Another Fatal Bus Accident

Last night in Southeast DC, a woman in her 20s was fatally struck by a W2 bus, bringing the number of fatal bus accidents involving WMATA to three in 2007, and to four within 8 months. The accident earlier in the week that claimed the lives of two Alexandria women prompted WMATA’s new general manager John Catoe to promise safety training for all drivers on a yearly basis.

Alright, who thinks they’ll take it seriously? I hated at work lectures about safety and disaster awareness, they were a chore and never worth the time involved. How about hiring drivers who will pay some attention on the roads and not use the area’s citizenry as a grand game of target practice? So, how DO we fix something like this? Is there a non-bureaucratic solution that will step up safety amongst the drivers? The last thing we need is a heavy-handed council reaction trying to quell the frantic response of the citizenry. How can WMATA fix its problems?

4 Comments so far

  1. Brock (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

    I’d be interested to see statistics for ALL fatal accidents in the city during the same time period. Car accidents kill thousands of people every year: statistically speaking, some number of those will be due to buses. I’m not saying it can’t be changed, but maybe the bus drivers aren’t the ones to blame. Injury and death and inherent risks in a society dependent on automobiles.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

    Brock, these aren’t people being killed in their cars, these are pedestrians being struck and killed by WMATA’s buses. In the case of the accident earlier this week, it was grave enough to inspire two counts of negligent homicide, so I think we’ve got a fairly serious problem on our hands…

  3. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

    I’m with you, Tom. There’s something in the system that is broken. Getting the two-hour safety lecture every year will not make the drivers safer.

    From what I have seen of public transportation employees around the world, drivers and non-drivers, none of them likes their job. They have minimal contact with other people, feel little need to provide good customer service and act as if they are beaten down, waiting for the clock to say it’s time to go home.

    This isn’t because they hire stupid or lazy people or because they don’t have enough money to hire good people. It’s often because the companies breed a culture that produces these results.

    That’s a systemic problem and has been shown to result in less healthy employees, as well as ones who do the least amount of work and don’t pay attention as well as they should. They are bored, understimulated and caught in a routine-based mindset.

    Change has to start at the top on this one, not simply requiring an in-service training on safety. They already know not to run people over and that talking on the phone while driving the bus (and who among us has not seen that?) is dangerous.

    I have some great ideas on how to fix the system in case they want to hire me for my consulting services.

  4. sa-ra (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 9:35 pm

    there are nice drivers too. in fact, it looks like i was too fortunate so far. only once i had an unfriendly driver experience, but aho does not have a bad day. otherwise all of them say hi, and ‘have a nice day’ or ‘evening’, something that never happens in FSU. and they drive carefully, and won’t talk while driving let alone a cell phone. if i am a driver myself, they are double careful about right of way when we are at the 4-stop intersection at the same time. you have to gesture so that they go first.
    i have lots of respect for dc drivers. they are black and they do not discriminate.

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