We all remember that MAX train that went down the Banfield with a door open, right? Which is not how the train is supposed to work – if your doors are open and you try to take power to move the train forward, the doors will close. The interlock should prevent the train from moving if any doors remain open.
For some reason, this door stayed open between the Hollywood and Lloyd Center platforms, but no cause had been identified until last Friday afternoon, when TriMet issued a press release that the cause of the door’s malfunction had been determined:
That would be great except for one thing – that door doesn’t have a bridgeplate. The incident happened in a Type 2, and like all other low-floor cars in the fleet, bridgeplates are located at doors 3, 4, 5, and 6 near the middle of the train on both sides. The doors closest to the ends of the train (1, 2, 7, and 8) do not have bridgeplates. They aren’t missing or corroded, they are just not there by design. It’s impossible that there was excessive corrosion on a bridgeplate mechanism in that door because there is no mechanism there to corrode in the first place.
What does our executive director of safety have to say about this?
Yeah, the corrosion on that switch was apparently so severe that the switch and bridgeplate are just GONE. Let me give you an analogy for how mind-blowingly confusing TriMet’s official statement is:
Now while the major media sources I’ve seen so far are just parroting back that the issue was due to corrosion on that door’s bridgeplate switch, many people are realizing this doesn’t add up. You don’t need to be an expert in the trains to notice that the doors near the upper deck seating of the train don’t have bridgeplates. One of my astute blog readers picked right up on it, other bloggers and Twitter users caught it too. That explanation seems to just be made up.
DID NO ONE THINK TO CHECK THE BRIDGEPLATE?? Actually that’s going to be my new excuse for everything. Signal went dark? Probably a corroded bridgeplate switch. TVM not working? Most likely due to bridgeplate corrosion. Fight on the train? Yeah, that pesky bridgeplate corrosion again.
But hey! Let’s not miss an opportunity to blame the union! In other words, let’s look at this part at the end of the press release that has NOTHING to do with the door issue:
Do you like how those goalposts have been moved? TriMet used to call the union benefits “some of the most generous in the transit industry” – now that’s been bumped up to THE most generous benefits in the entire COUNTRY. Hoo-wee!
Once again, TriMet non-union benefits aren’t too shabby either. Will we mention those as a cost-cutting measure? Course not.
Must be hard being an executive at TriMet, not getting a raise on some of the most generous salaries in the transit industry after three years? I’d say “no disrespect to office workers” here, but you know what? If you’re offended by my belief that people who work all hours of the day all days of the year in all weather conditions in hot/noisy/dirty/hostile environments should get health care that compensates for that, and that the people making 6-figure salaries working in climate controlled environments with weekends, evenings, and holidays off paying less than $100/month to insure their entire family don’t exactly have room to complain that the union health benefits (for which union employees pay higher premiums per month than the non-union employees) are “too generous”, you and I just aren’t going to see eye-to-eye.
And hey, ATU would be happy to negotiate when TriMet agrees to full transparency by letting the sessions be open to the public. Because funny enough, there’s been a lot of instances such as this explanation of a bridgeplate problem in a door that has no bridgeplate, last-minute fixes of long-standing alignment problems right before an inspection, and stealth raises to executives while crying poverty and blaming the union that have us all kind of thinking that TriMet can’t exactly be trusted to be transparent.
Anyway, back to the door issue. I’m really stumped here. If whoever looked at the door was not able to replicate the problem, the correct response would be to just say so, and maybe dedicate more resources to monitoring the condition of the doors. I find it next to impossible to believe that a mechanic said the problem was because of a bridgeplate-related issue in that door (and even if a mechanic DID say that, that no one else involved in the process said “Hey guys? This door doesn’t have a bridgeplate.”)
Who knows what actually caused it? Maybe whoever grabbed the door bumped it in such a way that the interlock registered it as closed. Maybe some connection in there was loose anyway and the person trying to get in just broke it all the way. Even if the cause were a problem with a bridgeplate in another door of that car that might have affected the interlock system for the whole car (I don’t even know if that’s possible), then the press release should have stated THAT. Because if what the press release said is the complete and final answer, and TriMet is going to say it was a bridgeplate problem in that specific door, then we still don’t know what actually did it and we’re not going to be able to prevent it from happening again as long as the explanation is to technobabble an answer that has no basis in the mechanical reality of that door.
I can’t tell if this is intentional deception and assuming the public is too dumb to question why the explanation involves a component that isn’t part of that door, or just plain old-fashioned incompetence. Either way, it’s incredibly disappointing of TriMet, and it’s also disappointing that they take a safety issue as an opportunity to throw slurs at the union.