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Union criticizes Metro communication

The union that represents the majority of Metro employees protested what it said was the transit agency's failure to alert front-line workers of an emergency braking incident involving a Red Line train at Wheaton Station on May 5.

The event underscored Metro's lack of a communications system to immediately alert workers of such events, the union said.

"In the minutes, hours and days following that disturbing incident, Metro failed to alert front-line workers," or contact the union, said Jackie L. Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, in a statement.

Metro oversight officials have criticized Metro's response to the incident at Wheaton Station, where an operator stopped a train using an emergency brake mode as his train approached another one at the platform. Metro Chief Safety Officer James Dougherty said in a report Thursday that the train operator "thought the train [ahead] was closer than what it was."

Oversight officials did not learn of the incident for more than 24 hours. Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles also had incorrect information, including an incorrect time and location, more than 27 hours later,

"Keeping emergency situations hush-hush infringes on the right of workers to know when their safety is at risk and essentially blocks workers from union protection" during investigatory interviews, Jeter said.

Metro said Thursday that an internal investigation concluded that "at no time was a hazardous condition present."

However, Dougherty said the transit agency would institute several changes, including more robust notification to oversight officials.

Washington Post staff writer Ann Scott Tyson is pursuing additional details. You may e-mail Ann at

James Dougherty memo to safety staff
Letter from oversight officials to Richard Sarles

By Michael Bolden  |  May 14, 2010; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , Safety  
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Next: Wheaton escalators back in service


Are these people brain dead? It has been reported that there was NO dangerous situation just a panicky operator. Should Metro report all actions by bus or rail operators where an operator mistakenly takes some action? If Metro had the NTSB investigate the operator we would be hearing the union wailing that Metro was making an issue out of a non-issue.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | May 14, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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