Transportation Policy

Good Enough for Government Work: D.C. Metro Chief's Spotty Record Rewarded With New Contract

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Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority fired Metro bus driver Carla A. Proctor this week after Proctor struck a jogger earlier this month. The jogger was just released from intensive care at a local hospital.

It's good to know nearly killing someone was—finally—enough to get Proctor out from behind the wheel of a public bus. Her record to that point:

• Proctor had five off-the-job traffic tickets in January alone, including driving an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle.

• In 2003, Proctor got off a bus she had been driving to check a sticky door without first assuring the bus was parked. The bus rolled down a hill without her, damaging eight vehicles, including the bus. Metro paid out $27,000 in damages.

• Also in 2003, Proctor turned into oncoming traffic, at which point her car was struck by another vehicle. Proctor's car went flying into a fast food restaurant, injuring two women.

• In 2004, Proctor crashed another Metro bus, this time into a parked vehicle, injuring a 72-year-old pasenger.

Given the impressive record of the Metro workers union in helping scofflaws avoid discipline, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Proctor back on the job.

Back in 2007, D.C. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe, Jr. promised new scrutiny for Metro bus drivers after Metro had five pedestrian fatalities from 2003 to 2006, and three more early in 2007 (New York City, by contrast, had just one bus v. pedestrian fatality over that period). The Washington Post wrote at the time:

[Catoe] said he will begin to monitor drivers—knowing when they are stopped for speeding, drunken driving and other violations while on duty—by coordinating with the motor vehicle departments of Maryland, Virginia and the District. Although many transit agencies already do this, Metro supervisors have no way of knowing whether operators have broken the law unless drivers tell them or the violations are caught on police cameras.

Despite the Proctor fiasco, recent stories about Metro bus drivers chatting on cell phones while driving, Metro train operators opening doors on the wrong side (a potentially fatal mistake), and of course the disastrous Red Line crash in June that killed nine people, Metro's board of directors voted 5-1 yesterday to grant Catoe a new three-year contract.