Safety on the Metro

The Washington D.C. Metrorail system in 2015 ran more than 206 million trips and is one of the nation’s largest transportation systems, but district residents said maintenance and personal safety are top safety concerns for them.

Liam Toohey, 35, said he watched a YouTube video of tracks sparking saying they looked like “huge flares that look like fireballs.”

Toohey, who works at the American University library, understands the those problems he’s seen online and heard friends talk about mean Metro needs to be fixed.

“It’s good that they’re putting time into fixing it now before it could be a bigger problem later,” Toohey said.

Currently, the system is undergoing a massive safety overhaul, meaning some lines are closed or are single tracking. Metro does provide a list of service disruptions on its website, but still, these fixes are a hassle for some commuters.

Mindy Corriner, 28, an American University graduate student, works several jobs. Service delays on the Metro are a big inconvenience for her.

“It actually came 15 minutes late which made me late to teach because I was supposed to be there at 8 a.m.,” Corriner said.

In addition to maintenance and construction concerns, some women interviewed said they also fear harassment.

“It’s not really safe for women after 7 p.m.,” said 19-year-old Marifer Zacarias.

Zacarias believes women face more threats including cat-calling, being followed or stopped, and even groping.

“That shouldn’t be,” Zacarias said. “So I believe that they need to enforce more security.”

On its website, regarding safety, it reads, “Metro is working with employees, riders, jurisdictional partners, and the general public to make sure that everyone does their part in creating and sustaining a culture of safety and security in stations, vehicles, support facilities, and access points.”
But for some groups in Washington, D.C. that promise of working towards a safer system, hasn’t gone far enough.

“I think it’s great that there’s an education campaign speaking out about this issue,” said Alex Mazzarisi, 22, and American University graduate who rides the Metro frequently. “This type of thing often goes unpunished and we need to attack the root of the problem with education.”