MTA falls in line with WMATA cell/text policy
The Maryland Transit Administration has adopted a zero-tolerance policy under which any operator found to have been using a cell phone or text-messaging device on the job will be fired even if it is a first offense.
The MTA took the action shortly after the Washington Metro system announced a similar change Thursday morning in which it scrapped a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy and said it would fire violators outright.
The decision by Administrator Paul J. Wiedefeld came about an hour after The Sun inquired about the MTA’s policy in light of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration’s announcement. At first, the MTA said it was sticking by its policy that it “can” fire violators. Under the new policy, the MTA says it “will”fire operators who text or use cell phones while at the controls.
“There is no negotiation when it comes to public safety,” she said.
Greene said that because MTA and WMATA serve many of the same customers, it is important to maintain a consistency in the agencies’ safety policies.
Both transit agencies are currently dealing with the aftermath of fatal accidents in which operator performance is a subject of investigation.
Nine people were killed June 22 in the collision of two trains on the Washington Metro’s Red Line. According to WMATA, preliminary results of the investigation indicate the operator of the train that stuck the other was not using her cell phone at the time of the crash. That operator was killed.
On Sunday, two 17-year-old boys were killed when they were struck by an MTA light rail train near Lutherville. That crash is currently under investigation.