Monday, September 13, 2010

Metro's Train Wreck

Late last week, Ma Parker and her Metro gang announced that the completion date for new rail lines will be delayed until 2014. It seems that the previous Metro administration tried to get around the federal law requiring that equipment be purchased from American companies, and the Federal Transit Administration is holding up the money needed to complete the lines.

Calling the challenges facing Metro "steep" and "rocky", Ma was quick to cast blame on former Metro CEO Frank Wilson. But any mismanagement on Wilson's part is not really Ma's concern:
We need to see whether there are any further investigations of Mr. Wilson, and I don't want to suppose whether there are or not. We are focused on Metro moving forward, and we'll worry about Mr. Wilson tomorrow.
Even though Metro has already spent $40 million on the contract it must now tear up, Ma doesn't care about the past. She is more concerned with jamming light rail down our throats and with hundreds of millions of tax dollars up for grabs, she isn't about to let anything get in her way. Investigating Wilson at this time might reveal deeper problems at Metro, and that could further undermine support for light rail.

The Chronicle agrees that the problem should simply be swept under the rug:
It's unfortunate that Wilson's insistence on driving the agency into a contract that violated federal rules will significantly delay construction schedules on the North, East and Southeast lines. What motivated this train wreck remains an open question, but solving that mystery shouldn't be the city's or Metro's top priority.  
Both the paper and Ma imply that there is no systemic problem at Metro. The problem lies with those managing that system. And since Metro now has new management, whatever caused this "train wreck" has surely been corrected.

This is quite convenient for supporters of light rail. Simply vilify the dearly departed, anoint the new management with an aura of sainthood, and everyone can merrily skip on down the tracks. There is no need to identify the cause of broken promises or wasted tax payer money. There is no need to learn from the past because doing so might threaten the future. To supporters of light rail, nothing--especially the facts--can be allowed to derail their plans.

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