Metro report: Employees using tracks as a toilet

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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A Metro safety report compiled in September garnered media attention Tuesday after the blog Unsuck DC Metro reported on a section that described employees using Metro tracks as a toilet.

The report, complied by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Inspector General’s office, describes health and safety risks from employees using pocket rail tracks at the Mount Vernon Square, Southern Avenue, and Grosvenor stations as a “lavatory.”

“This safety and health hazard is the result of inadequate time being allowed at the end of the line for train operators to have bathroom breaks,” says the report. “This practice causes delays in performing maintenance inspections on some ATC equipment.”

Unsuck DC Metro is operated by an anonymous blogger who reports on various concerns about the Metro system. The anonymous blogger was reached by The Daily Caller for comment on the report.

Contrary to media reports elsewhere, the blogger clarifies that the report was not “leaked” to Unsuck DC Metro, but that it merely went unnoticed by the press prior to identification of the urination passage.

“If past is prologue, they’re probably still doing it,” says the blogger, “nothing really seems to ever change at Metro.”

Steven Taubenkibel, of the Public Information Office at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, released a statement on the report saying that “improving our safety culture has been one of our top priorities.”

Taubenkibel’s statement notes that urination on the tracks is not the only concern facing the Metro system. “About 70 percent of employees are reporting safety concerns, and, among employees with a concern about retaliation, most did not fear demotion or dismal but instead worried about reprisal by coworkers.”

According to Taubenkibel, one of the steps that Metro has taken to improve safety following the report is to initiate talks with an employee union to “establish a non-punitive program to report near misses.” Mr Taubenkibel did not respond by the time of print to an inquiry regarding whether employees have ceased to use the tracks as restrooms.

The mission of Unsuck DC Metro, according to its operator, is to “make Metro (the workers, the management, the board and the local pols who fund it and the federal government) accountable.” The blog has been in operation for two years.