Bob's Links and Rants

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

See what a little pressure will do?

Responding to intense scrutiny from this blog, and possibly some other sources, authorities now say that the A and C lines of the New York subway can be returned to full service in six to nine months, not the three to five years previously estimated. One still gets the feeling, however, that both estimates were just pulled out of someone's butt. Unfortunately, the new estimate seems to be based on replacing the burned 1920's-era relays with exact matches, rather than taking the opportunity to do long-overdue modernization of the system. I can't believe that the system is so complicated that the only way they can figure out how to do it is just to copy what was done 80 years ago. A finite number of track segments, a small number of trains--don't let two trains on the same track segment at the same time. The engineers have complete access to the track and the trains, so they can install as many sensors and transmitters as they need to monitor the system. Much more complicated control problems are solved daily by engineers and programmers around the world. The safety and reliability required by a subway system surely drives the cost up, but still--the basic control function could probably be handled by your cell phone's chip.

The NY Times editorializes on the problem, saying that homeless activists and the cops need to clear the subways of homeless people, need to communicate better with confused passengers, and (I like this part) lays the blame on Republican Governor George Pataki.