Tuesday, February 9, 2010
How long does WMATA deserve the benefit of the doubt?
It certainly was an epic storm, and the decision to close above ground service during the peak of the winter blast was certainly prudent, but it has now been almost 72 hours since the snow stopped, and things are still severely hampered.
The front page of the WMATA site says the Red, Yellow, Orange and Green lines are operating at "full" service as of this morning, but when you actually click through, "full" turns out to mean quite limited and, in some cases, smokey. Parts of the above ground Blue Line remain closed.
Today, Metro announced they had 300 buses running routes, when on a normal day, there would be 1,400, a fact omitted from the release.
Metro says they have up to 20 trains "equipped with de-icing equipment to combat snow and ice on the electrified third rail." That's four per line.
Something just doesn't make sense, so we thought we'd check with Philly (love your sports fans!) to see how their mass transit was dealing with snowmaggedoncalypsegasmomg.
We spoke with a very friendly official from Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), the WMATA of the Philadelphia area. Unlike here, public transport in the Philadelphia area was not nearly as impacted (brought to its knees) in the wake of the blizzard of '10, and they even got a little more snow than we did.
When asked about DC's 3-day mass transit virtual lockdown, the official, simply responded with an incredulous "wow," as if to say "you're kidding, right?"
SEPTA did suspend operations during the worst conditions, but today, the SEPTA Web site reports no delays, bus or rail, that appear to be connected to the weekend storm.
But Philly gets a lot more snow than DC, so they're better prepared, right? Not really. According to NOAA, they get about 4 more inches a year.
However, to be fair, comparing WMATA to SEPTA is, in some ways, like comparing apples to oranges--except for the buses. For one, many of SEPTA's regional rails--a large part of the system--use catenary (overhead) lines for power sources, which are less susceptible to the snow than a third rail like Metro. SEPTA's subway uses a third rail for power but runs underground and is protected from the snow. SEPTA does, however have something called the Norristown High Speed Line, which is powered via a third rail and runs above ground. That line, according to a SEPTA official, was affected "somewhat" on Saturday from this most recent snow.
Posted by Unsuck DC Metro at 9:57 AM