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Walt Disney World Monorail Crash. One person dead.


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The MAPO override button is absolutely necessary to have in the trains. As I said, it is normal for a pilot to have to use this button, especially when they are taking a train to shop. The switch beams do not have a MAPO system on there, so they automatically register a red MAPO when trying to go over them. In order to get the train moving, the pilot needs an override. Also, the ONLY time a pilot is given permission to even touch the override button is in situations like this (taking trains to shop or moving a train to a station after being cleared in situations like trains breaking down). Like you said, if a pilot even touches the override button without permission, it is grounds for immediate termination.
Ah, I stand corrected good sir. In that case, I don't know that there's much that could be done to prevent this from an operational standpoint. I'm shocked that they gave permission to do the MAPO override without being more diligent in making sure of the whereabouts of the other train.

 

It wasn't a matter of knowing where the trains were, they knew where they were. The problem was a miscommunication in the location of a switch.

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As I see it now, no-one knows what happened, so everything that is being posted is pure speculation.

 

My thoughts go out to his colleagues, friends and family.

 

There ARE people who know what happened because there ARE people who witnessed the event and heard what was going on on the radio. These people have been asked to stay silent about the event until the investigation is complete and information is released to the public about the incident.

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As I see it now, no-one knows what happened, so everything that is being posted is pure speculation.

 

My thoughts go out to his colleagues, friends and family.

 

There ARE people who know what happened because there ARE people who witnessed the event and heard what was going on on the radio. These people have been asked to stay silent about the event until the investigation is complete and information is released to the public about the incident.

 

 

Ok, I'll rephrase my last comment......No-One on these Forums know what happened.

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As I see it now, no-one knows what happened, so everything that is being posted is pure speculation.

 

My thoughts go out to his colleagues, friends and family.

 

There ARE people who know what happened because there ARE people who witnessed the event and heard what was going on on the radio. These people have been asked to stay silent about the event until the investigation is complete and information is released to the public about the incident.

 

 

Ok, I'll rephrase my last comment......No-One on these Forums know what happened.

 

I pretty much know the basics of what happened because I keep in contact with my old co-workers. But like them, I'm not revealing anything I know about the accident until the investigation is done.

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While I don't agree with the complete vilification of the cameraman, I definitely don't think it was something stupid as "oh gee that's not regular magic." Maybe it was for profit, maybe he thought getting it on film would help in the aftermath with the investigation, point is we don't know why he did, just that he did.

 

I feel bad for the victim, his family and friends; my thoughts are with them all.

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According to the Orlando Sentinel, the monorails are back open:

 

Jason Garcia

Sentinel Staff Writer 10:20 AM EDT, July 6, 2009

 

 

Walt Disney World is reopening its monorail system today -- with new safety sensors added to monitor track switches, according to a note to employees this morning.

 

The move comes a little more than 24 hours after a predawn collision killed one monorail pilot. The collision occurred as one of the trains was being transferred off the system's Epcot line, which ferries guests between the Magic Kingdom and Epoct, according to Disney's note.

 

Disney told its employees that investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have "released" the monorail system back to the theme park.

 

"We have completed a thorough safety inspection and system checks to verify that it is safe to operate the monorail for our guests and cast," Disney said. "We've added additional verifications of these track switch positions, supplemented our safety procedures and protocols for these operations, and communicated these changes to our Transportation partners."

 

A Disney spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

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I think the fact of the matter is, none of us can really know what was going through the camerman's head. We are just people reading about the events from the comfort of our own home or office or wherever-- we're not there in the moment.

 

As Robb and many others have mentioned, the part that urks me is his "casual walkaway." Honestly, if it weren't for that, I would 100% back goatdan's statements. Guests really do leave their brain at the door and-- on the monorail or not-- while they're at Disney, they're living in a fantasy world. They don't expect to see things like this happen in front of them.

 

You know, a lot of photographers/videographers felt helpless on 9/11 and some of them (not all) really felt like what they could do to help was to document what was going on. In the moment, some people think "Oh I could get publicity out of this," and some think "Oh my gosh what's happening I should document it in case it helps."

