September 08, 2020

Van Hollen, Cardin, Warner, Kaine Express Outrage at Report of Ongoing, Toxic Workplace Culture at Metrorail

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) and U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) issued the following joint response to The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Safety Audit of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This was the first audit of the Rail Operations Control Center by the safety commission since it was established in 2017, two years after the death of Carol Glover in a smoke-filled Yellow Line train. 

“We are appalled and disappointed by the audit released today from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. This latest report of a ‘toxic’ culture in the heart of Metrorail operations is wholly unacceptable and requires an immediate, detailed response from Metro leadership. The lives of riders and staff – Marylanders, Virginians, Washingtonians and individuals from all over the world – are at risk every time a Metrorail train runs. Safety must be paramount in every aspect of their operations. 

“For more than a decade, since the federal government began providing annual funding for WMATA operations, we have worked in tandem to pass legislation and provide federal resources to improve safety and create a safety-based culture of operations at WMATA. The latest safety audit from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, which we helped usher into existence in 2017, draws a picture of a hostile workplace and potentially dangerous, distracting behavior at the Rail Operations Control Center. This is inexcusable. 

“We already have asked the Safety Commission for a detailed briefing on their findings and we will be asking WMATA to provide details on its plan to finally put safety first for Metrorail and the full WMATA system. We will continue to follow this closely until these issues are properly resolved. ‘Safety first’ is not simply a slogan but it must be embedded in the culture and the routines of the agency that runs our nation’s public transit system.”