WASHINGTON -- A day after a security scare emptied the Capitol and the White House, Metro moved Thursday to train local first responders to better coordinate traffic flow after a disruption the rail service.
A Metro committee voted unanimously to spend more than $335,000 from homeland security grants for classes on avoiding major traffic jams if a Metrorail station is evacuated.
The transit agency will train 1,500 first responders to deal with vehicles and pedestrians. It will also buy four portable electronic message boards that could be used to direct people to evacuation routes and bus stops.
"This is going to enhance cooperation and teamwork among all the first responders in the national Capital region when managing a Metro emergency," said Metro Transit Police Capt. Jeff Delinski, who is organizing the training program starting in June.
The idea for the program resulted from lessons learned during previous service disruptions.
After last year's fire near the Cleveland Park Red Line station, thousands of passengers were evacuated onto Connecticut Avenue, Delinski.
"People had to walk to the next station, and some didn't know where they were," Delinski said.
While Metro had buses ready to shuttle passengers, traffic prevented them from getting to the area.
Metro will also work with the District of Columbia Department of Transportation and the American Traffic Safety Services Association on strategies for improving the evacuation process.
Delinski is optimistic the training will also help Metro respond better to other emergencies in the region, such as the evacuation of the Whiute House and Capitol. by allowing the transit agency and first responders to share information more quickly.