“Metro has a reputation for shoddy service and a history of not learning from its mistakes,” Aaron Wiener admitted in a column for The Washington Post. But this extremist zealot’s basic argument for government-run, taxpayer-subsidized mass transit might best be understood by its headline: “Metro’s a mess. All the more reason to ride it.”
A woman died last week riding the city’s subway system. She was overcome when train cars became stuck in a tunnel filling with smoke. Another 84 riders were hospitalized, two in critical condition.
DC Fire was so woefully slow in response — victims say more than 30 minutes — that afterwards no public official was willing to say precisely how slow. Not the new mayor; not the Chairman of Washington’s Metro board. The latter provided an excuse, claiming he “cannot speak to it” because of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Administration.
Upon arrival, the rescuers’ radios didn’t work. “[D]espite hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades and new training and safety protocols at the transit agency,” The Washington Post reported, “a critical piece of infrastructure — emergency communications — remains a significant problem.”
This isn’t Metro’s first accident, either. Six years ago, nine people died when two Metro trains collided.
Without profits, and run “politically” as a public entity, there just isn’t the same incentive to make the necessary investment in infrastructure required to run the subways safely. A private company with Metro’s record of accidents and failure in addressing safety concerns would likely be shut down.
Sadly, Metro faces no such threat.
But the transit agency faces a different one: ridership has fallen to the lowest point in a decade. People are voting with their feet.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.