Metro has fired 20 bus drivers for talking on a cell phone while driving since the beginning of the year.
The culprits were caught on cameras mounted inside the buses.
"What we were seeing is that the operators would drive with their cell phone in one hand and driving with their hand on the wheel and ... also we get the audio, so we can actually hear them talking into the instrument," Metrobus Assistant General Manager Jack Requa said.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 says Metro shares the blame.
"When you have schedules that are so tight -- the schedules are harsh -- they require people to rip and run from one end of the line to the other," union President Jackie Jeter said.
The zero tolerance policy was activated two years ago when a photo of a Metrobus driver on a cell phone taken by a passenger became public.
Metro put cameras on buses last year to promote safety, but they also recorded more than 1,100 violations resulting in 222 suspensions for infractions, including speeding, driving without seatbelts and running red lights, as well as talking on cell phones.
The union said terminations and suspensions are not applied fairly. The union filed a complaint saying supervisor following buses in cars also have been caught driving while using cell phones.
"When the employees are caught using cell phones or electrical devices WMATA's eager to jump on that and discipline those 689 members, their employees," union safety officer Anthony Garland said. "But when the incidents happen with the supervisors, they're moreso taken out of service, put back to work, and we don't know what actually happens to those employees at that point."
"I believe there are two or three clips that have indicated supervisors being involved and those are under investigation, and appropriate action will be taken in those cases, also," Requa said.