Union Demands Safety on Metro Buses

Tracy Smith (at podium), a shop steward and executive board member with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, discusses lack of safety on Metro buses during a May 18 press conference outside the Shepherd Parkway Metrobus Division in southwest D.C. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Tracy Smith (at podium), a shop steward and executive board member with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, discusses lack of safety on Metro buses during a May 18 press conference outside the Shepherd Parkway Metrobus Division in southwest D.C. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Metro’s largest union claimed Thursday the transit agency isn’t allowing bus operators to complete daily pre-trip inspections before vehicles leave the lots.

The complaint stems partly from lack of radio communication on some buses to confirm all inspections are complete with a person at the bus operations control center.

According to a Metro pre-trip condition card, some of the items checked by a bus operator are wheelchair lifts, fare boxes and fire extinguishers.

“Upper management’s insistence that operators begin their trips regardless of whether they had ensured the complete safety of the bus spoke volumes about their apathy towards the safety of the riders and their employees,” Tracie Smith, a shop steward and executive board member with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said outside the Shepherd Parkway Bus Division in southwest D.C. “[Metro] has moved towards the attitude that service trumps safety.”

A copy of a pre-trip inspection card that bus operators must fill out daily before taking a bus off a lot is seen here. The agency's union says drivers are being forced to take defective buses off the lot. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
A copy of a pre-trip inspection card that Metro bus operators must fill out daily before taking a bus off a lot is seen here. The transit agency’s union says drivers are being forced to take defective buses off the lot. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Quincy Jones, an assistant business agent and board member with Local 689, said Metro officials called for the agency’s transit police to remove him from property in Fairfax County and in D.C. on Thursday. The given reason, he said, was that he impeded bus drivers from getting buses on the road for service.

Jones said he ensured the bus operators conducted pre-inspections before they left. He plans on preparing a report and presenting it at the next board of directors meeting on May 25.

Union officials also expressed frustration that Metro officials will not attend the union’s quarterly meeting on June 5, according to an email Wednesday from Metro to the union.

Jones said the relationship between the union and Metro has worsened since the union’s contract expired in June.

“This relationship has started to sour and sour and sour ever since then,” he said. “[Metro officials] are giving us such pushback.”

A representative from Metro did not respond to an email request for comment.

Meanwhile, the agency announced details of the 16th and final phase of its SafeTrack maintenance project, which will shut down portions of the Red Line in Montgomery County.
Work on a five-mile segment of the Red Line between Shady Grove and Twinbrook will start June 17. The Shady Grove and Rockville stations will be closed and free shuttle buses between those locations will be provided.

On June 25, the last day of the SafeTrack project, new Metrorail service hours will go into effect: 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday; 5 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday; and 7 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday.

About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 229 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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