I work in the PR department of Capital Metro. Theoretically I should be tactful, articulate. However, not this week. I met up with a TV news reporter yesterday at the Downtown Station. As you may know, the MetroRail trains began evening testing this week–there are  a lot more trains on the tracks, and at night, too. Capital Metro made a concerted effort to get the word out to neighborhoods and schools about this change and also put up signage along the tracks advising people to watch out for trains. And likewise, in our department, we gave a lot of news interviews to help inform the community–not just from a safety standpoint but also to report on the progress we’re making to get the system ready for passengers.

DMU Billy Briggs, not making air quotes

At any rate, because I was downtown, I had the opportunity to meet a few of the train engineers and see off the first few trains as they left the station to test the afternoon schedule. The engineer behind the controls of the 4:55 train was Billy Briggs. After we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, recognition flashed across his face. “You’re the one who was on TV yesterday saying the engineers were ‘getting their feet wet’ operating the train at night.” (Imagine some air quotes and eye rolling as he’s talking. )

Now, I don’t exactly remember saying that, and while it’s definitely a hokey phrase to use, I wasn’t making the connection just yet as to why it elicited such an exasperated response from Billy.  He was good natured about it as he explained just how much rail experience most of the train engineers have.

Billy, for example, has 15 years in the industry. (This is the point in the story where I cough my proverbial foot out.)  In fact, among all of our MetroRail engineers, the average is 13 years of experience. These are highly trained professionals in the rail industry, and yes of course there will be unique aspects to our line for which nighttime practice would be required in order to have full mastery of the line, but clearly they are well beyond getting their feet wet.  (cough, cough)

We’re planning to introduce customers to our rail engineers via profiles on our blog in the few months leading up to opening day. I think you’ll be impressed with their qualifications and expertise.

To Billy, and to all of our engineers, here’s a shout out from your friend in the PR department! Sorry!

2 thoughts on “Oops.

  1. Stuart Werbner

    When and if MetroRail finally starts service, I think people are going to be pretty disappointed. In the midst of all the delays and lame excuses coming out of Cap Metro and finger pointing by the politicians, there is one issue that has received little attention — the fact that MetroRail will start operating with basically a single set of track.. True, there will be double track around each station, but the length between stations will still be single track. This will lead to unexpected delays, frustration, and disappointment by riders. I, personally, have suffered through this before with South Florida’s TriRail. That is why I don’t believe I will be bumming a ride on MetroRail, and will continue suffering with the express buses instead. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. chrysrobyn

      Stuart, you’ve got a great point. Single track is a major weakness and means we’re constricted to peak times because once 6 trains get to one end of the line, 6 trains can go back to the other side — can’t have them circulating in any sensible manner.

      Personally, I’m doubly angered by the high cost of fare (coupled with the our lower salaries compared with other high fare cities that the Statesman outlines) and the missing bus service that would match the stations. The Howard Lane station is idiotic for as long as all its bus traffic flows through Tech Ridge, and the Kramer station isn’t close enough to area businesses for commuters to find useful without another connection. I feel CapMetro isn’t interested in the residents of Wells Branch or the employees of North Burnet Rd — which is a shame since there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of people in each.

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