Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Experience Keeps a Dear School

I have not (yet) accessed an actual copy of Poor Richard's Almanack, published by Benjamin Franklin, but one of the many famous aphorisms from Franklin's annual tomes goes to the effect that "Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other."

But for all of the fools who pay the high tuition fees to learn in the School of Experience, there are always some who don't learn the lessons.

Such as the shmucks at New Jersey Transit.

Despite multiple emphatic predictions from the various weather wonks (plural), the NJT folks insisted on parking their rail equipment (commonly known as "trains") in the Meadowlands yard at Kearny to wait out Hurricane Sandy.  And so, all of those brand new locomotives and rail cars got soaked with the filthy saline solution constituting the storm surge.

This in and of itself is not remarkable.  But the Long Island Railroad and the Metro North Railroad did take the weather predictions seriously, and did move their equipment away from the low-lying areas.

And over at the other end of the NJT, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority actually did learn from its expensive lesson last year with Hurricane Irene.  For those who are unfamiliar, assuming that the rails are not flooded out and that the equipment is in fact running, one can, as I have done on a few occasions, ride NJT from New York to Trenton and then catch a SEPTA train from Trenton to Philadelphia, and vice-versa.  Some SEPTA rail cars parked at the Trenton station during Hurricane Irene got soaked when the Assunpink Creek, which flows by the tracks at the Trenton station, overflowed.

[It is parenthetically noted that much of the railroad right of way between Trenton and Princeton Junction is in low-lying flood-prone territory, and indeed, I have over the years been delayed on more than one Washington to New York Amtrak train on account of the surfeit of hydrogen hydroxide on and around the rails.].  Ironically, when Hurricane Irene hit last year, it was NJT that moved its cars from Trenton.

This year, the SEPTA people were determined to not make the same mistake, and moved their equipment before Sandy came.

Given the enormity of the storm, I would give the LIRR a B-minus in its performance during Hurricane Sandy, a tremendous improvement over their D-minus to F grades which have been typical over the years.  LIRR thought about recovery.  LIRR did not have any significantly damaged equipment on account of Sandy.  And LIRR has recovered as best it can; the tunnels under the East River are the property of Amtrak, upon whom LIRR must unfortunately depend for tunnel maintenance and accessibility.  Is this just a fluke, or is LIRR really beginning to understand the lessons which are part of the curriculum of the School of Experience? 

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