 

Like I said, I personally feel it's safe to assume this guy was a jerk given the ending to his footage...but not everyone in this world who would make the split-second choice to hit 'record' should be lumped into that category.

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Everyone needs to cool off here--period. I think timberskara's comment, which makes a lot of sense, should be the last word on the mindset of the person who shot the video.

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As Robb and many others have mentioned, the part that urks me is his "casual walkaway." Honestly, if it weren't for that, I would 100% back goatdan's statements. Guests really do leave their brain at the door and-- on the monorail or not-- while they're at Disney, they're living in a fantasy world. They don't expect to see things like this happen in front of them.

 

Here's the thing about the walkaway part of it though that made me think it was more of a "checked brain" then a "fame / fortune". When the guy asks the cameraman to put the camera down (at 0:49), the cameraman fumbles with it for a minute, seems to spin around, perhaps looking for the exit and (and this is the important part) doesn't focus back on the train or scene at all.

 

No "from the exit" shots as he is walking away. No just kinda toss my camera back in the direction of the trains for a couple seconds. None of that. He films his feet for about 15 seconds as he walks away. Sure, he's walking about -- but what else do we want him doing? Running in a panic wouldn't do anything, he clearly isn't going to be helping anything by staying up there, he's just listening to the cast member -- and on the first time. When the CM repeats "out out out!" and he spins around, it looks like the CM directed the photographer, who could very well be getting off in that station for the first time, or could be confused as if he should leave through the entrance or the exit.

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^ I have given goatdan 24 hours to cool down. Please everyone. Keep the discussion civil. There is no "winner" here in proving someone right or wrong, especially when you are discussiong opinions of other people. Remember there is NO FACTUAL DATA that has come from this accident yet.

 

Once again, please keep the discussion calm and civil. I do not want to have to ban anyone else over a discussion about a monorail.

 

--Robb

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If true, I'm very suprised the monorail would be back in operation this soon. I would have expected atleast a month of downtime. Based on the general descriptions of the accident, it seems like quite a few things could/should be changed. The MAPO system should be adjusted. I would say MAPO override needs to have a slower speed limit. It also seems next time Disney gets new trains, the cars should be more sturdy. I was shocked that that amount of damage could result from a 15mph collision. Finally, those monorails need brighter headlights ASAP.

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Based on the general descriptions of the accident, it seems like quite a few things could/should be changed. The MAPO system should be adjusted.

Does it really? I know someone else mentioned something about making the monorail even "more safe" but I gotta be honest, 1 accident in 27 years? 1 fatality in over 1 billion passengers? How many other transporation systems have that kind of record?

 

There needs to be some kind of an invenstigation, sure, don't get me wrong, and hopefully there will be some sort of finding that can be fixed, of course, but I'm not sure I think that it could get any safer or if major changes are needed.

 

Tell you what, let's give it another 27 years and see what happens. If we have another crash, then ok, I'll say some more computerization may be in order, but if not, let's just keep things going as usual.

 

What do you think?

 

--Robb

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If true, I'm very suprised the monorail would be back in operation this soon. I would have expected atleast a month of downtime. Based on the general descriptions of the accident, it seems like quite a few things could/should be changed. The MAPO system should be adjusted. I would say MAPO override needs to have a slower speed limit. It also seems next time Disney gets new trains, the cars should be more sturdy. I was shocked that that amount of damage could result from a 15mph collision. Finally, those monorails need brighter headlights ASAP.

 

This isn't just an amusement park ride, it's a mass transit system. They can't just shut it down for a month, as it is the main mode of transport from Magic Kingdom's parking lot to the park. The MAPO override speed limit is fine as-is, IMO. I think the added sensors on the track switch, and maybe a procedural change to implement a mandatory stop at base when coming from Epcot to Express should be sufficient, although they may also implement a "no reversing through switches" policy, too.

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It also seems next time Disney gets new trains, the cars should be more sturdy. I was shocked that that amount of damage could result from a 15mph collision. Finally, those monorails need brighter headlights ASAP.

They will NOT be investing in new trains anytime soon. The current trains were just updated within the last two years, and they continue to run very efficiently. They do not need to be sturdier either. They were designed by Disney to be as lightweight as possible for a reason.

