Metro managers have ordered a refresher course for the operator who abandoned her crowded Red Line train during rush hour, choosing not to suspend her or dock her pay.
They also decided on similar treatment for two others who violated procedures during the Monday night incident. The controller at Metro's downtown headquarters who allowed the operator to leave the train and then failed to do anything when it became clear that no one was at the controls was also disciplined, along with the station manager who didn't tell the hundreds of bewildered passengers what was going on.
"They're going to be reinstructed," said Steven Feil, Metro's chief operating officer for rail, after completing a two-day investigation. "We start with positive discipline, no negative discipline."
Metro has declined to identify the three employees or make them available for interviews.
Passengers aboard the train that was abandoned Monday at the Van Ness-UDC Station said the employees deserved a tougher penalty. "It's unbelievable," said Elisabeth Seasonwein, who was riding in the first car of Train 107 and saw the operator open the cab door and walk off the six-car train without a word.
"It seems to be right on par for Metro these days," she said.
Joshua Weiner, another rider on the abandoned train, said he was upset that Metro would spend scarce dollars on retraining when all that was required was common sense. "Lesson No. 1 is 'Don't leave a Metro train unattended,' " said Weiner, a lawyer. "It seems ridiculous to me that taxpayers and Metro riders are going to be funding the retraining for something that seems pretty obvious."
Metro often swaps train operators while trains are running to maintain a schedule or provide operators with breaks. But Metro policy requires the drivers to make a face-to-face exchange with the relief operator.
On Monday, the six-car Red Line train, headed for Shady Grove, pulled into the Van Ness-UDC Station at 7:16 p.m. and sat idling for 12 minutes, according to Metro. Although the train operator told investigators that she closed the door to the cab before leaving the train, passengers reported that the door was open.
The central train controllers gave permission for the operator of Train 107 to leave her train, believing another operator was in the cab, Feil said. The operator of Train 107 was finishing her shift and heading home, he said.
The operator left the train, crossed the platform and caught Train 202, which was headed in the opposite direction, to Glenmont.
After some minutes passed, the station manager appeared on the platform. He contacted Metro headquarters after passengers told him what happened and was told to "keep an eye on the train," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. He stood on the platform but never made an announcement to the hundreds of passengers.
That day, terrorism threats were on the minds of many Washingtonians, and heavily armed police roamed the subway and streets. "Here they tell us to be on the lookout and be vigilant, and they're leaving a full Metro train running with the door open," Weiner said.
Meanwhile, the train controller at Metro's downtown headquarters didn't make any announcements in the station and didn't realize he shouldn't have allowed the operator to leave her train. "He didn't think quick enough to say, 'Hey, I made a mistake,' " Feil said.
Metro eventually got the idling train on its way through a series of maneuvers.
The former operator of the idling train was told to take control of the Glenmont-bound train she had just boarded -- Train 202. The regular operator of Train 202 was told to get off that train at the Woodley Park stop, cross the platform and board a third train, 104, which was headed to Shady Grove.
Train 104 then was instructed to enter the Van Ness-UDC Station -- slowly -- and creep up behind idling Train 107.
Once Train 104 had nuzzled up to Train 107, the second operator on 104 got off and ran to the cab of waiting Train 107 to take it on its way, Farbstein said.
Train 107 was back in service at 7:28 p.m., she said.