By ZACH NOBLE
The D.C. Metro is (in a big way) shutting down. Sad!
Ridership is plummeting on the once-vaunted subway system as service worsens, and Metro plans to make things worse with the cheery-sounding "SafeTrack" initiative. The gist: They have to shut down the trains for days or weeks at a time to get repairs done, even though the system has always been turned off and, in theory, repairable during nighttime hours.
The shutdowns might be necessary to fix the tracks, but it will just make a horrible riding experience unbearable.
Personally, I've started taking Uber to work, despite the awful D.C. traffic and the fact that I get nauseated sitting in the back of the car. It's better than sitting in Metro's grimy boxes, waiting for the train to move and wondering if today's the day I die from smoke inhalation.
The slow demise of public transit in the nation's capital should give any bright-eyed liberal serious pause. It's a case study in how screwed-up government can get things.
The problems with Metro are technical and design-based, to a degree. The system lacks the fourth set of rails that enables other subways (New York, Chicago) to repair lines without single-tracking. Metro's funding comes from an unwieldy mix of D.C., Maryland and Virginia cities and counties, making the money unpredictable and subject to local power squabbles.
These issues could have been headed off with better design! Government could make it work!
But the dysfunction strikes hardest at the personnel level, where the connection between government and waste seems to be a universal constant.
Corrupt Rail-Operations Control Center controllers double their salaries with overtime and so, even though the ROCC is dangerously understaffed, they bully new hires into quitting. Incompetent contractors, who only have a few hours each night to conduct repairs, blow whole nights by bringing the wrong parts to the track -- even on a night that they're being observed by federal watchdogs!
Maybe they wouldn't need to shut the system down during the days if they could just bring the right #$%^ parts during the nighttime hours.
Any liberal who wants the federal government to handle more major elements of our social functioning -- healthcare, labor disputes, doling out free college degrees -- should come ride the Metro on a couple busy weekday mornings. Maybe as they sit, and wait, and wait, they'll reconsider.
And then pull up the Uber app.
Zach Noble is a journalist who has covered everything from the OPM hack to a rescue dog's retirement party. He's been wrestling to reconcile his bleeding heart Catholicism with his pragmatic libertarianism since that freshman year love affair with Ayn Rand. He tweets erratically as @thezachnoble.