Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Metro a Mess, Traffic Too

Hey, the irony of this first story is very tidy. It's in the last line. This is from WTOP.
WASHINGTON - Metro's communication glitch that prevented riders from paying with credit and debit cards Wednesday morning is getting back on track.

The transit agency says services started getting back to normal around 8:30 a.m.

However, some riders tell WTOP they were still having trouble paying with plastic. Customers have been limited to charging a maximum of $20 at fare vending machines.

The NextBus system, SmartBenefits and the e-alert system are also not operational.

At 2:45 a.m., an internal power distribution unit failed at Metro headquarters, disrupting bus and rail operations.

The unit provides power to a key computer data center for the transit agency.

During the morning, Metrobuses were not accepting fares. Fares are now being accepted, Metro says.

Metro also could not communicate with its bus drivers in the field, and the public address system was not working.

The problem did not affect Metro's ability to monitor subway trains.

Metro says its trains, buses and paratransit service are operating as usual. Communication at Metro slowly returning to normal

Yes, this sounds pretty usual. Except they didn't mention the escalators that don't work.

So since the Metro is a mess, the thing to do is drive yourself, right?

Nope. Another story from WTOP:
WASHINGTON - Montgomery County is working frantically to "troubleshoot" a major computer failure that caused traffic headaches throughout the county Wednesday.

"There's simply no centralized computer control. The signals are working independently, instead of in any coordinated fashion. That will continue until we get the problem fixed," Emil Wolanin, chief traffic engineer for Montgomery County, tells WTOP.

Engineers hoped to have fixed the problem by the evening commute, but it doesn't appear likely.

The problem started overnight.

"We don't exactly know what the problem is right now, but we think there's a communications interface between the primary computer and the modems that talk to all the cameras," Wolanin says.

"We're focusing all of our resources on trying to troubleshoot that problem and fix it."

The lights do turn green, yellow and red, but engineers have no computerized way to make sure they are in sync.

During the rush hours, congested areas ended up more congested than normal.

On Wednesday morning, Montgomery County put its techs and engineers out in the field to manually adjust timing for the lights.

"We have to send our signal technicians and our engineers out to each of the local controllers at the intersection and modify timings if they don't seem to be sufficient to handle the flow of traffic."

The county has been monitoring traffic from the air and via traffic cameras throughout the day.

"So far, there is nothing that putting an officer in the street is necessarily going to change or make better. If we have to that, we will," he says.

The county has contractors on site working on the computer system.

"This is a rather old computer. It's probably 25 to 30 years old. It's a 1980s-vintage Data General main frame computer. Parts are not really available."

Wolanin says the computer crash comes as the county initiated a major modernization of the traffic computers.

"We are working to replace this old-aged system. We're just not there yet." Montgomery Co.'s traffic computer system fails

Today just seems to be the day for it...


Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Lights are working. Would have been nice to have some redundancy in the system.

November 05, 2009 10:36 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

I think what would be best would be a system with distributed intelligence, self-organizing, so that it doesn't need a central controller. Each intersection would be an autonomous entity, able to communicate with intersections nearby but not knowing the state of the system as a whole. Then a light could go out but the other lights could make adjustments to compensate ... I think I wrote a book about that ...


November 05, 2009 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, we need a swarm specialist to handle this traffic mess and, as far as I know now that Michael Crichton is dead, you're the only one of those around

some celebs just don't have enough sense to leave a burning building:

"Beyonce is running into more trouble overseas due to her revealing clothing and "suggestive" dance moves.

The singer is scheduled to perform tomorrow (November 6) at the Red Sea Resort in Port Ghalib, Egypt, but according to reports, some in the conservative country are rallying against her appearance, including claims that she is "satanic."

