Dooley, Erin and Becky Perlow. “Hoboken Crash Reignites Debate Over Positive Train Control.” ABC News 10 Sept. 2016, http://abcnews.go.com/US/hoboken-crash-reignites-debate-positive-train-control/story?id=42464599.
This article discussed the preventative measures that some argue should already be implemented in passenger railway transport within the United States. On September 16th of this year a New Jersey Transit passenger train barreled into the station, injuring 114 people, and fatally wounding a woman. Investigators were not yet able to distinguish what was the cause of the crash: if it was a system malfunction or human error. But as news of the tragedy broke, public officials used this event to bring up the topic of implementation of new safety systems within railway transport. Technologies like positive trail control, some argue could have prevented the Hoboken crash. Positive train control (PTC) works as a fail-safe emergency brake for the trains when the systems sense that the trains run above the speed limits, along with other features and scenarios. However, the employment of such technologies has lagged even after the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act which requires PTC systems to be installed in trains that transport passengers or hazardous materials by the end of 2015. But this date was set back even further to 2018 because trade organizations protested that the original date was unreasonable. There wasn’t much backlash to prolonging the date because either the public wasn’t aware of the act in the first place and/or because they didn’t feel the importance because they weren’t involved with the railway system.
This source affects the direction of my thinking by showing how broken the entire process surrounding the American railway system is. Not only are the railway systems not utilized to the fullest ability, but even when advancements are set to be implemented they fall to the wayside. Later when the devastating effects are felt by the public, such as train crashes that could have been prevented by updated technologies like PTC, the perception of “hazardous” trains persists. Trains enter a viciously ironic cycle as they are demonized, ignored, cause avoidable misfortunes that would have been caught if they received proper attention, then demonized once again, thus restarting the cycle. These observations allow me to further my argument of how perceptions shape the way that society implements technology. Some questions that arise out of this piece are: How many systems since the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act have been completely updated as mandated? Or has the Improvement Act slipped through the cracks? What institution/agency would oversee reinforcing acts like the Improvement Act?