Leaders at the Washington, D.C., Metro will hold a mandatory meeting of supervisors and managers Wednesday to discuss safety procedures and services, which could mean more layoffs.
The meeting will focus on improving the safety culture at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and comes in the wake of several high profile incidents including a near miss, head-on tunnel collision. While the meeting is mandatory, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC4, it is unclear how many employees will be in attendance.
“Please join me for a discussion of Metro’s priorities to improve safety, service, reliability and get our financial house in order,” read the memo from Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. “We look forward to seeing everyone on August 3rd.”
Metro officials are hosting the meeting at the Verizon Center in downtown D.C. Wednesday morning. Wiedefeld met with 650 managers May 10, after a rash of track fires and one track explosion, to discuss the various safety failures in a similar meeting. Wiedefeld cleaned house ten days later, firing 20 station managers. (RELATED: DC Metro Takes Hatchet To Budget, Slashes 500 Jobs)
Wiedefeld has repeatedly made clear he takes safety threats and violations of employee policy seriously and will not hesitate to fire employees to prove the point. The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) took over safety oversight of Metro in October, marking a first for a major U.S. transit system.
Since federal oversight began, FTA officials have conducted more than 200 inspections of the system and continue to observe employees violating rules or failing to follow various safety procedures. FTA inspectors found more than 100 safety issues and violations of worker policy throughout the first two rounds of SafeTrack repairs in June.
“We need to step back in this moment and understand what a fundamental change in safety culture requires of all of us,” Wiedefeld said in a July letter to employees obtain by WAMU. “Safety is not a slogan. We hold the lives of people in our hands. Making a choice to ignore safety rules puts those lives at risk.”
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