Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Higher Taxes vs. Public Transportation Safety

Yesterday evening, at 5pm, a Red Line train near the DC/Maryland border, collided into the train directly in front of it, jack-knifing and piggy-backing on top of it. As of this morning, WMATA had reported 6 confirmed deaths and dozens of injuries, and rescue attempts were still clearing the bodies and injured victims.

The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) blames the Metro for non-compliance to safety recommendations. Seems logical. The train that was stopped was a 5000-series, newer model, while the train that lost control and crashed into it, was a 1000-series model, which the NTSB recommended retrofitting or replacing. The scary part is that the Metro refused on the basis of taxes.

Maybe if the Metro, the only public transportation without guaranteed funding, had some sort of stable cash flow, they could make long term adjustments and address safety concerns. Hopefully this accident will cast light on the flawed system and bring about a dialogue about insuring safety.

On a personal note, this accident occured outside of my station, during rush hour. Not only were my fiance and I at risk, although we serendipitously met in Arlington instead of going straight home, but we had to haggle with a cab driver, get through blocked roads, and fork over $50 in order to get home. And we had the cash to make it happen. Most of DC's residents do NOT. Shuttles are ineffective, and many can't afford to make it to work.

Socio-Economic tensions? Ahhh... smells like DC.

No comments: