Riding the Disney Monorail is one of our favorite things to do at Disney, and we've ridden up front with the driver many times (you just have to ask).
This morning at 2am one of the Disney monorails crashed into another that was standing at the station, killing the 21 year-old driver of the stationary monorail. Thankfully, very few passengers were on the monorail at this time, and while they were shaken, none were injured. There are no other details currently available, and of course speculations are running rampant.
Let me start by saying that my heart goes out to the driver's family. Losing someone in an accident, no matter what age, is always a cruel, incredibly painful incident (I know, because we just went through that in May). The young age of the driver also makes my heart ache for the parents who lost a child who must have just been starting to build a life of his own. As a mom with a son of my own, thinking about the driver's mom literally hurts. I am so sorry!
Secondly, I still believe the Disney monorail system is safe. I don't know and won't speculate about what caused the accident. Whenever we were on the monorail, it always stopped far outside the station when another monorail was standing at the station. Whatever happened last night, in my opinion, was a a freak accident and I have every confidence Disney will get to the bottom of it and fix anything that needs fixing, if anything does. What gets me is the people who IMMEDIATELY start blaming "Big Bad Corporation Mentality" whenever anything bad happens at Disney, without having all the facts, and without stopping to think that even with every safety mechanism in place, you can't protect 100% against mechanical and / or human flukes. (NOTE that I'm not ascribing blame here. But in a monorail crash, the cause is going to be either mechanical or human, and possibly both. Weather wasn't an issue, as far as I glimpsed from the news.)
Will I be riding the Disney monorail in August? You bet, if it's back up and running (the entire monorail system is shut down today, for obvious reasons). Will we try to ride up front, with the driver? Yes (if Disney still allows it), because it's a great experience. Will this incident be at the back of my mind when I do? Absolutely, and I'll be saying a prayer for the driver who died. But unless some colossal negligence on the company's part shows up in this accident investigation (and I don't believe for a moment that it will), I will keep doing what I've always done, because I think the monorail's safety record to date speaks for itself. I don't think people stopped riding the DC Metro after last month's tragic crash, and in that case it turned out that Metro was TOLD to phase out the cars in question.
Come to think of it, light rail systems aren't having a good year so far.
For today, we should just pause and say a prayer for the driver of Monorail Purple and his family...and leave the blame game out of the conversation until we have facts on our side.