Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How badly managed is Washington D.C.'s Metro system?

So badly run that other government agencies think it's badly run:
he Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is increasingly dysfunctional. DC’s subway system is designed to run eight-car trains but due to lack of equipment two-thirds of the trains operating during rush hour have only six cars even though they are packed full of people. WMATA has asked Virginia, Maryland, and DC for nearly $1.5 billion so it can purchase new equipment and upgrade its system to allow a return to eight-car trains.

The Maryland secretary of transportation, Pete Rahn, says the state is reluctant to give hundreds of millions of dollars to an agency as poorly run as WMATA.
If you can't get buy-in from the Maryland secretary of transportation for a major public transportation system, you're system is pretty danged messed up.


Dave H said...

One of my old bosses worked for the company that designed the electronic fare card system for the DC subway years ago. He pointed out a flaw in the design such that someone with a razor blade, a ruler, and some rubber cement could turn a $20 fare card into up to $400. He even demonstrated it to his bosses and representatives of the subway, and they told him it wasn't worth taking the time to fix it.

selsey.steve said...

Have a look at the Mass Transit Railway (MTR)in Hong Kong. It is truly fantastic. Fast, cheap and completely reliable.
When IO revisited HK last year I was astounded to discover that ANY rail journy I took cost me TWO HK dollars (25c US!!)no matter how far I travelled!

ProudHillbilly said...

I'm not sure there's many DC residents that could figure that out. Look at their voting record.

ProudHillbilly said...

I'm not sure there's many DC residents that could figure that out. Look at their voting record.

Anonymous said...

When they whine for more money for needed equipment, there is never any discussion about exhorbitant executive salaries, bloated manpower, bonuses and perks.

DC metro system still uses human train operators. Disney has been fully automated for 40 years. Automation is easy, cheap, reliable, and safer than human operators but the METRO won't do it. And the human operators mumble unitelligably about upcoming stops. Everyone else in the free world used recorded CLEAR announcements.

And study after study shows the most reliable and cost effective way to expand the system is with busses. But METRO just spend billions adding the Silver line. That same money could have built a whole new interstate highway to Richmond (badly needed).

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...


The DC metro's automated system KILLED a buncha people.

That was MY route! That coulda been me on that train.

And Richmond shouldn't have wasted all the money they always could get before NOVA became a more populous region and Richmond still had the political juice.

But no, I'd never ride the Metro NOW. It was way too sketchy 6 years ago, and it's way worse now. They shoulda spent the money on the for the trolley that doesn't work on the subway that ostensibly does.

Anonymous said...

Bad design and maintainance in the METRO system does not refute that robots can do this job better than humans. The human operator also failed to prevent that accident. For good design and maint, see Disney.

Automation, done right, WORKS.

A bad track sensor is not automation or an automation failure. It is human operator in a command center failing to track train locations and sending bad commands to a human train operator who follows the instructions blindly.