It is unfortunate that it took a devastating tragedy to bring to light the serious shortcomings of the commuter rail's mismanagement by Metrolink's Board of Directors. I find it hard to believe that there would not be a policy in place that engineers cannot be text messaging while operating the trains. However the reason for the lack of such a rule becomes clear, after I read a recent Los Angeles Times article. According to the article not one Metrolink board member rides the rails regularly.
The Times states that only board member Art Brown rides the Metrolink -- just 7 to 10 times a month. Those who do not ride the Metrolink claim to have good reasons. Mike Antonovich has this excuse -- he says he must travel throughout his wide district, which covers northern Los Angeles County. Antonovich explains "If I worked in a stationary workplace and I had a normal schedule, I could take public transportation there and back."
Then might I respectfully suggest that Mr. Antonovich should not be a member of the Metrolink board if he doesn't have time to ride the trains. It seems to me if the Board members were regular riders, and would have taken a look at what is going on in the conductor's quarters they might have noticed that text messaging was going on -- and that it provided a serious risk to the thousands of riders who depend on rail transportation, and rightfully expect that their journey would not end in serious personal injury or death.
According to the Times article, Metrolink board members are paid $100 for each meeting they attend. Most are politicians appointed by transit agencies in the counties where they live. It's alright with me that a Metrolink board member be a politician. However they should also be regular Metrolink transit riders. As regular riders they would serve as the eyes and ears of the commuters who expect quality and deserve safety when riding our public commuter trains.
I strongly recommend that the entire Metrolink Board be replaced by people who are regular Metrolink riders. That should be the minimum requirement. It only makes common sense.
Majlessi received a Juris Doctorate from John F. Kennedy University. He is president of The Majlessi Law Firm, located in Beverly Hills. It is one of the premier personal injury law firms in California. Author's website