Are Metro Buses in Washington, DC Safe?

By Peter DePaolis

We live in an area where automated traffic cameras catch each one of the lawbreaking drivers in the DC area. They automatically issue hundreds of thousands of tickets each year to drivers, which in turn gives millions of dollars to the city, despite the protests from local drivers.

However, it has been proven that the drivers exhibiting the most lawbreaking behaviors are none other than our Metrobus drivers, which is just another one of the disturbing negative aspect attributed to the many Metro shortcomings.

Metrobus Drivers are Endangering DC Residents

In the last six years, Metrobus drivers have received nearly 2,300 traffic violation tickets from traffic cameras alone. In 2014, Metrobus drivers only received 57 traffic violations. However, bus drivers received 339 traffic violation tickets last year, which is obviously a huge jump in the number of Metrobus drivers driving recklessly and disobeying traffic laws. More specifically, drivers were issued the most tickets for running red lights, rolling through stop signs and speeding, which is unacceptable given the sheer size of the vehicles and the number of passengers they carry.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the union that represents Metrobus drivers, declined to comment on the issue, but did release a statistic. According to the union, Metrobus drivers logged in approximately 50 million miles of driving, which averages out to one traffic citation per every 150,000 miles last year. Although this is meant to downplay the seriousness of the issues, the numbers are still unacceptable.

According to The Washington Post, Metrobus riders are not in the least surprised by the numbers. Many social media posts from riders can be found online with complaints about drivers who block entire intersections, bus drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians (which might explain the rising number of pedestrian accidents) and bus drivers that close the doors to rush riders to board and exit quicker.

Apparently, running red lights is not just a habit Metrobus drivers have. Running red lights is also a common occurrence on the Metrorail. These types of bad behaviors go right in hand with the long history of a complete lack of transit safety, including the smoke incidents in the Metrorail tunnels, derailments and lack of organization.

Are There Consequences for Endangering Passengers?

According to DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, there is a management issue at Metro. Though transit officials say they tell their drivers to make safety a priority before meeting schedules, it simply does not appear to be the case. When a reckless driver is identified, Metro transit officials say the driver undergoes training and coaching to correct the behavior.

However, these consequences are not severe enough when it comes to endangering passenger lives on a near-daily basis. Traffic citations that are issued to bus drivers are part of driver personnel records, but only if they have committed multiple offenses. Metro refuses to release any information on the number of operators that were actually terminated due to reckless driving. Well, it seems Metro does not want to be transparent (shocker!) because there may be a serious lack of disciplinary processes to operators that drive recklessly. We all know Metro could use improvement in certain areas, but these high numbers of bus drivers with bad behavior are completely unacceptable.

Speak to a D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that fights for victims who have been injured in transportation accidents in the Washington, D.C. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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.