DART Apologizes To Stranded Train Passengers

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – DART executives are backing down and apologizing to the nearly 200 passengers who were stuck inside a DART train after Thursday’s Dallas Mavericks’ championship parade.  The apology finally came after one of the passengers blasted DART at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

“You’re packed into a commuter train like sardines when it suddenly comes to a stop inside of a dark tunnel,” said passenger Kelli Pearson.  “Then you wait for an announcement that will advise you of what to do.  And we waited, and we waited, and we waited.”

Pearson told the board that children were crying and that it was hot inside the train, which remained stalled underground for nearly an hour. Many passengers complained that there was no communication with DART. Nearly a third took it upon themselves to exit the train and walk through the tunnel leading to Mockingbird Station.

“Again, I ask, what would you have done if you had been on that train,” said Pearson. “Not only does it appear that DART takes no responsibility for our situation, but wants to continually call us criminals and demean us for our decision.  I personally take that as an insult.”

Immediately following her remarks, Pearson met with DART President Gary Thomas. She says Thomas apologized and promised changes.

“He did say they are working on their communication system. They’re also working with the train conductors to make sure they’re speaking properly into the microphones.”

Since the mishap, DART officials have placed responsibility on the passengers who left the train, calling the move dangerous, irresponsible and illegal. But now DART’s President is backing down and apologizing for the breakdown.

“We’re very sorry that the situation happened. We prefer that no one got off the train. We’re primarily concerned about people’s safety,” Thomas told reporters.  “I understand that when people are not communicated to and they don’t know what to do or where to go; I can appreciate what happened and we need to communicate better.  No doubt about it.”

Thomas says the agency is already working on electronic signs at the stations and inside the trains.  The signs would relay scheduling and other important messages to passengers.

  • Lazarusbrands

    While I was not a passenger on that stalled DART train, I can sympathize with the passengers onboard. In this day and age of “heightened security risks” and “alert levels.” Several news outlets reported on parade security efforts including “planes buzzing downtown Dallas” in the days leading up to the Mavericks homecoming parade.

    Without information and safety guidance from DART Rail operators, DART Police, or Dallas Police or Dallas Fire Department, how were these people to know that there was not some threat to “homeland security” happening above the surface, or even in front of the train.

    For the past decade, Americans have been encouraged to be both more vigilant and more self-reliant in the event of an emergency; especially when no responsible authority is providing guidance. This was only reinforced in the aftermath of civic failure during Hurricane Katrina and the levee failure floods that followed.

    Given the facts of the DART Rail incident this week, it seriously looks like the criminal behavior is actually criminal negligence and gross indifference to human life on the part of DART, for failing to provide adequately safety and security of the passengers. Furthermore, the public accusations of DART that the passengers are criminals, smacks of slander and false accusations against private citizens by their government.

    I hope the contingency lawyers are sharpening their pencils and passing out their business cards. I also hope that the DART Board and the elected officials that appoint DART’s Board of Directors understand that after repeated failures of the DART system to handle large scale, non-commuter event traffic… it is time for new management and a new plan. Else, it might well be time for new board members and new elected officials.

    • E.W.

      Speaking as a regular rider of DART, non-communication is their forte. Regular riders of DART experience this sort of behavoir often when your bus or train is late or doesn’t show up at all. There’s no one to talk to, no one to tell you what’s going on. When calling their customer service line, you have to go through so many steps just to get a chance to speak to a human. Often you’re disconnected.

      After emailing with concerns, calling with concerns and questions, not much improvement. This is my experience with DART. How sincere is the apology? Will real improvement from DART actually happen? Or is this just DART saying what they think we want to hear, and hope this goes away quickly?

      DART there is room for improvement. Here’s a suggestion: why not have the folks on the DART board commute back and forth on the trains and buses for a full 12 months and keep a journal of all your experiences. Be honest. Not just the board, but other DART executives. Not just from one area of service, but from all the sectors: North, South, East and West. Buses and trains. Weekends too. They need to have the full DART experience. Then maybe they’ll fully understand.

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