Monday, March 24, 2008

Bob Stoetzel Says Goodbye to MBTA/MBCR Worcester Line Riders

I received the following email from former MBTA employee Bob Stoetzel. Bob has given me permission to post this. Commute-a-holic and I asked Mr. Stoetzel (who neither of us has ever met) if we could post his goodbye letter to the Train Stopping blog. He gave us his approval and we are sharing his letter in its entirety.

Thank you.

Train Rider

As you may have heard, I was terminated from my position as Chief Transportation Officer - MBTA Railroad Operations on Thursday, March 6, 2008 for "failure to take immediate and appropriate actions to address an incident of racial harassment" on October 31, 2006. That morning an individual under my supervision arrived at the office in a costume celebrating El Dia de los Muertos, or "the Day of the Dead", as a reflection of his Mexican heritage. At that time, I was advised by my supervisor that wearing a costume was allowed in the MBTA Code of Appearance as long as the individual was not in a position that required interaction with MBTA customers and my taking efforts to ensure that all MBTA employees who interacted with this individual were aware of the cultural significance of this costume. In spite of this, over a year and a half later, the MBTA Human Resources Department and General Manager Grabauskas determined that my failure to recognize that the part of this costume that was a piece of clothesline tied around his neck was perceived to be a noose, that it was my responsibilty to recognize it as a racist symbol, and that my failure to do so was of a level of significance to deserve immediate termination.

Due to this completely unexpected and sudden termination from the MBTA, I am taking advantage of this blog to say "goodbye" to the customers who ride the Worcester Line. I have continually monitored this blog to increase my awareness of customers comments/concerns and have benefitted from it. Due to my position at the MBTA, I have not previously provided commentary.

To be quite honest, my termination would have been easier for me to accept if I was advised I was being held responsible for the overall decline in commuter rail service performance and the high level of dissatisfaction and frustration being experienced by commuter rail customers on all service lines, including the Worcester Line. It was less than three years ago that I came to MBTA Railroad Operations after a lengthy career in public transportation, including commuter rail positions in Boston (with the Boston & Maine Railroad), South Florida, Southern California, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since my arrival I have focused my energies to identify reasons for the severe decrease in service performance as well as corrective actions that could be implemented. That being said, I am encouraged by the recent improvements in service reliability on the Worcester Line which, in my opinion, have resulted from the continued positive efforts and commitment to the service by the Engineers, Conductors, and Assistant Conductors assigned to trains operating on this line and the continued high level of commitment to the Worcester Service by CSX personnel, including those individuals based here in Massachusetts, those in New York, and especially those stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. While CSX has often been portrayed in local media as the primary cause of service irregularities, it is important to note the significant decline in CSX-related service delays since December, 2007 and their major contributions to recent service improvements, including their sharing of accumulated knowledge and experience from their operation of commuter rail services in other areas, including Florida, Maryland, and Virginia and to stress that service improvements on this line will only be successful through increased collaboration between CSX, MBCR, and the MBTA.

I would also like to offer my gratitude and appreciation to the individuals associated with the operation of Worcester's Union Station. To a certain degree, I will miss those early morning phone calls from Susan at Union Station, anxious because a train has not yet arrived at the terminal for its scheduled morning departure. It is reassuring to know that the primary reason for the lack of these calls has been the increased service reliability and not the fact that I am no longer in a position to receive this calls.

Finally, I would like to thank the customers on the Worcester Line. While I have come to know many of you either by face, name, or voice, I know there are many, many more who I did not get the opportunity to interact with. To those I haven't met, I am hopeful you continue to benefit from a service that is responsive to your needs. To those I did meet, whether on a train, at a station, by telephone, letter, or e-mail, or at a public meeting, thank you for your continued honesty and openness in sharing your concerns as well as your positive experiences. I know I have learned first hand from you about the value of customer service and the importance of listening to those who depend on this service each day. If I fell short in my efforts to assist you in your attempts to obtain more detailed service information or to resolve a concern of yours, I apologize.

I do hope you will soon be experiencing on-time performance at an "acceptable" service standard of at least 95% for peak period service and you continue to benefit from schedule improvements and additional seating. I also understand your awareness of the power of your voices if your service does not continue to meet your expectations.


Bob Stoetzel


MBTAss said...

Can we fire Dan and give this guy his job instead?

Quasit said...

The odd thing is that Bob's name is still listed as the head of commuter rail operations on the T's "Write to the Top" page.

I wonder if anyone is reading the email sent to that address?