City Desk

Computer Problems Big and Small at Metro

Today in seriously?:

Within a 12-hour period over the weekend, all Metro trains had to be halted after a key computer system crashed in Metro's control center.

Controllers couldn't see the moving map of where trains were. It happened shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday for a half hour. Then the problem occurred again early Sunday, from about 12:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Think about that: No trains moving for 30 minutes, twice in 12 hours. Unsuck D.C. Metro points out that Metro is supposed to have backup systems in the event of this kind of failure.

Is there any other institution in the city—heck, the country—that starts with such immense goodwill but just can't get it together? The only good thing about the computer crashes is that it makes today's Red Line screw-ups seem positively miniscule.

But it's not just the megacomputers that are causing trouble at Metro. An inspector general's audit found that the agency's procurement policies for all kinds of technology area mess, allowing new equipment sit unused and opening up the network to attack.

The audit criticizes Metro for breaking its rules on purchasing to spend, among other examples, $11,434 for Mac computers, monitors, and software for spokesperson Dan Stessel's office, which ended up described in a news story as "a technophile's wet dream." In an email to City Desk, Stessel writes that his purchases were approved, but the inspector general still dings the agency for breaking its rules on only buying Windows computers.

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  • http://www.kaleshot.com Alison

    Got caught in the Saturday computer debacle, spent 35 minutes getting from Rosslyn to Ballston on Sunday, and got caught in the Dupont Circle train-failure this AM on the Red Line. Metro, I think you and I need to go on a break.

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