June 23, 2009

DC Metro Crash

Report covering the crash: body count as of this post is now at 9.

A lot of people have contacted me asking about this. Some answers:
No, that train line isn't the one I took for work. I rode the orange line.
Yes, I had ridden red before.

As awful as it sounds, I am very surprised this hasn't happened sooner. These trains were supposed to have been retrofitted or replaced a long time ago, but the Metro Transist people kept crying that they were broke and couldn't do it.

I was in DC only two years and encountered events like:
Doors that didn't close all the way while we were in motion.
Being stuck on a train for two hours due to mechanical failure
Trains losing power intermittently, on one occasion, for an half hour. No lights, no AC, no radio, nothing. That really sucked because we were underground and I couldn't even talk to the other passengers.
Being stuck in the train station waiting for a train for 2-3 hours - and the metro folks on duty refused to tell anyone anything other than "it'll be here soon." They are supposed to bring in shuttle bus when this happen.

I also heard about an incident where the radio system failed on one particular line and the drivers had to use walkie talkies to communicate with each others. Walkie talkies...in underground tunnels - real safe.

Even though I'm no longer a DC resident, this pisses me off. Metro Transit system gets a considerable chunk of stipend from the gov't, gets $$ from various funds and grants, tax breaks from donations to charities (to the tune of several million) all in addition to the fares from millions of people who use the trains. It recently got a fare increase that was supposed to help pay for retrofitting of the trains and maintenance AND I believe, it also got a chunk of change from Obama's stimulus bill. The fact that all of the money is (supposedly) funneled into maintenance and paying workers tells me that it is costing more to maintain than to upgrade the transit system. That's assuming the money is going where it's supposed to.

This should never have happened. EVER. If any form of public transit system is failing or in act of failing, to the point where human lives are at risk, fix it instead of just slapping a bandaid on it. I realize the logistics of maintaining trains and tracks while simultaneously acquiring the new trains is problematic, but no human life is worth this. Borrow, beg, whatever you have to do. Fix the damn problem, stop making excuses and get the new trains.

That's my two cents.

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