MONTGOMERY COUNTY, August 30, 2013 – Almost one week after discussions began for Washington D.C.’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, the city’s metro line suffered a major train derailment. Last night, on WMATA’s Red Line, two cars derailed for reasons that are still under investigation.
While no injuries occurred, the group behind the Olympic bid planned to cite the extensive public transportation system as a key reason why the Olympics should come to the District.
The city’s metro system has been in a near constant state of repair in recent years. This week NBC Washington reported that certain metro stations could be closed for up to six weeks to conduct repairs. Responding to the allegations, initially WMATA did not deny that an extended closure was a possibility, and issued statements explaining the situation on Twitter.
Shortly after Metro spokesperson Caroline Lukas, contradicted the official Twitter account, stating “We’re not shutting down the Red Line.
Critics and fans of the D.C. Olympic bid have both pointed to the Metro system as an important consideration in bringing the Olympics to the city. Those in favor of the bid believe that the projected 5 billion dollars in investments could be utilized to upgrade and modernize the transportation hub.
The funds, supporters contend, would provide significant economic advantages to Maryland and Virginia as well. Opponents believe that the metro system is already overtaxed, is not reliable, and is not nearly extensive enough to support an influx of millions of Olympic fans.
Infrastructure upgrades are a key component of Olympic bids from most applicants. China committed to 20 billion dollars in upgrades during its bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. London’s infrastructure improvements have won international praise for sustainability, as the upgrades were designed to benefit the city long after the Olympic Games concluded.
“Brazilian officials have promised that public works projects such as overhauling urban transit, airports and ports, building new roads, sports stadiums and hotels, and upgrading communications and the energy grid, will be completed on time,” reported Americas Quarterly. The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Washington D.C. is not the only American bid for the games, nor is it the only city with public transportation woes. Competing city Philadelphia recently closed one of its historic train stations called “The Dinky” for lack of use, and its mass transit system SEPTA was ranked #1 by AAA for smartphone thefts in America.
Dallas News reports that the contending city’s transit system, named DART, “is deteriorating much faster than expected and soon will need its rails replaced.” Los Angeles will have to deal with its designation by TIME Magazine as the worst city in America for traffic in its bid for the games.
The D.C. metro suffered another setback earlier this year, when the contractor hired to install cell phone towers throughout the system filed for bankruptcy. WMATA will miss the Congressional deadline for the installation of this service, and experts now believe it will be 2016 before the towers come online.
Blame for the project was also given to WMATA, when Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T wrote a letter to the agency criticizing the agency for delays and inefficiency.