Update: The National Transportation and Safety Board has just said that they will be investigating this accident.(via Orlando Sentinel) This is interesting to me since I called the NTSB on Sunday to ask, but could only leave a voice mail asking if they would. I just received an email from them with the announcement.
I feel this is good news for safety of the system as the NTSB will have expertise in investigating similar systems. Despite what Disney thinks about classifying the Monorails as an Amusement Attraction they really are a form of railway and that is the arena of the NTSB.
As you may have heard the monorail system at Walt Disney World has been cleared by OSHA to return to normal operations. That this happened so soon seems to lend weight to the idea that this tragedy was human error and not technology related.
Disney has worked overnight to add extra safety features to the Monorail switch system. It’s my understanding that they’ve also added an extra body with responsibility for having visual confirmation that each switch has been fully locked into place before allowing any train to proceed. It will be interesting to see what other solutions are implemented (cast member in the rear cone, a pilot always facing in the direction of travel, etc).
For now, at least, there will be no guests allowed in the cones. The Disney spokesman said this was out of courtesy to the monorail pilots, and I think that’s the right thing to do. When you’ve lost a friend and co-worker the last thing you need is the additional strain of having to play host to four kids bouncing around the cabin.
Finally, as I posted earlier, Disney fans were successful in getting the hashtag of #Austin on the twitter trending topics. This made me think of @DisneyParks the official twitter account for the Disney Parks division. I think it is probably too much to expect Disney to be tweeting through a disaster like this. There really wasn’t anything they could add like safety advice or good news. But I really think it would have been nice if their first post could have joined in the Disney fans efforts to honor the pilot with the hashtag in their tweet. That said, we all join in their sentiment.