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unions versus the public
DC Metro Gets Costly Slap on the Wrist

Washington DC’s Metro is a disaster. Wait times in the middle of the work day can be well over ten minutes. Lines often single track on the weekends. Crowds build. Mid-tunnel stops are common.

At the heart of the problem has been the system’s maintenance workers and their poor safety record. Now, the federal government has decided they’re tired of the dysfunction and that they will withhold funds until Washington, Maryland, and Virginia establish a State Safety Oversight Program for Metro, the Hill reports:

The federal government is withholding a portion of transit funding from three local jurisdictions after they failed to meet a deadline to create a new safety oversight body for Washington’s Metro system.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which assumed temporary oversight of Metro in the fall of 2015, announced Friday that it is retaining 5 percent of fiscal year 2017 transit formula funds until D.C., Maryland and Virginia establish the State Safety Oversight Program.

A total of $8.9 million is being withheld from the three jurisdictions, which goes toward eight different recipients, including Metro.

Commissions are nice and all, but we already have some ideas about why Metro’s safety is so lax. One of the biggest: the maintenance workers’ union that makes it almost impossible to fire anyone. In the case of a worker who was fired for falsifying safety reports, the union has been trying to get the man reinstated—not because they argue he wasn’t at fault, but because they say he is a better worker than anyone who might be found to replace him.

Will the commission look at this kind of behavior? And if it does, will that lead to some serious public sector union reforms?

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  • Disappeared4x
    • Psalms564

      I love the NYC subway system. Been a regular rider for longer than I care to remember. NYC simply cannot function as a major city without subways.

      • Disappeared4x

        Do the rats still ride the NYC subway for free? heh. My comment was a reaction to the hyperbole of “Washington DC’s Metro is a disaster.” No one who ever rode a NYC subway in the 1980’s could write that.
        I am very aware that the NYC subways greatly improved. The rats are officially the ‘indigenous residents’.

  • NathanF

    DC metro is managed by blacks.

    • Tom

      Irrelevant. The DC Metro is managed by corrupt bureaucrats.

      • Psalms564

        It would be irrelevant if the union didn’t coat its rhetoric with “Whitey is trying to get us” seasoning. As it stands, it is very much relevant.
        Also, as an example of Detroit shows, ignoring the obvious racial components of negotiations is not particularly viable.
        In short, I wish your statement was true, but I’m afraid it is not.

        • Tom

          Well, it’s irrelevant to why it’s functioning badly. It’s relevant to why they’re being allowed to function badly.

          • Psalms564

            That’s a pretty fine distinction if you ask me. Public sector unions are bankrupting one municipality after another. There already was an ugly racial aspect to it in Detroit. I see Detroit as a canary in a coal mine. When (and it is a question of when, not if) Chicago goes belly up, I expect a LOT of racial talk.

          • Tom

            A fine one, but a necessary one.

    • ——————————

      That explains it. It’s run like all the countries they have ever run….

    • solstice

      Many communities in the US and elsewhere that are plagued by poverty, dysfunction, drug addiction, obesity, mental illness, violence, and suicide are overwhelmingly white. I’m not trying to imply that blacks are angels or that human beings are equal (they clearly are not), but you are inserting skin complexion where it does not belong.

  • Boritz

    If there is a dysfunctional intersection in your town it will be fixed, guaranteed, if the mayor or a member of the city council has to drive through it every day.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Labor Gang Monopoly + Government Monopoly = 2 Monopolies. Nothing good can come from a double Monopoly.

  • Maddog

    The problem is larger than just employees.

    Rail has a sell by date, which is 35 years after the build date. By that time, the entire rail infrastructure, all of the capital improvements must be replaced. The public rail entities do not plan for this, do not set aside the huge amounts of money for this, and are “surprised” by this when it begins happening. The early problems are slowdowns, and delays in the system, followed by ever greater, and more serious problems, leading to more frequent injuries, and deaths. These problems will not go away, and minor fixes will not address these systemic issues. They system needs to be shutdown, and a full capital replacement program is needed.

    This will not happen because the money is not available, and doing so would all but destroy ridership, since it would take many months, likely more than a year to perform the tasks necessary. So, Metro delays, allowing the systemic problems to increase, delays to increase, injuries, and deaths to increase.

    Good luck with that.

    Mark Sherman

    • f1b0nacc1

      This is precisely what almost all economists said about the Metro when it was first being built, and they were studiously ignored by the great and the good in DC. I suppose that I should count myself as fortunate, I lived in DC when the Metro was at its peak effectiveness…

  • polopoint

    Agreed. The union is among the biggest – if not the single biggest – obstacles to improvement or even just running in place and keeping up.

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