Thursday, October 29, 2009

MARC managers answer to Stuck On MARC

MARC Train Director John Hovatter gave me about 20 minutes of his time toward the end of the three hour 'Meet the MARC Managers" session at Union Station this evening. I'll post more on our discussion - about the delayed diesel engines, new security program, stimulus funded system upgrades- later but for now I want to tell you what he said about today's MARC meltdown on the Penn Line (my morning train arrived 25 minutes late and my 6:40pm return was cancelled).

An Amtrak train pulled down a sagging overhead wire about 3:15 this afternoon, which in turn disabled the train and only left one free track for both north and south-bound Amtrak and MARC trains. At the time MTA warned of 10 to 30 minute delays on all Penn Line trains. Over four hours later- despite the cancellation of the earlier train- the 7:40 is running about 15 minutes behind schedule.

Director Hovatter's only explanation was it's "one of those things that happen," and "it could have happened anywhere." He said that Amtrak would repair the overhead line that snagged the train and caused a domino effect of problems by tomorrow. The repair isn't symptomatic of a line system in need of replacement. The fix is "not a big deal" Hovatter said.

What's a big deal is the anguish caused to riders, one of whom cursed MARC personnel on my delayed train tonight, calling them "jack#*(:!" with "substandard IQs. In defense of MARC personnel, the managers handled an irate crowd tonight with patience and Hovatter was fairly well informed on most issues, though he refused to let me tape record our conversation and I had to push him to expound upon vague answers to my questions.

Check back soon for more answers from the MARC director to questions posed by Stuck on MARC.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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