What’s up with the DC Metrorail…and Every Other Aging Transportation System?

What’s up with the DC Metrorail…and Every Other Aging Transportation System?

Lauren PesinTuesday,3 February 2015

Puke, piss, perverts, rude-ass people, and the ever popular body funk fills the underground rails and cars of public transportation systems around the world. Although annoying or disgusting, it is grudgingly accepted (at least in the U.S.) if you ride public transportation then you deal with the filth. People just do their best not to stand near or touch anything that will infect them with disease or slather them with bodily fluids.

Why people are unable to wash themselves and behave in public is another topic all together.

With all the unpleasantness that is present, the more disturbing events relate not to the gross and unfortunate, but rather to safety.

Collisions, derailments, track worker accidents, and near collisions are woven into the history of not only the DC Metrorail, but have impacted all public transportation systems. Poor planning and maintenance, old and broken equipment, frequent significant delays, and understaffed systems coupled with undertrained personnel are common.

In light of recent events and the subsequent wrongful death lawsuits resulting from the tragic smoke incident that injured 83 people and killed one, a great deal of attention has been drawn to the DC Metrorail system. DC is unfortunately not the only city plagued with safety concerns.

Although I don’t know the specific laws or the details of what standard the top ranked railway systems have implemented, my guess is that it’s not reasonable to expect to die if you ride the subway.

What then should we (as public transportation riders) realistically expect from public transportation?

You would think safe, reliable, available, affordable, easy, and clean would be the minimum. Think again. As established, clean is asking too much; affordable varies; easy, available, and reliable depends. Some transport systems are technologically advanced, environmentally friendly, rich with admirable architecture, and pleasant smells and sounds are part of the design. These pleasantries are reality to some travelers, but for most people these transportation traits are just a dream.

It probably would improve our travel experience and the moods of riders if soft classical music was a backdrop as our noses inhaled calming lavender aromatherapy, but really we just want to get to where we are going without being harassed, injured, or 90 minutes late.

This leaves us with many questions. Can we agree that getting to our destination mostly on time without getting hurt or assaulted should be a goal of public transportation providers?

Can we agree that the laws and policies that dictate the level of condition and maintenance of public transportation and personnel should support this goal?

Should there be better oversight? Is there some way to determine to what degree are safety standards are being implemented? What (if any) are the consequences if the standards aren’t met?

As passengers held at the mercy of those controlling the transportation systems, what can we do to make it safer to travel? Who is ultimately accountable for the safety of public transportation systems?

Many people rely on public transportation to get them to work, school, and life events. Some people have no other means to travel.

Are we held hostage with no control over our own safety or are we in a position to force the issue of safety on the rails?

After doing everything we can to reduce the likelihood of death or disfigurement, I vote to ban the smelly and rude.

What do you think? Is there anything that would cause you to stop using public transportation? Let me know on Twitter.

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Image Credit: Flickr

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