Austin: Cap Metro Integrity & Competence Indicators

COST Comments:

The story below is one of many dozens of such stories which have been and could have been written which clearly reveal Cap Metro’s long trend of lacking integrity, openness and transparency in its communications with taxpayers who fund about 95% of its costs and transit riders who fund about 5% of its costs.

As in several other stories, this specific, and almost tragic, story reveals that Cap Metro’s major reasons for the most recent delays in opening the Austin-Leander commuter train are not as specified in their Public Relations. Cap Metro attributed the delay primarily to several violations cited by government inspectors. Cap Metro then blamed their French owned operations contractor and noted they had pressured the French firm to replace its safety director.

The subsequent facts reveal that the issues with the contractor and violations were a minor reason for the delay and now, more than two months after the latest scheduled opening, an almost tragic accident occurs due to Cap Metro errors and there is still no firm opening date scheduled. It is troubling to consider the greater issue: 1) Did Cap Metro know all along there were very significant issues to resolve prior to opening? or, 2) If Cap Metro did know there were several major issues to resolve prior to opening, then why did they go almost to the opening date prior to delaying it and why were they not open and transparent in revealing the issues to the public? If they did not know, there are huge and scary problems in their technical and project management operations. If they did know, there are huge problems in their lack of integrity with the public that pays the bills.

Man nearly killed by CapMetro rail car
Warning rail raised at the wrong time

Updated: Friday, 05 Jun 2009, 9:29 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 04 Jun 2009, 9:52 PM CDT

by David Scott

AUSTIN (KXAN) – An Austin man said he was nearly killed at a Capitol Metro rail crossing last week because of a malfunctioning warning rail.

He said he has witnesses to prove it. Jamel Houston said he was crossing the tracks at MLK and Airport boulevards on May 28, when, without warning, a train passed inches in front of him.

Houston’s sudden life-saving stop caused the woman behind him to rear end his truck. Houston suffered a fractured arm and loss of work. Alana Marimon, the woman in the trailing car, said “If he hadn’t stopped so short, that train would have struck him. Mr. Houston is lucky to be alive.”

CapMetro is still conducting practice runs on its Leander to Austin line, and they said a few crossings still need safety signal calibrating, including the MLK and Airport location.

CapMetro provides human “flaggers” at some of those crossings, but not all the time. They also said last week’s incident is still under risk management review, but both Houston and Marimon insist the agency has ignored their repeated calls.

Houston said he is still haunted by his brush with death, “I wake up every morning shaking, nervous, sweating. I think I’m supposed to be dead and I [keep] dreaming about the train that’s supposed to kill me. I’m hearing that horn too much.”

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