Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ashland Bottlenecks and News from Lincoln

Train Rider is working from home today, due in part to an overnight conference call.

I saw a news report this morning on WCVB-TV Channel 5 about how train operators are trying to promote the use of trains versus tractor-trailer trucks for moving products in the US. I can't find a comparable article about this online. Essentially, train operators are saying that it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to ship products via the rail than in trucks. Tractor trailers can cause gridlock, meaning that consumers are hit with a double-whammy between spending money on gas sitting in traffic and the higher cost of products. The truck lobbyists noted that most of the US is structured so that shipping by rail can't totally eliminate trucks.

Along the lines of rail companies, there was an article in today's The MetroWest Daily News about officials from the town of Ashland telling CSX officials that they need to be more careful about triggering traffic signals at downtown rail crossings. When the traffic signals accidentally go off, traffic in Ashland bottlenecks. There was one incident earlier this month when downtown traffic came to a standstill for 25 minutes.

WickedLocal Lincoln published a story yesterday about the dire financial straits of the MBTA. Caroline Conner, Lincoln's representative to the MBTA Advisory Committee was quoted saying the following:
Connor said she believes the state should assume the debt to allow the MBTA to present a balanced budget.

“It’s putting a band-aid on the problem. It’s not going to improve anything. The simple objective is really to get back to square one,” she said.

Lincoln Selectperson Sara Mattes noted the following:

(T)he commuter rail project was of particular interest to Lincoln given all the development and traffic activity around Route 128. Mattes said the state needs to make “a real commitment to mass transit” and called upon Gov. Deval Patrick to show stronger leadership to solve the state’s transportation problems.

“One would think at some point a light bulb would go off that it’s more cost effective to invest in the MBTA,” Mattes said.

Finally, a great comment to yesterday's Boston Metro Q&A post came in this morning. Here is an excerpt:

Here's one thing I wish the MBTA (or MBCR or whatever agency is responsible for it this week) would do with their present resources: schedule trains with the appropriate number and type of cars. Many of the rush hour express and local trains are usually one car short or they do not have enough double-deckers. Lately, I've noticed more single than double-decker cars. What's frustrating is that I also notice that the reverse traffic trains are ALL double-deckers and not missing any cars. Next time you get off the train in the evening, hang around a few minutes for the next inbound train and count the number of double-deckers. I usually wait in the parking lot until all of the demolition derby drivers have left the lot (yes, I've seen accidents and hit-and-runs at the Southborough and Westborough stations in the last year, but I digress).

If the appropriate type and number of train cars were properly scheduled, then overcrowding can be alleviated.

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