A Metro train operator faces possible disciplinary action after he refused to move an empty train from a station platform because his shift had ended.
The incident occurred Sunday night at Fort Totten. According to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel, the train was not carrying passengers; it was supposed to be moved from Fort Totten to Greenbelt station for repositioning.
But because the train was idling on the platform, other outbound Green Line trains could not enter the station to let off passengers.
“It was a dispute between an employee and his supervisor that did not impact customers in any significant way,” Stessel said. “Appropriate administrative action will be taken with regard to the operator.” He declined to say what that action might be.
According to NBC4, which first reported the incident, a person who witnessed the incident first-hand said passengers were left waiting on the platform while the operator argued with his supervisor; he then walked off the train.
The drama played out over Metro’s radio network: At about 8 p.m. Sunday, a dispatcher provided instructions on performing a change-off — a routine swap of operators between shifts — and asked the operator to move the train to meet up with another operator.
A supervisor at Fort Totten station informed her that the operator would not be able to complete the run.
“I spoke to [the operator],” the supervisor said. “He said he’s off-duty.”
“Okay,” the dispatcher responds, “where is [the operator] at this time?”
“Walking on the platform,” the supervisor responds.
“Instruct [the operator] to contact Central, please,” the dispatcher responds.
Ten minutes later, the dispatcher requests that the operator respond to his radio.
More time passes, and the dispatcher can be heard trying to rearrange the positions of the surrounding trains to accommodate the disruption. She asks other operators to inform their passengers about the cause of the hold-up. At one point, she informs another operator that, rather than turning around at Fort Totten as originally planned, he may have to continue on to the end of the Green Line at Greenbelt.
“I have two [trains with passengers] holding both tracks,” the dispatcher says. “813, be advised, depending on how close that revenue train – I don’t want to hold that revenue train up anymore, I might make it Greenbelt, okay? So, don’t be upset with me, I’m just trying to not inconvenience those customers any more.”
More time passes, and then there’s an update from the supervisor at Fort Totten station.
“[The operator] is on the platform, but he’s not getting on board,” the supervisor says.
“Roger,” the dispatcher responds. “Just do what you need to do on your end and continue on, okay? We’re getting someone to get you out.”
“Copy that,” the supervisor says. “He was already advised, and uh, informed to take the train. And he walked away.”
The supervisor ultimately drove the train to Greenbelt.