Commuters and visitors to Washington, DC rely heavily on the Metro for traveling around town. Although DC’s Metrorail system has put a number of safety measures in place during the past year, Metro operators continue to forget they are operating eight-car trains. Platforms are designed for exactly eight cars, so early opening means that at least the last car is still in the tunnel when the doors open. As a result, a hazardous condition is created for passengers in danger of falling onto the tracks. No injuries have occurred this year from these "improper door incidents," but crowded conditions during peak periods create unsafe conditions.
According to Metro officials, "Safety is first and foremost with the transit agency, and we take this very seriously." Improper door operation is considered one of the most serious safety violations, with operators being suspended for 12 days without pay for the first offense, 18 months for the second offense and firing for the third offense. Increased training, to include refresher programs for train operators, as well additional signs on the platforms and inside train consoles, are some measures designed to increase operator awareness of the problem.
Metro riders should also remain vigilant while riding and exiting the train cars.