Investigative Group

EXCLUSIVE: Metro Employees Shouted At Old Ladies, Mocked Kids, Endangered Pedestrians

Steve Birr/DCNF

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor

Washington, D.C. Metro bus drivers ran red lights and made illegal turns that endangered pedestrians, while other Metro employees shouted at seniors, delayed trips or were generally rude to customers, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s (TheDCNF) Investigative Group has learned.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) received more than 300 complaints about rude and dangerous employees just in November 2016, according to TheDCNF review of more than 2,300 comments submitted to Metro.

The complaints could be about single or multiple employees, or Metro’s workforce more generally. Commenters frequently noted that they only submitted their complaints after especially unpleasant or repeated bad experiences.

“I witnessed an out-of-service bus … blow through a red light,” one commenter wrote, emphasizing that the signal was not yellow. “I have seen this way too many times, so at least I knew not to enter the cross walk [sic] when I saw the bus coming. But someday, someone is going to be run over.”

Metro’s response to such employees – when they’re found to be at fault – “can range from a warning, to suspensions of varying lengths based on the circumstances, and ultimately termination,” WMATA spokesman Richard Jordan told TheDCNF. “Metro’s goal is to respond to the customer with an outcome within five days.”

Jordan added that “Metro has 12,000 employees… most of whom do an excellent job assisting customers in ways big and small every day,” noting that WMATA corrects employees who don’t meet that standard.

“For some perspective, these are 305 complaints out of roughly 23 million trips during a period when SafeTrack was in full swing, placing additional pressure on customer service delivery,” Jordan said, referring to Metro’s recent massive maintenance overhaul.

Many of the complaints, TheDCNF’s review found, were submitted only after commenters grew frustrated with pattern behavior or had an especially awful encounter.

WMATA receives approximately $1 billion in annual federal and local funding and will soon implement a fare increase with decreased service.

Below are some of the especially heinous complaints from frustrated commenters.

— A bus driver was “screaming at a poor elderly lady about 90 years old with hands full of grocery bags,” a commenter wrote. “[S]he obviously had visual problems and arthritis.”

The driver “screamed” “get off my bus,” the commenter continued.

— A 65-year-old woman had a similar experience where a driver repeatedly “screamed” “GET OFF MY BUS,” the woman wrote.

The driver “does not belong driving a bus and dealing with public … I don’t feel safe getting on your bus with someone like this driving it,” the commenter wrote. “I am worried that she might attach [sic] me and hurt me next time.”

— A Farragut North Metro station attendant “was very rude and unhelpful when several metro customers were trying to find out if the last train had left,” one commenter wrote.

The attendant “was very angry … saying ‘I can only see what you see, look at the sign’ (which said nothing at the time) and then ‘Fu**’,” the commenter continued.

— A Metro Access van was idling and blocked one commenter from exiting his vehicle. He honked his horn after waiting several minutes, and another person nearby told the driver that there was someone trying to get out.

The commenter cracked the door, trying to signal that he was trying to leave.

“The driver then became very nasty and yelled … to close my ‘muthafucking door'” so that he could move the van, the commenter wrote. “Mind you my door was cracked, slightly and my window was down.”

The Metro Access driver moved his car, and the commenter exited his vehicle.
“[T]he driver was in a full tirade of yelling expletives and waving his hands aggressively from behind the wheel,” the commenter wrote. “He said ‘bitch, I didn’t know you were coming out and all I asked you to do was close your muthafucking door.'”

“The driver then proceeds to put his car in drive as if he’s going to hit me with his van,” he continued, noting there was a passenger in the Metro vehicle. The driver continued “to shout at me ‘don’t come to my muthafucking window. I moved bitch, don’t bring your ass over here,'” and he continued “to curse and call me names.”

— A Metro bus was in a straight lane on 15th Street, while a commenter was in the left lane to turn onto Constitution Avenue. The bus turned left and cut off traffic, according to the commenter, who noted that it was his third time complaining about this behavior.

“I am begining [sic] to wonder if it is Metro’s policy for your bus drivers to ingore [sic] the law and drive where ever [sic] they want to,” he continued.

— “My car was sideswiped by a metro bus,” one person wrote. “The bus did not stop … I have filed a hit and run report and accident report with Washington Metro PD.”

— A Van Ness-UDC Metro station manager accused a minor of trying to avoid paying after her student pass didn’t work.

“She explained to him there was an issue with her card, he said some rude and mean things to her calling her stupid, told her if she was stupid now she would be stupid all of her life etc.,” the girl’s mother wrote.

— A train operator was saying the wrong station names, according to a commenter.

“[W]hen a passenger tried to bring this to her attention the Metro driver yelled back at her … something on the lines of ‘Well, you clearly figured out to get off here!’ and very clearly heard her yell ‘JESUS CHRIST!!,’ exasperated,” the commenter continued.

— A Metro bus made an illegal turn and drove through a crosswalk while people were walking, according to one commenter. He “could have been hit or run over had I not been paying attention.”

Interns Jennifer Duplessie, Kent Strobl and Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.

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