Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Trains

Gonna need to spend some money.

Four major Metro disruptions in 10 days underscore the strains facing the region's largest transit agency as the system ages. Its infrastructure is old and needs to be replaced. It is the nation's only major transit system without a significant source of dedicated funding. And its two-track design, comparable to a two-lane road instead of multi-lane superhighway, gives transit officials little flexibility when trains and other systems break down, as they are doing with greater frequency.

Two track fires yesterday in the heart of downtown Washington, on Metro's highest-ridership Red Line, and blackouts at several key downtown stations from a Pepco power failure ended a difficult week for Metro. The fires and blackouts yesterday followed a derailment and a heat-related track problem that caused disruptions and delays earlier in the week.

The system lacks redundancies that the New York Subway has. It took awhile, but Washington managed to become a much more public transit-oriented and transit-dependent city. Now it has to keep the trains running.