WHAT IS TO BE said of local services in the aftermath of the storm? Day one, when things were going as well as they could have, was one thing. What followed has been quite another.
The storm, as you know all too well, occurred on Friday. Yesterday was Monday. On Friday, there was a complete Metro subway system. Yesterday, forget it. On Friday, there were many plows in sight, trying to keep at least some roads clear. Yesterday, you had to go some to find one, if you could go at all on those narrow, clogged strips that passed for city streets. Friday, people were in fairly good moods. Yesterday, those moods were evaporating faster than any clumps of snow.
Why on earth can't the subway be made to run precisely when it is most needed? Yes, we've heard all the various annual explanations about keeping the outside tracks clear and about that special rail that gets 1) clogged, 2) short-circuited, 3) buried, or 4) all of the above. But somewhere in the world of transit there is someone with an answer. Surely above-ground rail transportation is not generally known for having to be shut down in heavy precipitation. What is going on here? In snow storms, those trains just have to roll.
Back to the streets, which in the city were remarkably awful yesterday. Did some of those plows see their shadows and disappear, or were they working terribly quietly somewhere? On Friday and over the weekend, the District's crews did rather well, we thought; and certainly the city's biggest headaches were the cars strewn everywhere by motorists from all around the metropolis. No amount of radio warnings, towing threats or actual car removals seemed to relieve this mess, which did make plowing operations quite difficult.
Next time--and there will be one--how about enlisting the military in the area, which has equipment that might be helpful in emergency situations? Just as task forces have been meeting ever since the Air Florida crash to coordinate emergency equipment, officials could assemble a registry of snow equipment and procedures for calling it--as well as personnel--into helpful action. A register of four-wheel-drive vehicles would be especially useful for those hardships or emergencies we keep hearing about in radio and TV appeals.
All that capital-in-paralysis chatter may be amusing for a day or so. But when Washington can't seem to function for days afterward, authorities who fail to respond with new and better plans are shirking a serious responsibility.