We had a major power outage in Barcelona this morning. TV3 is reporting that a high-tension transmission cable in L'Hospitalet went down about 11 AM, which led to two fires at substations, a big fire at the one on Paseo Maragall. The traffic signals went down and the city completely snarled up. Three of the subway lines went out of service. Hospitals were left without electric current and had to resort to generators. People were stuck in elevators. Today is going to be a total economic washout; there goes 1/250th or so of our yearly productivity.
About 300,000 customers were blacked out. Supposedly 150,000 customers are still down; the power came on here about fifteen minutes ago. There'll be a lot of criticism, and this was a massive malfunction. They don't know what happened yet. I still think most of Barcelona's infrastructure is pretty decent.
Problems: 1) Traffic; there are too many cars and not enough roads. 2) The commuter train system; it just plain sucks. 3) To my knowledge, some of Barcelona's sewage is still not treated before it gets dumped in the sea. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this. 4) The sewer system downtown needs to be completely replaced, since on bad days the Ribera smells like human feces. 5) The telephone-Internet system could stand some modernizing. 6) The traffic lights still go out when it rains. 7) Spanish road-building planners are lousy and there are some bottlenecks, like when you get off the Diagonal onto the Ronda de Dalt coming into town from the west, that were obviously designed by unusually bright chimps.
Positives: 1) The metro is pretty good. 2) Utility services--gas, water, electricity--are pretty good. 3) The sewers, and sewage treatment, are better than they used to be. 4) The airport is functional and is being expanded. 5) Long-distance train service is pretty good, and it will be better when the high-speed train reaches Sants station in a few months. 6) The port seems to function just fine. 7) The system of distribution of consumer products somehow manages to keep everyone fed and happy. 8) The Spanish National Health is actually quite good if a little inconvenient, and at least we don't have epidemics.