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Train Fatality Highlights Metrolink Fail

In the age of cell phones and social media, keeping passengers in the dark about a tragic accident is a tragedy in itself

By Sara Inés Calderón
Published on LatinoLA: July 15, 2012


Train Fatality Highlights Metrolink Fail


I was heading home from work in LA last Thursday to Covina on a Metrolink train when, all of a sudden, the conductor announced we were going to sit "for a while" on the tracks at the El Monte station. There was no more information. I sat calmly busy with my computer for a while before I noticed that people started stirring, pulling out cell phones, raising their voices.

The conductor came on, said he didn't have any information, but as soon as he did he would let us know.

Lame Metrolink, super lame.

In the age of cell phones and social media, Metrolink was keeping passengers in the dark about the fact that 14 year-old Mitchal Sata was struck by a train in Covina. This accident took place up the road from our train, thus the delay. While the conductor was telling us he "had no information" everyone else (including myself) was tweeting about it. People were on their cell phones, finding out information, news outlets were talking about it, everyone was getting information about Metrolink's accident everywhere else -- except from Metrolink itself. 

This is the type of treatment Metrolink gives to its customers? It gets better. 

After not giving hundreds of folks information about the accident, suddenly people were fending for themselves having to find a ride home. Dozens of people were wandering around El Monte asking each other, "Do you know where the bus station is?" It was laughable! 

Because Metrolink "had no information" about the accident, I suppose they had no information about alternative transportation routes for the hundreds of folks put out by their response to this accident, either. Would it really have been so hard to announce to people where the nearest bus station was? 

But, at least I didn't suffer my brother's fate, who was on the train that actually struck the young man in question. He and his fellow passengers were not allowed off their train for 4 hours, I can only wonder about the type of information blackout they suffered while cooped up in a vehicle meant for only short rides. When I talked to him on the phone, his voice was so exhausted and frustrated that it just seemed defeated. It made me realize that I, by comparison, had been lucky.

From Metrolink's response, and what I would argue is mistreatment of its passengers, you would almost think that there'd never been a train fatality before. Hasn't Metrolink done this? Aren't there emergency procedures in place? Are they aware of the issues caused by these types of accidents?

If there were a transportation alternative, you bet your bottom dollar I would quit Metrolink ASAP. But since there's not, I hope that Metrolink -- or heck, FEMA -- can take a good, hard look at the way it responds to emergencies and do better next time.





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