Friday, June 20, 2008

A No Brainer? I'm Not So Sure.

While I applaud the T's efforts to increase ridership and promote public transportation in Massachusetts, I think they need to fix what's wrong first before they can handle increased capacity. Because, frankly, I'm not sure they can.

Case in point, last night's commute, post Celtics parade. I figured most of the people who had come into town for the parade headed home on the trains departing South Station at 4:00 or 5:00. I took the p529, which is supposed to depart Boston at 6:15. By 6:20, the train still hadn't shown up. I think we finally got an announcement about 6:24 that inbound trains were delayed due to heavy traffic. We did board finally and departed at 6:28. I figured we'd make up the time due to the 10 minute cushion in the schedule (much like pilots can make up time in the air), but we arrived in Grafton at 7:38, almost 20 minutes after the scheduled arrival time of 7:19.

A frustrating commute to say the least. It's too bad that there weren't additional trains added to the some of the more populous routes to accommodate the parade riders. If the MBTA cannot handle that sort of capacity, what makes you think they're going to be able to handle more and more daily commuters? Does this mean that late trains will start to be the norm again?

This morning's commute was better, departed Grafton at 7:19, arrived at South Station at 8:21.

Although I got held up trying to board a bus on the Silver Line again. I think it's interesting to note that on the Silver Line, the buses tend to get bunched up, so you can stand there for 3-4 minutes with no buses in sight, then all of a sudden, 4 of them show up at once. That doesn't seem like the best schedule to me.


Anonymous said...

I have lived through the "does the T know how to schedule trains to arrive" situation too, which is similar to your Silver Line bus escapade.

When I attended Boston University back in the mid-90s, I lived out along the D line. Every night after class, I would walk up to Kenmore Square and wait for my D-line Riverside train. What would happen? Well, I would see a bunch of B-line and C-line trains. Many of these trains had the double cars.

Most nights it went something line this - B train, C train, C train, B train, B train, C train, etc. Eventually a D train would show up. The D train would be packed because it wouldn't even be a double train, it would be a single train.

I have always pondered why the T can't just get trains out in a chronological order. From North Station or Government Center, can't they just send a B train, a C train, a D train, and an E train and then start the process all over again?

If you're riding the Green line just within downtown Boston, you probably don't really care all that much. But it becomes a much more painful experience if you're waiting for an outbound train since the B, C, D and E lines all go out under different tracks outbound from either Copley (I think for the E) and Kenmore for the B, C, and D trains.

Keith said...

The T can't handle increased capacity at all. Thursday morning I was lucky enough to be able to come into work later than usual, so I took the P512 (8:29 from Natick Center). This is the "mini-express" that makes no stops at all in Newton.

By the time we boarded the train 5 minutes late in Natick, the five-car train (all single level) was already overcrowded. I planted myself in-between two cars and was allowed to stay there since the conductors decided to close the doors between those cars. We still had three more stops to go, but with doors already closed and the overcrowded situation, it took longer at each stop.

As you can guess, no conductors attempted to collect fares. So that was a wasted opportunity for the T to see some increased revenue with the extra ridership, all because the MBCR Conductors didn't feel like trying to maneuver through the overcrowded train to collect.

Amazingly enough, once the train made the three Wellesley stops, we made it into Boston and were only two minutes late pulling into South Station.

AJ said...

I was dreading the return commute yesterday after the morning fiasco, but the P523 train (506 Back Bay) was right on time, and surprisingly had less people than usual. It was full, but a comfortable full. Usually I'm standing through Ashland.

I had friends who couldn't catch that train and ended up on the P529 last night with you. There was no announcement at Back Bay to let people know there was a delay. I know I'm preaching to the choir and you already know my feelings on the subject, but a lack of communication is unacceptable. Especially once you posted that message from the MBTA stating that they were supposed to give updates every what 5, 10 minutes? There's no excuse for waiting 20 minutes on a platform with no explanation.

Anonymous said...

I find the commuter rail (coming from Fitchburg) to be generally OK, mostly more or less on time. I do find the red and silver lines, however, to be problematic.

The red line suffers from frequent slowdowns and stops between stations for no evident reason - after waiting a very long time for a train, it is not as if there is another train right up ahead. Lately this has been getting worse. It can take 30 minutes to get from South Station to Porter Square. The MBTA says it should take 17 minutes.

The silver line, in the evening, is useless to me. I have tried a few times to get on at Courthouse Station. The bus arrives packed like a sardine can, no one gets off, I can't get on. It leaves. Another appears, packed, no one gets off. A third appears, packed, no one gets off.

It is about a 10 minute walk to South Station, so I leave and walk. After going through the fare gates, it is good thing I have a pass or I would be losing both time and money.

The silver line needs to double the number of buses in order to serve all the customers, but that won't happen, so I will avoid it. In the winter it will not be the nice walk it is now, but at least I will know when I will get to South Station.