Thursday, July 31, 2008

Missed My Train

I ended up driving in today because I missed my first train. And if I waited for the next train, I would have been super late to work. Blah!

The MetroWest Daily News ran an article today about the sorry state of the Natick Center commuter rail station. The tracks flood. The passenger platform is deteriorating. And like so many other stations, there isn't enough parking for all the passengers.
Adam Sowalsky, a rider since 2004, has been frustrated by delays throughout the year, and pointed to flooding as one problem that should be preventable. Twice this summer after major storms, the MBTA closed the line when water covered the tracks and substituted bus service.

"Really, it happens whenever there is a serious rainstorm," Sowalsky said. "We (commuter rail users) joke there is always something - in summer it's rain and heat restrictions, in fall it's leaves and in the winter, mechanical issues."

Complicating matters is the fact that the Natick station is on the Worcester-Framingham line. The tracks are owned by CSX.

Since we seem to be experiencing statewide transportation issues, it is good to hear that elected officials who listen to their commuting constituents are making progress. I would love to see all the state reps and senators representing towns along the Worcester-Framingham line take the lead of Rep. Linsky and Rep. Peisch:
State Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, said he and state Rep. Alice Peisch have been "thorns in the sides" of MBTA officials over the condition of the train station. Their efforts have yielded some results.

"The secretary of transportation (Bernard Cohen) informed us in June this year that they have a two-step project under way," Linsky said. "The first step, this summer, is to replace both platforms. Then the second stage of the project will be next summer when they replace the stairway."

In other train news, more about the possibly Middleborough MBTA/MBCR commuter rail station.

Finally, in the "nice employer" news, MIT has announced new commuting benefits. Here are some of the highlights:
  • MIT will increase the subsidy of MBTA commuter rail passes up to 50% for all zones. This subsidy will initiate in October 2008. (Currently 600 MIT employees use the commuter rail).
  • Free transit passes will be offered during the month of September 2008 to employees who park at MIT 5 days a week to encourage employees to try public transportation.
MIT even has a transportation-related section on its website. Pretty cool. Some new features to this transportation portal include carpool matching, park and ride location information, a MBTA commuter cost calculator, and information about the "Emergency Ride Home" program for transit and bike commuters.

It is way cool to see an employer take the initiative to encourage employees to use mass transit and to help subsidize the costs. It is like giving your employees a raise and helping the environment. I, for one, would love to only pay $125 a month for my Zone 8 pass.

Great job, MIT!!

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