Monday, October 12, 2009

Final Thoughts, for now at least . . . . .

The reports of my demise, retirement, disability, or death are all in error. However, this will more than likely be Rip's last post at this blog. Why? Two reasons.

First, Riptrack the blog never really lived up to my expectations. At the outset I was excited, but maybe I overestimated the need to provide an avenue for the exchange of opinions regarding the frustrations of track construction, primarily with Transit and Commuter Rail Agencies. True, there was some early interest, but a combination of the tapering off of repeat visits to the site by initial readers, very few word-of-mouth referrals by readers to non-readers, and even perhaps Rip's inability to galvanize the typical Maintenance of Way persona to contribute may be to blame. The biggest responses I received did not have much to do with Track Construction and Maintenance as they did with Fuel Surcharges or the Metrolink tragedy near Chatsworth. It was never my intent to cover such items in the first place, but I have to admit that limiting written items to "tracks" only leads to the dreaded "slow news month". All of this has led me to believe that Riptrack was an answer to a question that was never asked.

Are things better for those of us who deal with these Agencies? Not by a long shot. Those agencies who had entrenched interal bureaucracies and entangling external relationships with consultants still remain bound and inflexible. Many agencies who were once labeled as serving the public in an efficient and tax-saving way have taken the same diverging route to problems and frustration as many of the entrenched and entangled ones. As I speak with my colleagues, we agree that there are maybe a couple of agencies that can do with $1 what the bad guys take $3 to do. There is no point in naming names now, but a review of the past Ripper Awards will give clues to who a couple of the good guys are.

Second, Rip believes that technology, the same technology that spawned blogs in general and Riptrack in particular, has moved on. Twitter, Facebook, and to some extent even text messaging have fulfilled the need to express oneself in a way that starts to make blogging obsolete. Don't believe it? All you have to do is to check out the blogs now provided by the professionals, like Progressive Railroading. Even with the extensive website promotion, the professional graphics, and the printed word, these professionally published blogs have become the haven of certain opinionated types who live to stir up the few readers who dare to respond. Meaningful dialog is, how do they say, flamed.

Make no mistake. I am better off for my efforts here. I have learned. I have appreciated the kind as well as the not-so-kind words. I am not bitter or angry. But, I am moving on, even after this ten month interval. For those who need the blog fix, I do recommend the Progressive Railroading site. As for me, maybe I will finally try to tweet, or to update my profile, or whatever becomes the next effort in communication that leads us all to more efficient Railroad Construction and Maintenance.

Thanks for reading.