Metrolink Spokesperson Quits, Agency Under Fire

9_15_08_train_2.jpg

It’s natural that following a crash as devastating as the one last Friday that Metrolink would find itself under intense fire from the media and families of victims.  However, in this case the agency seems to have inflicted at least some of the damage on itself.  An ill-timed press conference placing the blame on the engineer from a subcontractor created a media feeding frenzy because it appeared that Metrolink was trying to pass the blame for the crash onto someone else.

Not true, says the recently-resigned former Metrolink spokesperson Denise Tyrrell.  She tells the Bottleneck Blog:

If I am not mistaken, the engineer blew through a light. The media got
on top of this story apparently so unaccustomed to a public agency
telling the truth they started to spin it that we were trying to throw
all the blame on the engineer. Metrolink is responsible for the
engineer, they are responsible for overseeing the contractor. Talking
about the human error aspect of this is not a way to shift blame from
Metrolink — Metrolink is still the responsible party to oversee the
contract with the engineer and the conductors.

While we call all appreciate this level of candor now, it seems unlikely that "the media" all decided together to mis-represent the story after Metrolink was very clear that they were at fault.  Especially in light of the conflicting reports on whether or not Tyrell was authorized to make her Saturday statement to the press.

The news gets worse for Metrolink today.  Family of victims have filed the first of what will be several lawsuits against the agency charging that it was their equipment that was the cause of the crash last week.  The Federal Railroad Administration has already stated that modern equipment could have prevented the crash, but that equipment isn’t required by the federal government.

Photo: Zach Behrens/LAist

  • Paul from Arrowhead

    I thought that Ms. Tyrell’s very prompt admission of blame on the part of Metrolink was such a breath of fresh air! Instead of the usual platitudes and pap, they just came right out and said it. I understand why board members might not think this such a good idea, but think of the immediate resolution she gave some of the families.

    Bravo Ms. Tyrell. I’d hire you in a minute.

  • I said this over at MetroRider, and I think it applies to Paul’s comment.

    Watching the video again I have to wonder if the goal of Saturday’s press event was to accept the blame. I still find it odd that nearly everyone who covered the event took the angle that Metrolink was trying to blame the private contractor. I wasn’t in LA at the time, but when people where I was found out where I was from and what I did they wanted to talk about the crash and ALL of them thought it was weird the agency was trying to blame the engineer.

    If I’m wrong, sorry Denise and Metrolink.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Today’s Headlines: Friday’s Metrolink Crash

|
(Editor’s Note: After combing through literally hundreds of articles, I decided to post the links from LAist and the Bottleneck Blog.  Their combined stories cover the news from the crash completely.  The stories run chronologically with the earlier stories posted first.  Excellent work Steve, Zach, and the rest of the staff at LAist.) Bottleneck Blog: […]

L.A. County Sheriff’s Checking Bags at Union Station

|
Alert reader and commenter "M" brings news that Metro has joined its partner agency Metrolink as a transit agency that randomly searches the bags of its passengers. I’m not sure if anyone else has alerted you to this, but this morning the sheriffs were doing bag inspections when entering the Gold Line at Union Station. […]

Editorial: What Is It with Metrolink?

|
(I want to be explicit this is solely my own opinion, and in no way endorsed by either Streetsblog or Southern California Transit Advocates – DG) UGH! You’ve likely seen the news reports that a shakeup has occurred at Metrolink with the Chief Financial Officer resigning in the wake of a scathing review of Metrolink’s financial […]

Metrolink Hires Art Leahy As CEO, To Start April 2015

|
The Metrolink board of directors voted unanimously this morning to hire Art Leahy as CEO. Streetsblog readers are probably aware that Leahy served as the head of Metro since 2009. In January, Leahy announced his retirement from Metro effective April 2015. Yesterday, Metro approved Leahy’s replacement, Phil Washington. Metrolink approved a $330,000 annual salary for […]

Metrolink Next Up for Fare Hikes

|
Last Friday, Metrolink announced plans to raise fares and cut service effective on July 1. Wait a second, you might be thinking, Metrolink announced these hikes over a year ago. True, but these fare hikes are in addition to the ones passed in 2007. From Metrolink’s press release: Because of the escalating cost of diesel […]