March 19, 2015 at 04:09PM

While sitting at L’Enfant station just a few hundred feet where Carol Glover died. #WMATA #noservice #tmobile

National Press Club to Host WMATA Roundtable

March 13, 2015

For More Information
Pat Host: 202-905-4657 or
National Press Club: 202-662-7500


WASHINGTON, March 13, 2015—Major stakeholders of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) will discuss the future of the system in a panel discussion at the National Press Club in downtown Washington on Monday, March 23, from 10-11:30 a.m. EST.

The United States’ second busiest system by daily passengers is at a critical point in its history as it faces growing safety concerns and fares, declining ridership and a budget squeeze. In an on-the-record, moderated Q&A format, stakeholders will discuss operational, budgetary, governance and management issues.

Participants are:

Pat Host, moderator, National Press Club member and reporter for Defense Daily and Rotor & Wing.

Tom Bulger
WMATA Board Member, Alternate Director for the District of Columbia; board member since July 2011.

Jackie Jeter
President of WMATA union Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689.

David Alpert
Editor and Founder of transit news source Greater Greater Washington, available at

Graham Jenkins
WMATA rider, District resident, and mass transit enthusiast blogging at

The event will start promptly at 10 am EST and will take place in the Zenger Room, located adjacent to the Fourth Estate Restaurant. The National Press Club is located at 529 14th St. NW (at F St.), on the 13th floor, and is accessible from Metrorail via McPherson Square (OR/BL/SV) and Metro Center (OR/BL/SV/RD) and multiple bus routes including the 52, 54 and 30s line.

For more information, call the National Press Club at 202-662-7500.

Safety Culture Qualifications

What if I told you there is someone who lists “notify and dispatch emergency personnel and other supporting services to incident locations” as part of their job description at WMATA? You would assume such a person exists, right?

Now, what would you assume the qualifications such a person would possess before being put in charge of insuring emergency services reach paying riders in trouble? A background in public safety? A background in transit operations?

How about just a background in PR?

It’s amazing the things you can find on LinkedIn. I won’t name names here to protect the individual I’m writing about but here’s the broad strokes:

This person’s title is Communications Specialist. This person lists the following as their job description in that position at WMATA:

Develop and implement customer-facing communication and messaging strategies through station announcements, digital communication, social media outlets and the Service Disruption Hotline

Track, monitor and post rail incidents; provide status updates and post impact to service on the Authority’s website

Identify and initiate necessary actions for the Rail Operations Control center; notify and dispatch emergency personnel and other supporting services to incident locations

Monitor emergency telephone console and create documentation for internal notifications during major service disruptions

Maintain operational records and complete and distribute required daily reports; ensure support consistency and prepare and present documentation for all electronic messages

Now, most of this does sound very “PR” but 2 of these things imply this person is responsible for emergency action in the event of an incident.

Here are the prior qualifications (from most recent position to most past position) that qualified this person to be in a position of responsibility when people’s lives are in the balance:

Sales Representative
PR/Marketing Intern
On Air Personality/Producer
Sales/Marketing Associate
Car Rental Manager Trainee

It should also be noted there are, according to LinkedIn, at least 3 other people with this exact same title working at WMATA. In addition to Dan Stessel and Brian Anderson – the more public figures in the public-facing side of WMATA’s PR team, there are these 4 individuals and who knows how many others who all claim to be in a position of responsibility for WMATA’s “social media” communications. Wouldn’t you think with that many hands on deck we’d have coverage during all operating hours? Wouldn’t you think they’d be able to keep the @MetroForward account alive?

Who’s making the calls over there and why are seemingly unqualified people being put in a position of public safety and at the same time not doing the job they’re apparently qualified for on the social media side?


Don’t you DARE ask for help from a WMATA station manager! They’ll have none of your needyness!

Eddie needed a shuttle at Silver Spring because an elevator was out of service. The following is what happened:

WMATA Weekends: A failure to communicate

The communications with riders on weekends during “rebuilding” (“rebuilding” is a fancy word for “stealing money from tax payers and riders under the guise of fixing a rail system that never seems to get fixed”) is terrible.

First of all the PIDS don’t work…

The in-station audio announcements are borked…

Trains are mislabeled…

Then there’s the unmanned @metrorrailinfo account that SUCKS on weekends compared to SEPTA…

Annnnnd then there was this mess…
(Saturday morning)

(Saturday night)

Fantastic! They finished work early! Sunday morning we got a confirmation of this:

THEN… just 4 minutes later…

Trained to Fail?

