Impatient for Metrorail progress
If you've been listening to the National Transportation Safety Board hearing on the June 22 Red Line crash, you've heard a broad-ranging discussion. Here's one thing you've heard little about: the June 22 Red Line crash.
I know they'll get to what caused the accident. I know that's the peg for these three days of hearings. But as a Metrorail rider, I find myself thinking like the annoying kid who keeps yelling, "Are we there yet?" The hearings had come to signal progress on the timeline back to normal operation of the train system. Instead, I'm hearing that a return to automatic train controls -- a key element in restoring normal operation of the system -- is still a year away.
The panelists today are talking about Metro's organization, and who reports what to whom. Fine. What's clear in that discussion is that the Metro board cannot serve as an oversight panel on the transit authority staff when it comes to technical issues. The board is a policy panel. This suggests that it would be a good idea to establish federal oversight of Metro and the nation's other transit systems.
But I'm getting impatient with the train delays and the crowding and the lurching as the trains enter the stations. The trains are being driven by their operators as a temporary safety measure, and that's causing many of these problems -- or at least making them worse.
So I'm conflicted: I want the trains to be safe, but I want this temporary period to be over with. The trains were built to operate automatically. They don't work right otherwise. But I wonder if anyone but the riders feels a sense of urgency about this.
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