Monday, March 17, 2008

Lucky St. Patrick's Day Commute

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Well, I hope it just wasn't the "Luck of the Irish" that made my inbound P508 commute pretty uneventful. This morning's train departed the Grafton station right on time at 7:09 a.m. and pulled into South Station a minute early at 8:22 a.m.

I thought it was kind of cold today. I was freezing walking from South Station to my office.

My apologies for Friday's date confusion. I know the track work began last week. Let's chalk that up to Friday-itis.

Yesterday's "Stops & Starts" column in The Boston Sunday Globe had an interesting story sent in from a Franklin line rider. Here is the piece it its entirety:
'Get on the train!'

After months of infuriating delays on the commuter trains, it's rare to hear from a rider who complains that the trains are running on time.

But Michael Medwar of Franklin wrote in about a semiharrowing trip home from a recent Celtics game.

Medwar waited about 15 minutes for an Orange Line train from North Station, leaving him no margin for error when he arrived at Back Bay in hopes of catching a 10:40 p.m. train home.

"I ran as fast as I could up the stairs [those trips to the gym have finally paid off], following three younger people in front of me who were also running," wrote Medwar, who is 37.

He didn't check which track; he just ran, and hoped. Finally, he saw the train pulling away. "The conductor was yelling 'Get on the train!' "

Medwar, no doubt gasping, made it. But what about the other basketball patrons, presumably less fit, who wanted to take the Franklin Line? Were they stranded for another 75 minutes, waiting for the last train? Medwar wants more people to take public transit to big events, but worries they won't if the subway and the train are not in better synch.

In fact, the T does make some effort for events. For example, managers scheduled an extra Lowell line train to ship people back up to Boston following last night's scheduled Dropkick Murphys concert at the Paul E. Tsongas Arena. But getting to the train station after an event by shuttle, bus, or subway can be tough when there is a big crowd or when the T is running fewer trips as part of its off-peak schedule.

Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said there is a balance when it comes to holding trains, noting that long delays can annoy people expecting an on-time departure.

But riders can request a train "hold" if they can find a subway official and tell him or her to call commuter rail dispatchers, he said.

Medwar said he understands that the T cannot hold commuter trains indefinitely, but how about a few more Orange Line trains after a game? "It just seemed to me that we were waiting on the platform for so long."

Wouldn't all of us love to see a coordinated transit system?

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