Is WMATA Failing to Train Its Bus drivers?

By Peter DePaolis

A Metrobus ended up on top of a brick wall earlier this month after a bus accident. According to a police report, a vehicle struck the “accordion” part of the bus, which caused the bus driver to panic and jump the curb, hit a tree and land on top of the brick wall. Fortunately, none of the 13 passengers were injured, but the question was raised “Is WMATA failing to Train Its Bus Drivers?”

Just a few weeks prior, another Metrobus accident occurred where a bus hopped a curb after the driver experienced a medical emergency. Several days before that, another bus accident left a bus driver and two passengers injured.

Are Metrobuses Safe When the WMATA Train Bus Drivers?

While these incidents may not have been the bus drivers’ fault nor Metro’s fault, these events are still drawing a lot of attention to Metrobus safety. In addition to the spike in bus accidents, Metrobus drivers have been caught running red lights, ignoring stop signs and speeding. In the past six years, Metrobus operators have received roughly 2,300 traffic tickets, 339 of which were issued last year.

A report released by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) showed Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) failed to properly train its rail system employees, which lead to a number of Metrorail incidents. Now, DC residents are posting pictures online showing bus drivers running red lights, blocking intersections, unsafe conditions on board the buses and instances where drivers skip bus stops entirely.

In response to the growing pile of evidence displaying Metrobus drivers’ misconduct on the road and pressure from the FTA, WMATA began putting its drivers through extra training this month. During the three-day training, drivers reviewed proper operating procedures, severe weather operation, safety reporting, customer service and two tests showing they successfully completed the course. Hopefully, the extra training will help make D.C. buses a little safer.

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About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.