08 August 2007

The Great Flood of Aught Seven

It's hard to be an Excellent Walker in August, particularly the hot August we've been having. But I had no choice but to hoof it to work today, since all the subways were shut down after the three-inches-in-an-hour of rain we had this morning. By the time I got to the office, sweaty and on my way to a sunburn, I was in no mood for the cheery greeting I got from the receptionist, who, on a normal day has a problem getting here as early as 10am, so who is she to be all "I'm at work before you" on me?

People are complaining that the MTA should be better prepared for these situations (apparently many of the water pumps date from the 1930s, though I can't find a source for that), and I guess they should be. I think it's unrealistic, though, to expect a fully modernized system when that system is over 100 years old, operates 24/7, and transports millions of people a day. If you've tried to take the subway on the weekend, you know that they are always working on it. There's only so much they can do, though, without shutting the whole thing down. With that kind of daily use, they might as well be bailing water out of a sinking ship with a teaspoon.

What I do think is possible is a better communications system, both in terms of the hardware in the stations and the updates on the website, and getting instructions to the MTA workers who are -- rightly -- interrogated by commuters when something is wrong. All of those things failed this morning, and are still in failure mode at 2:45pm. The best information I got was from the media, who had dispatched reporters to various sites to, you know, report what was happening. Considering how likely it is that we'll have a true emergency in the subway one of these days -- i.e., a terrorist attack -- and that it's been six years since we've put urban terrorism on the top of our "to worry about a lot" list, you'd think we'd have at least made some progress there. You would, however, be wrong.

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Blogger Jennu said...

I agree that communication should've been much better. But even if the entire system were shiny & modern, it might still fail when we get 3 inches of rain in an hour. Yes, this is the 3rd time in 3 months the subways have been shut down by flooding, but realistically, a downpour like that isn't that common and engineers might choose not to plan for it anyway to save money.

11:29 PM  

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