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. As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, 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, based on what I read in a recent Los Angeles Times article not one Metrolink board member rides the rails regularly.
According to the article, 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. For example, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mike Antonovich has this excuse -- he says he must travel throughout his far-flung district, which covers much of northern Los Angeles County, explaining "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 occasionally 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 and rightfully expect that their journey would not end in serious personal injury or death.
According to the Los Angeles 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 transit trains.
I strongly recommend that the entire Metrolink board's be replaced by people who are regular Metrolink riders. That should be the minimum requirement. It only makes common sense.