Same Old Song and Dance

I know I'm way behind on this, but with all the crashing of mentoring fairs and hospitals refusing to administer rape kits, I've managed to neglect my favorite whipping boy: Metro.

So last January a train derailed by the Mount Vernon station on the Green and Yellow Lines. 20 people were hurt and there was $4 million worth of damage. Sure it's less than one percent of an overpriced baseball stadium, but it's not chump change either. It's not like Metro has money to spare.

What could have prevented the derailment? Well, a $150,000 guardrail. That would have saved some cash. Oh, and maybe a little less of the institutional neglect that has made our subways underground death traps.

Failure to keep up with basic maintenance and refusal to take safety steps recommended for years by internal and external reviews were the likely causes of a Metro derailment at the Mount Vernon Square station that injured 20 people in January, federal investigators said yesterday.

Geez, that's not good. But here's the truly scary part:

After the hearing, Metro officials pledged to make installation of the guardrail a top priority. Officials said they had not done so earlier because similarly configured locations had equipment that was more worn-out than Mount Vernon Square's and needed to be replaced sooner. The transit agency has 100 other spots that still need safeguards because of curved track. Metro officials have installed guardrails at 83 trouble spots.

Emphasis is mine. 100 other spots! 100 other Dead Man's Curves! 100! There are more dangerous curves than stops! 100!!!!!

So, yeah, the last 10 years have been nothing but people telling Metro how to keep the subways safe and Metro ignoring them. That's awesome.


  1. Your $150,000 guardrail just became $15m to install in 100 places.

    I'm guessing if you had a choice between, say, cutting service back 10% versus 15 million in guardrails, you'd go for the extra trains. Remember, you've already told us that you value a few minutes more than your life... remember getting on the train despite large clouds of acrid smoke coming from the tunnel?

    If there was limitless money I'm sure there would be guardrails, electronic crash detection systems, and hell, why not airbags? But there's not limitless money.

  2. There's just the neglect that led to us needing to spend $15M.

  3. Metro is worth its weight in courics.

  4. There is just another reason I take cabs everywhere in the city. Thank you expense account.

  5. And by "awesome" you mean "small government theories put into practice." Yay for conservatism in action. Who needs big government regulating every single stinking guard rail? Today it's guard rails. Tomorrow maybe we'll lose another bridge. Or water main.

  6. You think the Metro is bad? At least it's not London, where they would charge more for shittier trains with no air-conditioning that run on time 10% of the time.

    See -> http://whyihatelondon.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/the-tube/