Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Latest Worcester Line Commuter Rail Commutes

So, my commute last night was pretty much on time. The P529 departed South Station at 6:15 p.m. and I think we got to Grafton at 7:17 p.m. (scheduled arrival time 7:19 p.m.). That's not bad, especially since it was slushy outside. I heard it had been snowing in Central Mass earlier yesterday afternoon. By the time I was in my car, the snow had turned to rain and the roads were slushy at best.

This morning, the P508 departed Grafton at 7:09 a.m. and we were at Back Bay at 8:13 a.m. (scheduled arrival time of 8:17).

Sweet! Two on-time commutes ... knock on wood!

I know Commute-a-holic wrote a post about this while I was away on my extended business trip. But since it is near the end of the end of the month (and because I was away when the article first came out), I would like to revisit something the Worcester Telegram & Gazette wrote about on 2/5/2008. Plus, I noticed that the T&G only keeps their articles live for 14 days.

The article was title "On-time T trains pick up steam; Commuter service to Hub cuts delays." I found another site that appears to archive some of the T&G articles.

Here are the things I would like to highlight (and again, sorry if this is repetitious):
In 2007, 66 percent of commuter trains on the Framingham-Worcester line arrived on time, according to the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which runs the Commuter Rail for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
In 2006 and 2005, about 86 percent of trains on the Worcester line arrived on time. MBCR calls trains on time if they arrive within five minutes of their scheduled arrival time.

Officials could not pinpoint what caused delays to soar 20 percent last year, but blamed everything from bad weather and extensive track work to unproductive employees.

Over the last few months, on-time performance has improved for all rail commuters. Performance on the Worcester line, though still lagging behind the rest of the system, has improved from only 58 percent of trains arriving on time in November to 69 percent arriving on time in January.

CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said CSX initiated the now-regular phone conversations between transportation officials to improve on-time performance on the Worcester line.

He declined to elaborate what has surfaced in those meetings and directed questions about any specific changes made to improve service to MBCR.

"The important thing is MBCR, the MBTA and CSX started meeting, basically, daily to review the performance of the trains," he said. "At that point the objective is to find out ... what the issues were. There were a lot of issues."

The Framingham-Worcester line stops 17 times from Union Station in Worcester and South Station in Boston. It is one of the best-traveled lines on the Commuter Rail, carrying more than 18,000 passengers each weekday.
I wonder what the February 2008 on-time performance stats for the Worcester line will be? Will the 29 days of February show an improvement over January 2008? I don't know, but we'll know in a few days.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen to a T employee who was late for work 30% of the time?

This morning's commute was "on time" but instead of our normal 5 doubles and 2 single car train we had 2 doubles and 3 singles. Needless to say the train was very crowded.

Train Rider said...


I agree wholeheartedly! Poor performance isn't tolerated in any work environment I know of ... well, apparently except for the MBTA/MBCR.

The funny thing is, they seem proud that the on time performance stats have gone up from 58% to 62%. Oh yeah, pat yourselves on he back for such a great job, especially when your target is 95%! Unbelievable!!

Train Rider

Anonymous said...

you people are unbelievable you want to blame the guys in the trenches instead of the middle to upper managment.The train crews can not pick how many cars are on your train we are assigned them.So the next time one of you people have a snide remark or really mature finger gesture for the engineer or conductor just remember we dont come to place of work and tell you how to do your jobs.Don't pretend to know how to do mine either!! Remember I could and probably am the guy driving.I do control your ontime arrival

Train Rider said...

Anonymous -

Actually, we're not blaming the conductors. I don't think our posts are rude or inconsiderate. I would never give the finger to a conductor or belittle them and I don't think they should bear the brunt of the passengers with respect to delays on the commuter rail.

But, you have to admit that since the conductors are the only person who riders see, yes, it might be easier for a rider to express his or her frustration directly, especially since it takes so long to hear back from either MBTA or MBCR when you send them an email from the website.

The other thing is, this has been building up for months, people are frustrated and want some change.

Hopefully we can all work together to improve the commuter rail experience for MBTA/MBCR employers and the MBTA/MBCR customers!

Train Rider

Anonymous said...

Why are the conductors and engineers above being blamed for some of the problems with the CR?

From my point of view they are just as guilty as anyone else. I'm pretty sure that whole 'silent strike' business wasn't in my imagination. Wasn't their whole plan to slow down the trains, as this individual suggests they have complete control over?

Plus, I'm still not sure it's been completely resolved. Conductors still don't take tickets, they don't open doors, etc. This isn't to say I don't get some generally nice conductors on my train, but some still don't do their job most of the time.

I think there's plenty of blame to go around and no one involved gets to cop out.

Anonymous said...

The train crews really do not want to make your lives any more hectic or stressfull than they probably are.But how long do these guys have put up with unsafe working conditions,unhealthy work enviroment,rats living in there subterranian crew facilities in so uth station and north station. Management that threatens them with there jobs at ever turn.The trains are understaffed the equipment is unsafe management does nothing to fix it and they are forced to work under these conditions. I wonder how long any of you would work under these types of conditions.By the way the silent strike(if there was one) was nothing compared to what could have happened.The employee contract is up in july and I dont think your train crews are going to but up with mbcr's crap much longer, so every body tune up the cars ,save some toll/gas money, and crab a big cup of patience and enjoy the ride.I saw some graffitti on the end door of the train the other day that said mbcr hates you oh yeah have a nice day that about sums up how this company thinks.The employees are just as frustrated as us!!

Train Rider said...


You're absolutely right, the employees of MBCR and MBTA deserve safe working conditions and a healthy work environment. Not only is this human nature, it's the law! If the MBTA/MBCR is in violation of these standards, I would suggest reporting them to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

You make a very good point though, if they don't treat their employees well, why would they do the same to its customers?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately not one railroad in this country comes under osha jurisdiction they are regulated by the Fra federal railraod adminastration.The rail industry is basically it's own government in of itself we do not pay social security we pay railroad retirement instead.We do not come under state laws for working conditions and time limits on how long we can work it is all federally mandated.We all know how long change takes in that political monster.I often wonder how many people would fly if the pilots had to work an average of 70 hrs a week like the average engineer does on mbcr.We start our days long before the passengers get on board and are done long after they have gone home.To come back and start it all over again uasually with about 8 hours off the absolute minimum time off under federal regulations.Makes you feel safe doesn't it!!!!