Rail systems worse than Metro?

WASHINGTON — Many of us might think that Metro is the worst system in the country, due to the endless service disruptions and safety issues. But you might be surprised to find out that there are subway systems that are worse.

Metro had an “average or above-average” overall record in safety and reliability when compared to eight other large transit systems nationwide. That is based on analysis done by The Washington Post of federal transit data for the past eight years.

The systems that were studied were Metro, and the rail systems in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco.

Metro had the second-worst average rate of deaths for passengers and employees during the past eight years while Los Angles had a highest rate of passenger deaths; Miami had a higher rate of employee deaths, The Washington Post reports.

The majority of Metro-related deaths occurred in two high-profile cases in 2009 and 2015, according to the newspaper’s account.

In June 2009, a  crash on the Red Line killed eight passengers and a train operator, WTOP has reported. On Jan. 12, 2015 train passenger Carol Glover died after a smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.

It was those deaths that brought Metro under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. It also was a major factor in exposing deep seated problems within Metro’s safety culture and which helped lead to a closer federal safety oversight.

In response to the analysis, Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told The Washington Post that he is focused on improving Metro and not on debating whether Metro fits in the middle or not.

He also told the newspaper that Metro’s record on passenger and employee deaths was worrisome.

Metro had one of the lowest rates for passenger injuries from 2008 to 2015 and ranked fifth, for collisions and fires, while older rail systems in Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Chicago had higher rates for fires, derailment and collisions. Also,  Metro had the third-lowest rate of total mechanical failures between 2011 and 2014, according to The Washington Post’s report.

Industry experts warn that comparing subway systems is difficult. Representatives from some of the other subways systems said that different cities use different criteria when deciding what should be reported.

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