Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a Cluster!

Well, today certainly wasn't a great day to be a Worcester-Framingham line commuter rail rider!

When I got to the Grafton station, it seemed more crowded than usual. I checked my Blackberry and there were 3 alerts: 1 for the P502 (delayed) and 2 for the P504 (delayed by 20 minutes, then canceled outright). At 7:22 a.m., I received another update that the P508 was canceled and the next train from Worcester could expect delays of up to 20 minutes. The alerts alluded to a switching problem on the line somewhere.

So far, not so good.

When the P512 came (on time, around 7:50 a.m.), it was the usual train (5 single cars and 1 double decker car). But, due to earlier problems, this train now had to accommodate about 3 trains full of riders. By the time we got to Southborough (two stops from Grafton), there was hardly anywhere else to stand. At Ashland, I saw people left on the tracks, who couldn't even get on our train. We continued to make stops through Framingham, West Natick, Natick and the Wellesley's (this is the normal route for the P512). Our conductors did make announcements that due to a mechanical problem, the P508 had been canceled and that riders who wanted any Newton stops or the Yawkey stop needed to get off in Wellesley for the P514.

What I found interesting about this commute today: the conflicting information between MBTA Alerts, the conductors and the ticker boards at each stop, which basically said "there is a problem due to CSX."

We finally pulled into South Station at around 9:25 a.m. this morning. I got to my desk at 9:45 a.m. Yikes!

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Richard said...

I was supposed to take the 6:55am Worcester train and when I got there, the train was shorter with single level cars. I knew that it was going to be a terrible commute when I boarded the train and couldn't find a seat to myself. We then sat for 40 minutes on the train alternately being told that there was a mechanical failure and then that they needed to fax paperwork for clearance. By the time we left, the train became the 7:35am train. There were no seats beyond Grafton so a lot of people had to stand for the trip. The train was 20 minutes late getting to South Station for the 7:35am run and 65 minutes late for the 6:55am train. This is the second major screw up by the MBTA in a month, the first being the train that died in Framingham resulting in everyone having to leave and travel back and forth over the bridge.

I'm so tired of this REALLY bad service. They have been pretty good in the morning and even better in the evening (the 5pm arrives sometimes 5 minutes early), but when they screw up, they do it in grand style. It just messes up everyone's schedule. I have to stay an extra hour which I wasn't planning to do when I got up this morning. The MBTA has no contingency plan for these events. I am so tired of being the victim of this service with no place to turn.

Anonymous said...

The tracks are a single commodity and single network. You can overlay as many service providers as you like, but any actual train scheduling and communications network needs to be run by the folks who run the tracks. The message they sent later sounded like there are independent communication systems responsible for scheduling.

I definitely encourage folks delayed to use the insane hoop-jumping to get a fare credit on mbta.com. Pull down the "customer support" menu to hit "on-time guarentee", then fill out and click through the three stage claim form (provided the warnings about mail fraud and larceny don't scare you off...). You'll get yet another link in your email which you have to visit to confirm your claim.

Then wait 6 to 8 weeks and forget about being upset until it arrives in snail mail. If you are a monthly pass holder, give them to a friend or carry the letter and ID and the cupons to wait in line at a ticket booth to get a handful of cash.

Ironically, I was using such far cupons yesterday when things got so badly hosed.