“Will play for tuition”?

3 minute read

July 10, 2009, 6:14 AM

You know, one thing I love about Dupont Circle is that you never know what you’ll see coming to/from the Metro. Today, coming back from the Metro, I ran into this scene:


"Will play for tuition"

Now I see buskers at about that spot all the time, playing various types of music for donations, with various amounts of canned accompaniment. However, what caught my attention this time was that sign – “Will play for tuition”. One presumes that this person is either attending some sort of college or saving to go to college, and I have to say that the sign certainly caught my attention. I just hope this is more of the save-up variety than a more desperate if-I-don’t-get-at-least-X-amount-I-can’t-attend-school-in-the-fall kind of thing. But either way, she was a pretty good singer, though I admit I couldn’t stay around very long, because of other things I had to go do.

Meanwhile, the Red Line is still not quite back up to 100% since the accident. Besides your normal things that slow down lines, such as trains with mechanical problems and sick passengers, Metro is running the section of the B Route between Fort Totten and Takoma as a single block.

For those not familiar, let me give you a quick explanation of what I mean by “block” in this case. The track is divided into “blocks” of a given length. When signaling systems detect a train in a given block, two things happen. First, it doesn’t allow any other train into that occupied block. Secondly, it signals to other trains approaching the occupied block on the same track to slow down and stop until the one train has proceeded.

Based on what I’ve read, it is looking like the accident was caused by a failure of the signaling system to report a train as occupying a given block. Thus why the two trains collided – the system gave the all-clear, and there was not enough room to avoid a collision. So because they know that there are still problems in that section of track, they’re only allowing one train at a time to go between those two stations, basically treating the area between Fort Totten and Takoma as a single block. Thus they have this setup, seen here at Fort Totten:

Absolute block at Fort Totten

Basically, you have a Metro employee camped out at Fort Totten with a radio, communicating with a counterpart at Takoma, telling the train operators when the extended block is clear and they can proceed. It also works the other way as well. It’s kind of primitive, but I presume that until the field work related to the NTSB’s investigation of the accident is complete, they can’t take any corrective action on that section of track. In fact, Metro reports that it will be like this through at least July 19.

I’ll be interested to see what the NTSB comes up with regarding this accident, that’s for sure, but I’d guess that a report on the accident is still at least eight months off. Seriously, it will probably be early spring next year when the final report is released. And then, like I’ve done for Metro’s past accidents, I actually sat down and read that report. The NTSB is very thorough in their work. They go through many different tests, ruling out different potential causes until they finally end up at what the exact failure or string of failures was that caused the accident – both equipment failures and human failures.

And now, though… it’s Friday, ya bastards!

Web site: NTSB report on Woodley Park-Zoo collision. Note how they go through all their tests to rule out all mechanical problems, and then conclude that the operator was asleep at the switch.

Song: Night on Bald Mountain footage set to "Boten Anna". Watch as Chernabog raises the roof!

Quote: Unrelated, but I recently ran across this news clip regarding a t-shirt controversy. I looked at the shirt, and it seemed pretty innocent to me. I don't think I would have ever thought there was anything wrong with the shirt unless someone told me what I was "supposed" to see in it. I consider myself pretty observant, and I didn't see the "hidden" message until someone told me what I was supposed to see. Which indicates that people are probably making a mountain out of a molehill...

Categories: Washington DC, WMATA