Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Train is Late! The Train is Late!

Well the November commuter rail performance reports were released yesterday. I'm not surprised by the results.

According to the Boston Globe, 3 out of every 10 suburban commuter rail trains ran at least five minutes late in November, matching October's dismal performance.

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR) has apparently outlined 10 steps that aim to improve the commuter rail's performance. I went to the MBCR's web site (, but I didn't see the 10 steps that they're promoting.

According to the article, some of the 10 steps have already been implemented and some of the steps are still under negotiation. Why all the secrecy? Does this 10 step thing exist or is it just puffery because the MBTA and MBCR has been under increasing scrutiny by the Boston media?

James F. O'Leary, the general manager of the MBCR, was quoted in the article as saying ""I think it's going to take several more weeks, but I think we're already seeing improvement on some lines." O'Leary also noted that trains are only "officially" counted as delayed if the delay is longer than five-minutes. I would love to know if O'Leary (1) rides the commuter rail and (2) if he has been on the Worcester - Framingham - Boston line. Because I think he would be irritated if he had to incur daily delays.

The Globe article noted that 72,000 riders take daily round-trips. For November, nearly 1 in 4 trains were late coming into or out of North Station. Nearly 1 in 3 trains were delayed either coming in or leaving from South Station.

O'Leary goes on to blame the conductors. Both O'Leary and Daniel A. Grabauskas (the T's GM) note that employee issues are the reasons for the delays.

The Worcester line has always had delays. I can't imagine that delays from past years were all a result of employee issues. If your employees are that bad, then you need to correct their behavior. If it is something else, then don't just blame the conductors and train personnel.

Of course, Grabauskas was quoted in the article as saying "a high degree of confidence in the attention that [Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company] is paying to this."

How about the MBTA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts also try working to help solve the issue? If the commuter rails can improve their performance, more people will use them to commute. This will help reduce the number of cars on the road.

It all seems so simple. I just want the trains to run normally. I can handle an occasional delay, but I can't tolerate delays every day.

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