Are WMATA’s training programs executed in a way that sets employees up to fail? Are employees being allowed to perform their job function with only partial training putting customers lives in jeopardy? One former employee who asked to not be named sent me the following:

I’m a former employee was terminated due to having an accident but during my training was the only one out of my class that was made to sit out because I had a VA CDL learners. I was unable to operate because all VA CDL learners have a passenger restriction, which means that you can not get behind the wheel training with customers on the buses. As a candidate I was number 1 in my class and had a percentage of 100 on every exam but when I left Carmen Turner Training facility and went to Bladensburg Division there was no plan in place to accommodate me for not being able to have behind the wheel training. Instead Wmata had me sit out of training for two weeks until I received my official CDL, allowing me only 2 weeks of behind the wheel training instead of 4 weeks like my classmates. By not having the same experience as my peers I had an accident and was terminated because I was in a 90 day probationary period at the time. No one at Wmata wants to take accountability for failure to train me correctly. They have since changed there policy and will only hire those with an official CDL in order to cover themselves.. These type of situations are are the exact reasons why there are major incidents per the smoke in the tunnel. Lack of training operators correctly, they want the money that comes with the training but they are rushing everyone through to produce numbers.

The writer (who says I can give out their email if anyone wants to contact them) also adds:

“[The] accident was minor and the union didn’t even try to investigate.”

No doubt every case is different and hopefully WMATA has resolved the situation that lead up to the one described here but it does make you wonder.

Wall to Wall Waste

WMATA, let’s have a chat.

You ALWAYS want more money – this much is clear. I don’t think you’ll EVER have all the money you say you “need”. Any time something comes up you run to politicians saying lack of funding is the problem.

I wish I could agree with you. I really do.

WMATA, WASTE is your problem. Not lack of funds.

I can’t get behind raising fares, etc when you’re doing stuff like this:

Update: apparently all this money is being spent on the 1000 series rail cars. These are the oldest rail cars that will be the first to go when the 7000-series cars start taking riders. The waste knows no end.

Update 2: (2/19/15)

WMATA Board Chair Downey was nice enough to provide some clarification tonight on Twitter. First of all – he’s responding to riders on Twitter, so… thank you Mr. Downey. Second, he’s clarified that the 1000 series will only receive recarpeting for “safety reasons”. I can’t argue with safety so I won’t. But still – $4M seems a bit pricey. Maybe it’s transit-grade carpet?

Not Fare

WMATA doesn’t have the ability to change the fares being charged to match the service being offered. This is due to incredibly antiquated technology. But don’t worry, it’s a win/win for them! Not so much for us.

UPDATE: @mikeyusc offers this explanation for what’s going on here:

There has been a uproar tonight about why WMATA is running Saturday service tomorrow, but still charging peak fares.

The uproar is well founded, but at least in this instance, they really don’t have a choice.

The WMATA fare gates are using an antiquated system that cannot be reprogrammed remotely, each gate has to be physically programmed by a technician attaching a cable to it and uploading the fare tables/schedules.

But wait, you say.. they already change times for Weekends, Peak and Non­Peak, and holidays!!

Yes, they do.. but all of these events are known events, and have been included into the program uploaded into the fare gates. For WMATA to make a change to this program, a technician again would have to visit every fare gate in the system, not something that can be done overnight.

Accenture has already been awarded a contract to replace the fare gates with a newer model that can be updated from a central location, as well as take credit cards and smart phones as entry payments:­metro-

Until this new system comes online, we’re at the mercy of 1970’s technology.

What’s Really Happening at Silver Spring?

Why can’t this be fixed?

Brake Problems

This is what a “brake problem” at Rosslyn looks like… and it happens quite often:

ABC7: Could Metro handle an act of terrorism?

Regarding responce to L’Enfant incident:
“This lies right in the lap of Metro and I think Metro knows it. Do they have a game plan? If so they never showed it.” – Eleanor Holmes Norton

“It was absolutely an effective plan. 2 hours to move 200 people out of a Metro tube – smoke filled – up to surface level, get evaluated by medical personnel and then transported. 2 hours? That’s pretty good time.” DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Geldart