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Metro trains slow down, belatedly, for ShakeOut earthquake drill

October 18, 2012 | 12:26 pm

As a Red Line train approached the Hollywood/Western stop just after 10:17 a.m., a mother rocked her crying baby, a middle-aged man laughed at a joke told to him in Spanish by a fellow rider and a cyclist read from a novel propped on the seat of his bright yellow bike.

Two minutes later, the train entered the Hollywood/Vine stop and the riders went their separate ways, their trips undisturbed -- and unaware of the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill.

All Metro trains were scheduled to slow down at 10:18 a.m., but when the time came, train cars continued to coast as usual.

Bruce Shelburne, interim executive director of rail operations for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said a miscommunication with the control center prevented the scheduled slowdown and announcements from occurring as planned.

"It was an error at our control center," Shelburne said. "Our system manager treated it as a simulation rather than as a drill."

Systemwide, trains did not get an announcement or slow at 10:18 a.m. Instead, the control center conducted a simulation, Shelburne said. He reaffirmed that the system was well-prepared in the event of a real emergency.

Later, however, transportation officials did slow trains to restrictive speeds until 11 a.m. and made announcements about the drill.


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-- Rosanna Xia in Union Station and Wesley Lowery in Hollywood