Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning Commuting Rail Blues

You know it is going to be a bad commute on the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail's Worcester-Framingham line when . . .

... the train crawls through most of the stops on your route (even prior to the slow zone of Ashland).

... you have to go to the MBTA website from your Blackberry to determine what the problem is with the delay, as opposed to hearing it from the conductors themselves.

My P508 train finally got to South Station at 8:43 a.m., 20 minutes after the scheduled arrival time of 8:23 a.m.

The conductors finally made an announcement around Southborough. I mean, I could tell something was wrong the minute we left Grafton! The problem is ... if there was an announcement on the message board, I never saw it because it's located at the opposite end of the platform from where I stand.

As anyone who has been to the Grafton station knows, the stop is pretty desolate and the platforms are very long. The inbound track is across from the parking lot - you have to walk across a long bridge to get to the inbound track's platform.

There really should be more than one message board at stops such as the Grafton station.

And, as I expected, the train was PACKED this morning. It was the first Monday back since the end of the February public school vacation.

Good times!

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Hello fellow Worcester/Framingham line commuter!

I take the, now 5:43 AM, out of Union Station. Our Expressed-turned-Local train is supposed to pull into South Station at 7:12 AM. Not today! We arrived at approximately 8:03 AM.

What a way to begin the week. ugh.

Anonymous said...

I consider today the first day of the new schedule - last week wasn't really because of school vacation. I also go into South Station at approximately 8:03 with a very sore butt....

At some point the conductors said - this is the 502 express train, get off at West Natick if you want to go to blah, blah, blah. Almost as soon as they finished they came back on and said, we've been changed to a local and the train will make all stops.

I could have predicted that - why is it when they've got a train full of late people they make us even later by changing the express to a local? The train was so late this morning, I saw people leaving Southboro and Ashlad after the train pulled in.

If I had left my house at 5:35 and drove to work, I would have been sitting at my desk by 6:30. I am seriously considering alternatives - carpool anyone?

Anonymous said...

Before the new schedule, I used to take the P502 Express from Southborough (6:11a), but now take the P506 Local instead (6:53a). I've noticed familiar faces from the P502 now on the P506. The P506 is now packed by the time it pulls into Back Bay, standing room only (if you can find it!). Prior to the new schedule, there were always empty seats on this train and I took it sometimes to have a stress-free morning commute and if I missed the previous express. As crowded as the P506 local is, I don't even want to imagine the overstuffed sardine can the P508 express is now. I've not taken the new P502 express, but I suspect that it is a very light train with the bulk of the riders getting off at Yawkey Way for the medical center.

This morning's commute didn't affect me since I normally take the local in now, although I can't say I was surprised when the conductor announced it was really the P502 express running late. The conductor (a really nice lady who makes all of the announcements) looked really disgusted and didn't really check my pass; she just stuck the paper marker near my seat. Maybe she recognized me...? I felt sorry for her because I've seen her get a lot of flak in the past for things that were basically out of her control.

Train Rider said...

Sarah,

Sorry to hear you are now on the train at 5:43 a.m. That is an ungodly hour to be riding the rails.

No kidding. What a way to begin the week. Next thing you know, they'll change the schedules again to say that express trains aren't really convenient to on time performance and every train is a local. Good God, did I just say that out loud?

Anonymous,
After insanely long rides no the commuter rail, my butt gets sore too!

Really, those seats aren't built for comfort at all. I'd like to understand who makes the decision to change a train from an express to a local. I think they (it must be dispatch from MBTA or MBCR) should have to deal w/the ire of the passengers when that happens ... it's really ridiculous to change express trains to local ... it has to affect the rest of the schedule for the day!

No kidding ... maybe we should talk about carpools as opposed to the commuter rail. It would be fantastic if the Mass Pike had an HOV lane, I think many more people would be willing to carpool if that happened.

Anonymous,
I feel bad that the conductors who do their job diligently and do it well well are subject to the flack from passengers. That's definitely not right. My biggest frustration is when the conductors don't make announcements and you're left wondering what is really going on.

Wouldn't it be great if the MBCR started a program where we could recognize the good conductors? Maybe that would motivate all the conductors to perform at a top level. Because who doesn't like recognition, especially if said kudos is tied to extra cash or free things.

Let's hope we all have a better commute home tonight.

Train Rider