Over at American Digest , Vanderleun opened up (in-between packing for his move) on the 21st Century anachronistic hold-over from the
twentieth century nineteenth century/mid-twentieth century marvel, Public Transportation. Back before the automobile was developed and dropped to a price that most everyone could afford, then public transportation was a wonderful thing. Almost a century later after the cities and their suburbs were adapted to be served by and to service the needs of the internal combustion engine the universal role occupied by trains and trolleys is reduced.
I actually tried Seattle’s much touted new light rail system a few weeks ago as an alternate method of getting to Seafair. I was, to say the least, underwhelmed with this multi-billion dollar boondoggle. A toy for rich white people to look at lovingly and feel good about as they drive by it in their large cars.
The system in Seattle, since the political core seems to hate cars, is to link the rail to the bus lines. But the bus lines, of course, are already too skeletal to really work. To really make the new rail system utterly inefficient, the system has no feeder parking lots for the main stations. You are, it seems, supposed to take the bus to the train even if there is no bus line near you. The entire effort puts the lie to the old saw that “You can’t gold plate a turd.” In Seattle it would seem, you can. And you can ever sugar coat it enough that many people will say, ‘Mmmm, good!”
But the transit systems in many older, east coast cities (like Boston) have their own perils, especially when Unions and the Democrat driven urban political correctness lays it’s heavy hand on it. On the older systems that worked but now hag ridden; held immobile in time, a heavy weight of new mandates and nightmarish dreams occupied by strange creatures not meant to by found in nature…as I related in my comment to Gerald’s article;
So in the last few years of my old career I was responsible for a large phone system and Call Center in Boston. After years of my employers chipping away at my perks and benefits, I had no company vehicle or payment for parking or payment for mileage to drive into town.
To save money I took Boston’s MBTA subway. After years of 50-75% rate bumps the crumbling, dirty and crime-ridden parking garage located in the suburbs had gone from 50 cents to $7. So I biked to the station, or walked to the bus stop when the roads were covered in snow and ice.
I was usually on the train by 5:30am but got to return by 3pm. The early morning train was usually half full of people trying to stay just enough awake that they could be ready for their stop. One morning, O dark thirty, the train is rocking along faster than usual I thought. But then the lights of a underground station flashed by, Andrew Station. A key bus terminal and never skipped even by expresses. I realized that I hadn’t heard any announcements that this was an express but wasn’t unusual, so many of the cars on the line didn’t have working speakers anymore. I hoped that the train wasn’t going to skip South Station or I’d end up with a long walk and be late. Then I noticed that we weren’t slowing for Broadway Station which should be coming up. Seconds later the lights of the station were flashing through the trains grimy windows.
At that point the subway car began to brake, braking harder than any subway car I’d ever been in had ever braked. The train come to a stop with (as far as I could tell) the last car of the train still in the lighted station. My car was past the station and in the dark, the lights in the car showing the reflection of the startled passengers, all now fully awake. We sat there for several minutes. The rasping sound of voices coming from some metal grid speaker up “forward” could be heard. After a while there was a short attempt to back up the train to the station, then more rasping voices and after another brief pause the train started going forward and we continued on the next station in the line.
As I sat there and started putting it all together I came to the conclusion that the most plausible scenario for what had just happened was that the driver of the train had just fallen asleep and was finally awoken by the lights of the station he was passing. Awoke and instinctively hit the brakes, hard. With the early morning separation of the trains, after bypassing two stations he would probably have caught up with the train ahead by South Station. At South Station with it’s bus, Amtrak and Silver Line connections the trains stayed a little longer and would probably have been stationary when our bolt from the dark arrived.
The head of security at the downtown building where I worked was retired from the MBTA and later that morning I told him the story for his “take” on the event. He told me that many years ago the drivers of the Subway Trains were only allowed to touch the controls of these machines until after years of working at lower jobs in the system; starters at the bus terminals, bus drivers, trolly conductors then trolly drivers and finally (min. of ten years later) subway train engineers. But at the end of his career he had seen that change, “Community Activists” had sued that this was keeping minorities out of the drivers seat (so to speak) and now within a year a new hire could be driving. I never saw the driver, I don’t know. But I wasn’t totally unhappy when I got laid off and thereby got out of there alive.
Note: A few months later a “T” operator drove a underground trolly into the rear of another train. While sex-texting. That driver was mid-twenties and a transgender, transsexual new hire, eighteen months on the job. “O what brave new world, that has such creatures in it!”