Traveling on the Washington area's Metro bus and rail system in 1984 was safer than at any time in the last 11 years, according to figures released yesterday by the transit authority.
Accidents and deaths related to bus and subway travel dipped to an all-time low, continuing a decline in transit mishaps since 1974, the data show.
Claiming that the figures make Washington's public transportation system the safest in the country, Metro officials attributed the continued drop in the overall accident rate to increased attention to mechanical safety features and stepped-up training of employes.
"Safe transportation is our primary focus," said Metro spokeswoman Marilyn Dicus. "There's a new awareness among our employes about how important it is to operate safely. They know that safety has to be their highest priority."
Metro reported a total of 1,241 bus and rail passenger injuries last year, down from 1,363 in 1983. But that included a slight increase in accidents involving only subway passengers. According to the report, the number of riders struck by subway doors more than doubled. Still, the total number of accidents reported remained relatively small: 34, compared with 21 in 1983.
Injuries at subway stations -- such as falls and injuries on escalators -- also rose last year from 221 in 1983 to 244. According to the new figures, there were 2.63 station mishaps for every million passengers. Metrorail reported 92.8 million riders in 1984.
The most recent figures also show that riding the subway is more than twice as safe as taking the bus.
According to Metro officials, 963 bus passengers were injured in 1984, representing an accident rate of 5.54 for every million riders. But in that area, too, the system's safety record is improving. The accident rate is down from 6.5 in 1983 and has steadily declined from an all-time high of 8.3 in 1979.
The most serious accident on the rail system occurred in January 1982 when a rush hour train derailed near the Federal Triangle station, killing three persons and injuring more than 20 others. Blame for the derailment -- the first fatal subway accident here -- was laid to the train operator and a supervisor.
Officials recently announced that they will have safety latches installed in trains that will allow passengers to open subway doors in an emergency.
Earlier this year a 3-year-old Northeast girl was killed when she fell on an escalator at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station and her parka became caught in the machinery. Metro officials said the escalator was not defective and that the accident was unpreventable.