Friday, October 2, 2009

Metro Dispatching: Back to the Basics

When your local area mass transit system can't seem to do the absolute basic task it is charged with--dispatch trains--you just have to throw your hands up and say "Catoe!"

When there are huge gaps between trains during rush hour, chances are it's a mechanical problem with a train or on the track--check our ongoing tally of Metro screw ups.

But remember, those breakdowns aren't Metro's fault. It's the lack of funding that's totally responsible! Completely. Utterly.

But there are some delays Metro can't duck with its standard "no money" excuse.

There are a surprising amount of no-show trains because often there are no trains available to be dispatched. Below is roughly one month's worth of "no train," "no car" or "no operator" reports.

As an added convenience to passengers, they are almost all during rush hour.

(h/t @toddeherman for the crayon and napkin mental image of the Metro dispatch center)


Aug. 27

6:31 a.m. An Orange Line train at Vienna was not put into service because no train was available.
3:38 p.m. A Blue Line train at Alexandria rail yard was not put into service because no train was available.
3:50 p.m. A Yellow Line train at Huntington was not put into service because no train was available.
4:08 p.m. A Yellow Line train at Huntington was not dispatched because no train was available.
Aug. 28
8:44 a.m. An Orange Line train at Vienna was not put into service because no train was available.
2:14 p.m. A Red Line train at Shady Grove was not put into service because no train was available.
Aug. 31
6:40 a.m. A Green Line train at Greenbelt was not put into service because no train was available.
6:55 a.m. A Blue Line train at Alexandria rail yard was not put into service because no train was available.
4:08 p.m. A Yellow Line train at Huntington was not put into service because no train was available.
4:12 p.m. A Green Line train at Branch Ave was not put into service because no train was available.
4:54 p.m. An Orange Line train at New Carrollton was not put into service because no train was available.
5 p.m. An Orange Line train at New Carrollton was not put into service because no train was available.
Sept. 1
6:18 a.m. A Green Line train at Greenbelt was not put into service because no train was available.
6:30 a.m. A Green Line train at Greenbelt was not put into service because no train was available.
Sept. 4
4:36 p.m. An Orange Line train at Vienna was not put into service because no train was available.
Sept 10
3:42 p.m. A Blue Line train at Largo was not dispatched, no cars available.
4:00 p.m. A Blue Line train at Largo was not dispatched, no cars available.
Sept 11
06:40 a.m. A Green Line train at Greenbelt In the direction of Branch Ave was not dispatched as no cars were available. A gap train was placed in service at Columbia Heights to minimize delays.
Sept. 15
3:30 p.m. A Red Line Train at Glenmont was not dispatched due to no cars available.
4:00 p.m. A Red Line Train at Glenmont was not dispatched due to no cars available.
4:22 p.m. A Red Line Train at Glenmont was not dispatched due to no cars available.
Sept 17
5:06 p.m. An Orange Line train at New Carrollton was not put into service because no train was available.
Sept. 18
5:12 p.m. An Orange Line train at New Carrollton was not put into service because no train was available.
Sept 21
7:17 p.m. A Red Line train at Shady Grove was put into service late because no operator was available at the scheduled time.
Sept. 23
4 p.m. A Blue Line train at Largo Town Center was not put into service because no train was available.

Other items:
Credit? Debit? Forget it! (WTOP)
Effects of suicides linger (WaPo)
Profile of a suicide (WaPo)

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13 comments:

hrh king friday xiii, ret. said...

Wonder if that's why we have those "phantom trains" on the display board.

oh and one way to prevent those suicide attempts: snipers. don't knock it, unsuck.

Brian said...

To be fair- and I can't believe I'm defending Metro, even in a backhanded way- this is why the 1000 series cars can't be retired right now. If things are this screwed up NOW, imagine if 1/3 of the cars they CAN run suddenly aren't available...

skinzh8r said...

Great post.And the one board member said we should measure catoe on his performance. put aside june 22 and you still have a Friggin mess of a subway.

nevermindtheend said...

I hate to point out the obvious, but this happens more frequently during peak periods because that's when the highest percentage of trains are in use. If there were problems with cars not being available during a lull, I would be more concerned.

Also, would you rather have a train with a problem put in service and then taken out of service again or kept out of service in the first place?

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

These aren't trains with problems or trains in use. They are trains that just aren't there b/c of a dispatching problem. Mechanical breakdowns are noted by WMATA as such and no, it would not be a good idea to have broken trains be put into service.

Anonymous said...

@nevermind

I worked at MTA for many years albeit many years ago. We had our share of problems. Mass transit systems are starved for money and good labor, but dispatching trains is 101 stuff. This kind of issue was few and far between for us.

Anonymous said...

Rush hour is when metro should be MOST on its game!!

nevermindtheend said...

@Let's get Metro Fixed

I guess I don't understand exactly what WMATA means by "no train was available." Does this mean that there was a working train (or at least enough cars for a train) sitting in the yard and no one got it ready to be off the yard by the time it was scheduled to leave?

Anonymous said...

In my experience at MTA, it usually meant that trains had not been assembled, were not in position ie trains that were supposed to be back from a run were not yet and unable to turn around when they were scheduled to, or someone just lost count.

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@nevermind
noon anon is our understanding, too.

nevermindtheend said...

@Anonymous

So basically, if it's peak period and they're already running low on trains, all the delays caused by sick passengers/trains with mechanical problems prevent trains from getting to the start of their next run on time?

Anonymous said...

@nevermind
I have no inside info, but after looking again at the times when no trains was available, they're mostly at the start of rush hour leading me to believe someone at the rail yards is not doing their work in getting the trains ready to go on time. It's like saying batter up and no one is on deck.
Just my .02

Anonymous said...

Usually, "no train available" means that maintenance personnel haven't repaired mechanical problems, and the cars haven't been released for service.

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