- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009


Transit texting policy to be zero-tolerance

Metro and the Maryland Transit Administration said they will adopt zero-tolerance policies for any operator found using a cell phone or text-messaging device on the job.

Metro officials said any bus or train drivers caught will be fired. The policy takes effect Monday.

Previously, Metro had a “three strikes” progressive disciplinary procedure.

The new policy will allow train and bus operators to use personal cell phones during an emergency situation as defined by Metro.

The announcement came after a video posted online showed a Metro train operator apparently texting. Metro said this week that the employee was suspended for a week without pay.

MTA spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said the agency will inform its operators’ union of the change but will not bargain over it.

Because MTA and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority serve many of the same customers, Ms. Greene said, maintaining consistency in the agencies’ safety policies is important.

Both transit agencies are currently dealing with the aftermath of recent fatal accidents in which operator performance is under investigation.



State offers to buy back crab licenses

Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials are offering to buy back 3,676 commercial catcher licenses to improve management of blue crab populations.

The department mailed letters Wednesday to anyone with a commercial limited crab catcher license, hoping inactive license holders will sell the license back.

Officials said inactive licenses are obstacles to measuring harvest management strategies and ensuring fair wages for full-time crabbers because of the number of people who may or may not harvest crabs.

License holders must submit a bid for the value of their license by July 31 so the Department of Natural Resources can decide if it will pay that amount by August 15.

If inactive licenses aren’t sold back, the license faces new regulations to be proposed in fall 2009.


639 arrested in fugitive operation

U.S. Marshals and police in the Mid-Atlantic region in June arrested more than 600 fugitives wanted in slayings, shootings, armed carjackings and assaults.

Law enforcement agents from several local jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, the District, Maryland and Delaware joined marshals in pursuing 639 wanted people during Operation FALCON.

In the District and Maryland, 446 felony fugitives were arrested, including Chris Ray on attempted murder charges for shooting at a security guard and others at a nightclub in Prince George’s County.

Another 155 fugitives were caught in Northern Virginia, including Glenn Wade, charged with shooting two people to death at a Prince William County bus station.

In Delaware, 38 were arrested, including Drakkar Briscoe on murder charges.



Caverns to tell valley’s history

Luray Caverns is developing an attraction that will give visitors a 200-year history of life in the central Shenandoah Valley.

The Luray Valley Museum and Gardens is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2010. Part of the new attraction will be open to the public for a “Discovery Day” on Aug. 15.

Luray Caverns Corp. Vice President Rod Graves said the attraction will include the 6,600-square-foot Stonyman Museum, which is housed in a restored log cabin. The museum will tell the history of the valley between 1720 and 1920, and its artifacts will include an 1836 Bible from Germany.

Other exhibits include an 1860 log barn and a 19th century Mennonite meetinghouse that served as a church.


Two cities get transit funds

Two Virginia cities are getting $1.5 million in federal stimulus funds for transit upgrades.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that Danville and Williamsburg are getting the money.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority is getting $1.26 million for three buses, shelters, software and passenger amenities. Danville, meanwhile, will receive $200,000 for buses, benches and signs.

The funds are part of $48.1 billion being made available for about 6,000 transportation projects across the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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