Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Morning MBTA/MBCR News Highlights

It is the first Monday in March. I hope everyone had an uneventful commute.

So far, it appears that the February 2008 on-time performance stats for the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail lines have not been released. Both Train Rider and I will watch for this information.

I woke up this morning and heard that the MBTA's buses are added GPS systems to some buses as part of a pilot program. Here are stories about this program from WCVB-TV Channel 5 and BostonNow.

The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune published an article this morning about a possible commuter rail line station extension on the Haverhill line. The line extension could include a stop in Plaistow, NH.

This particular quote didn't make a lot of sense, since the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail has a line that originates from Providence, RI. The last time I checked, Rhode Island was still an independent state (even though it used to be part of the Commonwealth.
Part of Hoch's hesitation is due to the fact the MBTA would have to cross into New Hampshire. The authority doesn't serve any state other than Massachusetts, he said. To make the change, he said, there would be too many "bureaucratic obstacles" to overcome.

Finally, the Bostonist also published a recap of WBUR's interview with MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas. Here are the highlights from the Bostonist's article:

He also said that, when it comes to kvetching about the MBTA (which Bostonist does on a routine basis), "People like to pick on their transportation system." So it's all a figment of our collective imagination? This Bostonist spent several years riding MUNI and BART in the Bay Area, and, sorry, but those systems were more efficient. They definitely weren't perfect, and you can read all about that on SFist, but they seemed to be on time more often than the MBTA.

But the MBTA gets so many of the little things wrong. They would improve in the eyes of the public just by being on time more often, trying to make sure the credit-card system doesn't crash when a new month is ready to begin, and having more than one person at the ticketing window at Downtown Crossing when it's time to buy passes.

I think there second point was incredibly relevant. If the T could work to improve things, public perception would improve. As it stands, every "improvement" ends up being like a step backwards.

This region is fortunate to have a sophisticated population who has traveled to or lived in other places. I think we all get envious of "good" mass transit systems when we visit cities like Washington, DC, London, Chicago, etc. It is such a treat to ride on clean, efficient trains that get you to where you need to go on time. I particularly love DC's Metro system.


AJ said...

Hey Train Rider-
Just wanted to let you know you were in the Worcesteria column in WoMag last week. It stated:

LONGER TRIPS ON TIME: One week in, it looks like the lower standards for commuter trains might be making a dent in the on-time performance. According to statistics from the MBTA, in the first six days of the new schedule (Tuesday through Sunday), on-time performance was an outstanding 91%. And that includes an unheard of 100% on-time performance last Thursday. But it hasn't all been sunshine. On Monday of this week a CSX signal near the Westboro and Ashland stations failed, says MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant, delaying all morning commute trains. And according to the daily commuter rail blog Train Stopping, at least three of the author's inbound and outbound trips have been substantially behind schedule in the past week. Still, the numbers are an improvement over January's 69% on-time performance. Of course, that doesn't mean the trains are actually getting there faster, just that they're doing a good job of meeting the new longer schedules.

Anonymous said...

Train Rider,

You are right, that comment about the MBTA only serving Mass. is not correct as written. I'm assuming what was meant to be said is that the MBTA cannot subsidize transportation services outside Massachusetts. RI agrees to subsidize the portion of the run between S. Attleboro and Providence. If RI were to end funding, the trains would not run past the state line. To get MBTA-operated commuter rail into NH, either the state of New Hampshire or the individual towns served would have to agree to pick up the subsidy for that portion of the route.