Earlier this month, D.C. Metro and passengers had to explain yet another incident to the media. A train on the Red Line ran a red light. While this is certainly not the first time that has happened, it is the first time an incident resulted in a “near miss” collision. According to the general manager, the train operator ran the red light, then put his train on the same track that had an oncoming passenger train. Additionally, two track inspectors almost got struck by the wrong-way train. The train operator who put himself, workers and a train car full of passengers at risk has since been fired. However, it is not clear if the train operator was reckless, distracted or lacked proper training.
A second incident was also reported where a train operator on the Yellow Line blew through a red light not two weeks later. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is investigating the incident, but no injury or near miss collision was reported. Metro officials reported approximately 50 red signal overruns since 2012.
D.C. Metro is On Thin Ice With D.C. Officials and the FTA After “Near Miss” Collision
SafeTrack is Metro’s 10-month plan to repair the transit system. However, inspections show concerning details about how the repairs have been made in these last two Surges of SafeTrack that has caused so many delays throughout the rail system. According to The Washington Post, there were 109 track defects in tunnels that received repairs in the recent months. Not to mention the 34 maintenance issues that still have not been fixed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit authority (WMATA).
We are in the middle of the fifth SafeTrack Surge, which will supposedly replace almost 2,000 deteriorated wooden rail ties and renew 3,100 feet of infrastructure. However, this surge will affect approximately 73,000 commuters from Virginia.
The FTA took control of oversight for Metro’s system this past October after a woman lost her life due to a smoke incident last year. Since then, it has replaced three of Metro’s board members with transportation safety professionals. However, FTA released a statement saying more progress is needed and we’re inclined to agree. Metro’s disregard for safety has caused injury, death and too many close calls.