For months I have been trying to convince every Metro officer and employee whom I can collar of the importance of not locking the rear area of the last car on every train. Typically, this includes the driver's area and two seats. I explain that this area contains the only reachable intercom to communicate with the driver at the front of the train as well as providing access to the emergency exit.

In light of the heightened security alerts, Metro should reconsider this ill-advised policy. I recently approached two heavily armed Metro officers, and I was again told that although the area is supposed to remain unlocked, most drivers prefer to keep it locked to prevent homeless people from using the floor as a bathroom.

As unpleasant as that might be for the drivers, being trapped without an exit in a Metro car that was burning or filling with poison gas would be far worse for passengers.

Metro has no excuse for its continued failure to make emergency exits fully accessible at all times.

STEVE FOX

Columbia

*

The news of a Metro driver abandoning her passenger-filled train did not surprise me [Metro, Aug. 4].

Bus drivers on the 16th Street NW S2/S4 route do that with some frequency. They leave the engine running and walk to their cars before their replacements have boarded, some leaving with no new driver in sight.

While the Metro incident is clearly a higher security risk, the bus problem signaled to me long ago that safety is not Metro's top priority.

TRACY MOAVERO

Washington