WASHINGTON – In the past two and a half years, Metro employees have racked up more than a quarter of a million dollars in traffic fines and late fees — most of them for either speeding or running red lights.
According to data provided by Metro through a public records request, between Jan. 1, 2010 and Aug. 10, 2012 Metro employees were fined $227,161.03 for various traffic violations while driving Metrobuses and service vehicles, plus an additional $65,499 in late fees for fines that were not paid on time.
The highest fines were for speeding violations that resulted in $400 tickets being issued to a Metrobus and a service vehicle in separate incidents. The list of violations include speeding with fines costing between $40 and $400, running a red light with fines ranging between $75 and $350 and parking tickets between $50 and $205 each.
In the 32 months of fines reviewed by WTOP, metro employees were issued 2,406 tickets, half of them of them to Metrobus drivers. The vast majority of those tickets, 2,163, were moving violations, with 1,186 issued to Metrobuses.
Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel put those numbers into context.
“That’s just over one per day.” Stessel wrote in an email to WTOP. “On any given weekday, we put more than 1,200 buses on the street, making more than 14,000 trips. And during the 32 month period, Metrobuses operated 110 million miles. That means that one violation occurred for every 92,000+ miles driven.”
Metro employees are responsible for paying those fines and the late fees, unless Metro was delinquent in forwarding the fine to the drivers. Metro employees are also disciplined as a result of receiving a ticket.
“Discipline is administered on a progressive scale that can range from a reprimand to suspension and ultimately termination,” Metro spokesperson Caroline Lukas tells WTOP in an email.
Many of the speeding fines were in excess of $100, indicating the drivers were going at least 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limits.
Stessel says it’s difficult for his agency to determine the number of drivers terminated as a result of receiving more than one moving violation, but adds most drivers are not repeat offenders.
“It is uncommon to see employees who are cited and disciplined repeat the same behavior,.” Stessel tells WTOP. “This is due to to the fact that, not only are they responsible for paying the fine out of their own pockets, they are also subject to Metro discipline and retraining. When you combine the effects of fines with the risk to one’s livelihood, it tends to get people’s attention.”
The lowest fine was a $5 ticket issued to a service vehicle for an unspecified infraction.
The most unusual fine amount was a parking ticket issued to a service vehicle for $60.53.