Major power outages caused chaos on mass transit systems in both New York and San Francisco Friday, with parts of both cities’ systems still suffering ongoing outages or delays into the pre-weekend afternoon commute. Los Angeles also had a major power outage shortly after San Francisco and New York.
Some have worried that the power outages were a cyberattack, but it is only ongoing incompetence allow infrastructure to become old (over 50 years old and sometimes over 100 years old) and fragile rather than an evil attack.
In the movies, disaster requires an evil and smart opponent but reality has plenty of incompetence and negligence to cause disasters.
The infrastructure is aging and terrible despite over $800 billion being spent on shovel ready projects. It is terrible despite decades of warnings about the problems. It is going to stay bad for a long time because the most recent incidents will only cause minimal patches and maintenance. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 had $831 billion between 2009 and 2019. $105.3 billion went to infrastructure.
In 2005, a 5-year, $305-billion bill to address the nation’s aging and congested transportation systems was signed into law by President Barack Obama, who said it would put Americans to work and provide states with the federal help they need to commit to long-term projects. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by Congress a day earlier, provided a modest increase to highway and transit spending but falls short of the $400 billion over six years administration officials said was necessary to keep traffic congestion from worsening.
PGE was the evil corporation that was responsible for the poisoned ground water which was made into the Erin Brockovich movie. Fifteen years after the film showed triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for contaminating its water — and nearly 20 years after the settlement itself — Hinkley is emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find resolution.
For residents, questions remain about the safety of the water, just how much contamination PG and E caused and how to fix it.
More than six years after a PG&E pipeline explosion killed eight people and injured dozens more, a San Francisco judge handed down a sentence that will put PG and E’s crimes in the spotlight. The utility giant was convicted of six felony charges connected to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. PG&E’s sentence includes a $3 million fine, a five-year probation period, independent safety monitoring and 10,000 hours of community service.
San Francisco outage because of PGE and city incompetence and failures
The San Francisco outage was blamed on a fire at a power substation in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman Barry Anderson said the power outage began with the failure of a circuit breaker at the large substation.
“We had equipment failure, the catastrophic failure of a circuit breaker,” said Anderson. “When it failed, it created a fire in the insulation surrounding the breaker…. Something went wrong with the breaker to cause it to explode.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said of the 88,000 customers who lost power, 58,000 has been restored by 2 p.m. Pacific Time. The remainder would be restored by 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the nation’s energy system with a D+, and the mass transit system with a D-.
– poisoned water over 20 years ago and still not fully fixed
– gas explosions with felony charges
– unreliable power and large power failures
The organization’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card noted that much of the U.S. energy system dates back before the turn of the 20th century, and most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and ’60s with a now-exceeded life expectancy of 50 years.
New York city government and Con Ed incompetent
The New York power failure occurred at 7:30 a.m. at the Seventh Avenue station, at 53rd Street. Because it knocked out the station’s signal system, most of the trains that stop there, on the B, D and E lines, had to be rerouted to other lines. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the power loss had resulted from a Con Ed equipment failure.
Any train that was not rerouted had to be manually directed through the station, a particularly time-consuming process, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subways. Because the system’s lines are so intertwined, a ripple effect was almost inevitable. A spokeswoman for the authority likened it to cars being diverted from a highway to local streets. Gridlock ensued as other subway stations dealt with the resulting overflow.
Subway experts said that aging infrastructure had made the system’s problems worse. Some stations date back more than 100 years.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.