Metro Union: Please Don’t Watch Us So Closely

Photo courtesy of
‘don’t panic’
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

WTOP had the news this morning that the union of Metrobus and Metrorail employees would really prefer it if you didn’t video them not doing their jobs. While I can understand a bit of their frustration, in that they’ve been in the news lately for napping at the controls of a train, texting while driving a metro train, and reading a book while driving a bus, instead of for their largely accident-free existence, it’s a bit tough to agree with the Union President Jackie Jeter. Jeter said, “Being watched 24/7 is a problem. I don’t think any of us would like that. And I ask (riders) to respect the operators and the jobs that they do.”

So, maybe let them off next time they catch someone asleep at the wheel, or reading while driving the bus. I mean, we’ve all done that, right?



I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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6 thoughts on “Metro Union: Please Don’t Watch Us So Closely

  1. You know what shocks me is this: I was riding in the first car of an Orange Line train earlier this week during the metro center + foggy bottom MASSIVE FAIL and the operator radio was loud enough for me to be able to hear everything that was going on. I had newfound respect for the operators, they had to listen for her to call out their trains, take directions, talk to us over the loudspeakers, “roger that” and drive the trains all at the same time. It was INSANE! There’s NO WAY that dude could have been texting or reading with how much he had to listen to/do/tell us. And maybe that was just because there was MASSIVE METRO FAIL happening, but it seemed like there was always communication between central command and each train. I heard her thank a driver for his service, saying a pleasant have a nice night goodbye to him as he switched operators at the end of a shift, I heard her joke that she needed train 900 off the platform at metro center, “like YESTERDAY”. It just made me WAY more impressed with what it takes to be a) a commander and b) drive a train. With so many moving parts, and accidents happening, it was admirable she was calm, in control, and with good humor. I was also impressed with our driver who had to “make good announcements to your customers” and keep up on what she wanted him to do. At one point we almost offloaded, then she changed her mind. And for him to keep calm, and an even tone on the loudspeaker, IMPRESSIVE. HONESTLY.

    I wish they would pipe THAT over the loudspeakers (not really, cause it’s nonstop talk) but now whenever a train is on delay, I’m headed for the first car so I can hear what is going on.

  2. Since my photo/tattoo was used, I feel my opinion on this topic should have added weight.

    Look at this from the operator point of view: A few idiots are putting them all in the spotlight. Would you feel comfortable at work if random people were video taping you all day? Jeter never said that riders shouldn’t report (or document) unsafe behavior. She just wants operators to be able to do their jobs without feeling like they’re in a fish bowl.

  3. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to the majority of metro operators who are just trying to do their jobs in peace. But, as the tragedy last month demonstrated all too clearly, we are literally entrusting the entire Metro system with our lives on a daily basis. So yes, it’s unpleasant to live in a fishbowl, but that’s kind of how it works. I mean, how else are riders supposed to report/document unsafe behavior? So while working in a fishbowl sucks, so does catching the person who basically has your life in his hands falling asleep in the operator cabin.

  4. Both of the first two comments bring up valid points:

    We’re upset over the tiny minority share of drivers who don’t behave within the regulations of the WMATA code of conduct, and yeah, it kinda sucks that most of the drivers, who are usually quite good, are getting tarred with the same brush.

    But, by the same token, driving a Metrobus or a Metrorail train is a position of public trust. We depend on these people and trust them with our lives. Yeah, working in a fishbowl, where all eyes are on you, pretty much sucks, but this is a place for engagement with the public, to show how awesome the drivers can be.

    I’d love to see WMATA take local media on ride-alongs, just so folks can see what the life of a driver is like during heavy shift.

  5. I was in the THIRD car of Yellow line train during an ENORMOUS SUCCESS. The train pulled up to the PLATFORM, the doors OPENED UP, and the people EXITED the train. Then, the people on the platform GOT ON the train, the doors CLOSED, and the train MOVED FORWARD. It was BORING! I almost slipped into a COMA. It was a BIBLICAL METRO SUCCESS.