DC Metro Operator Leaves Train At Platform, Claims His Shift Is Over

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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An operator with the D.C. Metro declared his shift was over and left the train sitting at a station platform, blocking service for more than 10 minutes.

Officials with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) confirmed that an operator pulled a train into the Fort Totten station and then left the train sitting at the platform. The train was out of service and not carrying passengers at the time but riders were waiting on the platform for trains behind it. Witnesses say Metro employees were speaking to each other about service schedules when the operator announced his shift was over and walked off down the platform, reports NBC Washington.

Riders reported waiting for more than 10 minutes for officials to move the train so service could resume. (RELATED: Lunch Break Dispute Leads To DC Metro Near-Collision)

“The train operator who was to operate the train from Fort Totten to Greenbelt refused to do so, claiming he was off duty,” Dan Stessel, chief spokesman for Metro, told NBC4. “So, his supervisor, who was on the platform, ultimately operated the train. Appropriate action will be taken with regard to the operator.”

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld expressed frustration over the incident and said his workers need to do more to actively reform the culture at WMATA.

“I expect all of our employees to use basic common sense,” Wiedefeld told NBC4. “I’m asking all of our employees to step up and think about the customers first.”

D.C. Metro officials come under regular fire from federal inspectors for having a relaxed safety culture where workers routinely ignore operating procedures. Numerous reports from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) skewer the agency for failing to rectify these safety issues.

A dispute over a train operator’s lunch break led to a “near miss” head-on collision in the D.C. Metro tunnels in July. A train blew through a red stop signal during morning rush-hour, almost causing a collision in a nearby tunnel. The operator got into a dispute with his superiors about a lunch break, apparently wanting to take it at a station where he could get better food.

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