 

As for the amount of damage, I'll admit, it was somewhat surprising to see. However, we had nothing to compare it to over the last 37 years either.

 

I'm not sure the headlights need to be brighter either. No matter how bright they are, you can only illuminate the beam ahead of you so far. I've sat up front many times at night, and I think pictures make it seem darker than it really is. Just my opinion though.

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From the pics, it looks like a lot of the damage may have been just the body.

 

I'm not structural engineer, but the fact that they were able to push Purple out to unload the Pink driver and then pull it back into the station without damaging the beam tells me the frame structure is intact. Not to mention the fact that the train is already out of the station.

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After reading the MiceAge post, it seems like the person who wrote that up seems to have a good idea about the monorail system. Also, his theories are A LOT more sensible than a lot of the BS the news has been spreading around, like Purple had hit pink and Austin wasn't "experienced" or wasn't paying attention. But some of the points he brought up simply don't make sense.

 

For instance, he says the driver of pink must not have been paying attention and not looking at his rear-view mirrors. Well for starters, a scenario like what happened last night is very common, and I personally was sent to the holding place in forward and went in reverse over the switch all the way to the Magic Kingdom. Generally each central coordinator does things different, some will make you switch in concourse so you can go over the switch in forward, but if time is tight, they'll usually just send the train in reverse. One thing I remember from going in reverse from Epcot to Magic Kingdom over the switch is that regardless if you're paying atttention to mirrors its impossible to see whats going on behind you. Not only was it dark the night this happened, but the fact that the train is on a curve during the spur makes it all the more difficult to see what's going on behind you. So saying the driver of pink wasn't paying is obviously far fetched, because even if he was looking in his mirrors, chances are he couldn't see anything.

 

I'd also like to point out that when you are sent over a spur such in a case as this, Central Command will usually say you are CLEAR TO wherever it is that you are going. When they tell you this, you take their word that there is no train in front (or behind) of you and even if you get an amber or a red, you are allowed to use MAPO override to keep going. Granted Pink was clear to Base or the Magic Kingdom in reverse, the driver of pink would have no reason to believe there would be a train behind him, so thus saying he wasn't looking in his mirrors is not a valid explanation to what happened.

 

Also, another thing I'd like to clear up is the idea that Purple was in station when Pink was on the way to the holding point to go onto the spur line. I think this was explained in an earlier post, but when they clear a train to the holding point for the switch, they don't automatically say the train behind it can enter the station. Because of the MAPO system and the open switch, they have to have the train behind hold at pylon 379 (main holding point for concourse). This is where the train would get their amber MAPO. When the switch is moved and it is safe, they will tell that train Normal Visual to Pylon 385 (where they will get a Red) and MAPO override to complete their stop in Concourse (this after being clearing Pink over the spur to its stop).

 

Another gripe I had with the story was the writer continued basing his belief on the idea that Purple was in the station. First of all, if you're parked in a station and seeing a train coming at you, you have plenty of time to react with it going 15 mph. I HIGHLY doubt the pilot just sat there and watched as the train started coming at him. Secondly, he mentioned something about the killpack and why no one used it. IF purple was in the station, there would be no reason for a cast member to use it as it would only kill Purples power and not allow it to move. And his point that he made about power outages on trains just doesn't make any sense either, as the only way Purple would lose power if it was killed in the station. He seems awfully funny that power would be killed right before this happened, AND even if that had happened, Austin would not have just sat there in the cabin as a train was approaching him head on.

 

Lastly, the authors idea that they moved the trains multiple times doesn't make sense either. All the pictures I saw of the trains outside the station from the left side of the train showed no apparent evidence that they had even pried the doors open. However, the pictures from the station clearly show the cabin door pried open and you can see the blue cushions from the cabin seats. I'd just like to point out that if Pink was completely empty going back to shop, they wouldn't have moved Pink back into the station to get the pilot out. There are things called roof hatches, and every train has them. If you put the clues together it can be easily seen the crash happened right outside the Concourse station. The pilot of purple really had no chance if you think about it. If he stopped, Pink would still be going and the crash would still happen. He could have jumped, but because of the door system, you have to reach out of the cab window just to open the door. No one will really know what the pilot was thinking or why he didn't react so I'd suggest no one try to do that. Also, Pink would be able to pull purple into the station where they would be able to access purple's cabin more easily. I think this explains why there are pictures of it outside the station (with the cabin door unopened and with no evidence of the jaws of life being used on them) and inside the station as well.

