Tour of the metro

Yesterday, I took a tour of the metro headquarters on a field trip for my transportation policy grad school class and I would say the best part was seeing the control room where they operate the metro from.

You’d have to see this room to believe it (and unfortunately you can’t, because they wouldn’t let us take pictures for most of it), because it’s so enormous and looks so wonderfully futuristic. I felt like I was in one of those James Bond films in the villain’s lair, where there’s a giant computer screen up front and all these little consoles, but nonetheless, there’s a giant electronic map on the screen with every station and little rectangles on the screen of different colors (the color of the line) that move along it to signify where the trains are in real time. Little versions of that map are on consoles with 2 people on each line.

The people there are all very adept at managing the system, and I admire them greatly for it, because it seems like a lot of information is coming at them very fast that they have to process. They can’t neccessarily leave their desks like many of us can at our jobs. I don’t know if most people are aware of this (I imagine they are) but every train is individually deployed rather than on a computerized system. There’s a timetable that the conductors and everyone else in the system has to adhere to, but the trains don’t go off on their own.

They also talked about how they’re temporarily suspending the “next bus” program which gives you the time your next bus is arriving upon entering a Station ID but you can still call 202-637-7000 to find out about your next bus or train’s arrival.

Also, the University of Maryland (which I kind of mocked in my last article, all in good fun) sent some students on this field trip as well (as did George Washington) and their website is www.ltscm.com (it stands for their departmental program: Logistic, Transportation and Supply Chain Management).
They said they were planning on having some pictures put up on the sight from out trip (the areas where we were allowed to take pictures).

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One Response

  1. Interesting stuff!

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