Two weeks after the fabled Apple Cup train wreck, we get an apology written either by Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit—or one of his PR or legal goons. Either way, I think that apology is solid. It gets into the meat of what went wrong and hits on all of the issues I think are critical during a mechanical emergency inside the Link tunnels.
I took to Instagram (@longhouse_cat) to detail what I believe went wrong during the November 26 incident. Basically, the breakdown shows the lack of redundancy for passenger communication systems onboard Link trains, which can literally mean the difference between life and death for potentially hundreds of people on board. I also detail why it’s a bad idea to evacuate a train without crew instructions (given no life/limb was immediately on the line): potential deadly contact with the power supply, trains travelling on a second track, and unexpected hazards in the tunnels. I concluded with a scathing assessment on rider education: Sound Transit must regularly educate riders on evacuation protocols with clear and easy-to-understand instructions.
I don’t think I need to reiterate the value of owning up to one’s mistakes. Rogoff’s apology shows just that. He owned up to the mistakes on behalf of Sound Transit. He also understands exactly what went wrong during that evening and has committed to addressing the most important things: communication, communication, and rider education. It didn’t take a months-long investigation with NTSB to hold oneself accountable for the safety and welfare of hundreds of transport passengers. These are the lessons transport agencies across the U.S. should adopt so that our public transport can be the safest it can be. That’s it. See you.