WASHINGTON -- The WMATA worker who was shamed on Twitter last week for eating on a Metro train will not face disciplinary action, the transit agency said Monday.
Only days before, the head of the transit agency’s police force said that eating on Metro trains is no longer against the rules.
Author Natasha Tynes was called racist on Twitter after she posted photo of a black, uniformed Metro employee eating on a train during the Friday morning rush.
“I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train,” said a portion of Tynes’ tweet, which has since been deleted. “This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds.”
Tynes has since deleted her Twitter account.
People sympathetic towards the Metro employee accused Ms. Tynes of unfairly singling out a black woman, as multitudes of people have disobeyed the prohibition of eating on the Metro system.
Metro has said it will not discipline the worker, who union officials said was bus operator traveling between stations and “ate a few bites” to avoid further delays. Bus operators are entitled to 20-minute meal break, ATU Local 689 spokesman Barry Hobson said.
It has been unlawful to eat or drink on Metro trains during the system’s entire 43-year history. But last Wednesday, Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik sent an email to employees that his officers would no longer issue criminal citations for eating on Metro after the practice was decriminalized by DC Council. That came as part of the vote that decriminalized fare evasion back in December.
“If they made a decision to not discipline the public for it, then they should not discipline the operators,” said Hobson.
A WMATA spokesman would not comment on the personnel matter directly, but said that a first offense of a worker eating on a train would not rise to anything more than “counseling.”
This online drama has thrust Metro’s long-held rule into the limelight. Last summer, Metro briefly lifted its drink ban during a summer heatwave and allowed riders to drink water.
“Why do people care if I'm drinking coffee or eating a Clif Bar on the Metro?” asked Twitter user @noKAIN_noGAIN, a rider who said he spends more than two hours on the train daily. “If I leave trash, you have my permission to call me out, otherwise, relax.”
The decriminalization of eating and drinking on the trains was only lifted for specifically Washington D.C., so be sure to finish any snacks before leaving The District.