Overshadowed by the congressional hearings into the Toyota runaway car issue, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began the first of three days of hearings yesterday on the the June 2009 DC Metrocrash that killed nine and injured scores more.

Testimony by Metro's assistant chief engineer disclosed that there were at least two previous instances of "failures of the automatic train protection system" before the crash, said a story in today's Washington Post.

The Metro engineer said that in 2005 and in early 2009 Metro trains had come close to colliding. Equipment had been replaced after the 2005 incident, but he said that neither Metro nor the manufacturer of the equipment is "absolutely convinced" that the source of the problem in the automatic safety system was identified.

Up until this time, Metro officials had said that these two incidents and the train crash last year were unrelated.

The testimony also highlighted the numerous safety problems that have plagued Metro, especially over the past couple of years. It is clear that safety, while publicly portrayed as an important priority, is not treated as one.

The Post article, for instance, said that NTSB hearing Chairman Robert Sumwalt asked the new Metro board Chair Peter Benjamin why Metro's governing board lists oversight of funding and expansion among its core duties in the agency's official procedures but does not include safety?

The answer was less than satisfying. According to the Post,

"Benjamin agreed that the description should have included safety but said that board members rely on managers to bring exceptional concerns to their attention because of the large number of safety issues the agency faces every day."

Huh? There are so many "routine" safety issues that safety is not among the Metro Board's core duties, and only rises to their attention when it becomes an exceptional safety event?

Funding is a constant problem at Metro as well; so why is that considered a core duty?

The Post also reported that Metro Acting Deputy General Manager David Kubicek blamed the safety problems all on a few individuals - the classic management cop out to avoid any responsibility or accountability.

The hearings continue today.

The Conversation (0)

The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}