Friday, January 16, 2009

Metro Is Going to Fall Apart

I seldom post two message on one day, but this situation deserved it.

Warning! Warning! The famed DC Metrorail system is going to fall apart!

Presidential Inaugural planners have been worried about how the Metro system is going to be able to handle "crush-loads" (their words) of people -- somewhere around 1.5 to 2 million -- in Washington DC on January 20. And their worries are not without foundation or experience. Already this week, our Metro subway system has had some trains break down, thus throwing the rest of the system's schedule way out of whack. Crowds form quickly when even one train goes out of service.

This morning the thermometer at my home read 9°F (-13°C) when my partner dropped me off at our nearby Metro station. (Lucky dawg: he gets to work at home on Fridays). I got on the Metro as usual, and thought perhaps something was amiss when it began to run herky-jerky. It would start, then stop, then start, then stop. Thank goodness I was seated, because the stops were fast and would have caused people to lose their balance if they were standing. (None were -- it was very early before typical "rush hour" crowds).

Then the train just stopped... and announcements were made about a train in front of us in trouble. After waiting about 10 minutes, we were made to get off our train and wait on an outdoor station platform. While they made fairly regular announcements, the information was useless. "We're experiencing a train malfunction" followed by "we regret any inconvenience." Duhhhhhh! But no substantive, meaningful, information was ever given.

As I waited on that really cold platform, where the wind chill made it fell like it was below zero F (-16°C), I looked around. I wasn't surprised, but was very sorry for the large number of men standing there without a hat on their head, no gloves, and a silly thin coat or suit jacket. What were these guys thinking??? It's COOOOOLD out there! Do they expect to remain in a heated area throughout their commute??? People who fail to dress for the weather really put themselves at risk. They worry me a great deal, but I can't be responsible for irresponsible people.

Fortunately, being the preparedness guy that I am, I was wearing thick wool socks and tall leather-lined Wesco Harness boots (again), long johns, corduroy pants, and on top I was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, thick and lined corduroy shirt, sweater, and my Taylor's leather jacket with its Thinsulate® lining. I wore a warm ball cap and a biker's neck warmer and ear muffs and a scarf. Oh, and some thick biker gloves, too. So I was protected from the cold well enough. Just "inconvenienced" as Metro likes to say.

After enduring that cold for about 15 minutes, finally another train on the opposite side of the platform pulled up and we all piled on. I can just imagine how prolonged the residual "inconveniences" will be.

Let me tell 'ya, if the trains are unable to function during a light Friday rush (at the time I get on the train, it's never full)... then mark my words: I regret to predict that when the system is tested with unprecedented ridership on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 19 - 20, it's just going to fall apart. It won't be able to handle it. One or two trains will go down, then the resulting backups will create chaos.

No way, no how, no no no no no -- you will definitely not see me try to venture into Washington DC on those days. Seriously, no wonder most of the locals are leaving town. Leave the pandemonium to the tourists!

1 comment:

Euge said...

You know, the amount of cow skin that you wore just about gave me a mental heat stroke thinking about it? I love the cold so much (unless I have a fever). :)