Thursday, September 22, 2005

Attention. MTA Has an Important Announcment: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.*

Yesterday I made fun of MTA’s new message boards that are being installed over the next year in select subway stations. (The new message boards will – hold onto your socks now – show the date, time and when the next train will arrive. And if you drop a dime into the slot and step on the scale, it’ll tell you how much you weigh, too. Swell!)

Today, Newsday reports that MTA’s new internal communications system crashed, which has been ten years in the making:

The MTA's subway modernization plan suffered a setback this week when a new communication system crashed after it was unable to handle radio traffic generated by a routine delay, officials said Wednesday.

The breakdown on Tuesday clipped contact between dispatchers and hundreds of trains ... It also delayed by weeks the opening of a $225 million midtown control center that was to replace an antiquated NYC Transit facility in Brooklyn, officials said.

This all happened at the very same time that MTA officials were testifying before City Council about how great the new message boards are.

It’s easy to crack on MTA, but here’s a serious question: Is MTA’s communications infrastructure our version of a weak and eroded levee system?

*Apologies to Noam Chomsky.