Monday, March 24, 2008

Assorted (Boston) Metro MBTA News

Today's Boston Metro published an article about the MBTA commuter rail corporate pass program. According to the article, the T claims that more corporations are interested in participating in the corporate pass program. Currently 1,318 Boston-area businesses participate in the program, which gives the businesses a tax incentive. Employees are able to purchase their pass through a deduction from their pre-tax paycheck. Along with the tax savings, the employee can also obtain auto insurance discounts if they can prove to their insurance company that they have a T pass.

This is a wonderful program - this is how I obtain my commuter rail pass. However, I wish more companies thought of working to make sure the T's trains and the MBCR commuter rail trains arrive on time. I wonder if any companies think "gee, why are some employees who live in a specific area always late." But I digress.

The last paragraph of the Metro's article is interesting:
The T has seen cost savings in the corporate pass program since the launch of the CharlieCard. The T no longer has to mail out 113,000 passes every month, saving the authority approximately $200,000 on postage and handling every quarter.
As I've mentioned, I've been an active participate in the Corporate Pass program. My current employer offers this benefit, as did other firms I've worked at. However, the Corporate Pass program at my past or current employers was not handled directly by the MBTA. Rather, an outsourced company called WageWorks managed the Corporate Pass offering. In fact, I don't know anyone enrolled in any Corporate Pass program who has a Charlie Card, unless they have a subway only pass. The Charlie Card does not apply to commuter rail riders. So why does the T still refer to all passes as Charlie Cards? And if a majority of the Corporate Pass programs are managed by outsourced companies, what does the T actually do?

In other Metro news, I saw that there was a letter to MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas in the Metro I read this morning on the train. A reader had a question about the trash near/from South Station ... in typical MBTA fashion, Dan G. blamed Amtrak, as they technically "own" South station and the tracks. I can't find a copy of this article online, but if I do I'll post it. Can Dan ever give an interview or answer a question without blaming someone else? Unreal!


Anonymous said...

Huh? I read the same response from Dan G. He di not "blame" Amtrak - as you put it. H esimply stated that Amtrak's crews were in the process of cleaning up the area they are responsible for. What's wrong with saying that. Would it be better if he made up a lie? I'll never understand the chronic T whiners.

Train Rider said...


If you are uncomfortable about our complaints about the T, maybe Train Stopping isn't a good blog for you to read. The purpose of this blog is to raise a dialogue that hopefully helps make the commute on the Worcester-Framingham line an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Plus, we don't just complain - we actually give out kudos when service is good.

In regards to my comment in today's post about the MBTA passing the buck, it's like the MBTA is a petulant child when someone offers a complaint or a suggestion ... as if they're saying "don't blame me, it's MBCR, CSX, Amtrak's responsibility ... " Is it so wrong to want to see the MBTA solve a problem totally on their own, without saying that they couldn't solve it because of the MBCR, CSX, Amtrak, etc.? It just seems to me that the T isn't comprised of problem solvers, which is a shame since there are so many ongoing issues and problems.

I grabbed a copy of the Boston Metro lying in my office. Here is the full Q&A that appeared this morning. I guess each person can interrupt this Q&A in their own way.

Q - I commute on the T every day from the South Shore and I am pretty satisfied with the service. The one thing that bothers me is that when I get off the commuter rail, I notice that there is a lot of trash building up on the rail lines at South Station. There has been the same trash for as long as I can remember. I try and do my part by being responsible enough to clean up after myself, which I would hope more people would do. My question is, does the T not have enough manpower to make the yard look a little nicer? do you have a volunteer program that can help assist w/the clean up?

A - To start with, I would like to thank you for doing your part in helping us in our efforts to keep the transit system as clean as possible. Obviously, everyone who uses MBTA services benefits when people like yourself properly discard coffee cups and newspapers. Now, as far as the situation along the railroad tracks is concerned, I can tell you that Amtrak, which is responsible for the maintenance of that area, began cleanup last week. A work crew filled and removed about 75 bags of trash from the site. But there is more work to be done and Amtrak assures me they will send another crew out this week to continue the cleanup efforts in and around the tracks. It's not uncommon for Amtrak to do this type of work right around this time of year after a winter's worth of snow and ice have disappeared from the areas along the tracks. The effects of this cleanup operation should be recognizable within a week or two.

On a personal note: I do find the Q&As published by the Metro to be very basic. . . softball questions if you will. I find it obvious that Dan Grabauskas won't handle more of the harsher complaints that come in.

Thanks for visiting.
Train Rider

Anonymous said...

Train Rider,

Don't you remember a few months back where there were rumbles that Amtrak workers might go on strike and South Station would be closed? That was because Amtrak is responsible for South Station.

Cleaning South Station is not the MBTA's responsibility. You might as well ask the T to do litter pick ups on the side of the turnpike.

You complain a lot about the T, MBCR, and others passing the buck without considering who is actually responsible. Placing blame on individuals who having nothing to do with the cause (or solution) is just noise.

Train Rider said...


My comment about the Q&A with Dan Grabausaks was an immediate reaction based on a history of responses from the MBTA and MBCR in relation to my complaints (and other Train Stopping reader complaints about the Worcester/Framingham line commuter rail service). Look back through the blog to see some of the replies that we have received to customer service email complaints … most of them refer the commuters to other entities than the MBTA to handle the issue … even though the MBTA website says to write to them with complaints about service, trains, scheduled, parking lots, etc.

That being said, looking back now maybe I was hasty in saying that Mr. Grabauskas was passing the buck in relation to his Q&A from the Metro, as I am fully aware that South Station is the responsibility of Amtrak. And yes, I do recall that the possibility of an Amtrak strike would have had an averse affect on my commute into South Station.

However, I take exception to your comment that this is "noise" or that I'm a whiner. It's a dialogue, it's an opinion based on my experiences, most of which were not great for almost a year. With the recent schedule changes, the daily commuting experience is better. If your experiences are different, by all means, share them.

Thanks for your comments,
Train Rider