The organization the Muslim Brotherhood, says Beyonce is merely a ploy to divert citizens' attention. "The government is trying to make people indulge in sin and licentiousness to cover up the other crimes it is committing against them," said Muslim Brotherhood's Hamdi Hassan, who is also an Islamist Member of Egyptian Parliament. "Her provocative dance moves and half-naked outfits could easily stir up reaction from ardent religious and modest people, observers."

Some conservative religious groups also believe the high cost of tickets to the show -- which are up to $400 U.S. dollars, according to reports -- are a disservice to the poverty stricken area.

The religious website also got in on the Beyonce bashing, slamming her claims at being religious. "Beyonce is NO Christian. She is satanic, serving the Devil," said a statement on the site."

OK, so the complaint is:

1. her performance ia satanic

2. she's charging everone too much to see it

Does this lady need money that bad?

Does she have any friends to tell her these guys in the Middle East are nuts?

November 06, 2009 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Former Miss California runner-up, Carrie Prejean had her day in court yesterday, though it didn’t turn out quite the way she had hoped. The Beauty Pageant almost Queen was suing the Miss California Pageant officials for a litany of charges including public ridicule, anxiety, depression and loss of sleep stemming from the official’s handling of her career.

Everything was going fine until the defendants started playing an extremely graphic homemade sex tape starring none other than Miss Prejean, herself.

It’s been reported that it only took about fifteen seconds of playing the tape before Prejean decided to drop her lawsuit. If all litigation could only end so quickly."

November 06, 2009 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please delete this cut-and-paste

it's off-topic and without commentary

November 06, 2009 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's what I like to see:

a quiet TTF

after Tuesday, they need yto go to the sidelines and take some oxygen

November 08, 2009 1:19 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, I had some technical problems posting this week. I am working on a solution today.


November 08, 2009 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Does a few days of blog or website inactivity mean there's a need for some sideline oxygen? Then what do years/months of such inactivity mean? In the case of the CRWs, it means there's no hope; they are decomposing.

The CRC's blog became a link to an MCPS bashing blog that's been inactive since March 2008, with no signs of life. And the ShowerNuts don't even have a blog, but their last "news" item is dated April 14, 2009.

I guess all the sideline oxygen in the world can't reach groups that are so far down the drain.

November 08, 2009 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like a-non-B is receiving oxygen again but I fear the brain damage is irreversible

November 08, 2009 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I guess Anon missed the CRC Memo on Blog Posting Guidelines. Here it is:

Msg Topic [No Replies]
How to Become a Blogger/Blogging Guidelines

Blog Information

Our CRC blog is

To become a CRC Blogger:

Email Jamie McDonald ( He will email you an invitation to Blog that you will need to respond to. You will need a account to post. The email message you will receive provides a link to accept the invitation and also provides the following options:

“If you already have a Blogger account, you will be asked to either accept or decline this invitation.

If you do not have a Blogger account, you can create one for free in less than a minute. Just click the invite link and press the ‘Create an Account’ button.”

So if you don’t have a Blogger account, you can create one.

Each time you want to post, you go to and login. After you log in you will be taken to the CRC blog page and can start creating posts. There is a ‘help’ option in the top right corner of the page. You can save your posts as a draft, and after posting you can edit and delete your posts latter.

Blog Posting Guidelines

Any related subject matter is relevant. It could be a comment or synopsis of all our documents, or current (or not so current) events of similar circumstances in other communities, or your worldview of what’s happening, etc.

Clearly we do not want to appear harsh, rude, insulting, etc. So no name calling and the like. However ‘technical descriptions’ of the opposition are OK, like, “they’re more phobic about the truth than they we are”, etc.

If you think something is questionable, just post it on our CRC Staff site first, and your sure to receive comments!

Honestly, I really don’t think any of this guideline information is necessary to say. But we need to keep in mind that whatever is posted will be replicated many times all over the place and if it’s interpretable in a way that can even remotely possibly hurt our cause rather than help, well, we want to prevent that.

[Date=01-28-2005] Name:TonyC, [Msgid=772341]

November 10, 2009 10:08 AM  

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