Train operator shown in photo no longer works for Metro

Metro said Friday that a train operator who was shown in an online photo using an electronic device while operating a train no longer works for the transit agency.

Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman, said the man stopped working at the transit agency March 27. Stessel would not say whether the man resigned or was fired nor would Stessel explain why the man no longer works at Metro.

On Friday, the train operator’s photo surfaced on the blog Unsuck DC Metro showing the operator using an electronic device while in the cab of a rail car.

Metro has a “zero-tolerance” policy on using an electronic device while operating a train or driving a bus and “calls for termination on the first offense,” according to Stessel.

When contacted by The Washington Post on Friday morning about the blog report, Stessel said the incident depicted in the photo  was “being handled by the highest level” and said the operator would be “removed from service.”

About 40 minutes later, Stessel said in an email that the man in the photo had been identified and that “his employment with [Metro] ended on March 27.”

“We cannot release additional details about the employee’s separation from WMATA for privacy reasons,” Stessel wrote in an email.

In 2012, nine Metro employees were terminated for using electronic devices while driving a bus or operating a train, according to records from the transit agency. Eight of the nine were bus drivers; one was a track laborer.

Metro said it did not immediately have dismissal  totals for prior years.

Riders have often said that they report such violations to Metro, sometimes including photos, but that typically they do not receive a follow-up phone call or email to verify what happened.

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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