Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kudos to State Rep Mike Rush

This article was published by Wicked Local News in late February.

Mass. State Rep. Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury) decided to listen to his constituents concerns about the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail line. Representative Rush should be commended for taking the initiative in scheduling a meeting between his local constituents and the MBTA/MBCR to discuss issues on the Needham commuter rail line. Representative Rush started receiving complaints about the commuter rail service in 2007.
“I probably received about 80 phone calls concerned with the time of the T,” Rush said. “It finally came to a point in the volume of the calls that we decided it was important to let the T know about the problem.”

I wish other state reps, state senators, mayors, elected selectpeople, and the governor would take the steps that Rep. Rush took and try to engage the MBCR/MBTA in a dialogue to rectify the issues plaguing the commuter rail lines.

Did the MBCR/MBTA give a reason for why delays occur on the Needham line. No, not really.

“There’s really no one problem,” said Richard Davey, deputy general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, the private company operating the commuter rail system. “It’s an accumulation of several things. Sometimes there are weather issues or mechanical issues, so it’s just a combination of factors.”

Amazing. It seems like the commuter rail ran fairly consistently 5, 10, 15 years ago. So is our New England weather suddenly a lot worse?

At least Rep. Rush's constituents have other options. For most of the Worcester-Framingham line, commuters basically have the commuter rail, the Pike and then driving to the Green Line as their commuting options.
For West Roxbury resident Edmund Kelley, 48, it became a “nuisance” during the last three months when the daily delay jumped from just a couple of minutes to nearly 30 minutes.

“The commuter rail takes 20 to 25 minutes for the trip,” said Kelley, who takes the commuter rail five times a week to and from work. “It’s very convenient when it’s on time. Once, we waited basically through three train schedules, and finally just gave up and took the bus.”

The people who attended this meeting said that communication is their biggest concern.

But the biggest concern of the commuters was about communication.

While some people such as Sullivan asked for the signs at the stations to provide updated arrival times of the train if it’s late, Kelley preferred to receive notifications prior to leaving his home.

Although MBTA introduced a pilot program, T-alerts, that notifies customers of delays of 15 minutes or more, Kelley said he doesn’t receive the notice on his pager until it’s too late and he’s already waited for the train for 20 minutes.

According to Rush, public transportation should be an on-time experience that is both clean and safe.

Mike Rush - you seem to be a good representative. Well done!

We should challenge the elected officials who's constituents ride the Worcester-Framingham line to follow Rep. Rush's lead and try to get the MBTA/MBCR to realistically fix the commuter rail system. Can this challenge be met?


Jenn said...

Mike Rush is a graduate of Providence College (PC '96). GO FRIARS!!! That alone can explain why he's good at what he does.

In all seriousness, I wish my state rep (George Peterson), state senator (Ed Augustus - yes, I know he isn't running for relection)and the Grafton Board of Selectmen would do something to help Grafton residents who depend on the commuter rail.

One of the big selling points to move to Grafton was that the town has a commuter rail station. What is the use of having a commuter rail station if I can only sometimes make it to Boston on time?

Perhaps the people who decide to run for Sen. Augustus' seat should make restoring REAL service on the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail a key platform. This is an important issue to many people who live in Grafton, Millbury, Worcester and other surrounding towns.

Train Rider said...


Thanks so much for your comments. Apparently PC Friars get things done!

I know when I bought my house in Central Mass. a few years ago, one of the selling points was commuting via the train to Boston. And for a number of years, the train was fine.

I'm not sure what happened in 2007 to cause the consistent problems. I know Dan Grabauskas will blame the work stoppage by the MBCR employees, but that is just a symptom ... it goes much further than that. The entire system needs to be overhauled and I just don't think Dan Grabauskas is the guy to get it done.

When I started the blog back in November, I did write to my State Rep, Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry. The only person I received a reply from was Senator Kennedy's office.

I think I need to renew my letter writing campaign in earnest, to ensure that all levels of the government realize what a vital part public transportation plays in the economic livelihood of commuters, businesses and the state overall.

Thanks for your feedback.

Train Rider