Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday's Incident...

Monday was not a good day for TRAX passengers along the north-south rail line. Something apparently fell from Interstate 80 and damaged the wire that carries the power to the cars. It took many hours to fix the problem so here is my thoughts on the problems.

First of all UTA did what it could at the beginning as they used the good track to turn the section of track into a single track line. The downside of this is because of the way the signaling system works the trains have to travel slower, but for the few times this has happens it is fine.

There is a big rally cry that buses should have been called out immediately. That is all well and good but there is some practicalities that need to be taken into consideration. UTA doesn't have drivers standing around waiting for that one time in years that they need an to get buses to TRAX. It takes time to get the drivers together and put the buses into service.

From reading the comments, some people act as though UTA should have drivers standing by in case that rare incident occurs and they have to use buses. Yet if UTA did have drivers standing around like that they would be attacking UTA for having drivers standing around doing nothing.

What UTA could do better is on the communication side. I was at the Sandy TRAX station when a guy committed suicide in front of the train at that station. Despite there being many UTA officials there, none of them told the passengers what was happening.

While that incident was a few years ago, last year I was heading down to Utah County. I took the first 40 bus (now 45) over to the TRAX station. It turned out that there was a train of the UTDC cars broken down near the 3900 South Station. No trains were coming but no one said anything to the passengers. Even when a out of service train pulled in the operator didn't have the courtesy to tell the waiting passengers what was going on.

Finally after about 30-minutes everything started moving. I was taking the first southbound train of the day to catch the 811 and thought I had missed it and was going to have to wait an half hour. However, UTA did communicate with the 811 driver and told her to wait for train to show up. So in that case they did do a good job communicating.

Yes UTA can improve, but rare incidents are going to happen. UTA needs to be prepared but there is limits to what can be done. What they should work on first, is communication with waiting passengers so that they know what is happening and this includes reminding the operators that they are ambassadors for the transit system so when incidents happen they need to keep their customers informed and not hide behind the operators door.


theorris said...

My only beef with what happened on Monday was the complete lack of communication. The least they could have done was put "Trains Delayed" on the electronic signs at the TRAX stations.

JMD said...

Exactly UTA needs to work on their communication.