DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A sea of thousands used DART’s light rail system Thursday for the Mavs Downtown parade celebration. It was the busiest day of the year for DART, but it was also one that included danger and outrage.
Hundreds of passengers were stuck in an underground tunnel, and many decided to walk through darkness because they heard nothing from train operators.
DART has one version of events. Customers have another.
Footage captured by Kelli Pearson show her and others walking out of the northbound Dart light rail tunnel near Mockingbird Station. It’s a dark, dangerous tunnel, after their packed train stood motionless for almost an hour. They say they found it safer to walk out into tunnel, where trains travel at 60 miles per hour.
They say they did it because no one answered their calls for information and help.
Kelli Pearson and sister Jodi Butler celebrated with the masses at thursday’s championship parade, but their ride home was a horror story.
DART authorities say a severed air hose locked the rear brakes of a transit car. But what locked down an apparent lack of information or emergency response for train riders? Kelli Preston said she and her sister took the gamble to start walking, because no one with DART, including the train operator, said a word. She and her sister called it a desperate act toward safety.
The women say they weren’t notified, and their fear forced them to walk off the train. “We didn’t know because we never heard anything.”
According to the women, train operators said nothing. “Everyone was saying ‘press the intercom button, no one’s answering.’ We listened for anything from DART telling us what’s going on, and we never heard a word.”
This situation took about an hour. It was packed and very hot inside the train. The proper protocol includes notifying passengers of the problem, and for passengers to stay on the train.
But authorities say the train driver claims he responded to passengers pushing the emergency call button. “We want to know why that happend. We have procedures in place. We want to inderstand what happend, and what didn’t happen,” said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. He adds they are looking into the situation. “That’s one of the things to look at, did the operator communicate. We’ll talk to the operator.”