Windows 2000 and the Hiawatha Light Rail

The PC gets it rough. It's the workhorse of the business world, but it never can make itself cool like the Mac. And though we love the PC, it crashes more than

Launchpad McQuack

. Still, the PC is everywhere. It even hides inside those metallic covered boxes that spit out tickets for the Hiawatha light rail line. Every one has PC inside, and after four straight years of impeccable service, things are acting up.

A rider recently reported that a gray error message appeared on the screen of the northbound side ticket machine at the 46th street station. It was the same rectangular icon normally seen when trying to do too many things on your Dell, like downloading images of Miley Cyrus while trying to get Justin Morneau back on your fantasy league team. Anyway, it caused this rider to question if the thing was running on an ancient form of Windows.

"Actually," says Bob Gibbons, Director of customer services for Metro Transit, "It's running on Windows 2000. That was the initial operating system, I think, and it hasn't been updated."

The actual software that runs the button menu is a proprietary one, developed by Cubic transportation systems, the world leader in automatic fare collectors. These guys also manufacture combat simulation software for military forces around the world. So know that with every coin inserted, your helping to bomb a virtual village.

The cause of the error message remains unknown. Gibbons says it's impossible to say, adding in that one machine failure does not constitute and entire system failure. Each machine is an army of one.

Yet the idea of our light rail running on Windows 2000 had Elizabeth Glidden, Ward 8 councilwoman and city transportation committee member, surprised, then in hysterics. "Well," she says with a laugh, "that sounds absolutely ridiculous. I really don't what to say."

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