Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Here's your "Wholistic" Hot Car Report

“We hit the ground running in February by checking all the vital [air conditioning] components inside every rail car,” said Dave Kubicek, Metro’s Acting Deputy General Manager for Operations.
“It has been a monumental task, however our dedicated car maintenance personnel have been working diligently during the last several weeks to help ensure our customers will be comfortable throughout the spring and summer months while riding Metrorail,” he said.
Yeah, uh.

The hot car situation doesn't seem to be getting any better despite Operation Cool Breeze and Metro's assurances that they're on the case.

During a recent temperature peak of the peak, Metro said they'd provide a "wholistic" view of what they're doing about hot cars. So far, that has not been forthcoming, so we decided to give you one based on talking to Metro folks in the know.

First off, let's debunk the notion that Metro has 40 AC techs stationed around the system to pounce on problems.

Two sources confirm that this is utter crap. Any dedicated AC techs Metro has are located in the repair shops, not on the rails.


According to one source, 99 percent of the repairable parts of the AC system are inaccessible while the car is out servicing customers.

The source said resetting the circuit breakers is the only "fix" that can be made while the car is on the mainline. They said it does sometimes work, but not often.

How often?

The source said on Friday afternoon, out of the 1,100 or so train cars in Metro's rolling stock, 400 were in the shop, isolated or otherwise problematic--mostly because of AC issues. The source said Metro needs 860 cars for normal rush hour service.

The shortage of cars made it impossible for Metro to field "gap trains," trains that are set aside and used on short notice to clear crowding in the case of offloads, etc.

Furthermore, isolating all the hot cars would have basically crippled Metro, the source said, so decisions were made to just isolate the hottest car of a pair. The car left in service was usually pretty hot, too.

If you've jumped from infernally hot car to really hot car, you know what I'm talking about.

The source added that there was such a shortage of cars, one 6-car train with 4 hot cars they'd seen early in the afternoon was still rolling around the system hours later. They added there were reports of other 6-car trains in service with all cars hot.

Six for six sounds pretty holistic.

Another source reiterated their earlier metaphor about fixing the AC: "It's like treating stab wounds with Band-Aids."

It's just August 2, but the good news is Metro is rolling out Operation Santa Ana later this month to test and repair the heating systems of the cars.

Word on the street is it will be a resounding success.;)

Other items:
Man struck by Red Line train (WaPo)
Where your snatched iPhone goes? (Examiner)
Some Metrobus riders getting free rides (Examiner)
Fox5 picks up elevator story
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