>Ok, so over the past week I’ve been collecting little snippets but not having time to comment on any of them. Since commenting on interesting things I find is the whole point behind Infosnack, I have to resort to a multiple links post. Feel free to comment on any of the following items I found interesting:
- This graph from The Oil Drum shows the relationship between oil consumption and gasoline prices. Near the center of the graph is the USA, the sharp vertical rise shows how much we consume compared to other countries. Even though the countries to the right of the graph (Venezuela, Iran, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia) heavily subsidize fuel (Venezuela is only 3 cents per liter!) combined, they don’t currently amount to a lot of consumption, but their consumption is growing the fastest because of their low prices.
- This WMATA press release is about a new program where WMATA would serve as a model for emergency preparedness for other transit agencies. I don’t know how they handle train malfunctions currently, but if I were them, I would have the rail operations folks figure out a game plan for a disabled train at any point in the system, then put the plans in a spiral bound book, available to all station managers, train operators, central control, and decision makers. That way, if there were a train disabled on the outbound track at, say, Clarendon (like there was today), they could communicate the plan quickly and unambiguously (e.g., “execute plan ‘gold three'”, which would correspond to a page in the book that lays out how to single track around the problem, how to turn trains around mid-line to create capacity, what announcements to make on-train, in stations, on whiteboards at station entrances, where to send the shuttle buses, etc. I have a Navy background, and we write this stuff down in “casualty procedures”. I’d be surprised that WMATA does not have anything of this nature, but it seemed like during some recent incidents they were making it up as you go along. Certainly there will be situations that cannot be anticipated, but a disabled train due to brake, door, or control problems happens often enough that the plan should be written and disseminated. Perhaps I should call a contact in WMATA and find out what they do. I would expect to run into the security exemption in the Public Access to Records Policy, though.
- This NYT article discusses shifting Medicare from a pay-per-service system (where doctors are paid on the basis of how many services they provide) to a pay-per-condition system (where doctors are paid a standard fee per patient based on their condition, such as diabetes, cancer or alzheimer’s). The author argues that this will keep Medicare cost growth down by encouraging doctors to choose care that’s medically appropriate rather than just “filling the machine”, e.g., you purchased an MRI machine and now have to order enough tests to pay off the capital cost. I have two friends who are doctors, I’ll ask them their opinions on the article. I would bet that they might be offended at the article’s implication that doctors are somehow dishonest, but maybe they’ll have an insight from a provider’s perspective on how to control Medicare costs.
- This planetizen article is the future of the Orange line, 20 years from now. With the Blue line completely rerouted over the long bridge, as in this Greater Greater Washington Post (based on a WMATA committee report – PDF), all 8 car trains, and 2-3 minute headways, WMATA may have to consider wholesale removal of most of the seats for some cars of the trains (perhaps the two or four center cars of the 8-car trains). This would increase the capacity of a car dramatically – from 120 to 150 or more, based on removing 16-32 seats (PDF) and an assumption that each seat removed could increase the passenger load by 1-2 persons per seat removed. That’s a 20% increase over a standard WMATA railcar, but with hardly any seats. If you switch half of a train, that’s an 10% increase in capacity. At that point, you’re maxed out. Maximum length train, maximum people per train, maximum number of trains, you’re going to have to resort to “train pushers” (youtube).