes by some drivers, I’m guessing), and the third results in a pink slip.
Metro tries to explain it away with the fact that six- and four-car trains are most often computer-controlled, while the eight-car trains – more common now thanks to increasing ridership – are operated manually. (Which begs the question as to why. Does the system need a computer upgrade? Why wasn’t this anticipated before?) Catchy slogans, increased training and more signage are all attempts by agency to stop the incidents – but the most obvious solution that they for some reason refuse to implement is running ALL trains to the front of the platform, rather than centering it. How hard is this? You operate a train, you run it to the front.
Even I could do that. (Heck, I can at least count to ten. That alone should qualify me.)
Metro says they won’t because they don’t want to “inconvenience riders accustomed to boarding at specific spots.” I call bogus on that one. We’re not stupid around here; we DCites can adjust quite easily, especially if a small change like that keeps us from being ushered into the transit netherworld full of rats and third rails. Even the Metro employee’s union – Amalgamated Transit Local 689 – advocates stopping the trains at the front.
What’s really disturbing about this is that despite Metro’s repeated assurances it wouldn’t be an issue any more, the system is on track to exceed last year’s count of 42 “improper door operations” involving eight-car trains. Through the first five months of this year? They’re already at 22. Um, hello?
At least we now know why Metro can’t balance their budget: “numbers” is clearly a concept beyond their grasp.
So let’s help them out, shall we? In comments, give your suggestions – outrageous to practical – on how Metro operators can remember how many cars they have. Or, if you prefer, how this “doors to nowhere” program can be eliminated from our daily commute. Let’s stop the stupidity – give smartness a chance…