Thursday, July 9, 2009

Consistent For Sure

Following the June 22 crash on the Red Line, Metro trains have been operating in manual mode and pulling to the front of the station platforms.
We understand the decision to go manual: The investigation of the crash is ongoing, and it's possible it was caused by a problem with the automatic control systems. It probably helps keep the operators focused, too.
However, we don't understand exactly how pulling to the front of the station lessens the chance of another collision.
Regardless, it's a good idea because train operators were forgetting how many cars were in the trains they were driving, which led to more than a handful of occasions when the doors were opened while part of the trains were still in the tunnel. Seems like trains should have been pulling to the front of the platforms all along.
So what's the connection with the Red Line wreck?
We asked Metro, and this is what they had to say:
"As a result of the accident and all trains operating in manual mode, the decision was made for all trains to pull to the end of the platform for consistent operation of the trains."
That is all.

Other news:
AGAIN! Operator caught sleeping while driving (Fox 5) h/t: NattyBo
D.C. pulled $50M share of Metro dedicated funds (Examiner)
Washington Metro Area's Senate and House Delegation briefed by WMATA (American Chronicle)
Weekend track work
Red Line rehab outlined (WaPo)
Board approves Red Line renovation (WMATA)

Photo: bogotron

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Samer said...

What Metro won't say, but which reads loud and clear, is that they don't trust their employees to operate their trains properly. I think it's a bad idea for the trains to not be stopping where they were designed to stop in each station. It's a tacit admission that they cannot hire nor train qualified people. And I think it's a disgrace.

Hostage Hoosier said...

How about they be consistent about some other things? Such as: immediate termination for anyone caught sleeping or texting while operating a train. That sounds like something to concentrate on.

Ed said...

Actually @Hostage, Metro just announced (I literally just saw a tweet from Dr Gridlock) a "one strike, you're out" policy on texting.

For the stopping at the front of the platform, I think this is a good idea. It should have been done a while ago. Then again, I don't understand why our trains can't stop on a dime in the same spot like almost every other transit system in the world can.

Is our ATC really that bad? If so, let's get a new one. In many cities, such as Tokyo and Seoul, there are lines painted on the platform telling you where the doors will be. In others, such as Paris' Ligne 14 and parts of the Jubilee Line in London, and some in Seoul, there are plexiglass walls separating the tracks from the platform, and the trains have to match up with the doors on the plexiglass every single time.

So how is it that our control system is so abysmal that we can't figure this out?

Ed said...

BTW here's the story about the one-strike texting rule.

Anonymous said...

This isn't necessarily related to this post specifically, but who is "we" at unsuckdcmetro that you continually refer to?

Other blogs generally have a page that gives a brief synopsis of who the blog's editors/authors/contributors are and what their background is or why they have some authority to write on the subject.

I'm not saying that you don't, I'm just curious as to who edits the blog, and really who the "we" is. It certainly isn't necessary to have a doctorate in transit policy to have a blog criticizing transit, but I do think that atleast having been on -the other half- of WMATA's public transit system would be a good quality of the author(s) to talk, with some authority, about WMATA's transit failures. So really, just curious, who is the "we" that you refer to?

It would really be helpful if you could post this information at the user name page of the blog.


Anonymous said...

First of all, docking the trains at the far end of the platform is not directly related to the 6/22 crash. It's actually a result of the Washington Post article in which Metro operators kept forgetting that they were running 8-car trains, not pulling all the way forward, and accidentally opening the doors while some cars were still in the tunnel. Potentially dangerous but not related to 6/22.

And before we all go thrashing Metro, let's get something straight. WMATA's ATC was never built to handle 8-car trains because Metrorail itself was never built to handle the loads to which it is subjected every day. The original system ran 4-car trains and the service stopped at 10pm every night. Plenty of time for track maintenance, combined with less wear on trains and tracks and systems, made for a vastly more reliable ride to work.

The ATC system can dock 4-car and 6-car trains just fine, but it can't handle the 8-cars. The ATC was designed in the '70s, for God's sake. So they run 8-cars in manual, and have to dock them at the far end of every platform in order to fit. Even before 6/22, all trains ran in manual during off-peak hours, regardless of size.

So- breaking news, folks- Metro is run by human beings. And when a human being runs trains down the same track in a train cab that looks exactly the same, regardless of whether it's a 6 or 8-pack, on some rare occasions, a few of them forget which one they've got.

Since even a few doors-off-the-platform lapses are unacceptable, Metro instituted a way of reminding their operators. Everybody docks at the end of the platform, no matter what train you've got. Period.

Maybe they need to communicate it better. Maybe they'll stop this practice once they start operating in ATO again. In the meantime, please clear your rage-fueled eyes just long enough to recognize that Metro is actually placing safety over customer service.

Oh, and when you have a problem with your ATC system, just "getting a new one" is about as politically easy as saying Metro should "just hike its fares" to pay for it.

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@anon 10:15: our profile is publicly viewable. it's not on the main page bc the right hand well was and still is out of control. when we clean out some of those old polls and what not, it'll be back on the page.

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@anon 10:40: we didn't make the connection, metro did. we wondered why.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for updating the user page. I have seen it in the past, but it has generally been quite ambiguous.

I'm really just curious as to why you continually refer to the authorship of the website in the first person plural tense. I realize that other riders have a connection to the site, but as an author, (and a professional author at that), shouldn't you refer to yourself in the singular person if, as your profile suggests, it is just yourself editing the blog?

I can see how this blog could be referred to in the plural sense if, like other transit blogs, there were dozens of contributors who each have different commutes or experiences on WMATA (both rail and bus). Otherwise, I feel like when you say "we" and are referring to the readership as a collective sense, it somehow includes myself in the calculation, when I don't necessarily think that you can speak for my commute.

I was also curious as to which lines you ride, how often you ride, what are your "home stations," how long you have been riding, etc. This kind of information can give some real legitimacy to the blog.

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@anon 11:24: professional? do you mean broadly? this blog is not a money making endeavor.
the blog's content has been generated by many, many readers and twitterers, thus the we. there's a long standing, open invitation to ANYONE to contribute their experiences, positive or negative, to the blog.
as for speaking for your commute, the blog doesn't pretend to speak for all metro users, and there has been plenty of pushback (all of it published) from readers who don't share the same opinion.
home stations were stated at, or very near to, the blog's creation: efc and fed ctr sw. recreational user as well.

s1ncer1ty said...

Eh, I'm nonplussed by this whole issue. Let them pull up to the front of the platform. People can walk a little farther to their escalator. Honestly, I don't think it's all that controversial, given the scope of all the Red Menace's (and other lines') more pressing problems.

Anonymous said...

@11:39, you credited yourself with being a former journalist. I had just assumed that if that's what you listed as your background, that you had done it professionally and not as an amateur. Correct me if I am wrong.

In all honesty, I just really fail to see the "we" when there is one editor among third party contributors. It's really just a syntax issue for me, but when I see "we" I generally believe that to mean that several people, collectively, came to the same conclusion, rather than one person splices together several contributions into one thought. If the posts were first person singular, I feel like the blog is more authentic and legitimized, rather than its current form. Maybe I'm just making too big of a deal of the syntax, but I just don't see it right to state "we" when its a singular author. I feel like it is disingenious.

Thanks for your responses, nonetheless.

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