Friday, February 12, 2010

DC Metro has another accident: how reliable will our mass transit be?

The Washington DC area Metro experienced a derailment underground Friday morning, on the Red Line, approaching the Farragut North Station from Metro Center. The accident occurred underground, and would not be related to the recent blizzards.

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Later information indicates that the accident was cause by a "derailer" which derails the train "automatically" when it detects the possibility of running a red signal or rear-ending another train ahead of it.

The DC Metro has had to close stations for 3-day weekends for track maintenance, forcing riders to use shuttle busses. As a whole, the DC Metro is becoming much less reliable than systems in New York and London, although it hasn’t experienced transit strikes. Earlier, proposed service cuts and adopted fare hikes have stirred political controversy.

The system was built in the 1970s. I remember when Arlington first had service to Rosslyn in 1981. I still wonder why the system deteriorates so quickly, compared to the 1990s when it was reliable. In June 2009 the was a huge accident in an above-ground portion of the Red Line.

Update: Feb. 14

This weekend, President's Day, Metro has been closing at midnight, cutting service, they say to remove snow. I hope this isn't continuing on. The region needs transit at night for its night life given the lack of parking, especially now.

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