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I lived in Berlin for two months this year, and used the S25 and the S1 on a daily basis. It always impressed me how super organised the entire system was. And their whole system really is based on contingency - if the s-bahn fails, there is always the bus or the u-bahn. It's mind-blowing, and I think it's a big reason why Berlin is the wonderful city that it is!

Keep blogging! I enjoy your posts.


It's a whole different world over there. Can't imagine being able to suggest other transit services as an alternative, as if there could be more than one service in one city. On the other hand, here the planning for shutting down a large part of the service has already been done, in preparation for the next round of budget cuts and corresponding service cuts. Just implement that ahead of schedule.


This is actually Meltdown II. They were able to respond so fast because they have had plenty of practice during the last four months. The whole story is almost funny:
- 1st May. A wheel of an S-Bahn train breaks. S-Bahn operator promises to double the frequency of inspections.
- 30th June. After some service cuts and messing around with the inspections the Federal Railway Authority has had enough and orders 190 of 500 two-car units to be put out of commission.
- 2nd July. The entire top executive level of the S-Bahn is fired.
- July sees severe service cuts. Only the onset of the summer holiday season reduces the chaos caused by the contingency service.
- 31st August. Every line is in operation again. But not at normal frequencies.
- September. Things are getting back to normal. But if it isn't those darned brakes that come up to foil the S-Bahn again.

I think they took the emergency plan which they developed over the last months out of the drawer again when they saw the shit hitting the fan again. That's why they were so fast with the new service plan.

Anyway, the public anger, the 100+m Euro extra cost and expected net loss that's coming to them is more than deserved. It's karma. When the parent company Deutsche Bahn decided to squeeze every drop of profit out of S-Bahn Berlin they imposed a high-fee contract on Berlin (and Berlin played along), started to dismantle maintenance operations/facilities, and scrapped cars they could have used now. Lessons for transit agencies: Don't be evil. Don't try to fleece the public. Do your maintenance. People have a long memory on things like this.


Who made those cars? Siemens?

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

To be fair, US and Australian agencies that I've observed do cooperate in emergencies as best they can. But there's no substitute for clear lines of authority and communication in situations like this, and that's sometimes hard in multi-agency regions in the US, such as the Bay Area.


I didn't so much mean inability/unwillingness to cooperate as much as (outside of NY and SF and whichever few other special cities) lack of anyone to cooperate with. Maybe a city 80 miles away could send a few extra buses (which they don't have the money to operate anyway) over on loan if half the buses were out of action due to brake problems. But it's not as if there is something else already running in the city. We're lucky to have anything at all.


That does happen actually. I think all sorts of cities sent a whole bunch of buses to New Orleans when theirs were out of service with water damage from Katrina. And when NYC Transit had defective buses, I believe DC lent some buses to keep the service running.

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