• Metro Safety Officer Finally Resigns After Repeated Failures

    The head of safety operations at Washington D.C.’s beleaguered public transportation agency stepped down Thursday after several high-profile failures under his watch.

    Following a heavy grilling from members of Metro’s board of directors and questions about Chief Safety Officer James Dougherty’s competence, Dougherty reluctantly handed in his resignation, WAMU reports.

    The move comes after a devastating report was released last week that showed how the agency failed to keep up with track maintenance which ultimately led to a train derailment.

    The derailment was caused by several rail fasteners that failed to keep the train rails in place. The defective rail fasteners were documented by a Metro employee a month before the derailment, but no one in the agency took action to fix them.

    The broken track should have qualified as a “level black” track defect, which would immediately shutdown the track and require maintenance. Instead, the operator who noticed the track problem deleted the data in a report given to maintenance crews.

    Safety protocols at Metro didn’t require anyone to follow-up on the operator’s report and the data was not seen by any supervisors within the agency’s rail maintenance division, according to the report.

    The derailment was the most recent in a string of operational and safety breakdowns with the train system this year, starting with a smoke incident in January that left a woman dead.

    Several times this summer the train system has been forced to shut down during rush hour, leaving passengers travelling to work stranded and in need of a new ride to the office.

    In August, Metro was forced to issue refunds to passengers after a power outage during a busy Friday morning rush hour commute shut down three different train lines and passengers stranded between two stations had to be evacuated from a train.

    The incident happened just a day after the derailment.

    In May, an electrical issue caused a Metro train tunnel to fill with smoke, forcing a service suspension that lasted for hours along the same stretch of rail as the incident Thursday.

    The organization is also still under federal investigation for smoke incident from January.

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