Personal Injury Blog

Metro Required to Upgrade Trains to Correct Serious Safety Hazard for People with Disabilities


In January of 2016, safety and disabilities advocates identified the 'between car barriers' as a safety hazard for people with disabilities. In summary, it was too large of a gap, and people were at risk of falling in between the train cars.

In July of 2016, a visually impaired man fell into the gap between the train cars. That October of 2016, WMATA said that the thought the design was safe but that they planned to install additional safety protections by the end of 2017. To date, no physical installations or fixes have been made.

Unfortunately and almost inevitably, on May 25th of this year, a visually impaired woman fell into the space between two train cars. As a result, federal regulators are now stepping in and forcing WMATA to take immediate action to "retrofit the transit system's fleet of 7000-series trains with new safety devices." “This accident highlights the ineffectiveness of the rubber barriers on WMATA’ s 7000-series rail cars in mitigating safety risks for passengers with visual impairments,” Henrika Buchanan, an acting associated administrator of the FTA, said in her letter to the Metro Transit General Manager, Paul J. Wiedefeld.

Thankfully, the regulators are finally forcing Metro to take action before someone is severely injured or even killed. Unfortunately, WMATA/Metro has a longstanding culture of compromising safety for budgetary needs, and requiring very drastic (or even deadly) events to get Metro to make any changes to its safety protocols and procedures for the better. Hopefully, this time around, they will get it right, and no more incidents such as those noted above will ever happen to anyone again.