Out of Control Policy Blog

What does it take to stop Houstonís zillion-dollar light rail line?

A hungry rodent:

    "A rat chewed the cable," David Feeley, Metropolitan Transit Authority's vice president of operations, told the agency's board Thursday.

    A rat or rats had crawled beneath a pole connected to an underground cable box near the Rice University platform and begun chewing on the casing surrounding an electric cable. Power had been shut off for maintenance Tuesday.

    When the system powered up at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, Feeley said, the exposed cable came into contact with rainwater that had pooled in the cable box, causing an electrical short that knocked the entire rail line out of commission and forced many of its 40,000 daily riders to find alternate transportation.

    Power later was restored to all of the rail system but the Rice University-Hermann Park area. Riders exited at the Texas Medical Center and took shuttle buses to the platform near the Wheeler Street stop, where they could continue.

It's pretty common for the bus to come to the rescue of stranded rail riders. Case in point from Baltimore.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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