Tuesday, February 19, 2008

North Grafton Commuter Rail Rider's "Letter to the Editor" Published in Today's Boston Globe.

Is this any way to run a railroad? is the title of North Grafton resident Alex Edleman's excellent letter to The Boston Globe editorial board. Alex - Train Rider would not have been able to articulate any better your concise argument about the "new" MBTA schedule that became effective today for the Worcester-Framingham line.

Here is the letter in it's entirety:
I WOULD like to congratulate the MBTA on raising government-think to a level even the old Soviet bureaucracy would be proud of ("T Tweaks a train schedule to reflect reality: Says added minutes are due to longer stops," City & Region, Feb. 13). Instead of working to fix the problem of habitually tardy trains on the Worcester/ Framingham line, the T decided to extend the scheduled arrival times, and in essence pretend to have reliable service. This is analogous to turning up the volume on your car radio whenever the engine makes a strange noise. But for T executives, appearing to solve the problem is just as good as solving it.

In a year, no one will remember this little con, and the T management will congratulate themselves for achieving a 95 percent on-time performance - at which point they will promptly raise the fares. Bravo, comrades!
ALEX EDELMAN, North Grafton

The Globe also published a letter written by Doug Tillberg of Somerville who is the Director of the Association for Public Transportation. This was also an excellent letter addressing the issues surrounding the MBCR. Here is Doug's letter:
SOMETHING WAS missing from the article about the MBTA's decision to relax some commuter train schedules to account for the chronic tardiness of its contractor, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. Since as early as 2004, Mass. Bay Commuter has paid penalties in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for its consistent inability to run on time.

Now we see a crude fix for the problem: Train performance will not change; the scheduled time will.

The decision raises questions. Among them: Will the contractor, Mass. Bay Commuter, receive a windfall from avoided late-train penalties?

Particularly in light of the MBTA's distressed financial condition, perhaps the contractor should not receive an effective monetary reward for failing to abide by existing schedules.
The writer is a director of the Association for Public Transportation.

Alex and Doug - well done!!

Train Rider and I encourage commuters who are not satisfied with the new Worcester-Framingham commuter rail schedule to write letters to their local newspapers, their elected officials, the MBTA, and the MBCR. If you're shy - just post an "anonymous" commute here to the Train Stopping blog. The noise needs to continue - the MBTA and the MBCR should not be "congratulated" for implementing a "realistic" schedule. These entities - designed to serve the public commuters - need to work with CSX to design a truly "realistic" schedule that meets the needs of commuters who rely on the commuter rail as a form of transportation.

I found the "Starts & Stops" column that Train Rider mentioned yesterday. The Boston Globe's "Starts & Stops" column is published on Sunday's. It can be found online at http://boston.com/starts. Worcester-Framingham commuter Rail rider Christina O'Neil contacted "Starts & Stops" regarding the new WiFi available on the this commuter rail line. Christina's comments, published in the Sunday, February 17 issue of The Globe, can be found below:
Christina O'Neill was excited when the MBTA announced last month that it launched a free wireless Internet program on her commuter line from Worcester to Boston. She spends nearly three hours a day on the train and likes to get a jump start on work.

But O'Neill has not been able to log on for long, even when she finds a train with a Wi-Fi sticker identifying it as a wireless carrier.

"Consistently, I can't get connected until around Wellesley," about an hour into her 90 minute inbound trip, she said.

O'Neill has been checking every day, and asking her neighbors, but the system has been sluggish even when it works, she reported in a series of e-mails.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority says riders should expect some bugs as the project remains in its pilot phase. General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said in an e-mail that the vast majority of the 90 people who have e-mailed the T have been successful connecting. Other data gathered by the T shows 1,407 different visitors have logged on for an average of 32 minutes.

If you have a Wi-Fi problem or a suggestion, and want to e-mail the T, be sure to include the coach number, the date, time, and a full description of the issue. (wifipilot@mbta.com).

If you have a complaint, comment or story idea related to transportation issues, contact starts@globe.com.

I am sure that Train Rider will have an update about the first commute on the "new" schedule.

Thank you!

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