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.