The press coverage on Brightline's opening week has been ridiculous. For Tampa Rail fodder my goal has been to find some interesting posts and online social media snippets about the grand opening operations, in order to call them out and highlight what should be a wonderful period of time. But it's been damn near impossible to mine from the MSM stream because all the headlines are painting the new train line as a killer.
Embed of report from ABC News 10, Miami.
Two things of course, I get it. It's death and Brightline is a new train line; coverage of the nuances involved with human individual judgement won't generate clicks as well as the possibility that leaders or the institution of a new capital social implement in general are at fault. In other words, the "gotcha media" dynamic is well at play here.
The second thing I get is that three people (as of this writing) have died. These were people, subject to the same lapses and fallibilities in judgement that we all are, but which for most of us the results have thusfar not been fatal. These were people with families and other endeared connections to them as well as to their communities.
The victims here cannot be blamed because the victims here could be any of us at any time .
Therefore I am left to question only the media's take. The real story, undoubtably the more boring story, is the area's pedestrian acclimation to a new rail line that previously did not exist, and Florida's conversion at large to a rail-transit option society.
Giving credit that on one side all Brightline leaders want to do is to provide a safe and efficient new mode of transport, and on the other side that people are generally smart enough to avoid beating trains across train tracks, we have to concentrate on what is happening in between to address these exceptional tragedies more honestly.
Boiled down, people need to be smarter about how they handle train crossings but at the same time an increased education and warning campaign needs to saturate the region experiencing this transit transformation. And, as an aside, it is not necessarily Brightline that should be entirely burdened with that task -- though they will likely take it on and pay for doing so, happily. Just watch the video above.
Such an education campaign is a more fundamental educational process that could well encompass countering all sorts of foolish transit-related behavior. Texting and driving comes to mind for instance.
Florida is an auto-dominated civilization wading slowly into one with a rail transit option. Something comprehensive will have to be done in order to make sure that more people co-habitate safely with commuter systems like Brightline, and, one day, high-speed rail lines.
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