Last night I got off the metro at the Shady Grove station at around 8:00 pm. We had been single-tracking for a couple of stations so I knew there was track-work going on. Still I was surprised to see a maintenance rig rolling down the tracks opposite me as I stepped off the train. I’ve seen those rigs before, but it is an unusual enough a sight that it stuck with me, and reminded me then of what I wrote last week in regards to a proposed fare hike, which I support based on Metro’s ability to meet a few conditions, first of which was:
Stop killing people. Seriously. Riders have been dying. Pedestrians have been dying. Your employees have been dying. You practically took down a team of safety inspectors. I see the guys walking around with the orange safety vests going to do track work and I feel like I have blood on my hands. I understand that accidents happen, but come on. You nearly killed SAFETY INSPECTORS INSPECTING YOUR PROCLIVITY FOR UNSAFE PRACTICES. Surely you can do better than that.
I’ve been back blogging for two weeks. Way too early to be quoting myself. But goddamit if Metro didn’t kill another two track workers last night in an accident that shut down the Shady Grove and Rockville Metro stations, snarled my morning commute, and added to the inexcusable body count attributable to WMATA.
And in all likelihood the poor guys who died were probably on that maintenance rig that I saw pulling out of the Shady Grove Station. While I was on my way home to my family, they were literally on-track to their own oblivion. How low have our expectations of WMATA sunk that there isn’t more outrage? The new federally-appointed member of the Metro Board summarized his goals for the system the other day in stark, macabre terms, “The federal government would like its employees to arrive at work on time, fundamentally alive.” If only WMATA could achieve the same lofty goal for its employees.
We’re not digging the Panama Canal here. We’re trying to maintain the second-busiest transit system in the country — no small challenge, but certainly this rate of fatalities is inexcusable.
And once again, I am having a hard time looking these Metro workers in the eye. I shouldn’t feel like when they go down to the tracks on my behalf, that I am sending them out over the trenches at the Battle of Verdun. All Metro riders have a moral obligation to demand better of a system that is operated for our benefit.