 

I'm not going to sit here and explain every little detail one what could have happened or why it happened or who is to blame, because that's what the investigation is for. I'm simply trying to clear up some obvious mistakes on all these theories people seem to have. The only way that you are going to COMPLETELY understand what happened and why happened, is if you have knowledge of the Monorail system and how it is run on a day to day basis. I had the privilege of working as a Pilot for 5 months, getting to know lots of great Cast Members on the job (including Austin) and was able to learn all about how this great system. All I'm going to say is mistakes were made the night of the accident, and it wasn't because of bad decisions by either of the Pilots. It's really unfortunate that such a tragedy had to happen, especially in these certain circumstances.

 

"One Rail, One Family"

RIP Austin

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Great post EastCoastn07.

 

While I still think the Monorails are safer than me walking out to my mailbox, I think installing some kind of back-up camera with night-vision capabilities would be a good thing and quite honestly, it's something that should have already been in place IMO.

 

Most Soccer Mom's with their suburban tanks have one, why not the Monorail.

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Watching that video is horrible, Im not saying the cameraman was in the wrong, He did what he was asked with no argument and no attempt to get another look, But the video was just horrible. seeing the people get off the monorail, Its just not normal to see a place like disney like this.

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I was just wondering, why Reversing on the system is allowed anyway, I could understand reversing from the parking area, but surely the track has been designed to allow forwards only driving all day right up until you drive forwards into the parking garage?

 

I am not completely aware of the layout of the whole transit system, so if someone had a diagram or overhead shot which shows where various stations/parking garage is located, this would be appreciated for my understanding.

 

Thanks

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Yes, cameras are a possible solution...But when the shop tells Central the switches are in place and Central clears you somewhere, you take their word that you are definitely clear and another train is no where near you. There were several situations where I was cleared somewhere in reverse, and I never said to myself "Hey, what if there's a train behind me?". Central knows the order of the trains (whose in front and behind of every train) and they are trained not to clear another train anywhere unless they have verbally received notification that the next train in line is either off the system or far enough away for them to clear it to another station.

 

The thing about the monorail system is the ONLY WAY we know where each of the trains is at any given time, is via radio or visuals. There's no GPS system in the trains, so they don't have a little display showing them where each of the trains is. It's the responsibility of Central and the driver to make sure they either know or tell each other where the train is at. Afterall, the pylons aren't labeled numerically for no reason, its for the drivers reference when telling Central or another driver/coordinator where they are at.

 

The fact that they added sensors to the switch beams definitely tells you something went wrong with the switch beam or it just wanted put in place right when they told Pink he was clear to go over the spur.

 

I was just wondering, why Reversing on the system is allowed anyway, I could understand reversing from the parking area, but surely the track has been designed to allow forwards only driving all day right up until you drive forwards into the parking garage?

 

I am not completely aware of the layout of the whole transit system, so if someone had a diagram or overhead shot which shows where various stations/parking garage is located, this would be appreciated for my understanding.

 

Thanks

 

The track is not designed for forwards only and there are many cases where you need to go in reverse. Keep in mind, there are two cabins one on each side of the train. On the Epcot and Express beams, pilots drive out of Cab 1 and on the Resort beam, pilots drive out of Cab 6. In cases like this, they'll send a train in reverse over the spur simply to save time. Then they'll either have them switch ends at the Base station, or reverse all the way to MK if they are the only train on the express beam. Granted purple was right behind it with guests on board, having the pilot turn off the train, switch ends, turn the train back on, test the radio device and then go in reverse to the holding spot to go over the spur in forward takes up quite a bit of time. Regardless on how you look at it, there's no way you can drive in forward all the time, especially during closing procedures. When trains come off Resort, they are generally sent in reverse onto the express beam so they can go into shop in forward. There are so many other situations like these that would just take too long for me to explain. Basically, it would be almost impossible to eliminate all the situations where a pilot would have to drive in reverse.

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