No End in Sight

Another day, and more horror stories from riding light rail:

When the single-car light rail train pulled into Mount Washington station about 3:30 p.m., it was so crowded that David Utley couldn’t board it with his bicycle to get to his job at Penn Station. He decided to wait for the next train – which didn’t come for another 50 minutes. And it was so overstuffed that Utley just gave up.

“Time for Plan B,” he said as he wheeled his bike away from the station.

The Mount Washington man is one of thousands of light rail riders who have had their lives disrupted as the Maryland Transit Administration grapples with maintenance issues that have sidelined more than three-quarters of its rail cars at peak travel times.

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I think somebody needs to wake Governor O’Malley up and make him realize that he has a major crisis on his hands when it comes to public transportation. He has a Transit Administration that can’t even make the trains run on time (literally and figuratively) and the people who use the system most frequently are fed up with it.

And actually, this entire fiasco regarding the safety of Light Rail trains brings up another question: where was the MTA on doing increased inspections before they found the crack? Was the wheel crack attributable to shoddy maintenance? Were enough inspections being done prior to discovering the wheel crack?

What it seems like to me is the fact that there is a lack of institutional control over the Maryland Transit Administration. The Governor’s office should have already been looking into this issue, but even now it seems like there is no interest in addressing the problem. His office should be demanding that MTA senior leadership answer the questions surrounding their incompetence. And the Governor needs to make major changes in MTA leadership, instead of accepting the continuance of the MTA’s culture of failure. We need accountability in leadership of all high profile government agencies, and O’Malley could (but likely won’t, given his past history) make a major statement about government accountability at the state level by doing the right thing and making a change.

But since it isn’t likely that changes will be made, it’s going to be more of the same for the commuters who use mass transit….just as the state encourages them to.


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