Since it opened in 1976, millions of people have depended upon the DC Metro every day to get to work, school and local attractions. Consisting of five different lines and over 100 miles of track, Metrorail is second only to the New York City subway in terms of the number of daily passenger trips taken in the United States.
The Metro serves Washington D.C. and its surrounding suburbs, plus Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, and Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the city of Alexandria in Virginia.
With this level of ridership, it is vitally important that the agencies running Metrorail (both governmental and private) ensure the safety of everyone on the trains.
This year, Metrorail is adding its first new line in a decade. Once completed, the Silver Line will be a 23-mile extension that will reach all the way to Dulles International Airport. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) anticipates an average of one million daily riders by 2030.
Naturally, there is some question as to whether the line is an effective way of solving transportation issues.
There have been numerous collisions and derailments over the years. WMATA has taken measures to increase safety on the trains, including strict rules forbidding train operators to use their cell phones while on the job. Metro Assistant General Manager Lynn Bowersox, however, pointed out that “the Silver Line will be maintained just like every other line on the system,” which leads us to wonder if the Metro’s overall safety rules will be reviewed and expanded to include the new areas of service.
The first phase of the Silver Line doesn’t go all the way to the airport, but only as far as the Wiehle-Reston East station. To reach Dulles, riders will need to transfer to a bus and pay a separate fare. Exiting the train station and crossing to a bus depot, of course, brings another set of safety issues for WMATA to consider.
Metrorail tracks, just like any other train tracks, share the roads with millions of pedestrians, bicyclists, cars and trucks. Any place tracks intersect with the general populace can be a danger zone. Just last month, three people were killed when a Washington, D.C. commuter train hit a vehicle while on the way to Boston. The vehicle was dragged for over a mile, and was so badly damaged that authorities could not tell if it was an SUV or a truck.
There are many possible causes for public transportation accidents. Transport agencies must properly train their vehicle and operators to ensure they perform their duties in a safe and responsible manner. Public transportation platforms and waiting areas should not pose threats to passenger safety due to lack of security or hazardous conditions.
If you or a loved one has suffered any injuries stemming from a public transportation accident, please contact the personal injury attorneys in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis, and Lightfoot L.L.P.