Inspector General Finds Old Metra Practice Could Lead To Fatigued Conductors

Jul 28, 2014


  Officials at Chicago area rail transit agency Metra are being reprimanded for allowing workers to switch shifts without properly filling out paperwork. Illinois' inspector general says this practice could have led to fatigued conductors operating trains.

The so-called shift "swapping" created confusion at Metra, according to the office of the executive inspector general. In its three-year investigation, it concluded employees who were swapping shifts — usually to allow some to get a Saturday off — wouldn't fill out paperwork indicating they weren't working.

As a result, some conductors were paid more than they should have been, and some less. Additionally, it led to an inaccurate count of how many hours a conductor worked in a given week.

David Morrison, with the inspector general's office, says that's the more alarming finding.

"There's a system in place to prevent train conductors from getting fatigued," he said. "And this prevented that system from working, so it was possible the train conductors would fall asleep at the switch, quite literally."

But Metra says the report is overblown. The rail system has implemented major changes in the three years the investigation went on, including no longer allowing the shift swaps.

The inspector general also found that a Metra police lieutenant took ethics training for four other officers.