BART / reduced hours / work windows BETTER
Author: Carl A.
Date: 03-26-2020 - 00:18
I spotted a notice on bart.gov -- "Special BART Board meeting to be held to 3/26 to discuss COVID-19." I composed a "public comment" which might be of interest. I think the railroad I refer to was the New York Central, but I'm not sure about that. My audience may have never heard of the New York Central.
Public Comment -- Item 3 -- Transbay Tube & other upgrades and maintenance to track
Amid the crisis, I have a major suggestion for what BART should do.
My suggestion is based on something I learned in 1972 at Stanford. It has great relevance to BART’s current crisis. I was taking a course on “engineering economy.” In fields like railroad management, engineers must evaluate different options when a project is proposed or postponed.
Our professor told us what happened on a major railroad in 1958-59. BART is a big operation, but that railroad was bigger. The railroad had an ongoing need to maintain its track.
In 1958, there was a major recession which cut the railroad’s traffic and profits. In 1959, there was a lengthy steel strike which did the same. Our professor pointed out that this was exactly when the railroad should INCREASE its track maintenance. Why? Because with fewer trains, THIS was the time to do necessary work. There were better “work windows.” Therefore, the railroad would get better value for money.
But the railroad’s top management rejected this idea. Top management decided that doing this work NOW, when traffic was less, would interfere with the price of its stock. About a decade later, this railroad was part of the biggest bankruptcy in US history.
Consider BART. The Transbay Tube work is a really big job, and essential tasks can’t be done without work windows. Work windows were made somewhat less restrictive by making the service changes that began several months ago. But the work windows remained rather short. That means the work costs more -- lots more -- than it would have to, given the much bigger reduction of hours of service that began about a week ago. Also, it takes more months to finish.
So: BART should “seize the day” for work windows. Every possible task that requires work windows should be done NOW, when longer work windows are feasible.